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The 3 Most Aggressive Dog Breeds May Surprise You

The 3 Most Aggressive Dog Breeds May Surprise You

A lot of Care2 readers already know that some bigger dogs, like Pit Bulls, are misunderstood and unfairly labeled as aggressive breeds. So what are the most aggressive dog breeds? I came across a study published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science a few years ago, and the answer surprised me.

The most aggressive breed, the study found, was the Dachshund. The researchers discovered that that one in five have bit or attempted to bite a stranger, and one in twelve have lashed out at their owners. Chihuahuas were in second place, and Jack Russells were the third most aggressive breed. Up to 30 percent of these smaller breeds have bit or attempted to bite unfamiliar dogs.

Surprised? One of the study’s researchers thinks that bigger dogs were thought to be more aggressive because past research looked at bite statistics—but most bites are not reported. Bigger dogs have bigger bites, which makes it more likely that those–not Dachshund bites—are the ones being medically treated and therefore reported. This study, however, surveyed 6,000 dog owners instead.

The least aggressive breeds included Basset Hounds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Siberian Huskies, and Greyhounds. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers scored about average to below average in the study.

Image credit: fionamcallisterphotography via Flickr

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Diana Vilibert

Diana Vilibert is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. You can be blog-friends with her at, or tweet her at @dianavilibert.


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12:21PM PST on Nov 16, 2014

@CarolF Unfortunately, as the comments on this thread show, there is much more unfounded opinion spread than factual or informed comment.

A sad thing is that our society tends to subtly (and even not so subtly) endorse the most opinionated nonsense. Becoming a parent is a good example. Most people, it seems, appear to believe that becoming a parent automatically imbues that parent with the skills, knowledge and character that befits them to decide almost if not all important decisions about a child's care. In fact, of course, it does no such thing and this is one of the reasons that so many children suffer neglect, lack of love, warped indoctrination, and all manner of other abuses, including effectively being orphaned even though both parents are alive and present.

So it is with pets. Become a dog owner and, it seems, you are automatically an expert on dog care. Become a dog owner and all of a sudden your opinion on all matters related to dog behaviour become significant. Of course, that is really as silly as it is in the case of parenting.

Animals need to be treated with respect no matter how docile or trustworthy they may seem. Animals and children - DON'T MIX - unless there is astute and knowledgeable adult supervision.

Owning a pet doesn't make you an instant expert and far too often, even owning several pets over many years increases some owners suitability to care for an animal not one bit.

I have trained all manner of dogs from 7" high Yorkshi

9:55AM PST on Nov 16, 2014

I posted a month or so ago about our neighbor's Daschund who bit my young daughter, because the lady kept coaxing her to pet "her Heidi", and being so young, even tho we always told our girls Never to pet a strange dog, she reached out to pet Heidi and was immediately bitten. Not a good experience!

12:16PM PST on Nov 13, 2014


1:05AM PST on Nov 13, 2014

Very surprising.

2:56PM PST on Nov 12, 2014

Thank you for posting and sharing

2:55PM PST on Nov 12, 2014

Only a little surprising, you cant really judge a dog just by the way they look or breed xx

10:05AM PST on Nov 12, 2014

I wasn't sure about 2 or 3, but I knew that Daschunds are extremely prone to biting for no reason at all.

1:29AM PST on Nov 12, 2014

Roger, thanks very much for this! I admit I haven't read all the opiniated comments this time, but I've been on C2 long enough to know just what you mean without wasting any more of my time!

(I have a very long wish-list of things I hope to achieve this winter, because there's no time in the summer, and forever reading stuff on C2 ensures that I will run out of time...) However I have enough hands-on experience of horses and birds to be sure that similar misconceptions exist with other animals.

Branding a whole breed as aggressive! That's like saying all mares are temperamental, especially chestnut mares. Numerous stunning, wonderful mares come along, and still the myth persists. So why exactly are *all* the people who count themselves as dog people better informed than some of those who call themselves horsemen or women?

12:33AM PST on Nov 12, 2014

Thanks for sharing

5:47PM PST on Nov 11, 2014

The disturbing thing about this article is not its content, which I commend, but the enormous amount of anecdotal, opinionated and unfounded comment that has ensued from it. This has ranged from the harmless and amusing anecdotal through to outright misconceptions and disortion and has even, unfortunately (and surprisingly on a "caring" site, included some unnecessarily offensive comment.

As someone who loves all animals and who has had specific love of dogs for over 60 years; as someone who seeks evidence over opinion; as someone who has worked professionally with dogs, albeit not continuously, for around 50 years; and as someone who has trained and partnered dogs of a wide variety of breeds from the tiny Yorkshire Terrier through to German Shepherds and Great Danes, I am horrified by the extent of ignorance and misinformation that exists about dog ownership, training and handling.

Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but that does not make that opinion fact. Neither is it legitimate to take experience with the particular and generalise it to a whole breed or type of animal. So, given that this is obviously a topic in which many are interested, I have put together a small collection of authoritative articles on dog aggression, including a couple of meta-analyses of research studies in this area. You will find this collection available for download at:
Simply drag the zip file to your d

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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