My Dachshund is Meaner than Your Pit Bull?

A recent study on dog behavior was conducted by Deborah Duffy and James Serpell of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society, and Yuying Hsu of the National Taiwan Normal University. This study consisted of surveys both on recognized breed clubs and an online survey. Surprisingly, the results from both sources tended to agree!

The results of the online poll were posted on the Discovery News: Born Animal blog. After looking at it for a minute, I decided it was really hard to interpret. So I transferred the data to my trusty Excel spreadsheet and did a little figuring. The original table had column 1 being the breed, column 2 being the number of that breed in the survey, then columns 3 through 6 being the numbers of times the dog had bitten, nipped at, or tried to nip at either a human or another dog. So I will break this up into tendency towards Human Aggression (HA) and tendency to Dog Aggression (DA).

Human Aggressiveness

Columns 3 and 4, respectively, were the number of bites/attempts on a strange human and on the owner. What I did was take the total bite attempts from these two columns and divided the result by the total number of that dog breed in the survey to arrive at a percentage. The higher the percentage the more apt that breed of dog is to be HA. The most aggressive dogs? It may surprise you, but it didn’t me 😉

  1. Dachshund – 26%
  2. Chihuahua – 21%
  3. Beagle – 16%
  4. Jack Russell Terrier – 12%
  5. Australian Cattle Dog – 11%

So where are the dogs that the media always places the stigma of being such aggressive and dangerous? Under the sort performed above, the Pit Bull can be found in spot #8 and the Rottweiler way down in spot #19!

The least human aggressive of the dogs in the study were the Poodle, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, the Brittany Spaniel, the Greyhound, and the Golden Retriever.

One last interesting fact was that the Cocker Spaniel (spot #6) appeared to be more likely to bite the hand that feeds it (the owner) than to bite a stranger! This is probably more because of the amount of exposure to the owner the dog has to its owner, but strange none-the-less.

Dog Aggressiveness

A similar sort was done using columns 5 and 6 (Other Dogs and Dog Rivalry) to come up with a rating on which breeds were the most aggressive towards other dogs. Not surprisingly, the Pit Bull does appear in this top 5 list, but, once again, the Rottweiler placed in spot#20.

  1. Terrier – 31%
  2. Pit Bull – 30%
  3. Dachshund – 25%
  4. English Springer Spaniel – 25%
  5. Australian Cattle Dog – 24%

So the Dachshund and the Australian Cattle Dog appear on both top 5 lists (apparently they don’t like anyone :P). Wait! Don’t bite my head off, I was joking! There really is no way to determine if the same dog that displayed human aggressiveness also tended to be aggressive to other dogs.

The least aggressive toward other dogs? Greyhound, Whippet, Havanese, Bernese Mountain Dog, and Labrador Retriever.

There you have it, my dice and slice of the numbers. Hope you found this useful 😉

Note that there is a basic flaw to the math I did above. Since these are raw numbers, there is no way of telling if the same dog that was aggressive towards strangers also attempted to bite its owner. So, if any displayed both tendencies, it would tend to skew the numbers slightly higher. This is minor though, since it would still represent two separate acts of aggression.

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