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February 19, 2010

Comments

Melissa Bollbach

Great explanation, Angi! This reminds me of the media splash about studies that claim women talk more than men. When you look at one of these studies, it might find that women talk more on average, but that the range of variation within each sex is so wide you just can't predict whether a given woman will talk more or less than a given man. (Never mind that there are about as many studies claiming men talk more!) Like in those studies, the range of breed personalities is often much wider than the differences between the stereotypical breed personalities.

With deliberately bred dogs, the genetics of the immediate family have just as much influence as the more distant "official" breed genetics. When animals are bred for looks without regard to temperament, breeders are at greater risk of producing fearful or aloof dogs that aren't as suited to be pets as dogs who are docile and unafraid of new experiences.

And let's not forget that nurture can have an even greater effect than nature. Puppy socialization might be the biggest factor in a dog's suitability as a family pet. As an SPCA training volunteer I admire the shelter's commitment to puppy socialization, and of course I always love when I get to work with the cute little guys to help them get ready for life with their families!

The Richmond SPCA's use of the ASPCA Meet Your Match program is another great way to ensure each adopter finds the right dog. Its assessment of a dog's individual personality is much more useful to customers than a breed label. Bravo to you and your staff for using a modern understanding of animal temperament to promote successful matches for homeless pets! I'm so proud to live in a community with such an innovative and healthy animal shelter.

Angi Baber

Thanks so much Melissa for your comments and the great work you do helping our pets!

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