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La Traviata de Castro-Castalia con un Mastiff
From the very moment I decided to breed Bullmastiffs, some 20 years ago, it was very clear to me that one of the main causes for dogs to be pathologically aggressive was the lack of early socialization. Time has proved that I was right and although at first nobody considered this as a probable cause, right now there are many studies that corroborate my empirical theory and show that a vast majority of the dogs subject to phobias, excessive shyness, unjustified aggressiveness, etc., are those that were mainly raised in poor environments, lacking early interaction experiences, and deprived from visual and touch contact with people or other animals. Isolation of this sort (no access to wide areas of recreation, no access to playmates, no access to open areas, etc) during the critical time from 3 to 14 weeks, produces what specialists in animal behaviour have come to call “kennel syndrome”, and is referred to a later inability to socially act around other dogs and other people in the future and to easily accept new and unfamiliar situations.
Something similar happens with puppies raised in “puppy mills”, and in kennels known to produce puppies as a lucrative business, where nobody pays attention to the affective and social needs of the pups. In small or medium size dogs, these early lacks may go unnoticed although they may become as phobic, shy, nervous, hyperactive, barking and biters as any other dogs, but when these abnormal and neurotic behaviour appears in a large or giant size breed, things can really escape to the owner’s control quite easily!
Unfortunately enough, Bullmastiffs do not always escape to these situations, because there are more and more of what I have come to call pseudo-breeders, who are a lot more interested in short term economical benefits than in the preservation of the breed qualities themselves. So, beware! When you decide to purchase a large breed dog like Bullmastiffs are, you must be pretty sure to choose your puppy from a responsible breeder who will ensure a proper and dilated socialization to each litter.
But these are not the only reasons for which dogs can be neurotic and behave abnormally. There is also an inherited component to aggressiveness and there are some bloodlines and families know to carry this problem. In fact, it Spain, a few years ago there was one of this pseudo-breeders who purchased a brindle adult male from the US that he used widely at stud and let at stud for others to use as well. This dog was a terribly aggressive subject, with a large record of bites and attacks, this being the reason why the dog had been sold, after all. As a result of continuous use of this individual at stud, many of his progeny developed an inherited aggressive condition and are now subject of not little problems. Therefore I must emphasize that there definitely is an inherited aggressive behaviour and it is the responsibility of breeders to avoid using dogs with behavioural problems in their breeding programmes.
I would also like to point out now that there is a continuous debate about “dangerous breeds” and Bullmastiffs are included in listing of potentially dangerous dog’ breeds in many countries, that there is no such thing as dogs that suddenly become dangerously aggressive. Behind each incident, there is always an underlying cause. Most of the times the trigger which sparks off such a happening is an inappropriate socialization at the early stages of the dog’s life, some others it is due to an inadequate selection whereas pathologically aggressive dogs are used for breeding, perpetuating the condition amongst their siblings, but also occasionally it may be due to a change in behaviour caused by a serious disease such as a brain tumour or a situation where the dog suffers maximum pain or stress.
Having said this, it is obvious that a responsible buyer will choose a reliable breeder, knowingly that a well done job is the best guarantee the breeder can offer to the owner, taken that a well done job is one where the result will be typical, healthy and balanced Bullmastiffs. There is no excuse to justify breeding being anything other that this.
(Original text written by Christina of Lima-Netto and Federico Baudin specifically for this web page and protected with Copyright. Not even whole can be reproduced not partially by any way, without Castro-Castalia's express assent in writing)
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