DDA: The Dangerous Dachshunds Act!
New study names Dachshunds as ‘most aggressive breed’
AFTER ALL the media hype and spurious scientific studies claiming that Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Mastiffs are the most dangerous dog breeds, new research form America has apparently found Dachshunds are the world’s most aggressive breed of dog. The study shows that that one in five dachshunds have bitten or tried to bite strangers, and a similar number have attacked other dogs; one in 12 have snapped at their owners.
Known as sausage dog in the UK or ‘wiener dogs’ in the USA for their elongated bodies, Dachshunds have not, until now, had a fearsome reputation, although they were originally bred to hunt badgers in their setts. However, they topped a list of 33 breeds which were rated for their aggression, after academics analysed the behaviour of thousands of dogs.
Incredibly, Chihuahuas, an even smaller breed, were ranked the second most hostile, regularly snapping or attempting to bite strangers, family and other dogs. Another small favourite, the Jack Russell, was third.
The study, published this week in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, involved researchers from the University of Pennsylvania questioning 6,000 dog owners. Breeds scoring low for aggression included Basset Hounds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Siberian Huskies. The Rottweiler, Pit Bull And Rhodesian Ridgeback scored average or below average marks for hostility towards strangers. Greyhounds rated the most docile.
The study also showed that ‘temperament testing’ isn't all it's cracked up to be either.
Owners of 67 dogs temperament tested and subsequently adopted from one dog rescue shelter were interviewed by telephone within 13 months of adoption. The interviews included questions about jumping up, house soiling, separation-related behaviour, barking and aggressive behaviour.
In evaluating dogs that passed the temperament test used by the shelter, it was found that 40.9% exhibited lunging, growling, snapping, and/or biting after adoption. When barking was included, this percentage rose to 71.2%.
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 said.
The report stated: ‘Our results indicated that there are certain types of aggressive tendencies (territorial, predatory, and intra-specific aggression) that are not reliably exhibited during temperament testing using this particular evaluation process.
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.
Needless to say, the report’s findings have angered owners of small breeds who don’t generally find their breeds thrust into the media spotlight when considering ‘dangerous dogs’. 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.’
Tony Fitt-Savage, Life Vice-President of the British Chihuahua Club was quoted as saying: ‘I have had Chihuahuas for 30-odd years, and they've never put anybody into hospital.’ He conceded however that: ‘They can be a little bit stroppy.’
Joyce Summers, treasurer of the Rottweiler Club may have been feeling a long-awaited sense of satisfaction when she said: ‘I have lived with Rottweilers for 40 years and they give nothing but love and affection. I am not surprised Jack Russells are up there near the top; they are yappy little things.’
Chris Lawrence, Veterinary Director of the Dogs Trust appeared on television on Monday of this week defending Dachshunds after the story broke in the media.
That the report was somewhat subjective and limited in its sample field despite apparently involving 6,000 dog owners is pretty clear, and shows perhaps bets of all how research and statistics – especially where dogs are concerned – should be taken with a large dose of salt;
Let’s just hope that we don’t start seeing hysterical media calls for a new DDA – the Dangerous Dachshunds Act!
Pamela Poulter, OUR DOGS’ Dachshund breed correspondent told us: ‘what rubbish! I as at South Wales last Thursday and I cannot tell you how many people came to me and said what a wonderful temperament my young Eloquent Rose had. yes, like any other breed there are some dachshunds who are somewhat nervous but those are very much in a minority’.