Any discussion of dangerous dogs can quickly descend into an argument between two factions – the ‘no bad dogs, only bad owners’ camp and the ‘breed is destiny’ camp. While there is little agreement between the groups, we can know that some breeds are simply more dangerous.
Or do we?
A study by the American Veterinary Medicine Association identified which breeds were more likely to bite, such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. That study also investigated which breeds were more likely to bite can cause serious harm, and Pit Bulls again made the list.
However, that study went further and tried to understand which breeds were more dangerous simply because they were more prevalent, and which dogs were more dangerous despite few incidents when looking at the number of dogs in the community. That wider analysis found some surprising breeds on the list, including Poodles, Shih Tzus and Llahasa Apsos, in addition to the ones listed above. Unfortunately, Pit Bulls make every list, both as to bites and as to bites causing serious harm.
So if we can identify some dogs as potentially dangerous, does that mean they all are? Of course not. Very few dogs are involved in biting incidents and even fewer are seriously dangerous. However, there are some important tips you can follow to help keep you and your family safe.
- If an owner says don’t pet the dog, don’t pet the dog.
- Let sleeping dogs lie.
- If a dog is growling, stay away.
- Keep small children away from dogs without direct adult supervision – neither the child nor the dog reliably know what to do with each other.
Will these tips guarantee no bites? No, like all mammals, dogs can be unpredictable. So stay alert, be safe, respect dogs and their owners, and hopefully we can all stay safe.