Inbreeding in Dogs Part II

daffs in berries

Wow. What an interesting and informative set of comments in response to my last post, thank you so much for taking the time to write; I have learned a great deal just from reading some of your comments. I wish I had a couple of days to do nothing but research this topic. (But here's the good news: I WILL have time this summer once the new booklet is out, and I'm going to use that time to learn more and substantially revise the section on behavior and genetics in the Advanced Canine Behavior Seminar this October.) I could write for hours too on this topic, but I'll summarize some of my own thoughts here, in hopes that this important discussion continues. Let me address the issue of inbreeding from two perspectives: 1) the resultant lack of genetic diversity caused by inbreeding and 2) Read More

Inbreeding in Dogs

daffs in snow 2011

One of the things I'm doing right now is grading papers from my UW students on the "Biology and Philosophy" of one of five topics. They could choose to write their papers on one of the following:  Eating Farmed vs. Wild-caught Salmon, Should Apes Have Rights?, Game Farms, Dolphins in Entertainment, and relevant to the blog, Breeding Regulations in Domestic Dogs. They were charged with first writing a paper objectively describing both "sides" of the issue and then writing a paper that relates one of the philosophies we've studied to the issue and their own beliefs. Grading their papers is daunting (there are 150 of them; thankfully I have a wonderful Teaching Assistant who shares the job) but also fascinating. Each year I learn a tremendous amount that is often relevant to both my personal Read More

Expectations: Adults versus Puppies

leaping lamb

Karen London and I are working on our edits to the new booklet on adopting adolescent and older dogs, and something hit me as I was writing that I thought was worth talking about. After considering my own experiences bringing "non-puppies" into my home, talking with folks in rescues and shelters, and working with clients for so many years, it strikes me that one of the biggest problems people have when they adopt an "older" dog (not old, but not puppy either) relate to unrealistic expectations. I don't mean that in the usual sense, say, for example, expecting a dog to behave perfectly on day one, but more in the sense that we have certain expectations of adults that we don't have with puppies. Take house training, for example. Everyone expects puppies to have "accidents" in the house Read More

“Guilty Dog” Viral Video


Have you seen it, the viral video of a "guilty" dog? A yellow lab sits hunched in a corner while his owner asks if he's the one who got into the bag of kitty treats. The dog turns his head away, squints his eyes (not in a happy way I would argue) and after considerable prompting (or pressure), looks "guilty." Except, the "guilty" look is actually a perfect example of what is called a "submissive grin," used to appease another higher status individual. Most biologists call this an example of "active submission," in which an animal is attempting to increase the distance between it and another member of its social unit. (Versus "passive submission" which promotes a decrease in distance; for example, lying down and exposing the anal/genital regions.) I know that "submission" is not a Read More