The Most Aggressive Dog Breed May Not be What You Think

Christine Mitchell, Business Manager •

It’s something most of us have heard before: stay away from pitbulls; they’re aggressive. However, according to The Canine Journal, pitbulls are actually not the most aggressive breed, but rather, the breed of dog most likely to bite you are Chihuahuas. Small and medium breeds such as Bulldogs, Jack Russell Terriers and Pekingese made up 9 out of the 11 breeds on the list of dogs most likely to bite, also according to the journal.

Pitbulls and German shepherds were included on the list of breeds most likely to bite while other breeds with reputations for aggression such as Rottweilers were not. The Canine Journal stated that bites attributed to pitbulls are most likely overstated in the data since approximately 30 different breeds and mixes are commonly mistaken for pitbulls.

Veterinarian Michelle Meister said, “A lot of dog bites go unreported because small dogs just don’t do as much damage.” This may skew the statistics presented about breeds most likely to bite. According to the National Canine Research Council, of the dog bites that go reported, 81% were slight and required no medical attention, 18.99% of dog bites were treated and released, while the other 0.01% of dog bites represented serious injuries.

Meister went on to say that when a dog bite does get reported the first step is to see if it has a current rabies vaccine. If the dog has a current vaccine it is required to go through a 10 day quarantine and observation period. If the dog does not have a current rabies vaccine it is required to go through a six month quarantine period.

Ruth Johnson, the founder and administrator of the Milo Morrison Ethi Opi Memorial Fund, a nonprofit rescue, said she automatically assumes many small breeds are aggressive until they have been shown otherwise. On the other hand, in her experience, the typical pitbull is friendly and does what people want it to do.

Johnson said, “Little dogs are more likely to be aggressive, big dogs are more likely to hurt you when they are aggressive.”

Meister said that Chihuahuas were the breed most likely to bite based on her experience, describing them as “a cross between a piranha and a rattlesnake.” She went on to say that no matter what the breed is reading body language is a must to determine if the dog is a potential problem.

Many of the studies done about dog aggression focus on the serious dog bites, what these studies fail to report is how rare serious injuries by dogs really are. The National Safety Council puts odds of dying by a dog bite or strike at 1 in 112,400 chance, making it far more likely that you die of a cataclysmic storm or heat.

According to the Humane Society of the United States the majority of aggressive dogs are not spayed or neutered.

Meister said that bites usually occur out of fear aggression. People get bitten because they do not realize they received a warning and the dog believes its life is in danger. She said that most bites could be avoided if people paid more attention to the dog’s body language.

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