Objective Dog Ratings: An Introduction & Explanation

post by Callmesalticidae · 2020-08-29T03:54:55.898Z · LW · GW · 8 comments

Because they’re not all good dogs, Brent.

Obviously, not everyone wants the same thing from dogs, but that’s not necessarily the same as saying that any dog is as good as the next, or even that any dog rating system must be subjective. If we’re going to entertain the idea that some dogs are simply better than other dogs, though, then we have to specify how that is.

What we’re looking for is a dog with a certain amount of wolfishness, a dog which is as close to being a wolf as one can get without sacrificing any of those essential characteristics which define a dog as such. Basically, a dog which a politically progressive, forward-thinking wolf would not be ashamed to know. They must be loyal, intelligent, and hardworking, they must have a sense of dignity, they must like humans, and above all they must be healthy. A dog which is perfect in every other way, but is unhealthy, is a bad dog, because it would not be good to be that dog. 

Unfortunately, I’m incapable of doing anything without taking it at least a little bit seriously, so ratings will be on a three-star scale, from ★ (Mediocre) to ★★★ (Good). It is also possible that some dogs will not get any stars at all. Those are bad dogs, Bront. 

I do not know which dog breed will turn out to be the dog breed, the dog of the gods, but I do have my suspicions (some breed of spitz-type, probably), and it’s important to note that this has nothing to do with how much I personally like a dog. Some of my favorite dogs will get no more than two stars, and some may even get just one star. This isn’t “Dogs which are the best at sitting in my lap and being petted,” or “Most Instagrammable dogs.” 

Let us begin.

8 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by MakoYass · 2020-09-04T23:45:48.059Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A post about the horror of the existence of dogs and wow this is part of my political ideology now https://dormin.org/2020/03/21/against-dog-ownership/

I hope you're going to be talking about whether the dog breeds are emotionally independent enough to enjoy being alive on balance.

Non-rationalists will not understand because they are not willing or able to face the true nature of dogs.

comment by Raemon · 2020-09-05T00:05:09.395Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Worth noting there has been previous LW discussion of Against Dog Ownership over here [LW · GW])

comment by Callmesalticidae · 2020-09-09T16:14:59.586Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I hope you're going to be talking about whether the dog breeds are emotionally independent enough to enjoy being alive on balance.

Mostly, yes. I've written up a yet-to-be-posted-here entry on the Havanese, in which I note that they've got attachment issues, but this isn't a strong mark against the Havanese in the way that e.g. bulldog noses are, because if you work from home or something like that, then your Havanese will be quite happy.

For that reason, "Havanese shouldn't be had by people who spend a lot of time away from the house" doesn't seem like it should be a mark against them, any more than "Collies shouldn't be had by people who can't provide an intellectually stimulating environment" should be a mark against collies.

General anxiety, however, is definitely a bad mark, and the Havenese will only be getting a decent ranking because, on balance, it is one of the less anxious of the "separation-anxious" breeds. Other, more anxious breeds, will probably get only one star, or none, because it won't be very good to be those dogs.

comment by Teerth Aloke · 2020-09-05T03:03:36.256Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't like dogs of Western breeds due to this reason. They become overly committed to their owners. However, I like to feed street Indian dogs - who don't show any particular commitment.

comment by knite · 2020-09-01T16:41:11.048Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have you seen https://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/best-in-show-whats-the-top-data-dog/ ?

comment by Callmesalticidae · 2020-09-02T22:09:16.140Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have! I'll end up disagreeing with it in these posts, because we're both looking for things that the other isn't (I don't care about appetite or cost, for example), but it was good to see that we could agree on bulldogs. :)

comment by Gedusa · 2020-08-30T16:55:49.726Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would find this more useful if you spelled out a bit more about your scoring method. You say:

They must be loyal, intelligent, and hardworking, they must have a sense of dignity, they must like humans, and above all they must be healthy.

Which of these do you think are the most important? Why do these traits matter? (for example, hardworking dogs are not really necessary in the modern world)

And why these traits and not others? (for example: size, cleanliness, appearance, getting along with other animals)

a dog which is as close to being a wolf as one can get without sacrificing any of those essential characteristics which define a dog as such

Why do you think a dog that is close to a wolf is objectively better than dogs which are further away?

comment by Callmesalticidae · 2020-08-31T04:26:41.729Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Health is most important characteristic of all, because I care about whether it is good to be that dog.

Next is intelligence, mostly because I’m an ape who got where I am because my ancestors were clever enough to figure out nifty things like “fire-starting” and “germ theory.” This probably biases me a little, but I still can’t help but feel that a dog that is dumber than a wolf has lost something.

Loyalty and affection (or at least tolerance) for humans are important because dogs are wolves, but they’re domesticated wolves, and if a breed is mean and vicious and unfriendly then it’s failing super hard at “being domesticated.”

To be hardworking and to have dignity are mostly aesthetic concerns for me. To the extent that the former matters at all, it’s because I associate work ethic with purposiveness, and aimless breeds whose only task is to provide companionship have a tendency toward neuroticism and especially separation anxiety, in my experience.

Just as I’m judging dogs as domesticated wolves, I’m also judging them as domesticated wolves.

That said, don’t take any of this too seriously. It’d be good to keep the health stuff in mind before getting a dog, but my personal favs are greyhounds and I don’t think they’re going to get three stars, let alone the #1 Top Dog ribbon.

The real objective rating, of course, is “the best dog is whichever breed best suits your personal circumstances, and also isn’t an inbred freak like a pug.”