Dog Breeds and their Aggression
:A Nationwide problem with animal welfare and public health.
18 November 2019
How a specific dog breed ends up on a list is extremely arbitrary; although, Americans nationwide stereotype these breeds as aggressive, threatening and dangerous, more individuals today are advocating for the breeds unfairly added to the Aggressive breed list across the nation.
Some people complain that certain types of dog breeds are considered more aggressive than others. More than 40 dog breeds since 2016 were involved in fatal dog attacks. In a CDC study, more than 25 breeds were associated in fatal dog attacks and 20 years of incident data was analyzed. Over 1,000 U.S. citizens have needed treatment for dog bite injuries and have required emergency care. This is most likely due to the lack of proper training on the owner's behalf. In today's society, where individuals blame others and don't hold themselves accountable for their own actions; dog owners need to be held accountable for the lack of training for their own pets. This research project will focus more on why specific dog breeds are considered more aggressive than some that aren't on the 'most aggressive dog breeds in the nation' list and will introduce original data collected by scientists and veterinarians who have spent years examining the genetics and environmental factors explaining different areas of a canine's brain. By identifying the issue and coming up with an adequate solution; there is a possibility that people may re-consider how they feel about the stigma in regard to a dog's breed.
It seems that most people today advocate for dogs; no matter their breed, genetic background or behavior that they pursue. People can be spiteful and full of hate though. They'll do anything to get what they want, even if it's at the cost of somebodies' life and well-being. Men under 30 are more likely to abuse animals; women over 60 are more likely to hoard them. Dogs on the "aggressive breed" list have been abused and have been victims of dogfighting and other forms of organized animal cruelty. Animals are targeted by individuals who abuse their children and/or spouses. An article about dogs and their stereotypes; was written by author, Jess Bolluyt, who talks about how the reality of how real it is for certain dog breeds to be discriminated against and how unfair it is that they are considered aggressive canines. Specific dog breeds are considered more aggressive than some that aren't on the 'most aggressive dog breeds in the nation' list and will introduce original data collected by scientists and veterinarians who have spent years examining the genetics and environmental factors explaining different areas of a canine's brain. New studies throw light on the connection between canine aggression and genes that are involved in the neurotransmission in a canine's brain (Dr. Vage, J.). Dr. Jorn Vage also wrote this article to inform readers of different breeds of dogs with multiple forms of behaviors as genetic isolates; scientifically explaining the different areas of the brain in aggressive and non-aggressive dog breeds. I find this article to be reliable and credible; being that is comes from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. Dr. Jorn Vage, seems to be knowledgeable in the behaviors of canines and the study of the activity of their brains along with their genetics. About ten to twenty thousand years ago, dogs were domesticated for the sole purpose of hunting. They were tamed by humans and herded while becoming dependent on their human caretakers for food and protection. Dogs were the first animals that were domesticated by humans and were known to help hunt for the hunters and gatherers. According to author Helen, Briggs, "Researchers study the genetics from three different dogs found at archaeological sites in Ireland and Germany that were between the ages of four thousand and seven thousand" (Briggs, H). "Twenty thousand years ago, dogs had been moving around the world with their owners; although not considered as pets during this time, the dogs were later bred for their skills and loyal characteristics; creating the modern breed" (Briggs, H). Dogs were domesticated for the purpose of hunting and European Paleolithic dogs originated from a private domestication event from wolves about fifteen thousand years ago and Asian dogs a little over twelve thousand years ago.
Author Brian Handwerk argues, if dogs evolved from wolves, then wolves most likely had the capacity for the diversity in dog breeds somewhere in their DNA. "Dogs started to live with humans, less fit individuals were more likely to survive and reproduce than they were when in the wild" (Adams, J) Canines have many different traits from one another; dogs may have been strongly selected for their tameness and certain behavioral traits. "Gray wolves and dogs diverged from an extinct wolf species about fifteen thousand to forty thousand years ago; the domestication of dogs were one of the greatest events in human history" (Handwerk, B) The physical changes, such as floppy ears, splotchy coats, and curly tails, appeared over time and is known as self-domestication.
Today dogs are our pets; they provide unconditional love and support for people all over the world. Dogs are therapy dogs, support animals and the most loving creatures on this earth. Many dog breeds are considered dangerous to their size and force of their jaws; therefore, have made it on the "most aggressive" dog breed list (Goss). People may argue that depending on the breed, dogs can be aggressive and cause harm to people or other animals. There is no arguing that dogs cannot and will not hurt someone. Not even the dog owners themselves can tell another person that their dog wont bite someone; dogs are still animals and have minds of their own; after all, the Pitbull is still responsible for the fatal attacks in the U.S. killing 284 people between 2005 and 2017 (McCarthy). The source from McCarthy's article gives some entail of how certain dogs made it on the list of the most dangerous or aggressive dog breed in the nation. The realities of dogs and their behavior is that they are considered aggressive based on their size and certain characteristics but also are very loving and loyal animals depending on the owner and their style of training. (Goss). McCarthy is a data journalist that covers technological, societal and media topics. The source seems credible, reliable, and objective and focuses on how there is a difference between dangerous and aggressive. Dogs are naturally loving, affectionate and social animals. Some dogs will do anything for their owners and strive to make sure we know how much they love us, even when it's their own safety involved (Bauhaus). All dogs are considered pack animals and consider themselves loyal to their own leader. Us humans have a huge part in how our dogs react or behave to certain situations. Dogs are like raising children, if you don't raise them right while they're young, they won't be well behaved adults. Many adult dogs specifically breeds that nobody wants or are considered aggressive or even the older dogs are stuck in shelters with no owner or leader to love them, most in which were brought to shelters due to many different reasons, specifically because their dog was too aggressive around other pets or even children. "Dog aggression is a behavior shown by all dog breeds. The behavior can continue or come to a stop at a certain point depending on how it is approached. There is a wide range of behaviors that a dog can exhibit that show aggression" (Njoroge). A dog will become aggressive when it is protecting its territory. It may become aggressive with another dog or when a human is invading its space. Some dogs may attack and bite an intruder, even if the intruder is a friend. The dog will be protective of the boundaries in which it usually patrols" (Njoroge). Jean Marie Bauhaus is an author from Tulsa, Oklahoma and is passionate about animals and seeks out an audience that is interested in learning more about the loyalty in which dogs can provide for their humans. Bauhaus talks about why dogs are far from being natural enemies, why they're loyal and the bond they share with their owners.
Canine aggression poses serious public health and animal welfare concerns. More than 30 breeds of dogs were included in the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire and eight breeds were ranked almost equally when it came to be aggressive toward strangers, other dogs and owners; while other canine breeds were ranked higher, specifically for other dogs. "Most of what is understood about breed differences in aggression comes from reports based on bite statistics, behavior clinic caseloads, and experts' opinions" (Duffy, D; Serpell, J) Behavioral surveys demonstrated by owners concluded that small to medium-sized dogs were more aggressive towards people but less likely to inflict serious injuries unless part of a pack attack or provoked. What may seem to be a dog's aggressive action by a bias opinion of an individual, may not be interpreted the same as another individual. Different people see certain dog breeds in a different light than others; the pit bull is seen as an aggressive breed in nature along with other breeds that are more inclined to display certain kinds of aggression. "Distinct differences were found between breeds with regard to their aggressive propensities" (Duffy, D). The Chihuahua is actually more likely to bite than a pit bull and the pit bull has a bad reputation due to the fact that their specific breed has actually caused harm to a person and/or other animal.
Are certain dog breeds, like the Pitbull, actually a dangerous breed? "Like people, dangerous dogs are on a case-by-case basis. It's not fair or accurate to condemn a whole breed as hostile or aggressive. Despite bans on the dogs, pit bulls are no more dangerous than any other large breed. The negative connotation is likely a result of the increase in illegal dog fighting in the 1980s. Pit bulls were not always seen as vicious, though. In the early 20th century, the dogs were an American family favorite. The breed made appearances on television, in movies, and in war propaganda-some pits even became celebrated war heroes in World War I." (mentalfloss) This was an article found online that explains a specific "dangerous" breed in a nutshell. The most dangerous breed today is the Pitbull. Ten years ago, it may have been the German Shepard, before that, the Doberman; maybe even the Rottweiler, but are the owners to blame, or just their genetic DNA? The answer to this question is quite complex. Dogs are just like humans in the way they are born with certain defects and have their own personalities right after birth. Humans get dementia, who is saying that dogs don't as well? We can't read dogs the way that we wish we could, so maybe we shouldn't judge based on something we know nothing about.
Are male or female dogs more affectionate or aggressive? Most people feel that the male canine is more affectionate than the female; when it comes to dogs, there is no sex that is more or less affectionate, but females can be more aggressive when their young are involved. "Male dogs are often bolder and more aggressive than females, although in some breeds it is the female who is 'sharper' and more aggressive while the males might be described as 'goofy,' 'klutzy,' or 'big softies" (Mercola, J) "Breed characteristics can also account for certain behavioral tendencies and turn widely held beliefs about males vs. female's upside down" (Becker). "When deciding on a type of dog, concentrate on the breed or breed type rather than the gender, since the toughest male of an easy-going breed is probably a bigger cupcake than the mildest female of a breed with dominant tendencies" (Becker).
Many adult dogs specifically breeds that nobody wants or are considered aggressive; even the older dogs are stuck in shelters with no owner or leader to love them, most in which were brought to shelters due to many different reasons, specifically because their dog was too aggressive around other pets or even children. Animal shelters are positively overrun with pit bulls. Not just because there are so many of them, but because they're not being adopted quickly enough. Not only are adult dogs the less likely to get adopted, but pit bulls are the most common dog breed to get abused and/or euthanized in the United States due to overcrowded rescue shelters or being the most aggressive breed in the country. Over 6.5 million animals are surrendered to animal shelters each year in the United States. 3.3 million of the 6.5 are dogs, but since 2011, the United States had seen a decline in how many animals are surrendered to shelters each year; amazing progress. Like people, dangerous dogs are on a case-by-case basis and it's not fair or accurate to condemn a whole breed as hostile or aggressive. If we were to identify the issue and come up with a proper solution to the problem; there is a possibility that the public may re-consider how they feel about the stigma to a dog's breed. Dog breeds do not automatically determine aggression; dogs are not born naturally predisposed to violent behavior and do not determine the amount of aggression a dog may or may not have." (Fellows). Dogs are naturally loving, affectionate and social animals. Some dogs will do anything for their owners and strive to make sure we know how much they love us even when it's their own safety involved. (Bauhuas) Despite bans on the dogs, pit bulls are no more dangerous than any other large breed and the negative connotation is likely a result of the increase in illegal dog fighting in the 1980s. In the early 20th century, the dogs were an American family favorite; the breed made appearances on television, in movies, and in war propaganda-some pits even became celebrated war heroes in World War I.
Recognizing the power of a strong breed is important; if strong breed dogs are unbalanced, serious injury or death can be a huge risk for an individual and/or animal. Rules. Boundaries and limitations should be a part of everyday training when it comes to the decision on whether or not to adopt a canine. Only adopt a "powerful breed if you feel like you are responsible enough to do so; it could be a recipe for disaster. When you give your dog limitations, boundaries and rules; that is when you will earn your dog's trust and they will see you as their pack leader. A dog follows the behavior of their master; establishing yourself as pack leader will also stop dog on dog aggression, since you will be their pack leader, they will follow your behavior. A lack of exercise is where a dog's frustration comes to play; while a dog's dominance comes from a lack of calm-assertive leadership. Any breed can cause trouble if not trained properly; a bigger breed will cause more harm than a smaller breed due to their size and strength towards their target.
I am a huge advocator for dogs and hope to one day become a less prejudice nation, allowing every dog owner to rent and buy homes without their landlords or HOA's having a say so, having to purchase insurance in order to own a dog, or having their dog taken away from them. Dogs are family and should be treated as such. This work is important because dogs rely on us to take care of them and if nobody is advocating for them, then they have no fighting chance in this world. I'm hoping for a better future.
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