Written by: on May 16, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

 

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The Maryland Court of Appeals recently deemed pit bulls and pit bull mixes “inherently dangerous,” but many animal experts and dog advocates believe the court’s ruling may have been too extreme.”Inherently dangerous” implies that all pit bulls are, through genetics or their environment, born with a vicious streak. But studies are showing that the science does not seem to support this.  

For example, a University of Pennsylvania study on dogs found that the top three biters of humans were actually smaller dogs: Dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Jack Russell terriers.

Pit bulls didn’t always have such a bad rap. In the early part of the 20th century, this breed was in fashion and became quite popular as a family pet. “The Little Rascals,” a series highlighting child actors, even featured a spunky pit bull. Have the dogs then changed over the years? Some have with the help of their owners & genetic science. 

“It is possible to breed in or out certain traits, with some dogs purposefully bred for fighting,” Jennifer Scarlett, a veterinarian who is also co-president of the San Francisco SPCA, told Discovery News.

She said that studies on foxes suggest that a trait possibly affecting personality can appear in just two to three generations. Pit bulls & any other breed of dogs that are bred using this genetic science seem to be more aggressive against other dogs, but not necessarily humans. Scarlett, said that countless pit bulls nationwide are highly socialized and well trained, never hurting anyone. Much then comes down to the owners, and therein lies the real problem.

Scarlett indicated that at least one study is underway to see if certain factors predict if a segment of the population is at greater risk for being attacked by a dog. Anecdotally, socioeconomic factors, whether or not a dog has been spayed or neutered, and whether or not a dog has been socialized and trained, appear to predict attacks.

Read the full story on Discovery.com

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