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Breed Banning – Should Rottweilers, Not Just Pit Bulls Be Banned?

I recently read an article by Beth Clifton in Animals 24-7 titled “The Rottweilers In My Life” in which she reflects on her experiences with the four Rottweilers she has either owned or lived with and concludes that “keeping a Rottweiler is not worth the risk, trials, and tribulations that come with the dog” and seems to suggest adding Rottweilers to the breed banning list.

Animals 24-7 is primarily authored by Merritt Clifton, (Ms Clifton’s spouse) who is also its publisher and editor. To quote the publication itself, “Animals 24-7 is a nonprofit online newspaper and information service covering the humane community worldwide” and “Statistical research of humane issues is among our primary activities”. It is also a vehicle frequently used to support both of the Cliftons’ belief that pit bulls are dangerous and need banning. However, I have noted that over perhaps the last year there has been an extension shift in Animals 24-7 from advocacy of pit bull banning to pit bull-“like” to Molosser breeds and in this most recent article it seems, Rottweilers specifically.

In spite of in principle not being a fan of breed banning and leaning far more towards animal welfare as opposed to animal rights, I’m still a regular reader of Animals 24-7. I think this puts me somewhat outside of the normal Animals 24-7 readership demographic. Ironically because I’m not inclined to dismiss the publication out of hand because I don’t concur with of some of the breed views expressed, my mere mentioning of the publication or Mr Merritt’s name has upon occasion put me on the outs with some in the pro-pit bull, anti-breed banning camps. Many of those opposed to the opinions of Mr Clifton in particular and his pit bull campaigning subscribe to the philosophy of “if yer not with us, then yer agin us”. In other words, the camps are pretty polarised.

Both garrisons seemingly have copious statistics to support their passionate opposed and poles apart perspectives. Because I’m not a statistician and because I have seen data manipulated to support agenda-driven perspectives I feel unqualified to consider their statistics or the data it is drawn as proof. I suspect as a result of my ignorance on the topic of statistical science I could be very easily misled by either camp. For what it’s worth, I would be interested if there was a respected statistical expert or two or three without a dog remotely in the fight about either side’s data and conclusion. What I will say is in my experience there are far too many unnecessary dog bites. As much as I love dogs, I believe there is sufficient evidence to conclude that when it comes to attacks on innocents (people, other dogs and livestock) by vicious dogs something does need to be done.

I’m particularly happy to have read this most recent “The Rottweilers In My Life” dangerous breeds article because although it was certainly not its intent it wonderfully illustrated to me the reasons I’m not a fan of breed banning. Breed banning is relatively easy in comparison to addressing where I believe the real problems lie. This article for me shone a strong light on just how often the problem is less the breed and very possibly more the person owning the breed. Much, more importantly, it exemplified how easy and often it is that regardless of the camp they come from advocates miss that they themselves and their beliefs and perceptions fail to include the idea that they are themselves a significant part of the problem. I have encountered countless pit bull owners that dismiss anything anti-pit bull because they have a pit bull that has never mauled or killed. In Ms Clifton’s article, we have someone that believes Rottweilers are bad because she has witnessed reasons to believe so.

breed banning It’s a topic where I’ve found many on both sides all too often miss what I believe is to be the essence of the problem. That essence is the person’s owning these dogs and the people advocating both for and against breed banning. Years ago when the province I live in was proposing banning pit bulls, I met with the Attorney General Christopher “Chris” Bentley. I asked him if he thought that if the proposed ban makes it into law did he judge that those at the other end of the pit-bull leashes after giving up their dogs would go out and replace them with hamsters? To his credit, my attempt to make him aware this was perhaps as much if not more so a people problem rather than only a breed problem did make him think and then laugh, but I fell short and he was not sufficiently moved and the ban passed.

In a further effort to encourage considering route other than banning I participated in a locally televised debate where I appeared on the anti-ban panel. Mid-debate, one of those also invited to speak against the ban almost hysterically blurted out that if we were to ban pit bulls, then poodles should be banned as well as they bit more frequently. I replied something along the line of that the various species of North American mosquitoes bite more frequently than all dogs combined, which got a laugh and put us somewhat back on track. However, I realised at that moment that those advocating on behalf of pit bulls were very likely going to sink their ship and inadvertently cause the ban to become legislation. Primarily because for most their sole qualifier as breed advocates bent on fighting the fight was their experience and love of their own dog. Only a minuscule number really knew anything about canine behaviour and that to me became obvious to those sitting on the fence. Other prevailing and equally poorly thought out arguments were trying to deflect with strategies suggesting that a dog is a dog, one breed is no different than another, and that frequency of bites as opposed to severity should be the nature of the government’s focus. I believe these tactics ultimately undermined their credibility and with nothing better to offer or consider the ban went through.

Sadly, in spite of my personal beliefs, I don’t expect breed banning will often be overturned and on the occasions that it is it will not be replaced by anything that meaningfully does address the problem. In fact, I hold if the quality of advocacy against breed banning doesn’t improve there will be in the next decade be further bans and several additional breeds added to the banned breed list.

Which brings me back to Ms Clifton’s article about Rottweilers being a problematic breed. Just in case you’re not inclined to click on the provided link to read the article here are some quotations cited as evidence for her conclusion, “I believe that keeping a Rottweiler is not worth the risk, trials, and tribulations that come with the dog.”

◆    I can attest that all of the Rotties in my life were problematic and downright dangerous.

◆    I was a teenager and didn’t pay much attention to Albert’s exploits, but he was a resource-guarder extraordinaire and the sounds he uttered made you believe him.

◆    . . . a stray Rottie named Sam who killed my African gray parrot

◆    Other police officers recommended Rottweilers.  They believed Rottweilers were stable, reliable dogs who could effectively protect a family home. None of us fully realized then that Rottweilers are high-risk dogs, and may menace family members as well as intruders.

◆    Duke and Max were horrible resource-guarders,  including guarding socks and underwear.  You just didn’t even bother to pick these items up or Duke and Max would emit the sounds of hell.

◆    I was out of town,  but not knowing that,  the children brought their new kitten over to show me.  Max jumped up,  ripped the kitten out of their arms,  and killed her right in front of the children. Max also took one of the lips off my llama,  requiring emergency vet care,  killed rats and ducks,  and frankly I soon had enough of the essence of Rottweiler

◆    When Duke, at eight years old and suffering from hip dysplasia, snapped at my then three-year-old son, just missing his eye,  I demanded that Duke be taken for euthanasia right then and there,  which of course I was never forgiven for doing.

I have no doubt that Ms Clifton truly loves and is passionate about animals. In her own words, “I had horses, a donkey, a mini zebu cow, goats, and a llama.” And later “I love all animals.”

However, my first impression after the first time I read her article was a thread I have seen that commonly runs through the animal rights and I Love Dogs movement. You can love animals and because of that love convince yourself and others that you are have expertise in areas where you do not and do some damage along the way. I am not suggesting that Ms Clifton’s knowledge and passion concerning animal rights does not dwarf my own. I am certain it does.

However, I am saying that what her article demonstrated was what I saw as a significant missing of the point in an area that I have considerable expertise and experience which is assessing and rehabilitating “dogs gone wild”. This knowledge has been accrued by working full time for what is approaching the end of three decades and is based on working with many thousands of in over their heads companion dogs and companion dog owners.

Ms Clifton’s article illustrated a classic example of what I refer to as a mini-van level driving skills person buying a Ferrari because they “love them” without considering that the investment of competence and commitment that will suffice with one will not affect the other. A Rottweiler is not a mini-van breed. In the many assessments I’ve done where behaviour is going off the rails, it is often enough due to the person end of the leash rather than instability in the dog.

Some breeds require more driving skill, maintenance knowledge and time to invest than others. Inappropriately matched, it should come as no surprise when a mini-van rated driver ends up rolling the Ferrari, either wrecking themselves, the vehicle or an innocent bystander.

However myopic and unfair it might be, I understand it is human nature to look for something other than ourselves to blame. In Ms Clifton’s article, she seems to blame the breed whereas I believe there is considerable evidence which I will layout shortly that the blame may very well have been more appropriately laid at the feet of those owning the Rottweilers of her experiences.

To be fair in the camp of those opposed to breed banning, they all too often use the exception fallacy to support their own beliefs. They conclude that because they haven’t rolled their own Ferrari, the type of vehicle is not a factor and anyone that can afford one should have one because they’re such great cars. These people I suspect are one of the significant causes at the root of mauling and killings by certain breeds of dogs. However, still a people problem rather than a breed problem.

I would no more think less of Ms Clifton than my clients that find they’ve got in over their head with a breed of dog ill-suited to their skills and/or lifestyle. That is simply a reality of North American dog ownership. Many people erroneously seem to think one breed of dog is much the same as any other. However, in this case, I believe it is necessary to take the author and article to task as the article uses what I see as a false cause argument purposed to enhance a breed banning agenda. If it were simply a Facebook post written by John or Jane Q. Public I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of responding. However, her article appears in a well read publication and while that publication is worthy of respect this article requires rebuttal as I believe the reasoning behind the conclusion is flawed.

breed banning If, for arguments sake, we were to agree with breed banning as a means to curtail the significant number of cases where certain breeds are inordinately represented in maiming and killing of other animals and people, it should be because we openly acknowledge that there is insufficient political will to hold people guilty of purchasing breeds of dogs they have no business owning and ultimately becoming irresponsible dog owners. That would at least be intellectually honest. Blaming the breed alone, or at all, is simply in my view, dishonest. There are simply far too many positive examples of these dogs in the hands of people equipped to own them to completely write off a breed. Either way, I still have doubts that breed banning will provide a long term solution as it seems evident post pit-bull ban that people frankly move on to other breeds equally inappropriate as matches.

The article outlines four Rottweilers and multiple disasters. Yes, based on the article alone one might conclude that Rottweilers are dubious without considering that any Rottweiler in the wrong hands is potentially problematic. However, that person would not be me. I have known too many Rottweilers and similarly wired breeds in the right hands to blame the breed. I am outlining below my observations on the quotations above plus one additional to illustrate from my professional perspective the red flags that to me indicated this is more of a person problem rather than a Rottweiler problem.

    ◆    I can attest that all of the Rotties in my life were problematic and downright dangerous.

I don’t question the veracity of this statement from Ms Clifton’s personal experience. However, having personally assessed more than four Rottweilers, some “problematic and downright dangerous” and others not so I cannot move from “all of the Rotties in my life” to the belief “that that keeping a Rottweiler is not worth the risk, trials, and tribulations that come with the dog” and then on to banning them as a breed.

When assessing the behaviour of any dog it should be done from the perspective of their breed but also their bloodline genetics, the efforts made by the breeder and the first owner during the dog’s critical socialization period, the existence and method of training, how that training is maintained throughout the life of the dog, the manner in which unsupervised time was spent, the owner’s handling ability etc.

    ◆    I was a teenager and didn’t pay much attention to Albert’s exploits, but he was a resource-guarder extraordinaire and the sounds he uttered made you believe him … Duke and Max were horrible resource-guarders,  including guarding socks and underwear.  You just didn’t even bother to pick these items up or Duke and Max would emit the sounds of hell.

Some of our dog breeds and individual dogs seem to remember what the day to day survival existence of their Wolfie cousins is like and I see this resource guarding trait quite often in my work. When it appears in a breed such as a Golden Retriever, as is becoming disturbingly more commonplace, I attribute it to poor breeding practices. As far as treatment, results range from being unmanageable through behaviour modification efforts for most companion dog owners, to suppress, to the dog becoming happily indifferent.

Poor breeding can also be the cause behind a Rottweiler’s resource guarding, however, I have found in the majority of cases that the catalyst for the Rottweiler in question is the perceived relationship that the dog has regarding its owners. When someone lives with a guarding breed as if they were just friendly roommates as opposed to teacher/student this sort of behaviour is not uncommon. As a result, technically speaking it is far more addressable in a Rottweiler as opposed to a Golden Retriever with the same issue.

    ◆    . . . a stray Rottie named Sam who killed my African gray parrot

To permit a dog with an unknown critical socialisation history due to it being a stray, access to a person or animal without the ability to get to the dog before the dog can get to the person or animal is unwise regardless of breed. In a breed with significant prey drive as is the case in many Rottweilers is potentially an indication of ignorance regarding canine behaviour on the part of the dog’s owner.

    ◆    Other police officers recommended Rottweilers. They believed Rottweilers were stable, reliable dogs who could effectively protect a family home. None of us fully realized then that Rottweilers are high-risk dogs, and may menace family members as well as intruders.

I believe in logic circles this is what is known as “appeal to authority – using the opinion or position of an authority figure, or institution of authority, in place of an actual argument”. There is a saying, “It’s a poor craftsman that blames his tools.” I have known many police k-9 handlers and trainers, and the vast majority know very little of dogs outside the niche area of policing. Never the less, I would give the above statement my wholehearted endorsement – if the last sentence had gone on to say – when poorly bred, socialised, trained, managed, etc.

    ◆    I was out of town, but not knowing that the children brought their new kitten over to show me. Max jumped up, ripped the kitten out of their arms, and killed her right in front of the children. Max also took one of the lips off my llama, requiring emergency vet care, killed rats and ducks, and frankly, I soon had enough of the essence of Rottweiler

I found this particularly disturbing. At what point should the owner of a dog move from being taken to task for poor judgement to be considered criminally negligent? These sort of serial maul/kill events are in many cases exactly the type of incidents that Mr Merritt so rightfully writes about with such passion. They are the red flags that lead up to a human being mauled or killed. For reasons left unexplained, Max’s “Dalmer-like” proclivities failed to trigger in his owners that ‘there’s something the matter with this dog’ or ‘there’s something the matter with us’ and ‘we need to act’. I can understand and on a good day forgive a single incident when a dog owner is frankly ignorant. However, when the veil of ignorance is repeatedly torn from one’s eyes and a victim list develops something is seriously wrong in on the dog owning side of the equation. If it’s too much dog then re-home. If it’s unstable then euthanise.

    ◆    When Duke, at eight years old and suffering from hip dysplasia, snapped at my then three-year-old son, just missing his eye, I demanded that Duke be taken for euthanasia right then and there, which of course I was never forgiven for doing.

I find it reprehensible when dog lovers pile on to a parent for somehow not teaching a three-year-old boy to stop being three years old. I wrote an article about this trend some time ago. If you are interested, here is a link – Blaming Children for Being Bitten by Dogs Needs To Stop. However, I will question, when knowing the nature of children and the potential of any dog suffering from pain, the wisdom of putting any child within the range of a dog known to be in pain when the dog’s owner cannot get to the dog before the dog can get to the child.

    ◆    All were meticulously sought from reputable breeders as weaned puppies

This ‘reputable breeders’ quote is a reference to where the dogs in question were sourced with the exception I assume of the stray referred to as Sam. Without elaboration from Ms Clifton as to how her definition of reputable breeding holds up to my own, I will be only speculating, but I am confident that it is highly doubtful that these dogs were purchased from reputable breeders. Once again, I am not saying the people that bred these dogs were not decent people or that they didn’t have a deep love of the Rottweiler breed, etc. They may or may not have been. What I am saying is that reputable Rottweiler breeders do not place their puppies in homes that do not understand the responsibilities associated with owning such a breed. It is clear from the history Ms Clifton provides that the households these dogs lived in did not have this understanding. Unless the persons were not asked (and at the very least a good breeder would explore this territory) or lied when they were asked about their Rottweiler experience and experiences I find it hard to believe the breeder qualified as reputable.

I don’t believe that any one of these admissions would on their own suggest that Ms Clifton’s reach exceeds her grasp with regard to genuinely understanding dogs and canine behaviour. However, when taken collectively I will go so far as making that statement. To be clear, that is not to say, she is a bad person, a bad parent or not a dog lover or need give up her animal rights membership card. I am saying I question whether the talents she does possess, include enough of an understanding of canine behaviour and responsible dog ownership as it pertains to one’s reach exceeding one’s grasp when it comes to owning certain breeds.

Whereas for Ms Clifton it became apparent that Rottweilers are not worth risk, for me as I read her article it became clear that Rottweilers in her care are at significant risk of becoming “evidence” for if not an unsound, then at the very least incomplete somewhat awry argument. I think it’s an important distinction. For those sitting on the fence (or legislators looking for solutions) one conclusion might lead them to believe that the breed should be banned. Whereas the perspective of my own article might get them to at least consider that part of the dog bite solution should include consideration and appropriate focus that who owns what dogs have a huge bearing on how a dog turns out.

Let us set the content of Ms Clifton’s article aside for a moment. While it must be categorized as anecdotal evidence I think some of my regional observations regarding the banning of pit bulls are worthy of further investigation of parties better qualified than I, as I believe they seem to indicate that breed banning isn’t entirely particularly effective and has perhaps ironically lent potential proof that focussing on responsibility rather than breed may pay better dividends for all parties.

breed banningAs I mentioned, in my province the pit bull breed was banned in 2005. In spite of the ban, I see almost as many pit bulls on the street and in the homes of clients as I did before the ban. What I’m not seeing since the ban is anywhere near the number of high profile incidents we saw in the years leading up to the ban. How could this be? It’s possible that my impression that the dogs may be almost as numerous now as before the ban is skewed but bear with me nevertheless.

Where I do see incidents is when the dog involved is in my opinion unquestionably all or in part pit bull or related genetics, but has been sold to someone lacking the dog experience to tell the difference between a minivan and a Ferrari. These dogs are almost always procured through one of the many unethical rescues that proliferate the dog rescue world. People looking to purchase a dog are intentionally misled. They are lied to about the breed of the dog. They are told they are taking home a Boxer X, Lab X or otherwise misidentified.

Based on my last two paragraphs, the tentative suspicion I have is that those that knowingly kept and currently keep pit bulls after the ban – because of the ban and the threat of loss of their dog, began to embrace a level of dog ownership that involved managing their dogs in a manner more in keeping with the breed’s “Ferrari” needs. Perhaps this had as much to do with their removal from the headlines as the ban? It’s just a thought but one as I say worthy of consideration before we propose further bans.

Back to Ms Clifton’s article. When it comes to cars and dogs in North America if you like one or the other enough and have the cash or the credit you are free to purchase. However, a Rottweiler is no more a Golden Retriever than a Ferrari is a mini-van. There would be far fewer accidents if the responsibilities tied to ownership were better bound to the responsible matching to horsepower rather than campaigning for bans that would keep certain breeds from those equipped to breed, own, train and maintain the more specialised “vehicles” in the dog world. I believe that a person can be good and a dog can be good and yet it can be a horrible marriage. That’s what Ms Clifton’s article depicted to me. A bad match, not a bad breed.

The responsibilities associated with companion dog ownership in North America are in my opinion woefully inadequate. However so are those with running a rescue, breeding of dogs and training of dogs (see the post script below regarding a project I am looking for funding assistance with). I can’t imagine in my wildest dreams that we will ever see significant enough movement in the right direction in the rescue, breeding and training worlds to create an environ that would make breed banning go away. As a result, I think we’re not only stuck with it, we’re going to seem more of it with an expansion of banned breeds.

Where I think Ms Clifton and I can agree is in saying that there are many breeds that should not be considered as mere pets. A wide range of breeds should at the very least be treated as a considerable hobby. I think we might also agree that the average companion dog owner simply does not have enough of themselves left over at the end of the day to take on the responsibility that should accompany owning many breeds of dogs.

breed banning

– John Wade


I left a comment including a link to my response in the comments section for the author of the article and the editor of Animals-24/7 as a courtesy and in hopes it might spark a dialogue. It did but not in the manner in which I’d hoped.

The Comment I Left:

I’ve read this article a few times and while there are areas where we may agree overall I thought it worthy of o ering another perspective in hopes a more complete solution might be found. My article grew rather large so I won’t add it here but if anyone is interested in a perspective that considers that the examples in this article have more to do with the danger of humans vs the dogs they own here’s a link –

The Comments Section Response I Received from Merritt Clifton:

John Wade’s article, linked above as a professional courtesy but not in any way an endorsement, is less an argument taking into consideration the whole of the ANIMALS 24-7 view of Rottweilers than it is a personal attack on Beth, who contributed a sidebar about her own experiences with four Rottweilers over about 20 years’ time to my own much more extensive review of Rottweiler history & data,, the existence of which Wade did not even mention.

John Wade’s argument, such as it is, is essentially a claim that only experts should have certain breeds of dog, combined with the claim that he is an expert in dog behavior while, in his view, Beth is not. This argument fails on multiple accounts.

To begin with the first premise, if a dog can only safely live among behavior experts, in a world where less than 1% of the human population qualifies as such, the dog really cannot safely live among people at all. The overwhelming majority of dogs have managed to live safely among non-expert humans for millennia with conflicts so few that only two fatal dog attacks are known to have been mentioned in the entire corpus of Greek and Hebrew literature BCE. Pit bulls and Rottweilers, by contrast, adding up with all their close mixes to 7% or less of the total dog population, have accounted for 70% of the dog attack fatalities in the U.S. and Canada over the 35 years I have logged them. Inasmuch as pit bulls and Rottweilers offer no positive attributes that are not shared by many other breeds with much safer histories, there is no value to society in keeping them among us, especially if only purported experts can handle them.

Moving to John Wade’s second premise, his assertion of expertise is based, apparently entirely, on his 30-odd years as a dog trainer. This is only one category of relevant expertise, and, we would argue, hardly the category of expertise most relevant to assessing dog behavior relative to maintaining public health and safety. Over those same 30-odd years, beyond Beth’s personal experience as owner of many dogs of a wide variety of breeds, mixes, and sizes, she has worked as a police officer, on the front line of protecting public safety, where many of the most dangerous dog/human encounters occur; as an animal control officer, responding to emergencies involving every sort of dog, but most especially those whose own behavior most often causes emergencies; as veterinary technician, handling dogs of all kinds in every condition of stress and pain; and as mother and school teacher, in which capacities she had considerable opportunity to observe how most dogs respond to children, as opposed to the distinctively different and much more dangerous behavior of pit bulls and Rottweilers.

My Reply to Merritt in Same Comment Thread:

Dear Merritt,

I’m truly sorry you believe my perspective on the article was a personal attack. That was not the intent. I went to some length to not go that route as I don’t believe ad hominem attacks leads to useful discourse. One of the reasons I have remained a faithful reader of your publication has been based on my personal experience where you have willingly and often patiently engaged with criticism when it was made in good faith.

I do take into consideration the whole of the Animals 24-7, in fact, part of my article said as much. It’s why I have remained a faithful reader. Even the bits I don’t agree with have excellent points that are not lost on me. I do understand the conundrum surrounding certain breeds of dogs and share your desire to find a solution. I just believe there is much that your perspective doesn’t factor in that has a relevance that could also contribute.

I may not have mentioned the existence of the article that you cite however I did mention that articles of its nature were available to read. I’d be happy to add it as a link at the end of the article along with a note that you believe it should have been cited. I’m not sure though how you feel it addresses the concerns that I wrote about as any that I have read have also failed to factor or from my recollection include the perspectives that I shared. I’m afraid that in spite of your dismissiveness of my expertise I will have to hold to my perspective that ignoring the responsibilities of dog owners can only lead to incomplete solutions at best.

I will have to take exception to the meatiest part of your reply that anywhere in my article I suggested that Rottweilers can only live safely among behaviour experts. This is either a disappointing straw man tactic or this portion of your reply was accidentally included and was actually intended to address to an article written by someone else.

Nor did I suggest that expertise such as my own (which I did not fully reveal) was most relevant however I do believe it does have relevance and was missing from the article in question.

I’m not sure at what point you would become less dismissive of my perspective and what I might have to offer regarding improving safety around dogs but for what it’s worth I also was for several years an animal control officer. I believe my incident attendance, court time and conviction rate would compare favourably to the article’s author’s time as a police and animal control officer. In addition, I have worked closely with Canada Post on the federal level on protocols to improve employee safety around dogs. I also designed and still teach the officer safety around dogs program province-wide for the Municipal Law Enforcement Officers’ Association of Ontario.

Merritt’s Response

Mr Cliffton responded in 4 ways.

  1. By not publishing my reply.
  2. The link to my alternate perspective, rebuttal if you will, was deleted.
  3. My original comment was edited down to: “I’ve read this article a few times and while there are areas where we may agree overall, my perspective is that the examples in this article have more to do with the danger of humans vs the dogs they own.”
  4. In addition, I was removed from the Animals 24-7 newsletter list.

In Conclusion

On one level I can understand Mr Cliffton’s initial reaction. I was somewhat hesitant to write my column as it was a response to an article written by his wife. I worried in spite of my best efforts what with the realities of human male evolutionary biology and psychology he might perceive it as a personal attack, but after a fair amount of rumination on my part, I decided that it was worth publishing and hoped that journalistic professionalism would win the day.

So while I’d hoped for better his reply was not entirely unexpected although I was surprised it was as poorly focused on the topic at hand and more of disparagement of me personally which was ironic considering that was his take on my article.

Nevertheless, I thought that after reading my reply to his comment combined with some time to reflect he would see that I was not trying to be disrespectful but offering what I think is all too often a missing element in his articles when he writes about banning breeds as a means of keeping more people safe. That missing element is that all too often people get way more dog than they can handle. I’ve often said, in the right hands some breeds are fantastic in other hands they are guns with brains. Whereas Mr Cliffton writings, as do his wife’s, repeatedly fixate solely on breed. I didn’t even touch seriously on dog breeding and the impact on behaviour/stability on dogs when the sole qualifying factor in North America for breeding dogs is knowing the difference between a male and female dog. I could write at length on how bad breeding contributes to what Mr Cliffton believes is simply a bad breed.

I honestly didn’t expect him to double down by editing my comment, removing the link and removing me as a subscriber. I understand that it is entirely his right to do so as it is after all his site. However, it seems more of Trumpy response in keeping with a knee jerk blocking a Facebook “friend” rather than what I would expect in a serious publication.

I agree with Mr Cliffton that there is a problem and want a solution as badly as he does, so I’d hoped he’d give some consideration to what I offered in my article which I felt and still strongly feel identifies a missing element in his writings. It was an attempt to introduce a further consideration for him to mull over and to open the door to dialogue if not with me then someone he more strongly respects.


P.S. On a note related to this Ask the Dog Guy Column when Patreon support reaches a satisfactory level I will begin writing a series of essays with the current working title, “Everything Wrong In The Dog World – And What To Do About It”. Let me know if you would be interested in providing financial support for this project, and I will set up a support page. In the meantime, if you enjoyed this ‘Ask the Dog Guy’ column and want to see more, please support me on my Ask The Dog Guy Patreon page –

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3 thoughts on “Breed Banning – Should Rottweilers, Not Just Pit Bulls Be Banned?”

  1. Terry Offord

    On the article “breed-banning-rottweilers-not just pit bulls banned”. Thank God, someone with some brains & common sense wise enough to take Beth Clifton to task for her publicly vented unprofessional reasons for “dissing” Rottweilers!!! BRAVO!! You nailed it!! Too bad when people such as the Cliftons have access to a public platform that they utilize for authoring so many uneducated, unprofessional views to a broad readership. I’ve called them to task on occasion for their views — with facts & proof as backing — but they won’t publish any comments that don’t agree with theirs. So glad I’ve discovered you — now I know whose articles I want to read instead.

  2. Forrest Johnson

    To me, it seems like Beth Clifton is negligent with the raising of her dogs, and children. Blaming a dog for killing a kitten is like blaming a lion for killing a human. These dogs don’t see much other species and saying that it is the dogs fault for killing a kitten which those children brought to a dog is insane. Same thing with having that dog put down after he “nearly” bit her three-year old. Dog’s have warning bites for a reason, and it seems irrational for a first offence of an 8 year old dog! What a ‘*!#&’.

    1. I don’t know about the ‘*!#&’, bit, but for several years I’ve read much of what both have had to write about the dog world, and when it comes to behavior there has repeatedly been evidence of a high level of canine behavior ignorance in both Beth Clifton and her husband, Merritt Clifton.

      Much of what they do outside of that realm has been of interest enough and appreciated enough by me that until the above (not the article so much, as Merritt’s childish reaction to constructive criticism) I was a financial supporter (in a small way) of their operation.

      In spite of a few earlier forays into mentioning some of the gaps in their knowledge there appears to be no interest in shedding their ignorance in an area they profess expertise. Even though, in my opinion, it would help their ’cause’. Instead, arguments continue to be made such as Beth made in the article mentioned above which glaringly indicated her ignorance in the area of canine behavior.

      I use the word ignorance out of respect for the fact that I don’t know either of them well enough to know for sure, but there are times when it comes to canine behavior from the perspective of someone (myself) that has actually worked, studied, written and taught the subject for close to 30 years – full time, what they have to say all too often strays into the territory of stupidity if it were spoken/written by a real expert as opposed to a passionate layperson. I think I illustrated that ignorance in my response to Beth’s article whereas I confess I thought Merritt demonstrated at least a toe being dipped into the pond of stupidity by his response to my rebuttal. I would have been entirely open to having a rational discussion.

      That is not to suggest I believe either is inherently ‘stupid.’ From time to time we all do and say stupid things, and Merritt has certainly demonstrated the ability to do and say otherwise, which was one of the reasons I made the occasional donation. However, failure to recognize the impact of cognitive bias, logical fallacies, embrace critical thought or consider well intentioned constructive criticism doesn’t speak well of either of them and in my mind undermines giving their voices weight regarding their Pit Bull agenda (The removal of all Pit Bull dogs from the planet.); whatever it’s other strengths and weaknesses.

      Additionally, I think it’s worth addressing what I always saw as the elephant in the room. An argument can be made Merritt’s continued reference to Beth’s background as a vet tech, police officer and animal control officer, pit bull/Rottweiler/dog, etc. owner, etc. as a means of giving her voice credibility is ridiculous and fools only the ignorant. Those are not credentials for an expert in dog behavior.

      In any event, she didn’t appear to stay at any of those jobs long enough for her to be reasonably thought to have legitimate expert credentials individually as a vet tech, an animal control officer, or a police officer let alone a dog expert. None of those jobs result in anything other than a slightly greater than layperson’s understanding of canine behavior. None of them involve any canine behavior specific, superficial or advanced, education as a pre-requisite for participation. It’s as if someone has a job which requires ongoing contact with motor vehicles, for example, driving them into the car wash, washing them, etc., and they (or a spouse) claims to be a car mechanics/safety, etc. expert as a result.

      It also seemed odd to me that there were so many short term jobs and before credence would be given to any level of expertise as minor as it would and should be, I should like to know the length of tenure and terms of the departure of those jobs. It seems unlikely that her tenure at any of them was long enough to permit her or anyone else to legitimately call them careers or her as an expert in policing, animal control matters or veterinary technician matters, let alone canine behavior.

      All in all, they continue to my mind undermine their credibility and the credibility of their argument.

      However, worthy of note: It is only in this arena of their work that I have any criticism.

      John Wade

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