There are so many misconceptions about the concept of dangerous dogs, partly fuelled by rumours and counter-rumours, with many people seemingly prepared to pass on misinformation that’s claimed to be concrete fact. The problem is exacerbated by the understandable furore that erupts each time a person is attacked by a canine.
In recent decades, the publicity surrounding the pit bull terrier has turned it into some kind of devil dog, and even though the breed is now illegal in many countries it still gets mentioned by people reporting unpleasant incidents that actually involved completely different breeds. Such is the power of negative publicity, of course.
The American Kennel Association declared September to be Responsible Dog Owner Month, in a bid to highlight the often forgotten fact that dangerous dog incidents are almost always a result of poor training and ownership. Many of the more highly publicised attacks were by dogs which had been deliberately trained to be aggressive by irresponsible owners.
A recent study in America of attacks on humans revealed some surprising data about which breeds are more likely to bite a person than others. The three at the top of the list were smaller breeds that are perhaps thought to be more docile: the dachshund, Chihuahua and Jack Russell terrier. Surprisingly, these guys are more likely to snap than the likes of Staffordshire bull terriers, Rottweilers and German shepherds.
Those at the bottom of the list were perhaps more predictable. The golden retriever, Labrador retriever and greyhound were all low down, although one surprise was perhaps the Siberian husky, a breed which often induces fear in the uninformed passer-by. The research merely proves how difficult it is to understand the truth about dog breeds, and perhaps explains why so many false rumours begin.
Man’s best friend?
Man has enjoyed a wonderful relationship with dogs across history, having domesticated these wonderful animals for many thousands of years. Dogs are friendly and loyal by nature, and have proved to be so on countless occasions, and even though there are occasional incidents which lead to injury and even death, it’s important to remember that generally such unpleasantness isn’t the fault of the animal.
In general, there are no bad dogs, simply bad owners. There is a small percentage of the population who, either through lack of knowledge or a deliberate desire to be antisocial, bring their dogs up with a lack of discipline or with incorrect training, and it’s these people who need to educated out of their ignorance.
Although dogs in general are friendly and passive, it’s important to remember that they are by nature pack animals, and should be treated with guarded respect. This is especially true if you don’t know the individual dog itself, because you can never be 100% sure that it is safe. As always, a little care and logic should be applied to the situation.