When we think of dog breeds that get a bad rap because of superficial breed stereotypes, pit bulls are among the first to come to mind. Studies show that people are likely to have a fear response when they see a pit bull on the street, particularly if she’s being walked by a “rough” looking guy. Sadly, pit bulls are also over-represented in shelter populations and euthanasia statistics. But they’re not the only breed that suffers from a bad reputation due to false stereotypes.
While it’s true that some breeds were developed for certain functions like fighting, hunting, protecting, and guarding, they are not dangerous by nature. The personality and upbringing of an individual dog will determine his behavior more than his breed. Here is a rundown of some dog breeds that get unfairly categorized as dangerous.
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 which ban or restrict certain types of dog 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.
The Rottweiler is a large working dog, originally bred to drive cattle and pull carts. While they are loyal and protective, they were never bred to fight or attack. Their imposing appearance has led to a false impression 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.
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. The Doberman is a smart dog that is naturally protective of its people. A Doberman will be aggressive towards strangers only if he is poorly trained and socialized.
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