Join Date: Aug 2004
Middie; I agree with you to an extent. I too have been around dogs my entire life, and have owned several over the years. But here is a thing to remember. Just as individual people have differing temperments, so do dogs. I had a best freind whose family had this little mutt. It was the most freindly of animals. In fact it was way too freindly. It would literally run around you and between your legs as you walked, which was a nuisance. But what made the dog bad was that it positioned intself to have one of its feet, or its tail, or some other part stepped on. And when the animal was stepped on, it tore into the stepper. It got me when I was about 10 years old. It sank its teeth into my left foot and shook it like a rag doll. It had bitten three other kids in the neighborhood in the same way. The dog had to be destroyed. It was dangerous around kids.
I also had a freind that owned a german shepherd. The animal was loyal beyond belief to its owner. He had never raised it to be viscious or to be a guard dog. And yet, as an adult animal, it went jumped out of a truck cab, and through a plate glass picture window and attacked a man, simply because the man had stepped between its owner and itself. The victim was in his own home and was simply conversing with the dog's owner.
I have also run into shepherds and malimutes that were fear biters, that were afraid of everyone and would attack as soon as your back was turned to them.
On the other hand, I have know people with both dobermans and pit bulls that had the freindliest and most gentle dogs you'd ever meet.
The dog responsible for more bites than any other is the cocker spanielle. Adn teh collie is another known biter, in spite of Lassie.
My favorite dogs, which have the best temperment as a rule are number one - golden retrievers, two - labrador retrievers, and three - beagles. I grew up with beagles. But even that cute little powerhouse of playful energy cna be dangerous under certain circumstances. My stepfather had rescued a mistreated beagle and gave me the chore of watering and feeding the animal. It was afraid of everyone when we got him. I was nipped at several times, but stayed just beyond chains length from the animal and so was never bitten. Over time, I gained the dog's trust and we became good freinds. But one time, I invited my little sister over to pet him. It nipped at her. The obvious outcome was that my stepfather was not going to have an animal around that might pose a danger to his children. I cried when the dog was destroyed, but I understood why it had to be done.
There are many, many cases where a dog that had been raised well, either snapped and attacked someone visciously, or got caught up in a pack mentality and became a ferrel animal, ran with a pack of strays and attacked someone.
And just as there a great dogs, there are just some mean spirited dogs as well. Add to that the fact that most people don't research the natural characteristics of the animals they purchase, and you can readily see how there can be problems.
Some dogs are truly pack animals, responding to a pecking order. Dalmations, and many of the terriers are of this sort. They try to dominate and require strong control by their owners. Usually they accept one leader in their family (in our house, our dog sees me as the alpha male), and try to dominate anyone they can. Our dog has nipped at small children to put them "in their place", but has never bitten anybody. She just warns them when she feels its necessary. We have to be careful with her and very small children.
When we got her, she looked just like a yellow lab puppy, and that's what the owner thought she was as well. But as she grew, it became evident that we had gotten a Statfordshire Terrier. She's a pretty good dog, but requires a firm hand as she can be willfull at times.
So, as you said, training and how an animal is treated is important. But so is individual temperment, and natural instinctive behavior of the animal. If you are planning on owning a Great Pyranese, be aware that it is an extremely territorial animal and will attempt to kill any strange dogs in what it considers its territory. If you are going to have a lab, know that as a puppy, it's going to chew your house apart, and everything in it. It also loves to hunt, and play in water.
Dogs can be a treasure, and can be a curse. Every living creature has a degree of intelligence, and free will. Training and treatment are surely essential, but so is research and common sense.
Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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