Animal Friends Blog - Nature or Nurture?

Dog / Nature vs Nurture and Stereotyping Breeds


Elena Barnard

Animal Friends Pet Insurance

Staffy

Many people today will automatically judge a breed of dog when seeing or walking past it just simply because it is a type of breed. Whilst some will class this as stereotyping, others will argue that it is a breed classification. But is it right for us as humans and dog owners to automatically jump to an assumption of a dog’s character purely based on their breed?

I feel it comes down to a mixture of both nature and nurture. Whilst dogs such as Staffordshire and pit bull terriers do have an element of aggressiveness in their nature, this is not the sole reason for dogs of this type attacking people or other dogs. There are many Staffordshire and pit bull terriers that are very gentle, calm and social in nature, whilst other dogs with a more even and passive temperament have been known to attack.

So why do so many of the attacks we hear about involve Staffordshire or pit bull terrier type dogs? It could be many of the dogs that are aggressive and badly behaved will not have been trained properly, suggesting that it is indeed their nurture that has led them to become overly aggressive and unpredictable. If a dog of this type has a well-informed and responsible owner, then they will generally be a well-balanced and well-behaved companion. Some people will buy a dog of this kind as a status symbol, in much the same way they would a car or an expensive piece of jewellery; this is also a big part of the problem.

Having looked around my local dog rehoming centre I was shocked to see that over 80% of dogs that had been abandoned were Staffordshire Bull Terriers. From speaking to the staff there I discovered that the problem was a common one in that many people with limited funds would buy a ‘Staffy’ as a status-dog and soon realise that they in no way could afford to keep a dog. Of course, it is dogs of this type of breed that are often used for illegal dog-fighting and so again they have received bad press and as such have had a negative stigma and predisposed judgement placed upon the breed as a whole.

I feel that it is a shame that all of the Staffordshire and pit bull type dogs are tarred with the same brush. Yes if a dog of this type was to attack my own dog then I would be shocked, but I would not blame the dog or the breed, I would look to the owner as at the end of the day a dog is their responsibility and their dog’s behaviour is a reflection of themselves as a dog owner.

What are you thoughts on this topic? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments box below.

 

Hello, fellow animal lovers! I’m Elena, and I take care of social media for Animal Friends Insurance. I’m here to share the latest on animal welfare, our charity work and pet care. I foster and adopt rabbits and have a rescue dog called Luna.