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« The first 60 minutes: Animal Sheltering's Critical Hour -- video | Main | Dog attack fatality in New Mexico »

December 20, 2012



as long as owners report on their dog's behavior, and as long as "aggression" is so poorly defined, reports like this have to be suspect.

How many Golden Retriever owner are going to report their dog's growling at another as "aggression"?

Or on the other hand: remember Suzanne Clothier's "He just wants to say hi". Not every growl is "aggression.

Cheryl Huerta

One has to wonder if studies like this one don't need to be taken with a grain of salt in that as you pointed out Brent it was the owners who filled the questionnaire out and what they put down as their responses went through their own personal 'filter'. It's difficult to get an 'objective' study when the very people who in part affect their dogs behavior are the ones offering up the information about their dogs behavior. One also has to take into account the dog owners personal views of what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior as well as what training methods are acceptable or unacceptable.

Science can take samples and give statistics but even then the samples and statistics are interpreted by humans and so it's very difficult to glean any hard and fast 'facts' from any study on canine behavior. Unfortunately you will find many 'trainers' and animal welfare people who take science, as long as it agrees with their personal philosophy, and uses it to justify their personal beliefs in canine assessment, rehabilitation and training methods.

Thanks for the interesting information.

Geneva Coats

You wrote: ".....male dogs, dogs that had not been spayed or neutered and dogs older than 10 years of age were more likely to score higher on owner-directed aggression."

This statement is incorrect, the results of the C-BARQ study showed a higher score for owner-directed aggression when the dog WAS spayed or neutered.


Emily/Cheryl -- no doubt that the study itself has some holes (which, I actually have more confidence in the study because they, themselves, were quick to point them out). Of the holes, certainly the human element in observation is a huge one.

Geneva, I'm not sure you're reading the information correctly


hey my name is charles i have a 3 year old female jack russel full blooded she is very friendly towards me and listens well to me but i also have older dogs they are chiuawas and a couple younger chiuwas and my dog attacks them when they are near me or when they are eating and my family is afraid of my dog because she tryes to bite them i have done everything i could do to stop her from being like that but she continues so what else do i do plz help me email is at the bottom but if u dont get it it is [email protected] in the subject line plz state hey iam here to help you with youre dog ginger
thanks again any one reading this feel free to email for any advice thanks

Animal Hospital Moorpark

When we adopt a pet we need to take of the needs of the pets so that the pet remains healthy. Sometimes it happens that our pet gets aggressive. It may due to many reasons. It is seen especially in case of dogs. When the dog is not provided with the proper amount of food, when the pet is ill, and also there are many more reasons. This above information is extremely helpful in case to know the difference between Association and Aggression.


I thought breed wasn't a factor Brent and fatal attacks were the fault of nurture? This study and your comments on it are much more inline with my way of thinking than you would like to admit. I thought all doggie experts had agreed that breed was not a factor when certain breeds appear to kill people much more commonly? This message will self-destruct, please delete after reading.



There is nothing in this or any other scientific data that would indicate that a certain breed is more likely to kill people than another breed because of its genetic makeup. If you read that in this report, then you're reading it wrong.


Breed is shown to be a factor when it comes to aggression. This is pointing toward underlying breed genetics. There really aren't too many dots to connect between breed influencing behavior, specifically aggression, and breed influencing likelihood of damaging a human. This study points to genetic differences among breeds leading to various levels of aggression. If this is true, then there must be a most aggressive breed, all else being equal. I don't see how that can be refuted other than vaguely saying that I just don't understand.



Let me clarify.

#1) The study clearly states that it is designed to show correlation between a variety of factors and different typs of aggression -- not causal factors. And, in fact, was designed to create the discussion about ownership management to lend support to the idea of reducing aggression through responsible ownership. This couldn't be more clear in the research paper, or in my write-up.

#2) If you click through to the link to the study that focuses on the correlation of breed to acts of aggression (which was done by the same researchers), then you will note two other important factors:

a) Regardless of breed, the vast majority of dogs within the designated set did not show aggression. So aggression was NOT something that was inherent in some breeds vs others, but, instead, something very uncommon for dogs of all breeds

b) the type of dog that you seem to think is linked directly to aggression actually is below average in both owner and stanger-directed aggression.

So while there might be a "most aggressive breed" it would a) vary by whether you're talking other dogs, strangers or owhers - b) also be reliant on other ownership factors and c) the vast majority of dogs from all breed groups show no signs of aggression -- which would make it less likely that it is a genetic factor (which would mean that most of the dogs of that breed set would have it).


I would love to read DubV's definition of "aggression"

I imagine he thinks it's a single behavior that can be defined by some gene or set of genes..

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