Until I watched the Mexican film Amorres Perros I was naive about people breeding dogs for maximum aggression for dog fightsThe author has been working for this newspaper since 1993 and attained a college degree in 1991. But it wasn't until a fictionalized movie came out in 2000 that he "got" what maximum aggression for dog fights meant?
If you haven't seen the movie, I'd reccommend it. It's disturbing on many levels but does offer some fascinating insight on the quirks of human behavior. The only pit bull in the movie is soundly beaten by a Rottweiler in a dog fight. The Rottie, by the way, was not bred or raised for "maximum aggression" but was a companion animal to a guy wanting money. Instead of getting a job, he turns to the seedy world of illicit blood sports. To claim that this movie is an educational tool on breeding, dog fighting or canine aggression is a bit like claiming G-Force provides excellent insight on guinea pig behavior (THEY CAN TALK AND SHOOT GUNS, PEOPLE!)
Over enough time, dog breeds can have spontaneous aggression bred in or out of them.
This is supposedly according to Stanley Coren, which is scary considering he's a dog trainer and "noted dog expert". Perhaps the author misunderstood something Coren said or perhaps Coren really did claim that dog breeds can a) exhibit spontaneous aggression or b) have it randomly bred in or out of them. There just isn't a magic spontaneous aggression switch that can be flipped on or off at the drop of a hat within all individuals in a breed. There isn't spontaneous aggression. I mean, I think this is pretty common knowledge amongst behaviorists, particularly those individuals who have spent extensive time studying agonism in canines. Dogs do not magically turn on people or other animals, let alone entire breeds exhibiting such wayward behavior. Logically this is patently untrue and realistically has shown to be untrue.
The result, he said, is that there is genetic "leakage" in lines bred for fighting with other lines within the breed.
For this to be true, you would have to know the genes that are "leaking" into these other lines. It would mean pinpointing the allele responsible for "spontaneous aggression" and knowing whether it's dominant, recessive, or if it requires an interaction with the environment to be "set off". Right now, scientists have been unable to pinpoint such a gene or enzyme or hormone that causes "spontaneous aggression" in dog breeds.
The things we know about aggression is that it's a multifaceted behavior, that it can be complex or simple, it can be caused by medical problems, that it is not so easily defined. There's all these general forms of aggression that can be further winnowed to specific types of aggression. Read Aggression in Dogs by Brenda Aloff - you'll be amazed by the variety and scope of aggressive behavior in dogs. You'll be further amazed by how much self-restraint dogs have managed to exhibit while interacting with humans and other animals.
I like Coren's suggestion for a dual dog-licensing system. Owners who can prove they've brought their dog to obedience classes get one sort of tag. Owners who don't get another tag indicating their dog must be muzzled and leashed whenever off their property. We all know what that boils down to: Either pay a little for dog training or a lot to the city to keep a dog that may be more predisposed to biting.
This only makes sense if Coren and the author are arguing that aggression is not a spontaneous behavior, that it is not unique to particular breeds, that it IS conceivably modifiable with obedience training. That is not the argument being made, though. The fundamental premise is that there are breeds and, even further, lines within those breeds, with a genetic predisposition toward random acts of aggression.
You cannot argue that some types of dogs are prone to a sudden onset of aggression and then turn around and claim that a few training classes will provide that magic pill to stop the genetic "I WILL EAT YOU" marker from activating.
No matter how I personally feel about this issue, both Coren and the author are working from a fallacious premise, which makes the resulting argument that breed bans are effective a little disingenuous, at best.