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Two dogs fighting as a representation for dog breed stereotypes

Dog Breed Stereotypes: New Studies on Negative Behavior

'Don't judge a book by its cover'. The truth is, judging is almost a reflex for many people, and our canine companions are not immune to this either! Differed dog breed stereotypes have probably been around for as long as we have been raising man's best friends.

While certain misconceptions may seem innocent initially, many are also outright dangerous and false. Such information may affect adoption rates toward specific breeds with a bad reputation to them, whether they warrant it or not. I'm here to explore some common knowledge about dogs and the truth to these presumptions.

Pit Bull

The pit bull is the breed that has probably suffered the most from stereotypes. The media is quick to sensationalize news stories about pit bull attacks, which stem from bad training, not their true nature.

Pit bulls also top the list of dog breed misinformation, such as the “locking jaw” myth. They are also most likely to be the target of breed-specific legislation, local regulations that ban or restrict certain types of dogs because of breed stereotypes.

Pit bulls actually rank much higher than many other dog breeds when given the standardized temperament test developed by the American Temperament Test Society. Over 85% of pit bulls have passed the temperament test, as compared to, for example, 79% of collies and 71% of Chihuahuas.


Running Rottweiler representing stereotype of activeness in their breed

The Rottweiler is a large working dog, originally bred to drive cattle and pull carts. While they are loyal and stubborn, they were never bred to fight or attack. Their imposing appearance has led to a false perception that they are inherently dangerous. In fact, Rottweiler breed standards in Germany, the U.S. and the U.K. say that they should be good-natured, calm, obedient, confident, and not nervous or aggressive.

Doberman Pinscher

This breed originated with a German tax collector named Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman, who actually did intend that the breed be intimidating, protective, and fierce. That was a long time ago, and today’s Doberman breeders are more interested in emphasizing their loyalty, intelligence, and athleticism.

Doberman fans are quick to point out the breed’s devotion to its human family. They are smart dogs that are naturally protective of their people. Dobermans would only be aggressive towards strangers if they are poorly trained and socialized.


This celebrity pet has earned its notorious reputation as a noisy, overly fragile, and overaggressive lap dog. This doesn't mean that it's true, however. The average Chihuahua is no less frail than a normal dog, with a lifespan of upwards of twelve years.

The personality of a chihuahua depends highly on whether it's been trained properly. They are also very affectionate with their family and have high sociability even with other dogs. However, it should also be noted that the American Kennel Club (AKC) does not recommend Chihuahuas for children.


This dog breed has gained fame as Japan's guard dog. This reputation is due in part to a real-life story of a dog named Hachiko, whose loyalty to its owner did not waver even after the latter's death. Akitas have also been known to be hard to train and integrate with other dogs.

The AKC highly agrees with the stereotype that Akitas are staunchly protective and loyal, and that they do not mix well with other pets. Socialization must also be trained within puppy years in order to avoid future aggression.

Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky running across snow

Known for their beautiful coats and noble gaits, Siberian Huskies have often been thought of as wild winter dogs that roam to their hearts' desires. They have also been portrayed as a noisy breed, howling and barking a lot.

The thing about huskies thriving in cold weather is partly true, and although there might be some exceptions here and there, for the most part they are hardwired to the cold and may thus suffer in less ideal conditions. Their vocalness is also very true, being rated five out of five (the highest rating a breed can get).

Mutts Or Mixed Breeds

Mixed breed, also called mutts, have often been covered under the unfair generalization that they are less intelligent than other specific breeds. However, this bias against mutts has no legitimate scientific backing.

One positive and factual dog stereotype regarding mixed breeds is that they are said to be healthier than purebreds. A study of 27,254 cases from 1995 to 2010 has shown that purebreds are more likely to develop ten kinds of genetic disorders than mixed breeds.

Analyzing Dog Breed Stereotypes With New Studies

Recent studies have actually shown that genes are not a strong predictor of dangerous or vicious behavior in dogs. It's true that some breeds may be more genetically predisposed towards certain behaviors, but there are always exceptions.

In general, a dog’s behavior is more likely to be influenced by its upbringing, socialization, and environment rather than its breed. It's important to remember that any dog can become aggressive due to fear or stress, but they may also be very loving and loyal if they receive appropriate training and care.

Ultimately, these studies demonstrate that dogs are individuals with their own personalities, just like humans! So rather than making snap judgments based on breed alone, it's better to look at each individual dog's behavior to get an accurate sense of their temperament and personality.

Dog Behavior and Genetics

Understanding how a dog acts is often determined by their genetic predisposition and environment. Over the years, many negative behaviors have been attributed to certain breeds, which is why some breeds are more commonly associated with aggressive tendencies than others.

Nature Versus Nurture

The "nature versus nurture" debate when it comes to animal behavior has been around for decades. We now know that the relationship between genetics and environment are much more complicated than just a simple one-to-one ratio.

Environment, training, and individual personalities should be taken into account when considering a pup's temperament. It's important to remember that all dogs, regardless of their breed, can be loving family pets with the right nurturing and socialization from an early age. All it takes to help prove these myths wrong is an open heart and some love!

So when it comes to age, genetics is only part of the equation when trying to understand doggy behavior. This also goes for health concerns regarding dogs, as shown in a study by Elinor Karlsson. Elderly dogs in general are often unfairly discriminated during adoption, a fact that is constantly being fought by organizations such as the House With A Heart senior pet sanctuary.

Different Factors In Shaping Dog Personality

Dog training with ball to remove negative behavior

Studies have also shown that dog behavior is more dependent on environmental factors than its breed. Dogs born in a loving home and a good environment will have good behavior regardless of breed.

On the other hand, any breed of dog raised in an environment of neglect may act out aggressively or seem unresponsive. Understanding these factors can help owners create an environment that encourages positive behavior from their pet. Here are some tips:

  • Establishing a daily routine for your pet

  • Making sure your dog gets enough exercise

  • Teaching obedience, manners and impulse control

  • Providing your pup with a safe and secure home base

  • Practicing proper socialization techniques to ensure your pup interacts positively with people and other animals

By setting appropriate boundaries and providing regular love and attention to your furry companion, you’ll be able to combat any negative stereotype – no matter the breed!

Dealing With Negative Canine Behavior

You may have heard negative stereotypes about dog breeds like the ones previously mentioned, but there's an important caveat when it comes to these behaviors: every dog is different. That's why it's so important to understand your pup and how they react to different situations.

Looking at Recent Studies

Results showed from new studies have shown that owner behaviors may be connected to negative dog behavior. Some of these behaviors include neuroticism, avoidant attachment styles, and emotional instability.

The key takeaway from this study is that dog owners need to maintain a certain level of care and attention in order to promote positive traits among their pets. Consistent friendliness towards our furry companions will go a long way to deter future behavioral problems.

Training Your Dog

Pups are best trained at a young age so as to instill positive behaviors as early as possible. Even innate characteristics will be smothered by consistent positive reinforcement, love, and patience.

Keeping your pup active and engaged through regular walks and playtime are also great ways to ensure your pup has a balanced temperament. Additionally, if you want more expert advice on how to train your dogs properly, you can also check out this article.

While there may be some truth behind certain stereotypes, remember that all dogs are individuals with their own unique personalities. They deserve to be loved regardless of what breed they are. Show your support for all dog breeds by wearing these funny dog t-shirts!


Why do dog breed stereotypes exist?

Biases exist against every breed of dogs because due to sociocultural reasons. For example, beagles have been bred historically to hunt hares and catch the scent of prey. Thus, while most of them are not used as hunters anymore, the belief still persists among the population.

Should we believe stereotypes?

Stereotypes should go through the usual process of fact-checking before it is internalized unto our behaviors. Furthermore, it is also important to remember that statistics, while generalizable, is not representative of an entire population.

Why don't we see Corgis on any dangerous dogs list?

While there are certain beliefs regarding the aggressiveness of Corgis, they are generally unfounded. Thus, they are primarily listed as safe dogs.

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Barbara S. - January 26, 2017

I would love it if it was longer: gave more breeds, offered more information on each breed like statistics, maybe more specific information like what rumors are myths and what are true?

Nicki MS - June 14, 2015

how about Akitas & German Shepard / Alsations? Good article wish it was bit longer and including above mentioned breeds ??? though!

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