Dogs Are Aggressive Due to Experience, Not Breed

This article†was originally posted in September of 2015.†

Many breeds of dog have a reputation for being aggressive, but new research suggests that itís not the type of dog, but their upbringing that is the cause of aggressive behavior.

Pit bull terriers, rottweilers and bullmastiffs are just some of the breeds which are renowned for being dangerous, however, the truth is much more complicated than it may initially seem. Many breeds are kept for their Ďnatural traitsí and are trained by irresponsible owners to make them more aggressive.

Intruder Alert

A study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science surveyed over 4,000 dog owners in the UK and looked into when and why dogs exhibit aggressive behavior, breaking it down into three different groups: unfamiliar people outside the house, unfamiliar people entering the house and members of the household.

The initial results of the study were as expected, showing that the most common acts of aggression were directed towards unfamiliar people entering the house (7 percent), with less than half that number (3 percent) showing aggression towards family members. More than 50 percent of those who had trouble with aggression were still trying to deal with an ongoing aggression problem, which was difficult to overcome.

One of the reasons for the low level of attacks on people outside of the home could be that owners with aggressive dogs often try to avoid taking their dogs into busy places where problems are likely to occur.

No Specific Breeds Were Shown to Be More Aggressive

The results already discussed are unlikely to surprise you, especially if youíre a dog owner, but the results become interesting. According to Faunalytics:

One important detail highlighted by the researchers is that there were no specific breeds or breed types found to have an increased risk of human-directed aggression. Though the authors note that other studies have found certain breeds, such as Dachshunds, to have an increased risk of aggression towards strangers, this was not the case here. This research did find that some dog breeds may have a higher risk of causing injury from aggression, but it did not mean that they were any more likely to show aggression in the first place.

This dispels the myth that certain breeds of dog are more likely to attack people, and replaces it with the notion that certain breeds are more likely to cause injury than others if they do show aggression. Thereís no doubting that a large pitbull terrier carries a larger potential threat of injury than a small Yorkshire terrier, but this study indicates that the chance of an attack is no more likely.

Early Experiences Can Shape Lifelong Behavior

Having discovered that itís not the breed of dog that increases the chance of an attack, but the individual dog itself, it reinforces the importance of responsible and loving care of these beautiful creatures that we share our homes with.

Dogs learn to exhibit certain types of behavior in different situations, and it is not always down to the natural characteristics of the breed, but the way in which they are taught (or allowed) to behave.

Photo Credit: ny156uk


Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Aaron F
Past Member 5 months ago

Tell that to the 83yr old grandmother who was killed by her pit bull that she raised from a pup. I'm sure she beat it it's whole life...NOT!

Melania Padilla
Melania P6 months ago

Of course, they are not born mean or aggressive. Humans raise them to be like that; cruel, stupid and ignorant people should not have pets. Poor dogs discriminated because of human's doing :(

Gerald L
Gerald L8 months ago

Dogs Are/can be Aggressive Due to genetics, Not training Or upbringing. No matter how well intentioned the dogs loving and caring owners are, unfortunately some breeds click into an agressive Or defensive mode. Why have some dogs used for shepherding have a keen trait to chase wolves away? Was it the owners training?

I could not bring my shepherd/collie when we went swimming, he would try and rescue the family from drowning.

heather g
heather g8 months ago

I disagree with the heading of this article

Nicole H
Nicole H8 months ago

@ Robin Reed. Your comments made me think of the severe training, and extensive examination of our family, then consisting of my husband, my son from my 1st marriage, and myself, when we have at least contacted 20 organizations in view of adopting a child, either from our country, or from the other side of the world. Why did we have to prove (psychologic investigation, showing our house, providing them with our salaries, and many, many other things) that we would be suitable parents ?? ?? I could unfortunately not get pregnant as from the age of 32, and therefore 2nd husband and I wanted to adopt. When other people have a baby every 2 years, are on drugs or alcohol, do not work, and ... well you know what I mean. They don't have to prove anything at all !! They do not have to follow classes, or extra weekends studies to become parents ?? But to a certain extent, I agree with you. We should be able to show that we are real animal lovers, and will take care of our pets in a decent way, before being able to buy or adopt a dog, cat or whatever pet. A lot of neglect, cruelty and sad lives would be spared.

Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole H8 months ago

Finally, some scientists must confirm, probably after years of study and experiments, that their are NO aggressive dogs. There are only aggressive dog OWNERS. They buy a puppy of a breed that is known to be a big bolder than for instance a poodle, or a border collie. Then they start training them, day after day, after day, after day.... And then, they have (Hurrah!) an aggressive dog. I don't understand what the fun is of having an aggressive dog. But in the 3 years that I am member of Care2, I have written it at least 20 or 30 times that the so called aggressive dogs are just lovable pets and lapdogs as any other breed. My daughter has a pitbull, and when buying the little one (it was even forbidden to keep one) she had 2 little girls of approx 2 and 4 years old. He NEVER touched them. On the contrary, he protected the girls from foreign people who came too close in his opinion, even if it was just someone who wanted to have some small talk with my daughter.... Oh, pitbulls were so ferocious. B.S. If you take a puppy of 7 weeks of any breed and you daily train it to be aggressive, then this dog will be aggressive !! That's all there is !!!!!!!!

Gerald L
Gerald L8 months ago

Please FLAG this Comment 4 the Extra Long White Space under her Comment. Is she attempting to Hide Free Speech and Opinions? Ref.

Debbi -2 days ago
If sweet innocent babies can be treated in such a way that they become mean, cruel nasty brats, it's easy to understand how a sweet little puppy (_any breed_) can be turned into a mean, fearful aggressive dog. It really is a shame that either of these situation should occurred, but they do.

Margie F
Margie FOURIE8 months ago

I just depends on how the dog is brought up. Any dog.

Elaine W
Elaine W8 months ago

This information bears repeating. Thanks for the rerun.