Friday, January 23, 2009

Rating the Ridgeback

Someone sent me the above. It does show a correlation between “merit” and loss of breed functionality, but I don’t see anything in it that would justify the Telegraph reporters writing “The worst affected breeds were smooth collies, once a herding dog, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks, which were used for hunting even dangerous game.”

In terms of rating the dogs against each other, I suppose one would have to refer to Appendix A on page 19, but the comparisons are based upon the tests described earlier. Of the four categories, I assume that under “Playfulness” one is the most playful and 31 the least. Under “Curiosity/Fearlessness” I assume that one is the most curious and fearless and 31 the least curious and most fearful. Under “Sociability” I assume that 1 is the most Sociable and 31 the least. Under Aggressive I assume that 1 is the most aggressive and 31 the least. If I am right in interpreting this appendix, the Ridgeback comes off poorly in 3 of the 4 categories.

The Ridgeback is ranked 29 in playfulness, 27 in Curiosity/Fearlessness, 25 in Sociability, and 10 in aggressiveness.

I have doubts about the methodology, partly because it reminds me of some tests we were all being encouraged to take years ago when I had Trooper, and Trooper’s ideas on all those subjects were different from those of the people who created the tests. He was no good at lure coursing for example (and as an indication) because he examined the lure and saw that it wasn’t anything worth chasing. From then on he refused to run. He would not be impressed with noises, but he might go after someone dressed up and behaving aggressively.

My own test to test the test is to see where certain breeds come out on the aggressiveness ranking. First came the Belgian Malinois (a bit of a surprise, but not much. They have the rep). 2nd comes the breed I would expect to be first, the American Staffordshire Terrier. 3rd is the Parson Russell Terrier (I heard they were feisty, but don’t know much about them). 4th is the Great Swiss Mountain Dog (no opinion about them). 5th is the Australian Shepherd (no opinion). But 6th is the Labrador Retriever. Tilt! Ding, ding, ding. This test is showing the Lab more aggressive than the Rottweiler (9), the Doberman (27), and the German Shepherd (17). Perhaps, I thought, I am reading the rankings backwards. Perhaps 1 means the least aggressive, but if so you have to deal with the fact that the pit bull is number 2. No, no, no. There is something wrong with this test.

Or, perhaps they just have some weirdly behave dogs in Sweden.

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