A couple of posts that I have encounter recently have been an important reminder for me on the misinformation available about what makes a dog dangerous. For example, the article linked to below goes through the “27 most dangerous dogs in history“.
However this article is pure sensationalism, and the basis for the information is the physically ability of this dog to do damage, i.e. size and weight, rather than any statistical data about attack rates (although even this would be inaccurate as the majority of bites are not reported)
For instance here is what this article says about Chow Chows:
Chow Chows: These dogs are very independent and weigh around 70 pounds. Some experts also believe that these dogs are evolved from wolves and are amongst the oldest dog breeds. Chow chows are usually stubborn and dominant.
ALL breeds of dogs are evolved from wolves, and I have met stubborn and dominant characters in all breeds of dog! Within each litter of puppies there will be a variety of different personalities (this is necessary for pack survival, so the pups can grow to fill a variety of roles), so to label an entire breed as one personality type is nonsense. That’s like saying that all Brits are extremely polite. Some are, but I’ve met plenty who aren’t! A breed does not make a dog a dangerous dog.
Sadly this kind of false information is in the public eye and there are two problems with this:
- People become fearful or certain breeds of dogs unnecessarily.
- People believe that because their dog isn’t in the “dangerous dogs” category, that there is no safety issue at all.
This is further illustrated by these signs that are now appearing in Ireland. This photo was taken from the Facebook page for Alan Tobin, a politician in Ireland, and was posted with a statement saying that people shouldn’t have any of these breeds as a family pet:
Unsuprisingly there were a lot of upset remarks from people who have these breeds as their pets, and their beloved dog is a calm and well mannered member of the family.
Of course if one of these breeds attacks on the walk then they will do more damage than say a toy poodle would, however what if they are leashed and muzzled and then a dog not considered dangerous comes charging over, off lead, jumping all over them, in their space and barking? This is very upsetting for any breed of dog to be put under this kind of pressure whilst unable to defend themselves. A friend of mine had her rottweiler attacked by 2 Jack Russells* who ran across the field at her. Her rottie did not retailate, but is the one considered dangerous according to these rules.
*Please note that Jack Russells are no more dangerous than any other breed!
What is really needed to prevent there being Dangerous Dogs is for a general educating of everyone to understand the nature of the dog. We all very much want to just see them as part of our family, but they have their own will and their own view on the world. They see lots of things as potential dangers, and their options in the face of danger are to ignore it and hope it goes away, run away, or defend themselves (sometimes using an early attack as the best form of defense). They make these decisions when they don’t consider their owners to be the decision makers. If all dog owners took responsibilty for clearly showing their dog (in a way that dog understands, covering all of the areas that are important to the dog) that the dog is not in charge, then there would be no dangerous dogs, of any breed.
Very much the same as if all drivers drove with absolute care and attention at all times, there would be no car accidents. However we don’t see lists of the 25 most dangerous cars, on the basis of their size and speed, do we?