If you’ve ever tried renting an apartment with your dog, you may have been presented with a list of restricted dog breeds that landlords or management companies deem dangerous, unruly, or just plain annoying. It’s happened to me more than once, and while a lot of dog breeds are completely misunderstood, that doesn’t stop people from making snap judgements about your fur baby.
I’m a firm believer that there are no bad dogs. Instead, there are bad owners who either neglect or don’t train their dogs, and a lot of dog mishaps are born out of ignorance on the part of the pup parent. A study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science found that in the majority of cases, aggressive dogs aren’t born that way. Instead they acquire the behavior based on how they’re raised. Kind of like kids.
For example, the study noted that owners who negatively punished their dogs were far more like to have a dog that was aggressive to both strangers and family members. “[This] data suggest that although general characteristics of dogs and owners may be a factor at population level, it would be inappropriate to make assumptions about an individual animal’s risk of aggression to people based on characteristics such as breed.” If you’re looking to add a dog to your life, before you buy into the bad-dog hype, it’s important to know about these misunderstood dog breeds.
The most misunderstood dog is the pit bull, which is actually a blanket term that’s used to refer to several dog breeds. On the blog Pet Helpful, Sheila Brown explained that dogs labeled as pit bulls didn’t always have a bad reputation. “In the early part of the 1900s, the pit bull dog was known as the â€œNanny Dog,” she wrote. “If you wanted to keep your children safe, the pit bull was the most faithful and loving dog of any dog breed, especially with children. They were strong and loyal and loved children.”
However, the same qualities that made these dogs revered also attracted people seeking to exploit the pit bulls’ fierce loyalty, high intelligence, and courage.
German Shepherds are whip smart, and they like to have a job. That job is usually protecting their family. However, positive socialization and training are vital to developing trust and loyalty with your pup.
“With the right upbringing, German Shepherds are loyal, brave, and extremely faithful companions,” the Union Lake Veterinary Hospital wrote on its website. “Research breeds before you adopt, and make sure that you are able to handle a larger dog, and are willing to provide the kind of environment your dog needs.”
Rottweilers are another type of dog that often get labeled as a bully breed, however the Union Lake Veterinary Hospital described Rottweilers as gentle giants. “Calm, courageous, confident, and loyal, the well-raised and properly socialized Rottweiler makes an excellent family friend and protector.”
As with most dogs, responsible pet ownership is key to ensuring your dog is loving versus aggressive. This is especially important with large breeds who â€” when not properly trained â€” can react out of fear, which is how they end up getting labeled as bullies.
Boxers have a lot of energy, and can become destructive when they don’t get enough mental and physical stimulation. You should only adopt a boxer if you have the time to dedicate to making sure this dog gets regular exercise. “The boxer is intelligent, active, loyal, and fun,” the website Sit Means Sit stated. “As long as their owner provides them with enough exercise and playtime, they can be wonderful family dogs.”
While some dog breeds â€” like beagles â€” are stubborn AF, dobermans want to please their owners and are known to be the most loyal and obedient of all breeds. This dog needs a strong leader who will make it clear what is expected of them. Because of their strong desire to please their owners, in the wrong hands they can be trained to be aggressive. Again, a responsible owner is key, and with the right pup parent, a doberman is basically a giant lap dog.
“These are the most loyal and obedient dogs. Doberman pinchers are often portrayed as frightening dogs that stomp along the side of their drug lord owners and criminals,” Sit Means Sit noted. “This breed is protective over their family and they easily adapt to several different environments. They love to cuddle up on the couch next to you.”
It’s true they’re adorable, cuddly, and smart. But beagles are a widely misunderstood dog breed. Beagles have an incredible sense of smell, and this often leads them to wander far from home when they’re hot on the trail of something, like a squirrel. Because of this, a lot of beagles end up in shelters. If you do decide to adopt a beagle, it’s important to always keep them leashed when walking, and to make sure that your yard is secure. Because beagles are skilled escape artists, if there is even the smallest hole in a fence, a beagle will find it. They are also extremely food motivated, so you’ll need to make sure you keep all human food out of reach.
Similar to beagles, border collies are whip smart, driven by instinct, and need a lot of mental stimulation. While a lot of people adopt border collies because they’re cute, they often don’t understand how much of handful this breed of dog can be. Like boxers, when border collies don’t get enough physical and mental exercise, they can become destructive.
“They can be difficult pets for owners who don’t know how to properly train them. Many also don’t understand that border collies need lots of physical and mental stimulation in order to thrive,” the website Cuteness.com explained. “Thousands are given up every year because a lack of regular training and exercise often results in border collies exhibiting destructive and unwanted behaviors within the household.”
Poodles are actually one of the smartest dog breeds out there, and because they are so smart, they are an ideal choice for someone looking for an easy-to-own dog. “Theyâ€™re very intelligent, and they learn easily,” the website Puppy Toob explained. “Theyâ€™re one of the easiest dogs to train, which makes them a highly desirable pet for many homeowners to have.”
If you’ve ever encountered an aggressive chihuahua, then you know that they can be just as scary as dogs 10 times their size. However, a properly trained and socialized chihuahua can be a wonderful dog, and they’re super loving too. “Theyâ€™re often misunderstand because they are fiercely loyal and protective of their owners, which makes them come across as mean dogs,” Puppy Toob noted. “However, good training is all it takes to make the chihuahua calm down and treat others with respect and friendliness.”
Overall, many dog breeds get labeled as aggressive, destructive, or annoying because their owners don’t understand them. Before you adopt a dog, it’s important to research its specific traits and needs. Ask yourself how much time and money you’re willing to invest in training and whether or not you have time to dedicate to regular mental stimulation and physical exercise. If you don’t feel like you’re equipped to adopt this kind of dog, there are plenty of lazy breeds who are happy to couch with you. #TheMoreYouKnow