F*#$ Genetics.....What about Genetic Potential?

Genetics is a hot and often debated topic in the world of dogs. In the world of pit bulls, this is opening up a can of worms. Can the genetic code be altered by training? Or are we fighting an uphill battle, only to be won by the dog’s lineage? In the world of weight pull, or any dog sport—-we select dogs based on the best genetics in hopes to improve the chances of success within the chosen sport….. It all circles back to genetics. We see “big stocky muscular build” and/or desire for conflicts and BOOM… we have a weight pull champ…… NOT quite.

I wouldn’t disagree entirely… I mean, why not stack the cards in our favor? If we want a competitive champion, then by looking at genetics, we can get as close to that as we can. But the problem with this way of thinking, is that we leave little room for the idea of uncovering a dogs true genetic potential…..and every dog has one… not just pit bulls with a strong familial lineage to the sport. I can’t tell you how many dogs I’ve seen wash out of “said chosen protection sports” because they didn’t handle well at 6 month of development ( please note the word development there). You all know what I am talking about… need I go on more?

Genetic Potential. Genetic potential refers to the theoretical optimum capability which an individual COULD achieve in a chosen activity, with ideal training, nutrition, and upbringing. Read that again………..the theoretical optimum capability which an individual COULD achieve in a chosen activity, with ideal training, nutrition, and upbringing.

There are three components to genetic potential. NOT JUST GENETICS. In weight pull, I preach that CRT is for every dog. You’ll hear it very commonly said that some dogs are “natural pullers” while others are not…. but that DOES NOT MEAN the dog should be discarded or won’t make the cut to achieve success. Every dog has potential.

But that potential isn’t a fixed thing. Rule #1 in any strength sport, which weight pull falls under, is that this type of training is a marathon, not a sprint. With that being said, an individual dog can’t and won’t reach his or her genetic potential in one year, maybe not even two. You should be spending a good bit of time laying a foundation that includes technique, form, and confidence…. and that make take some time. Many young dogs are being pushed pretty hard and fast, and ultimately burn out quickly. It’s almost impossible to uncover the genetic potential in a 1-2 year time frame, and to complicate that idea… you won’t even be able to see the muscular potential in 1-2 years.

To circle back, genetics is only 1/3 of the equation. Your dog may not come from tried and true weight pull lineage, but that doesn’t mean the dogs who do have proven genetics ARE even going to do well. It takes committed training…and not just heavy max effort training, but training aimed at uncovering the genetic potential ( and as we already said, that can take YEARS). Nutrition and an upbringing that is conducive to allow a dog to flourish is also a vital component. Without the three of those, and the optimal mix of those…. genetics is virtually meaningless.

In the image below, you can see to achieve “optimal”, all of the other factors have to be in equal balance. Moving into a stronger direction of one, such as performance (or competition) will make the other areas suffer, such as longevity and health. I am not opposed to competition, so this isn’t a bag on competitive weight pull. It is just like even human athletics….to be on an elite level, many athletes compromise other areas to achieve success in one.

The point of all of this is, genetic potential…… your dog may not come from genetic material of “all stars”—-but you won’t truly know what you and your dog are capable of until you awaken the genetic potential ;)

Ashley Sculac