Slate has a popular feature called “The Explainer,” which addresses those nagging questions the news leaves unanswered — be they too weighty, too trivial or just too weird.
Every year, the online magazine lets readers pick from submitted questions that never made the column, and choose what they call the “Explainer Question of the Year.”
Then the column answers it.
For 2008, after deeming the three top vote getting questions already sufficiently answered– including why cockroaches flip over on their backsides when they die — Slate named the No. 4 vote-getter as question of the year: What’s the most disloyal dog breed?
Slate’s answer: “Nobody knows.”
The column’s author, Daniel Engber, writes that while conventional wisdom holds that each of the 161 breeds now recognized by the American Kennel Club has a distinctive temperament, the reality is the there is less difference, behaviorally, between breeds than ever.
The reason? Most dogs have lost their jobs.
Dogs once bred for a specific task — to herd, to guard, to hunt — are now bred primarily to make good companions or win dog shows. The traits a breed might once have clearly exhibited were tied in large part to how we used them. So a working dog, trained to guard property, might at one point might have been deemed most “loyal.” Today, though, the personality of dogs can vary tremendously within a particular breed.
Breeds might still have certain predilections, but any sweeping statements about dogs of a certain breed should be taken with a grain of salt — whether they’re about pit bulls or poodles.
Of course, plenty of people are still making them, and are still a little to quick to do what — were it applied to humans — would amount to “profiling.”
Hats off to Slate for not falling into that trap.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 18th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: behavior, breeds, characteristics, disloyal, disloyalty, dog breeds, dogs, explainer, loyal, loyalty, most disloyal dog breed, personality, profiles, questions, slate, temperament, traits, unanswered