Aggressive Dogs: Study Debunks Current Belief

by Mary Haight on April 27, 2009

Things aren't the same without these guys.
Image by acousticgtr via Flickr

I had a wry smile on my face as I read this latest study found via Science Daily: “contrary to popular belief, breed has little to do with a dog’s aggressive behaviour compared to all the owner-dependant factors.”  The study, conducted at the University of Cordoba, included 711 breed and mixed breed dogs known to have aggressive natures: Bull Terriers, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Boxers, and Doberman, and small dogs which have also exhibited dominance like the Chihuahua, French Bulldog, and others. 

The conclusion of this study is what every trainer or dog person already knows, “dogs that are trained properly do not normally retain aggressive dominance behaviour”.  This and other studies lend weight to the futility of the Breed Specific Legislative (BSL) /Dangerous Dog Act agenda which has recently taken flight in cities across the US.  If our legislators can’t learn from science, maybe they will take a look at the UK and Europe where calls for an end to laws based on the physical features of dogs began in earnest at the beginning of 2009.  These laws have not produced the desired result, even given the variations of how laws were applied from county to county and country to country. 

Here in the States, cities like Denver routinely kill Pit Bulls for no reason other than they look like Pit Bulls; the death totals are just under 2000 in that one city.  All this death from fear and anger, usually following a vicious or deadly attack in the community, is misdirected.  It is more often the fault of irresponsible dog owners, and they are the people who need to be held accountable.  Here’s a useful citation from the UK’s RSPCA:

“Section 1 of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act is a highly controversial and widely criticised clause that promotes breed specific legislation. Many experts, law makers and dog lovers from around the UK and globally have seen the devastation caused by breed specific legislation – which outlaws dogs by ‘type’, meaning a dog is deemed ‘dangerous’ and illegal simply based on what it looks like and not because of any offence caused by the dog. As a result of breed specific legislation (BSL) in the UK, many innocent dogs have lost their lives since the law was brought in by Ken Baker in 1991.

Now the RSPCA has set the wheels in motion for other prominent welfare groups to come out and publicly call on the law makers to end section 1 and replace it with fair, effective dog laws which do not condemn dogs to death based on what they look like. The UK can put itself in a position to follow the example set by the Netherlands in repealing section 1 in favour of a law that will place the burden of responsibility on owners rather than terminating the lives of dogs who are guilty of nothing more than looking a certain way.”  Read more


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