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Currently viewing the tag: "Ray Coppinger"

Pit_Bull_with_baby_1892#2The dog world is obsessed with breeds and genetics. There’s a general assumption that most modern breeds have some or other ancient and ‘pure’ genetic lineage, and that any dilution of this line will inevitably prove to be deleterious both physically and behaviourally. There’s also a widespread notion that behaviour is directly genetically determined, and this even extends into some science writing and reporting. Of course it’s all either completely erroneous, or a gross over-simplification of a very complex dynamic. Yet it remains stubbornly unmovable.

The form of many dog breeds has changed dramatically even in my lifetime. Which begs the question: why do we assume some narrow genetic lineage over centuries when shape and form (morphology) is so plastic even under the very rigid control that defines modern professional dog breeding? This photo of an English Bulldog dated 1892 shows a dog that is nominally of the same breed as the modern incarnation – the breed currently subjected to so much handwringing and concern due to its physical incapacitation. Is anyone seriously suggesting that these two morphological types (dog in photo and modern English Bulldog) possess an identical genotype? And if it were so, what would that say about the relationship between genotype and form?

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Some people reading this will have come back to this site having used it previously to locate information about the Cape Animal Behaviour Centre, or are people that know us, but hopefully it will soon begin to also include many who are coming here for the first time and are doing so specifically because they are interested in what we are now doing. The Animal Rehabilitation Initiative (ARI) was where most of us involved in the CABC started on this journey, and is in many ways our first and abiding love.

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