When I was growing up, German Shepherds had a really bad reputation for being mean, aggressive and scary. Perhaps it was due to their presence as police, security and guard dogs, and the media attention they received during the golden age of television didn’t help much either.Today, Pit Bulls have replaced them as the most feared dog breed by the general population. This reputation is well-deserved and according to almost all statistics, they land on just about everyone’s list for the most aggressive, dangerous and deadly dog.
But if you look at the bottom of these lists, the Saint Bernard, once renowned as a champion, wintery rescue animal, this lazy breed still makes an appearance on this roster of frightening canines. Past images showed them as a stoic, calm, cool and collected, mountain presence, that appeared with a barrel of brandy strapped underneath their chins, pulling countless people from avalanches and other perilous predicaments to safety, saving countless lives.
When did this winter warrior, most commonly seen as a life-saving weapon, become a threat to humans? Why do Doberman Pinschers scare the living daylights out of some people, when they’re actually playful and highly intelligent? How did Rottweilers receive such a bad rap for being aggressive, reckless and rambunctious, when they’re actually relatively relaxed, easily trained and a popular choice for a protective family pet?
Training and breeding are two convenient, yet realistic truths, that will continue to be argued as the root cause for aggressive behavior in dogs. But these two answers raise more debate, and continue to fan the flames of this ongoing argument. The bottom line is, it’s not really the dog’s fault, the real blame lies on the human beings that have muddied these controversial waters with poor training and malicious breeding practices over the course of time.
Using Pit Bulls as an example, many believe that a breed-specific, lockjaw mentality is inherent and unparalleled by any other dog. Studies have shown that they actually rank third amongst other dogs in this violent PSI biting category. Other popular myths about Pit Bulls are over-publicised, they are not “pain-free” animals that attack more humans than any other breed. The majority of these mild-mannered mutts are lumped into an unspecific category of dogs with identical features that can include terriers and similar looking mixed breeds.
Breaking Bad With Positive Training
A dog’s violent bloodline can’t really be statistically linked to training throughout its family history and hereditary factors, but compare a puppy to a human child. An infant with a history of violence in their family doesn’t necessarily grow up to be an abuser. It depends on their environment and those who raise them. If there is violence and abuse in the household in which they are raised, they will likely mirror this behavior. But a baby raised with love and affection, will grow up to accept these more positive traits regardless of the “sins of their father.”
With so many dogs in need of good, loving homes, it’s a shame to discount breeds that are otherwise, happy, healthy dogs due to rumor, innuendo and misconceptions. Chihuahuas can be more aggressive than Great Danes, again much depends on training and breeding. Don’t discard the notion of dedicating your devotion to a dog breed based on hearsay. Do your homework and let the personality of a dog and their disposition speak louder than gossip and controversy.
Use positive reinforcement and training, as shown in the infographic below, to achieve a loving, trusting relationship with your best friend. As pack animals in the wild, dogs seek discipline from a leader and a well-trained dog leads a much happier, healthier life.