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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.

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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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4:04PM PDT on Aug 21, 2014

It is not true that: "little dogs are more aggressive". Such generalisations deny reality and often become misleading "folklore" that can have unforseen, usually unintentional, and often extremely harmful consequences.

It is true that *some* little dogs are more aggressive than other little dogs and that *some* little dogs may even be more aggressive than *some* large dogs. The opposite of those facts is also true.

Just as it is not true that aggression is dictated by breed, neither is it true that it is dictated by size.

12:36PM PDT on Aug 21, 2014

I've always known that little dogs were more aggressive. The only dog which has ever tried to bite me was a Cocker Spaniel. I understand why doxies would be labeled aggressive. I have two myself. One is as sweet as can be and has never met anyone she didn't love. She's quite unusual for a dachshund (the folks at my vet's office call her the anit-dachshund). The other is stand-offish and afraid. She has snapped at people who approached her too quickly, though she's never actually bitten anyone. I tell new-comers to my house to leave her alone. My other dog will be glad to love on them and be loved on. Unfortunately there are too many people who see little dogs and think they're all puppies or stuffed animals, meant for cuddling. They do foolish things (like lean in close and make kissy noises) and don't realize that that's aggressive behavior in the dog's POV. They'd never try that nonsense with a bigger dog and they shouldn't with a little one either.

10:42PM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

Regina, you clearly disagree with the findings of the particular research study reported by Diana but opinion doesn't negate it. I can well understand, on the basis of personal experience, that many dog owners would respond in similar fashion to that reported in this particular study. Regina also expressed her surprise at the findings.

Misconceptions are common about most topics, not least about dogs & dog ownership. As I pointed out in a previous post, the classification of risk or danger on the basis of breed has now been largely discredited by research though the misperceptions held by many people will undoubtedly last for a long time yet.

A major misperception is one that you seem to hold is that German Shepherds are an aggressive breed. This is not at all the case. They are however probably the most intelligent of dog breeds and were specifically bred with certain qualities in mind, not least the ability to guard and defend, yet be responsive to their owners. A major cause of the false view of German Shepherds is that the breed has often been in the "most popular" category and that, unfortunately, means that "back-yard" breeders will seek to capitalise on that popularity. As a result there are many poorly bred specimens and even cross-bred dogs offered as German Shepherds. A further complication to their undeserved negative reputation is that is is common when someone is attacked for the breed to be reported as a "German Shepherd", even when the dog act

1:28PM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

My doxies are lovers. They protect their family. I would not have any other breed.

11:41AM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

I don't agree with this. My two doxies have never attempted or have bitten anyone. They love to be petted and get so excited they pee everywhere when they see someone. One may bark like she's a meanie, but she is such a softy and like I said loves being petted.

11:30AM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

This is a major load of crap. Do you hear about people and children being injured by doxie or chihuahua bites? No! It's pit bulls, dobermans, german shepards. Please!!

3:34AM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

A meta-analysis of research conducted into dog breeds and aggression will show that to assess risk of aggressive behaviour by dogs on the basis of breed is *not* supported.

In the past, it was common for legislation aimed at minimising public risk from aggressive dogs and sanctions for their owners to be based on rating of breeds. That strategy has largely been discredited and an examination of most legislation in this area will show that obligations, responsibilities and restrictions are now based on other criteria, regardless of breed.

A rating system based on breed is therefore not useful. As many have either intuitively or anecdotally expressed here, there are aggressive and non-aggressive dogs among all breeds. A dog's "personality" is far more likely to be influenced by its "breeding", i.e it's specific family genetics, *together with* the environment in which it grows and the treatment it receives from human beings. In other words, nature & nurture both play a part but just as human beings of all races are capable of good and bad action, so it is with differing dog breeds.

2:19PM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

Funny about that little blurb at the end about so-called dangerous dogs. If you look up the well published studies in dog temperament, you'll see that pitbulls score higher (for positive temperament) than even golden retrievers with the American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS).

2:19PM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

Funny about that little blurb at the end about so-called dangerous dogs. If you look up the well published studies in dog temperament, you'll see that pitbulls score higher (for positive temperament) than even golden retrievers with the American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS).

4:29PM PDT on Aug 7, 2014

My pap had a chichuahua.meanest dog that i was ever around.he would attack and bite all of us.i on the other hand have a pitbull.he might lick your face off but he is not aggressive at all.protective but not aggressive.

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