This is a question that gets asked of veterinarians and people who work in pet stores and shelters quite frequently. It’s understandable, because some dog breeds have bad reputations. German Shepherds and Dobermans are known for being fierce attack dog breeds, and Pit Bulls have a well-known reputation as fighting and biting dog breeds. But are they?
The answer might surprise you.
The short answer is no, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
There are two primary instincts you find in most dog breeds: Herding and Hunting. On the surface, those two instincts might appear to be identical, but if you watch your dog closely, you’ll see some subtle differences.
Breeds with the herding instinct will chase things, but primarily to keep them under control, and to keep them where they’re “supposed to be.”
Dogs with a strong herding instinct are generally great to have if you have kids, because once they recognize the child as a member of their pack, they’ll work diligently to keep them safe and keep them where they’re supposed to be. If your child tries to wander off, the dog will get agitated and give chase in an attempt to guide the child back closer to home.
Hunting dog breeds will chase just about everything that moves. If it’s some other small animal, they may try to kill it, or, if you’ve trained them from an early age not to, they’ll simply try to play with it.
These dogs can be a little headstrong though, and somewhat difficult to train because once they catch the scent of something, they seem to lose their minds, and it can be difficult to rein them back in unless you’ve trained them to give up the chase at an early age.
In no case though, is any breed of dog a natural attack animal. Some may seem so, but this is most often play, mistaken as genuine violence.
Unfortunately, some dog breeds have other characteristics that prompt owners to train them to attack, and this is the reason that certain breeds have developed their fearsome reputations over time.
The Germans in WWII made famous (or infamous) use of German Shepherds as guard dogs around prison camps. Dobermans are sleek, fast and powerful, making them a natural choice as a guard dog, and in the case of the Pit Bull, unfortunately, their tendency to lock their jaws around prey until it’s’ dead makes them highly prized by people who participate in dog fighting. It’s a despicable practice, but this, more than anything else, is where the Pit Bull’s reputation comes from.
The thing is though, if you get a Doberman, German Shepherd, or Pit Bull puppy and raise and train him the way you want to, these breeds are no more likely to suddenly attack than any other. All that to say, don’t let a dog breed’s fearsome reputation dissuade you from getting one, if that’s the breed you really want.
Are you single? Here are the best dog breeds for you!