Is There a Thing as an Aggressive Dog

Is There a Thing as an Aggressive Dog

Author WDF Staff


Some dogs have a bad reputation. Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans are considered aggressive dogs, while Labradors and Corgis should be fun and obedient. While breeding and genetics may have something to do with a dog’s temperament, recent research has shown that their owner is a far better indicator of a dog’s aggression. Here’s what you should know about aggressive dogs.

Aggressive dog research

Rachel Casey, a researcher at the Bristol Veterinary School, sent 15,000 questionnaires to dog owners. About 4,000 people returned them. Analyzing their responses, Casey found that certain owner traits say more about a dog’s aggression than the breed ever could.

For example, dogs with owners under the age of 25 were almost twice as likely to be aggressive as dogs with owners over the age of 40. Not surprisingly, dogs that have attended puppy training courses are half as likely to show aggression toward strangers. Dogs coming from shelters were more often more aggressive than dogs purchased from responsible breeders.

dog barking

Owners who trained their dogs using punishment and negative training methods ended up with twice the tendency to be aggressive towards strangers and three times more likely to attack a family member.

These data suggest that although the general characteristics of dogs and owners could be a factor at the population level, it would be inappropriate to assume the risk of individual animal aggression toward humans based on the general characteristics of the breed.”

 The researchers wrote.

What this basically means is that dogs aren’t born aggressive. Sure, some dogs are genetically predisposed to guard and protect. Still, their character can be heavily influenced by proper training and attention.

Defining aggression

Defining aggression can be difficult. The research has included barking as a trait of aggressive dogs, but Casey says barking has many roles and that aggression is not the only one.

"Aggression is incredibly complex. It will depend on both the situation and the history of both humans and the dog,"

Stephen Zawistowski, a science adviser to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), told World Dog Finder.

"You can't just pick a breed like, say, a Doberman and say somehow it's going to decide whether a dog is going to be aggressive."

Researchers suggest that you start training your dog well and early to avoid any problems with aggression - no matter what breed you have. And if your dog is aggressive, maybe it's not their fault.

Nature vs. Nurture

If you’re thinking about whether a dog is aggressive, you should know that dogs played different roles throughout history. You can’t expect a watchdog to remain quiet if something suspicious is going on. You shouldn’t expect your protective breed, like the Rottweiler or Boerboel, to sit idly while someone is entering your yard. These dogs will react, but that is not an aggressive act. They were created for it, and if you cannot handle a breed like that, you shouldn’t have picked it. Dogs shouldn’t attack other dogs or people for no reason. If that is the case, 9 times out of 10, it is the owner’s fault.

dachshund barking

Proof of socialization and training

To test this theory, we decided to visit a Presa Canario breeder. Presa Canario is widely considered an aggressive breed. Most of those not familiar with the breed might think these dogs are extremely dangerous. We had a conversation with Dario Kardum of the “Bad Dogz Canario” kennel.

At first, his dogs were suspicious of us standing outside his yard. They even started barking as we approached his fence. He quickly explained that Presas are a protective breed, and it is in their genes to protect people and property. It wasn’t until he invited us in and greeted us that the dogs accepted us as their guests. We asked him a question regarding aggressive dogs, and his answer was;

Dogs have genetic predispositions, but that will not define them entirely. Dogs can be more or less dominant, and if they are left to their own devices, who knows how their character will develop. You can clearly see my dogs are trained and socialized, and we started that process when they were still young puppies. They know what they can or cannot do and will not attack anyone if they are unprovoked.
However, they will react to anyone who tries to break in or attack them. Plus, Presa Canario is a powerful breed. If anyone does try something like that, it is most likely that the Presa will come on top of that situation.

At the time of our visit, Dario had three stunning dogs; two females and a male. They all listened to him, and we can honestly say these dogs are not aggressive. They are protective and trained.

angry husky

In conclusion

Dogs can be aggressive, but in most cases, their upbringing and owners are a reflection of their behavior. A dog’s character and temperament can be heavily influenced by training and socialization. If dogs lack in those areas, it is not their fault. The owner should provide those things, and if they fail to do so, the dog might develop behavioral issues.

World Dog Finder team

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