Are you a Breedist?
Do all German people act the same? Are all Irish people the same? Is your sibling just like you? The typical answer is “No.” Then why do many people think all Chihuahuas or all Pit Bulls are the same? Not all Golden Retrievers like to retrieve just as not all Chinese people in the world speak Chinese. We routinely get the comment from people who have had more than one dog from the same breed, “my last (insert breed here) was not like this?!” The majority of studies that have measured breed differences in behavior have reported meaningful within-breed differences.
There is also the issue of our inability to even get the breed right just by looking at mixed breed dogs. A study done from Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida questioned a total of almost 6,000 self-identified “dog- experts.” Those recruited to complete the survey included breeders, exhibitors, trainers, groomers, behaviorist, rescuers, shelter staff, veterinarians, and veterinary technicians. Respondents correctly identified a prominent breed an average of only 27% of the time. Each of the dogs had an average of 53 different predominant breeds selected. No one correctly identified a breed for 6% of the dogs, and 22% of the dogs had the correct breed chosen less than 1% of the time. Only 15% of the dogs were correctly identified more than 70% of the time. These results indicate that regardless of profession, visual identification of the breeds of dogs with unknown heritage is poor. Even professionals get it right only about one out of four times!
We believe that all dogs are individuals and, hence, we are not “breedists”. We prefer to look at all dogs, and humans, as individuals without prejudice or preconception.
K.R.Olson, et. al.; Inconsistent identification of pit bull-type dogs by shelter staff. The Veterinary Journal, Volume 206, Issue 2, November 2015, Pages 197-202