Don’t Judge a Book (or a Dog) by it’s Cover

Share Button

maxineMany years ago, back when I lived in Syracuse, I had a yellow Labrador named Maxine. I’ve written about her before and posted pictures of her and her puppies. She was a wonderful dog, loving and gentle with all. She did have a habit of jumping on you when you came home from work, but that was about her only bad habit.
Our day would always start with a run or a walk. Luckily, we lived very close to a great park that had a perfect 2 mile loop for us to run, so we would head over there everyday. Part of the trail ran alongside a row of houses and the back loop ran through the park and over a bridge. I would let Max off-leash once we got past the roads with the cars and she’d romp ahead of me on the trail. We knew most everyone in the park and she’d meet up with various friends each day.

One Sunday morning, we were out a little earlier than usual and it had snowed the day before, so the park was deserted. We were coming through the park and over the bridge when I look up and I see a HUGE Doberman Pinscher running full speed towards us. Uh-oh I thought and looked around for his owner. In the distance I see a big guy running towards us, struggling to catch up and yelling “Warlock, come”.


Warlock??? Holy crap, that’s the name of this monster running towards us? I knew there was no way the guy was going to get to the dog or that the dog was going to stop, so I just braced myself. This was back in the day when Doberman’s were the dog to fear…and boy was I afraid. There was no one around and I knew I had no chance of protecting myself or Max.

What I wasn’t prepared for was Warlock being a marshmallow…yes, he came running up to Max, flopped down on his back and wiggled around as happy as could be and they began a spirited game of chase. When the owner finally reached us, I learned that Warlock, even though he weighed in at about 90lbs, was still a puppy – and he sure acted like it.
After this we saw Warlock frequently and it was always the same. Big floppy grin and lots of playing. He was hardly intimidating. In fact, the owner got him purely for protection and sadly, he eventually gave him away in favor of a bigger and meaner Doberman. I forget what he called him, but it was actually worse than Warlock.

The title of the piece is the lesson here that I wish more people would apply when making snap judgements of people or dogs based solely on their breed, their appearance or even their name. It’s unfair, and likely inaccurate.
Nowadays, it’s the pitbull that carries the stigma of being the most dangerous dog. The American Temperament Test Society has some interesting data they’ve collected over the years that provides a very different picture of some breeds. You should really visit the site and look at the statistics. You’ll be surprised to see the the pitbull with an 86% passing rate. That may not be as good as other dogs, but it is certainly far from the worst. I don’t agree with some of Cesar Milan’s training methods, but what he has to say here is spot on.
Pitbull sitting on red background


We are joining the Thursday Barks and Bytes Blog Hop Co-hosted by our friends at 2Brown Dogs and Heart Like a Dog. Grab the badge and join the fun!



Share Button


  1. Great post.

    Dobermans have such a beautiful and strong energy. It’s easy to see how people started to think of them for guard dogs. Sounds like Warlock really showed his goofy side.

    I hope he ended up in a happier home.

    It goes the other way too. People assume a fluffy golden retriever is doing to be lovable and they do things with strange dogs they’d never try with any other dog they didn’t know. No wonder goldens have pretty significant bite stats.
    Pamela recently posted…Do You Need A Laugh?My Profile

  2. Awww. I’m so glad that Warlock was a marshmallow dog. And yes, it’s us humans that are the problem. I don’t see that going away any time soon, sadly.
    Flea recently posted…Snap Leash ReviewMy Profile

  3. When in doubt, blame the human – we’re really quite outstanding at messing stuff up. But thankfully there are some great outreach programs which are helping to combat breed specific legislation/stigma.

  4. Yes, unfortunately it is the two legged animals that are worse than the 4 legged ones. Excellent blog post!
    Buddy recently posted…Reflections of my Summer and early FallMy Profile

  5. Animals are what we make them and sadly many humans fail their animals over and over again. Then of course there are the really unsavory ones who do it intentionally.

    Good post. Thanks for adding it to the blog hop.
    Jodi recently posted…My Dog is a DickMy Profile

  6. Aww, I love Dobermans. I’m glad Warlock was such a sweet guy. Haha. I had to laugh at your story and how you must’ve felt when he was first charging at you.

    I like to think that there’s been a lot of progress in the last few years as far as improving the general public’s opinion of pitbulls. Lots more work to be done, of course, but I do think things are changing. I hope we don’t start targeting some other type of dog as we’ve done in the past.
    Lindsay recently posted…How to get dog walking clients fastMy Profile

  7. Excellent message SlimDoggy! A few weeks ago a Doberman puppy came prancing up to me, but because he didn’t use proper doggy greeting behavior I turned on him and started snapping at him to back off. HIS owner apologized for the dog, but mom didn’t think he did anything wrong, saying “oh no, its her!” Really mom? Throwing me under the bus? Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…You Can’t Have Just One — PetMy Profile

  8. Great post.

    It is too bad the guy felt he needed a meaner Doberman. I would say that mentality is why breeds go bad. If you read the part of the AKC standard that has to do with temperament, meanness is a DQ. Their standard is actually very specific. I blame these kinds of owners for what becomes of the breeds.

    Storm is a protective dog but she is not mean. There is a difference. Chessie breeders have worked very hard over the years to breed meanness out. I guess old time Chessies and even going back to the 70’s/80’s were pretty nasty.

    Thanks so much for joining the Barks and Bytes hop. 🙂
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Staying Visible–Kurgo Reflect And Protect Active Dog Vest ReviewMy Profile

    • I agree – I felt really bad when I heard what this guy did. That mentality of “I need a mean dog” – just don’t understand it.
      mkob recently posted…Can I Give my Dog Turkey at Thanksgiving?My Profile

  9. Love this post! Poor dobie…I hate stupid people who just want a “scary” dog.
    DZ Dogs recently posted…Mushing Fun!My Profile

  10. We had German Shepherds (4) in the 80’s. One was a retired Police K-9 and could be extremely intimidating. He was so sweet, smart, loving, and protective to us. People were terrified of him because of the way he looked. I also had a family member with a Pit Bull that was a marshmallow too. I love that quote by Cesar Milan.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…An Act of Dog ~ Museum of CompassionMy Profile

  11. Make it plain Slim, make it plain! Thanks for such a powerful and insightful message.

  12. You are so right about this. One of our cats was killed by a German shepherd police dog that belonged to our neighbor. So I have a tendency to be fearful of them, but I know that’s not logical, and I would never say to anyone anything bad about them. I’ll probably never have one myself, but I still know it was the dog and not the breed.
    Jan K recently posted…Monday Mischief – Don’t Eat That!My Profile

  13. That quote is so true, g & g took their Temperament test this summer, good thing for people with the dogs that get a bad rap to do. I get the is your chessie mean all the time, nope not mine.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Wordless Wednesday~Glory’s Boyfriend SilasMy Profile

Comments are now closed on this post.