Certain Dog Breeds Are Unfairly Judged as Vicious

By on January 30, 2014
ForumOpinion

No pet is born mean. How animals are raised, whether it is by their biological parents or their adoptive human parents, dictates their behavior.

Certain dog breeds get bad reputations because of the ways they have been raised in the past. People believe these dogs are innately dangerous, when that is not always true. These dogs can be raised to be dangerous, but they are not born that way. If a dog is raised by someone who they don’t trust – someone who beats them, yells at them or abuses them – they will learn to distrust and attack humans. If a dog is taught throughout its life to fight with other dogs, it will always fight other dogs when approached by them.

Many pit bulls, Rottweilers or German shepherds are raised to be menacing guard dogs or even illegal fighting dogs because of their big bodies and muscular builds. However, not every owner of these sorts of dogs raises their pets to be ferocious, so it is not fair to assume that every member of these breeds is a bad dog.

Not every ferocious dog is big and muscular, either. Proof of this can be found on YouTube. There are countless videos of small dogs, like Chihuahuas and dachshunds, growling and baring their teeth at humans and other dogs. Even though they can be just as ferocious, small dogs like these don’t have as bad a reputation as the bigger, more stereotypically menacing dogs. These small, fierce dogs are often even seen as funny or just plain annoying.

There could be many reasons for this. One is that smaller dogs’ barks are bigger than their bites. They may growl and bare their teeth, but if they bite someone, it won’t hurt as badly or create as big a wound as if a Rottweiler had bitten someone.

Another reason for the bigger dogs’ reputation is that media and past stereotypes have painted these big dogs in a bad light. The best example for this is the pit bull. People expect pit bulls to be mean and vicious – thanks in part to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and his illegal dog fighting scandal – when that is not always true. Many households have pit bulls as sweet, loving family pets. Even so, these dogs are still stigmatized and even feared.

All dogs, whether big, small, young or old should be respected. Not every large dog is going to automatically bite you, but not every adorable fluff ball is going to let you scratch it behind the ears. While many pets are raised in loving, nurturing homes, they can still have the instinct to protect themselves when approached by strangers.

When I was a child, a girl in my neighborhood was bitten by the dog that lived in the house next door to mine. This dog was beautiful, fluffy, and weighed no more than 25 pounds. The dog was raised by a good family, but it still lashed out and bit this girl because she approached too quickly and aggressively. The 80-pound mutt that lived across the street from my house never bit or growled at anyone, however.

Dogs are meant to be more than pets; they are meant to be friends. They are intelligent animals that have feelings and can make connections with their human owners. They need to be treated like friends and family members rather than as property.

Hannah Webber
Contributor
hwebber@uab.edu

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