Okay, the study — a serious affair published in the journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science, and based on interviews with 6,000 dog owners by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania — didn’t call them dog thugs. That was the Daily Mail‘s interpretation.
The Scottish Terrier and Dog News is relieved to see that Scotties did not make this list of the most aggressive breeds, but disappointed to find no information whatsoever about their aggression level.
Dr James Serpell, one of the researchers, said smaller breeds might be more genetically predisposed towards aggressive behaviour than larger dogs.
“Reported levels of aggression in some cases are concerning, with rates of bites or bite attempts rising as high as 20 per cent toward strangers and 30 per cent toward unfamiliar dogs,” he added.
Until now, research into canine aggression has almost exclusively involved analysis of dog bite statistics. But the researchers said these were potentially misleading as most bites were not reported. Big dogs might have acquired a reputation for being aggressive because their bites were more likely to require medical attention.
The findings have angered owners of small breeds. Chris Moore, secretary of the Northern Dachshund Association, said: “As far as breeders in the UK are concerned, this is rubbish. It is not in the dogs’ nature. I have never been bitten in 25 years.”
Unfortunately, some Rottweiler owners took the news of their dogs average aggressiveness less than gracefully and with a large grain of schadenfreude. Commented Joyce Summers, treasurer of the Rottweiler Club in Britain, said: “I am not surprised Jack Russells are up there near the top; they are yappy little things.”
Among the lowest scoring breeds for aggression were Basset hounds, golden retrievers, labradors, Siberian huskies and greyhounds. Having just dog-sat a Basset this weekend, I can attest that he was a lovely fellow but a total wuss. He was scared of cats and small children although he did have a good frolic at the dog park this morning.
If you want to see pictures of the most and least aggressive dogs, the Telegraph has some great shots.
Meanwhile on this side of the Atlantic, the Discovery Channel has been probing the dog aggression news and has the most complete results including a table which shows different breeds’ aggressiveness towards human strangers, owners and other dogs.
You can also check out our sister site, the Daily Doxie to see how lovers of the breed named most aggressive are dealing with the news.