Philosophical questions about Dog Management: - Page 1

Pedigree Database


by Hundmutter on 18 January 2020 - 05:01

1. A poster of a recent thred said that they 'know' that dogs live to reproduce, and that it has been proved that the most important drive, to a dog, is therefore to breed, rather than to find food, stay alive and healthy, in order to be able to undertake other activities including procreate and thus reproduce its genes.

Out of my experience of living around and studying the behaviour of dogs for almost 60 of my 65 years on Earth, I tend to disagree. I think the dog would usually prioritise eating over sex, basically.  OK there will be 'moments of immediacy' when an in-season bitch presents itself, the dog probably will not think to turn to its food bowl or go off hunting IN THAT INSTANT; but long - term ? What do other members think ?

We are no doubt all aware that various experiments have been, and are being, conducted into such matters, and theories and hypotheses raised from time to time. There may also be different religious perspectives on such questions. I did a little Internet research because this query was raised, and could find nothing that is conclusive.  The person who raised the issue did not cite the source(s) on which they rely for their definitive declaration. 


2. The same questioner raised another issue: in connection with their conviction that a dog's main priority in life is to mate, they have concerns that their (male) middle-aged dog is still a 'virgin' and seem to have convinced themself that it might be a good idea to find a bitch for him to (& I quote:) "lose his virginity" .

A] The poster seems sure that some owner of a female would want to use their (unproven) dog at stud - poster says they aren't fussy about a Fee, just concerned with the dog's well-being - because he has a pedigree and is a 'good looking' specimen of a WGSL.  No details were given for whether this dog  has in any way been health tested for the many things we know can be a hereditary problem in GSDs - only an insistance that readers / responders should have realised that he would not choose to foist such risks on the breed through this (one ?) mating. 'Cos no-one would, right ?  

[And no, there are no indications of any sport, working or breed-show qualifications achieved with this dog that might indicate him a useful addition to anyone's breeding programme, other than the 'pets for profit' version.]

B] There is no comment as to whether this is purely a 'one-off' that is suggested, or whether there is an intention to go on doing it at intervals.   

C] The poster seems to refuse to acknowledge any interest in the highly probable results of such a mating /s; by insisting that the question was ONLY about the mating, so  nobody should raise the spectre of BREEDING and what happens next ... I do hope this isn't a reflection on ( his ?) attitude to human reproduction too, as it seems to embody the old-fashioned idea that 'the women get the babies and the blokes get off scot free'.

'Experienced' views were sought, and a number of quite experienced and knowledgeable regular  posters replied to the thred; some were terse and to the point, others (including me, you know how verbose I get !) tried to warn about the pool of sharks out there; and about some other detrimental issues of letting a dog have its wicked way with a bitch without careful thought,  either to the consequences of any resulting litter, or to what it might bring to the dog's subsequent behaviour.

So what do PDB members in general think about these two issues in an abstract sense ?


by Hired Dog on 18 January 2020 - 05:01

Well, I can tell you, based on MY experience, that breeding, can, of course be a huge motivator is a dog's as well as a human's life, but, it is NOT their first priority.
Resources, food, a secure place to live, pack order, those are more important then breeding. I owned a dog 30 plus years a go who would run past a bitch in heat to get a bite during during training, that tells you where his priorities were.

I do not know the person of whom you speak personally so I cannot comment as to their motives, they do seem to believe that sex/reproduction is the foremost thought in a dog's mind, but, just like I cannot say for sure that it isnt, neither can anyone else tell me that it is, since they have never had "the talk" with their animal.

Priorities will always determine what comes first and I will maintain that, other then the occasional one off, food and shelter are of first importance. Sure, you want to breed and pass on your genes, I believe that is a genetic urge, but, its not something a dog sits down and ponders as it gets up in age either.
Finally, people do tend to give their dogs human qualities, but, I dont believe dogs sit around, without any stimulation from a near by bitch in heat and think of sex, unlike their human owners.

by ZweiGSD on 18 January 2020 - 09:01

Hired Dog jogged my memory on something that I did not post in the other thread. At work my male would be in a shared office with two other females, a GSD and a Dobe, that were not mine. When they would go into heat he would barely give them a sniff. However, he would be interested in my female when she was in heat.

Seems to me If reproduction was the most important drive he should not have cared what female it was. Or, did he have a more discerning drive????????


by Koots on 18 January 2020 - 11:01

In a wolf pack, most often it is the alpha male & female ONLY who mate. The rest of the pack members support the survival of the pack and may or may not get a chance to mate, depending on environment & food supply. But the primary responsibilities of the non-alpha members are to ensure the alpha pair can survive to mate and to ensure pack success, including helping to raise pups.   So, in the case of wild canids, the process of survival of the pack was of the utmost importance, regardless of one animals' ability to procreate.

by jillmissal on 19 January 2020 - 09:01

Koots, I just read a study that theorized that it's not so much the "alpha" (for lack of better term) pair who mate, it's more that the ones who mate become "alpha." The researcher observed that wolf packs are more like wolf families than anything else; the offspring of one or more breeding pairs. They don't "outcross" or bring new wolves into the pack. Interesting stuff.


by Hundmutter on 19 January 2020 - 11:01

Except in those occasional cases where e.g. a non-alpha female sneaks off with an 'outsider' male - this definitely happens sometimes, at least one such mating is shown in those films of Yellowstone through the seasons. ;-)

Either way, there's no indication that mating / breeding is always put before hunting & feeding in wild canids.

In fact as far as I can find so far, there is no study that conclusively shows there is any primary concentration on reproduction (survival of species) over immediate survival of the individual. Logic would suggest that even though there is a deep biological drive to procreate and keep the species in existence, primarily the vast majority of creatures prioritise feeding to stay alive and capable of copulating. Many bird species have been found to delay, or even forgo altogether, reproduction for a breeding season where this clashes with a period of scarce resources.
There are exceptions to this; there is a term "semelparity" for creatures which sacrifice themselves, stop feeding in order to mate, and then collapse & die. Needless to say, these do not live long lives. They include a lot of moths, mayflies, and other insect species; also some sorts of fish, particularly salmon. There are no mammals that do this. Closest we get is a very rare collection of small, insectivarous, rodent-like marsupials called Antechinus. In these, the males at breeding age stop doing anything except mating with every female they can find, to the extent that they sacrifice their health and by the time they mate the last available female, they not only die after quite a short life, they have already literally begun to disintegrate.

Not aware that any canine, wild or domesticated, [nor the cat family, nor equines, nor apes & monkeys, nor the human animal, ever behaves like that] ! Irrespective of whether opportunities exist, or not.

by GSCat on 20 January 2020 - 03:01

I had a female cat in heat that broke a window and chewed a screen to get out. Her kittens were adorable (aren't they all... :-)

Funny, the male cat played with and helped care for his kittens, but ignored these. Don't know if it was because he had been neutered or understood the kittens weren't his ;-)


by Hundmutter on 21 January 2020 - 03:01

GSCat - there is always the exception that breaks the Rule ;-)
I have known tom cats both neutered and entire who have been very solicitous with young kittens, whether their own or not (or of unknown father). I have also known male cats who hated small kittens with a passion ...


by emoryg on 21 January 2020 - 08:01

Gotta love those cats. I learned a good deal from watching tom cats while driving around late at night. Those guys have brutal fights. I would stop and break them up sometimes. Not much of a fight when someone’s house kitty decides to get out and take over some old tom’s territory. I was so impressed with their abilities, I even named a test designed to check the commitment of police dogs, the ‘cat fight’.

And of course, the one time my female decided to escape the house she came back a few days later pregnant.


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