Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Is there a difference? Comparison of golden retrievers and dogs affected by breed specific legislation regarding aggressive behaviour. (2008)
S.A. Ott, E. Schalke, A.M. von Gaertner, H. Hackbarth. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 3: 134-140.

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Revised: April 25, 2012; 18:08 EST
Note 1:
At that time the authorities assumed that certain breeds of dogs were especially dangerous without just cause.
The law insinuated, without just cause, that particular breeds were especially dangerous. . .
The first example above appears as the second sentence of Ott (2008); the second example appears as the fifth sentence of Schalke (2008). These two papers appeared in the same issue of the Journal of Veterinary Behavior.
The repetition of the phrase without just cause announces that the authors have abandoned all pretense of scientific objectivity. These papers, and others from TiHo, are written not as scientific papers but as amicus briefs. Many of the TiHo papers on dog aggression show similar indiscretions.
Note 2:
All the papers on dangerous dogs published by TiHo are based on data collected by Mittman (2002) and by Johann (2004). It appears that all subsequent TiHo publications on the subject of aggression in Golden Retrievers, including Ott (2008) and Schalke (2008), while not always explicit on this matter, use the existing data sets compiled years previously by Mittmann and Johann.
Note 3: The Test Instrument
The papers published by TiHo faculty all refer to the aggression test designed by Netto and Planta (1997). Stefanie Ott, in the paper currently under consideration, claims the test used to test for aggression in Lower Saxony was based on a temperament test by Netto and Planta (1997). Any connection between the Netto test and the test used in Lower Saxony is tenuous at best.
Netto's test is comprised of 43 subtests, or situations. The test accepted by the state of Lower Saxony and used by Mittman (2002) and Johann (2004) uses 35 situations. One situation was omitted during testing, resulting in a test of 34 situations.
Netto (1997) Section 5.1 The Test Design: If only a small number of subtests are performed, there is less chance of detecting aggression. . . .  It is therefore not advisable to reduce the number of subtests. 
Furthermore, the ratings scale for aggressive behavior was increased from five (in Netto) to seven (in Mittmann), thereby diluting the range of possible aggressive responses. 
Note 4:
A careful examination of the Netto test and the test used in Lower Saxony reveals more troubling discrepancies. Of the 44 situations in the Netto test, Mittmann dropped 27 which dealt with known triggers such as removal of the food bowl, and territoriality inside a car or associated with the dog's bed. Significantly, Mittmann (2002) and Johann (2004) also omitted all test situations which tested for obedience and dog/dog aggression.
TiHo took the remaining 16 situations and bulked them back up to 35 situations, often by inventing near replicas. In fact, the Mittmann/Johann test used in Lower Saxony to evaluate listed breeds bears little resemblance to the Netto test.
Netto's test is explicitly designed to find aggressive individuals, with the intent of excluding them from breeding.  It can be argued that the test adapted by TiHo and first used by Mittmann (2002) is designed to achieve the opposite: to prove that no dog, including the dogs on the Lower Saxony list of dangerous breeds, is inherently aggressive.
The commentary will be continued in a subsequent post.

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