I've said it a million times: if editors and columnists and politicians really cared about keeping children and others safe around dogs, they'd lose the "good breed, bad breed" mindset and listen to the real experts. Easier said than done, though, when news like this turns up:
This week at Discovery News you can learn about the world's most and least aggressive dogs [...]
Little dogs -- think Chihuahuas and Dachshunds -- tend to be feisty, while certain breeds, like Golden and Labrador Retrievers, are as mellow as their reputations suggest, found a new study that identified the most and least aggressive common dog breeds.A study! How totally conclusive and, well, scientific! Breed A is "mellow" and breed B is "aggressive," so a parent's responsibility is clearly defined: get one of the "least aggressive" breeds to keep the kids safe. Look — there's even a list.
On the "least aggressive" end of the spectrum were Basset Hounds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Brittany Spaniels, Greyhounds and Whippets. Interestingly enough, several of these dogs also rated low for "watchdog behavior" and "territorial defense" behaviors, suggesting that they tend to be lovable family pets, but are less vigilant watchdogs than Chihuahuas and Dachshunds."They tend to be lovable family pets." Forget socialization, training, parental supervision — it's not as if dogs are individuals, for heaven's sake! The important thing, the big, neon, take-home message, is that aggressive breeds have been identified. Whew! Glad that's done.
Buried at the end of the article:
Duffy countered that "just because there is a genetic component to behavior does not necessarily mean that it is predestined."I know some ACOs that would collapse in hysterical laughter at that "atypical," but whatever. The most important quote of the whole article is the one getting the least attention, and children will continue to pay the price.
"Anyone looking to bring a dog into their home should find out as much as possible about the individual dog's history and temperament," she advised. "Certainly some breeds are better with children than others on average. However, it wouldn't make sense to pass up a well-socialized, well-trained, non-aggressive Rottweiler for an atypically aggressive Labrador Retriever."
[One more thing. I'm inclined to think that the distinction between "good" and "bad" companion dogs has less to do with breed and more to do with how close certain dogs are to working or purpose-bred lines. The best dog for a typical family should probably be as far from working lines as possible.
This is one reason I'm not at all opposed to John Q Public's breeding his friendly, healthy Golden to the friendly, healthy collie next door. Throw the pedigrees away and breed for healthy, friendly and laid-back, if good pets are what you're after. Don't depend on working-dog people or show-dog people to provide the best companion dogs. Don't let politicians limit dog breeding to the folks whose dogs can run a hundred miles a day for days on end and the folks whose dogs can't walk around the block on a sunny day without collapsing. Those dogs aren't for everybody — and John Q Public knows it.]