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Relating Pitbulls to High School Biology Genetics

Discussion in 'General Dog Discussions' started by BiologyTeacher, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. Hello.

    I am a high school Biology teacher and starting an upcoming unit on Genetics. Over half my students own or have owned pitbulls. I want to make this unit interesting to them by tying in dominant/recessive/phenotype/genotypes to real life breeding situations with pitbulls and realife traits that we see in pitbulls. First, I need to teach myself before I teach them.

    Any useful websites?

    What physically and behavior traits do people breed for?

    Any help much appreciated!


  2. pitbullsareteddies

    pitbullsareteddies Big Dog Premium Member

    Color is a big thing that uneducated or uncaring apbt owners breed for, especially dilutes like blues(greys). Perhaps researching the health effects that can ride along with the dilutes, especially when bred to each other.
  3. Gatorpit

    Gatorpit Good Dog

    I think before delving into things like color genetics, the OP needs to learn the basics of the breed.

    Honestly though, without specific experience with canine genetics, behaviour, and how the two work together and at odds with each other, and then how life exeriences play a roll, this is a very slippery slope to tackle.

    One that even trained geneticists and behaviorists and pit bull "pros" have been debating the finer points of for decades.

    Also...use caution in singling out any particular breed...as you must make sure your students understand that the physical and behavioral traits you may explore are not unique to any particular breed.

    For example: while most APBTs have a pretty high chance of developing some degree of dog aggression, MANY other breeds are JUST as prone to it...most terrier breeds for example.

    This is assuming you wish to tackle "genetic temperment". Without a deep understanding of canine behavior and genetics...you'll have to be very careful with your approach.

    However...if you want to discuss physical genetics...that's much studied and much documented. The first link is probably the best on the web for discussing physical genetics such as color, physical build, etc.

    You should know befor begining your study, that the pit bull breed is really no more different from any other dog breed than any other breed would be from another.

    Pit bulls are not "super dogs" excepot possibly in their ability to love. lol

    So...you will find nothing about genetic differences regarding jaw strength or locking mechanisms, nothing about brains growing too large for heads, or genetic lack of pain receptors.

    They really are just dogs.

    Here are some places for you to start:







    ---------- Post added at 11:24 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:17 AM ----------

    If you are a true educator, and feel it important to make sure you are actually teaching facts and not opionions or total untruths...DO do the research.

    I say this because me and two women my age were having a chat just yesterday. One girl had just returned from Sea World.

    "I just found out that I have been lied to. In school, they always pushed on us how all sharks will die if they don't keep moving. Well...I saw a shark lying on the bottom of the tank and I SWORE it was dead...so I flagged down a keeper. He told me that some sharks CAN survive even without moving. "

    She went home and looked it up and learned that out of nearly 400 species of sharks in existance, ony about 2 dozen REQUIRED constant motion for survival.

    Now, see...the thing is....that's what I was taught in school as well, and the other lady said the same.

    Makes you wonder what else we're taught as "facts" that are only half truths or otherwise completely skewed...

    Don't allow yourself to become part of America's ignorance problems.
  4. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Good Dog

    I don't think it's a good idea to use Pit Bulls for this.

    It's too much -- the dogs, the chatter, the controversies, the arguments, the myths, the weird ideas kids have about these dogs -- it's all just going to get in the way of teaching a subject that is confusing enough to kids.

    Keep it really simple -- the whole subject/idea of Pit Bulls is just going to interfere with the important concepts that need to be taught and learned by these kids.

    It seems to me to be just another light to shine on a breed that just doesn't need that.

  5. LilianaLove

    LilianaLove GRCH Dog

    I agree with Sagebrush. As a former highschool biology student, I know that genetics is not an easy concept. Just keep it simple (BB, Bb, bb, etc.). Unless you have exceptionally gifted students who are easily capable of thinking outside the box, then go for it.
    It's going to be hard enough for them to relate it to earlobes and tongue-curling; to throw in the multitude of gentic concepts related to dog breeds is just too much IMO.
  6. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Good Dog

    What's wrong with using HUMANS?

    Kids grow up not knowing enough about their OWN biology anyways!

  7. Elliehanna

    Elliehanna GRCH Dog

    true that, I would rather see the "hitch hickers thumb" or the "ear lobe" in biology, heck even the "hair on the fingers and toes"
  8. Patch O' Pits

    Patch O' Pits Good Dog

    See now I disagree because, as a teacher I can tell you you need to pull from the students' interest and be creative to help keep them focussed and spark retention and learning no mater what the subject is you are teaching. I'm sure in that class some kids be interest in med school, but others may aspire to be vets, while some others honestly may be totally bored and uninterested. You don't necessarily have to use the APBT breed, but canine genetics would be a great thing to add. Taking subjects and making them more interesting for the students might inspire some to go onto future science courses and careers.

    On another note my APBT Bodacious just worked at family reading night with 90 students their families in attendance helping to inspire them to read...
  9. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Good Dog

    I think with the genetics thing, though, that the subject is too close to other things that are going to come up about individual students' dogs and all the "crap-talk" and "hype" that goes on among kids about these dogs.

    I think it will often be difficult to keep the kids on topic in class; and only serves to give a forum to all this talk in a setting that gives it authority. With an instructor that is not real Pit Bull savvy, I just don't see this as a good idea.

    Pit Bulls have enough exposure -- I don't think they need THIS kind.

  10. LilianaLove

    LilianaLove GRCH Dog

    I just think if the TEACHER has no idea what he's talking about, the students sure aren't going to understand.
    With a concept of this magnitude, and face it, genetics is very complicated, the teacher NEEDS to know 100% what they're talking about. They can't be learning with the students at this point.
    Maybe if this was a college level course where the students were asked to take what they learned in their 100 classes and apply it to their 200 classes, this would be good. But the teacher would still need to know what he's teaching in order to grade the accuracy of their applications.
    I think it's good the teacher is wanting to get his class involved; I think a lot of teachers don't know how to do that. But maybe this teacher should use something he already knows about? Maybe in the next year or the year after, once he's done his research and has a firm grasp on the concept, then he can teach it.
    But it's not something to go at all willy nilly, or we'll have kids telling their parents how to breed the best dogs. And since the kid learned it from the teacher, it must be ok, right?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2011
  11. Gatorpit

    Gatorpit Good Dog

    right. If this teacher uses APBTs...she's going to be distracting from the class's intention. she will be getting questions regarding the BREED and not genetics. Kids will want to know about all the things they hear on tv...that's where he focus will go...NOT on genetics.

    It's not a bad idea to throw in a few dog traits as examples...but going into breed specific traits ...I'm sorry...you need to know a lot before you can start teaching it to others.
  12. Patch O' Pits

    Patch O' Pits Good Dog

    You have to understand part of a teacher's job is to keep the class on point, have structure, and classroom management to create an environment most conducive to learning. Thus, a good teacher copes and redirects the kids back on task and knows when to expand and elaborate on any given topic. Consequently, any topic can lead to other discussion. This particular one would be no different. Being a good teacher is no easy task. I commend you for researching more and trying to better reach your students. Let us know how it goes.
  13. Well, you guys are obviously passionate about your pitties.

    So for clarification, this is an additional project I am creating for some of my failing students, who have pitbulls and like to talk to me about their pitbulls as I also like pitbulls (they also like certain soccer teams, and I am trying to tie that into a project as well). I have three dogs, all mixed breeds, but they could care less about my border-collie herding, they want to talk about their pitties. Thus, I want to use pitbulls as a grab to get their attention and hopefully engage them in the classroom. Once they learn the basics of punnet squares, dominant/recessive/homozygous/etc, I am going to have them do an independent project about the genetics disorders interbreeding can cause.

    A side note: teachers don't have to be all-knowing beings. I try to have discussion and let kids know that I am not the expert.

    And, I actually encourage controversial topics in my classroom, as I set up an open environment that allows all opinions and viewpoints.

    Thanks for your opinions and tips.

    Onto lesson planning,

  14. LilianaLove

    LilianaLove GRCH Dog

    Then maybe you should teach about human interbreeding, because canine interbreeding is a common breeding practice, a practice that is used to maximize the wanted traits.
    Are there issues that can arise if you don't know what you're doing? Yes. But 'inbred' dogs are different than inbred people.
  15. mstngchic2012

    mstngchic2012 Good Dog

    Interbreeding in animals doesn't necessarily cause genetic disorders like it does in humans. Actually interbreeding animals is quite common.

    ---------- Post added at 04:56 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:55 PM ----------

    Great minds think alike :lol:
  16. Not trying in any way to create a fight but inbreeding/linebreeding is the primary cause for genetic disorder in all pure bred dogs. There are 500 known genetic illnesses pure bred dogs suffer from. Science is science and does not discern between humans and dogs. Inbreeding humans do not always cause disorders but there is a higher risk.

    Inbreeding has its place especially where there is a risk of extinction, which is not the case in most breeds of dogs. All desired traits a breeders justifies inbreeding a dog for can just as easily be found in a non-relative.

    Inbreeding is a great topic for the teacher to discuss when it comes to genetics. Both positives and negatives should be given out of fairness to the topic.

    To have a true understanding of inbreeding effect and disorders associated with it from a respected scientific journal this is a good link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1950109/

    Other resources on the breed include:
    http://www.PitBullRegistry.com they have conducted a real study on the Merle gene and debunked many myths associated with it. They also provide a vet listing of 44,000 vets with contact information. Easy to find a local vet and get real scientific input.

    http://www.colbypitbull.com/ likely the oldest (90 yrs old) and most credible dog man in existence on the breed. He is also honest and does not just spout a bunch of fighting stuff but gives a full perspective of the breed and how only a very small percentage have ever been involved in fighting.

    Most rescue sites are great in terms of raising awareness for Pits in need but are horrible resources in terms of real education on it due to their underlying agendas. Most will say that the Pit Bull is not a breed but a type. This is absolutely false as it is one of the oldest recognized pure breeds in existence.
  17. mstngchic2012

    mstngchic2012 Good Dog

    Inbreeding doesn't necessarily CAUSE genetic issues. It can intensify issues already there. But that is where culling comes in. We can't cull humans.

    And as far as finding the desirable genetics in a non-relative dog that defeats the purpose of inbreeding (and line breeding) and keeping lines consistent/predictable. Yes, there is a time for out-crossing.
  18. Patch O' Pits

    Patch O' Pits Good Dog

    I really don't know anything much about the registry you posted about except I don't put much faith in a registry that will take and paper intact unpapered dogs as purebreds with all the BYBs out there and accept things that are considered disqualifications and undesirable. Just my opinion of course...

    Do you have a link to their actual research and who conducted the studies by chance? I'd love to see it. I'm always up for new info.

    As far as I'm concerned I go by this...
    Merle is not an accepted APBT color in every registry and is thought to be mixed. Merle is also associated with numerous health issues
    American Pit Bull Terrier Network Merle and the Pit Bull

    I've seen quite a few of merle dogs which were catahoula pit mixes and they mostly had very different type personalities and structure than true APBTs.

    For types of breedings explained in great detail with pros and cons go to the below link and these chapters:
    Encyclopedia of the American Pit Bull Terrier : HomePage

    Chapter Breeding overview
    Chapter Linebreeding
    Chapter Outcrossing
    Chapter Inbreeding
    Chapter Backcrossing
    Chapter Scatterbreeding
  19. brindlexpitt

    brindlexpitt Derpidoo

    ill be honest and say, this probably isnt a good idea.. it takes quite a while to figure out genetics in general, though, if you are keeping it SIMPLE, (eyes, ears, forum, etc) and know your basic genetics, that would work fine. but getting into the whole cross in and line breeding could get quite difficult, and way too lengthy for just a class about it.
  20. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Good Dog

    Can you tell us more about just where it is you teach?
    And HOW you came to know that these kids have Pit Bulls?

    What are they telling you?


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