The TSA uses about 1200 dogs at airports to screen passengers and baggage. These dogs are from seven breeds, two of which have pointy ears, including German Shepherds. But four out of five of the recent additions to the canine corps have droopy ears. Why?

Because the TSA decided, purely anecdotally, that people generally view floppy-eared dogs as more docile and friendly and pointy-eared dogs as more aggressive.

Allegedly, floppy-eared dogs don’t scare children but the pointy-eared dogs do.

Floppy-eared Golden Retriever

There is some research that supports the idea that people view pointy-eared dogs as more intimidating. This is a totally unsupported prejudice and it’s unfair to dogs because many dogs with pointy ears have had their naturally floppy ears cropped as puppies. Others have been genetically engineered by breeders to look that way.

Let’s be clear – pointy ears do not indicate an aggressive or dominant temperament. Ear configuration has no relationship to a dog’s disposition. This fear of pointy-eared dogs has been called ‘canine racism.’

Pointy-eared German Shepard at airport

I know a lot about doggie discrimination.

My daughter, Sarah, works with a Pit Bull rescue group in LA called Angel City Pit Bulls. One of their missions is to fight breed discrimination, like breed specific legislation which prohibits Pits from certain buildings and even certain cities. London had a Pit Bull ban and Montreal is trying to enact one. This forces people to choose between living where they want and giving up their beloved pet or finding somewhere else to live with their dog.

Pit Bulls are the canine ‘bad guys’ du jour. In the past, German Shepherds were shunned as aggressive and dangerous but now are used as companions and seeing-eye dogs. Then Rottweilers became the ‘bad dog’ du jour — and they don’t even have pointy ears!


In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Pit Bulls were used as the ‘nanny’ dog – to protect children and be their early companions. They were considered the ideal family pet and many family photos from the period include young children with their Pit Bulls.

Old photo of Pit Bull with his child

What’s even more galling about Pit Bull discrimination is that ‘Pit Bull’ isn’t even a legitimate breed. It’s an umbrella label that encompasses dogs from at least four different breeds, including Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Bulldog.

In shelters, dogs are labeled ‘Pit Bull’ if someone thinks they have some Pit Bull in them. The designation is totally arbitrary and subjective. And there are more Pits in shelters than any other breed and they are euthanized at a higher rate than any other breed.

Modern Pit and baby

To add insult to injury, the breeds that make up the faux category ‘Pit Bull’, are smack in the middle of the ratings for aggressiveness by breed. They are rated between Labs and Golden Retrievers! Clearly, these dogs are nowhere near being the most aggressive dogs.

In fact, the two most aggressive breeds are Chihuahuas and Dachshunds. But no one lodges complaints when attacked by a Chihuahua, probably because it would be embarrassing.

Sweet-faced Pit Bull

The most dominant traits in Pit Bull breeds are their gentleness and sweetness, their friendliness and their desire to please their humans. They got a bad reputation decades ago when dog fight promoters started training Pit Bulls to fight.

Remember, any dog can be trained to be aggressive and fight. And Pits are especially trainable because of their desire to please. Many Pits who have been rescued from dog fighting rings have been successfully rehabilitated and have been adopted as family pets – even after being trained to be aggressive.

So there is no basis for the widespread perception that Pit Bulls are more dangerous than other breeds. There is also no basis for the perception that pointy-eared dogs should be feared more than floppy eared dogs.

People seem to need to discriminate. They discriminate against people and dogs. We should fight prejudice and discrimination wherever we find it, even when it’s dogs. Mostly, dogs are nicer than people anyway.

Support dogs!

Categories: dogs, Ellin Curley, Photography

Tags: , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. I’ve always felt very strongly about Pitbulls and they way they have been labelled. Your post articulates it very well. I feel that when a dog behaves badly, it’s not usually their fault. It’s either the owner or another person who is responsible.


  2. When my children were very young, we had a Staffordshire….sweetest dog we have ever been owned by. Lovely temperament, very protective of the boys….she once pulled my eldest gently away from a pond he was determined to go in.of course, he didn’t swim. Molly simply had enough of trying to escort him back to the yard and gently picked him up by his overalls and carried him home. The neighbors, when she was about 12 years old, decided she was a “dangerous’ dog..simply because they called her a “pit’. Dragged out her papers thousands of times (well it FELT like 1000s) to prove she was a Staffordshire. (at the time the name was NOT designated by our city as a pit)We were actually warned by the city that they could remove her and put her down if she weren’t “chained and muzzled” whenever she was outside. This for a dog who only bit hamburgers. We moved.


  3. I never thought of it Ellin, but you’re probably right about that discrimination.


    • Some discrimination is even legislated, where cities prohibit Pits and some buildings or housing communities also prohibit Pits. It’s so frustrating because it’s based on nothing! People should know that other dogs have been vilified in the past and are now considered housepets, like German Shepards and Rottweilers.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Quite right, it is an unfair assumption. Sure a lot of German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Dobermann’s are used as guard dogs but they are trained a certain way and not necessarily vicious dogs. Most of the German Shepherds I have met have been big softies. Former racing Greyhounds are forced to wear muzzles when they are taken out but the people who rescue them say they are just big couch potatoes.
    Breed discrimination is never right.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love greyhounds, I love all the long-legged greyhound type dogs. But I’m too slow for them these days. I need something with whom I can keep up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was surprised to learn that greyhounds are actually quite happy to lounge about the house but I don’t think you and Garry probably want a big, strong dog now. If you had another it should be a smaller one that you can lift if you have to.


    • Any dog breed can be trained to be aggressive and any individual dog can be aggressive, just like with people. But to ban certain dogs based on irrational predjudices just makes me ill. Especially since Pits are basically so gentle and loving.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You said it. I always wondered about the Pit Bull thing and why specifically those dogs (beyond being bred to fight savagely). I guess because they’re stockier of build with bigger teeth they’d look more ferocious. Dachshunds being taught to savagely fight each other might look more comical.

    Dog fighting is awful, and despicable to force any two animals to fight and tear each other up. If people wanna see a bloodsport so bad, why not bet on two humans fighting each other? At least nobody else is getting hurt without consent. Ugh.


    • They are powerful little (and not so little dogs). I think they are wonderful and if I can find a small one that won’t knock. me over, I’d love to have one. We’re far enough out in the country so hopefully we won’t be hurt by the various rulings of which I’m not longer so sure, I think they are adorable with the most loving faces And this also depends on how much they cost. They have made adopting dogs ridiculously expensive — AND we need a girl, I do not believe the Duke would get o with another boy. It’s good toe have plansm even if something entirey different happens.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pits are the most common breed in dog shelters and the most frequently euthanized. It shouldn’t be hard to find a small one who’s not too energetic. They can be as small as 30 pounds. you should check your local shelters and rescue groups. I think a Pit would be great for you guys!


    • I’m appalled that dog fighting is still around and isn’t banned everywhere in this country. I don’t understand people who want to see animals tear at each other. It should be illegal to even go to such an event.

      Liked by 1 person

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