No dog is inherently vicious (except chihuahuas)

No+dog+is+inherently+vicious+%28except+chihuahuas%29

Lee Cline, writer/reporter

Most people have an opinion about which breed of dog is most vicious. Some breeds that may come to mind might be Pit Bulls, Rottweilers or even dogs that have been bred with wolves. Research shows that no dog is inherently aggressive, and power doesn’t equate to viciousness. Although different breeds have different temperaments and behavioral traits, the breed of the dog does not make it inherently aggressive. 

Each breed was developed to perform a specific job, whether that job is hunting rabbits, retrieving downed birds, herding livestock or sitting on people’s laps. When developing a breed, breeders selected only those dogs that performed their job best to produce the next generation. Physical abilities and behavior are both important facets of any breed. A well-bred dog should have both the physical attributes necessary to perform its job and the behavioral tendencies needed to learn it. It’s not surprising that individuals of a specific breed tend to look and behave somewhat similarly. (ASPCA, 2020)

In a study conducted by Dognition, pet owners were asked how aggressive their dog is in a variety of situations. More than 4,000 people with dogs responded, noting their dog’s reactions in situations like new or familiar children and adults and when they encounter another dog that is new, familiar, bigger or smaller. Breeds including Collies, Pugs, and Spaniels were rated seldom or never aggressive. As for Pit Bulls, they almost always ranked below most other dogs in all categories. (Panterlaw, 2020) 

In almost every measure, out of the 35 most common breeds, Chihuahuas were reported as the most aggressive, especially toward bigger dogs they have not seen before. But before Chihuahua owners start picketing, none of the breeds were particularly aggressive. (Hare, Woods, 2016)

The reason Pit Bulls are thought to be aggressive is because they, due to their strength and size, have been used for dog fighting. Because of this bias, Pits have a higher chance of being abused and a lower rate of adoption, as well as a higher rate of being euthanized at shelters.

The total of reported Pit Bull bites doesn’t reflect the likelihood of a Pit Bull bite. Let’s use an oversimplification to explain: Let’s say in a town there are 100 Pit Bulls and 10 Chihuahuas. In that same town, all 10 Chihuahuas and 20 Pit Bulls bite someone. While more Pit Bulls bit someone, they weren’t more likely to bite someone. Those numbers show that 100% of Chihuahuas bite, but only 20% of Pit Bulls bite… and one can guess that Chihuahuas are “more aggressive” than Pit Bulls. (Found Animals, 2020)

So should you fear Chihuahuas more than Pits? No, but it’s the lack of accurate statistics that lead people to believe that different breeds are more likely to be aggressive. In fact, it’s these poorly read statistics that led Canadians to label huskies as aggressive. There was a large number of reported husky bites simply because they’re a very popular breed among northern pet owners – not because they’re vicious dogs (Found Animals, 2020).

To ensure the safety of your furry friend, it’s important to use proper training strategies, keep up with vet care, and keep your dog out of potentially dangerous situations. It is also important to not use any type of inhumane punishment on your dog. Dogs have the brain capacity of toddlers and do not respond well to beatings or aggressive training tactics. 

I have firsthand knowledge of how damaging the misconception about dog breeds are. My dog, Ava, is a two year old Rottweiler and is feared by our neighbors, the mailman, and people we pass on her daily walks. Ava looks scary, but in fact this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Ava is a sweetheart and a scaredy-cat. Ava is afraid of leaves, other dogs (even small ones), our cats, the bath and the television set. 

 

When it comes to being cautious about canines, judge from a case-by-case basis, instead of by breed. Many factors play into the temperament of a dog and generalizing about an entire breed of dog is what leads to lower adoption rates and higher cases of euthanasia for animals who just want a family. 

 

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 Hare, Woods, Brian, Vanessa. Pit Bulls Are Chiller Than Chihuahuas. 19 Sept. 2016, www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/09/pit-bulls-are-chiller-than-chihuahuas/500558/

ASPCA. Position Statement on Pit Bulls. 2020, www.aspca.org/about-us/aspca-policy-and-position-statements/position-statement-pit-bulls.  

Found Animals. “Pit Bulls: Why the Bad (and Inaccurate) Reputation? – Michelson Found Animals Foundation: Pet Adoption, Microchipping, Spay & Neuter.” Michelson Found Animals Foundation, 2020, www.foundanimals.org/pit-bulls-bad-inaccurate-reputation/

Panterlaw. Study Finds Pit Bulls Less Aggressive than Chihuahuas. 27 May 2020,  panterlaw.com/2016/10/26/study-finds-pit-bulls-less-aggressive-chihuahuas/. 

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