When it comes to dog breeds, discussions about breed aggression often arise. A lot of people feel that there are no bad dogs, only bad owners – but it’s undeniable that some breeds are more highly associated with serious injuries and fatal attacks than others. Oftentimes, there are multiple factors in play that make a dog dangerous. When it comes to nature versus nurture, both (or either) can cause a dog to become aggressive.
Pit bulls, of course, get a lot of bad press – and not without reason. Even though pit bulls represent about 6% of all pet dogs, they’re responsible for roughly two-thirds of all fatal dog attacks. Rottweilers, German Shepherds, certain breeds of mastiff, Doberman Pinschers and Boxers and Siberian Huskies are also heavily associated with attacks.
Genetic factors and breeding
Certain dog breeds were selectively bred for specific purposes, such as guarding their masters (or their master’s flocks and farms), hunting or herding. These working breeds may possess traits that were advantageous in fulfilling their original roles, but not so useful for the average house pet. For instance, guarding breeds like the Doberman Pinscher or the German Shepherd were bred to be vigilant and protective. Sometimes, those instincts can cause them to be aggressive to perceived threats to their owners or territory.
Socialization and training
Early socialization and training play a pivotal role in shaping a dog’s behavior. Proper exposure to various environments, different people, other kinds of animals and positive experiences during a dog’s critical development period as a puppy are crucial for a stable personality. Inadequate socialization can result in fear, anxiety and aggression issues, regardless of breed. Worse, some owners have been known to deliberately train a dog to be aggressive simply because they value the animal only as a guard dog. That creates a volatile situation for the animal and anybody it encounters.
Environment and upbringing
A dog’s living conditions and upbringing heavily influence its behavior. Neglect, abuse or lack of responsible ownership practices can contribute to aggression in any breed. Dogs that are deprived of regular mental stimulation and physical exercise may develop behavioral issues that manifest as aggression and attacks.
Jaw and body strength
Part of what makes some dogs more dangerous than others is their size and jaw strength. After all, a Pekingese can’t overpower a human by weight or clamp down on their arm and break it the way a pit bull can.
If you or your loved one suffered injuries in a dog attack, find out more about your legal options. Seeking legal guidance can help you to make informed decisions about your rights under the law.