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Why are certain dog breeds sterotyped and black listed?

Updated on August 17, 2010

Innocent until proven guilty


When most of us think about dangerous breeds the first thing that comes to our mind is a vicious Pitbull Terrier or a Rottweiler along with many other sterotyped breeds such as Chow Chows or Doberman Pinchers.

We have all heard on air, read on the newspapers or seen scrolling on our television sets the headlines of dogs attacking and killing innocent children unprovoked.

The media is very effective in publicizing such news because it opens a fired debate and because of the nature of such news since it shocks us all when "man's best friend" becomes vicious to his fellow human beings

Truth is that, no dog is or can be considered 100% safe. Some breeds may appear to be more mellow than others but that does not mean that they cannot be capable of an aggressive act either being provoked or unprovoked. When I used to work at an animal hospital my staff and I were shocked to learn that a Golden Retriever had to be put down because it repeatedly attacked a child that was also part of the dog's family.

This may have been a rare incidence, however it appears that insurance companies believe that Retrievers must be a relatively safe breed since they do not appear on their policy blacklists.

Insurance companies should focus more on the dog's previous history of aggressiveness rather than aiming against particular breed. Their question should be "Has your dog had any history of biting or aggressive behavior whatsoever?" instead of "Do you own a Pittbull or a Rottweiler?"

I had to deal with this whole insurance policy ordeal first hand this past fall, when I moved and adopted two Rottweiler pups. Too many insurance companies had blacklisted and stereotyped them as being a large liability and turned me down.

After an extensive search one insurance company accepted my dogs but at a higher premium.

Much can be done by a responsible owner to lessen the chances for your dog to become the next statistic of aggressive behavior. This applies to all either if you own a placid poodle or a Presa Canaria.

It appears that obedience classes along with proper socialization can help dogs become more people oriented. Early socialization appears to play a major role in the dog's future development of personality. Studies have demonstrated that a puppy ideally should be exposed to the most people as possible by when he/she is 12 weeks old. Beyond 12 weeks this critical period expires and the dog has less chances of being properly socialized.

When walking a dog a responsible owner will keep him/her leashed at all times. Running at large should not ever be allowed. If confined to a yard there should be a fence and the owner must assure that there are no escape routs. Most incidents have happened when a dog was running at large or escaping from an opened gate or a hole in a fence.

Guard dogs need careful supervision. A guard dog cannot distinguish a burglar from a child waiting at a bus stop and it will do what it was taught to do: attack. You may think a guard dog knows its boundaries to defend but in most cases even the road closest to your house is an area he believes he must defend.

If we think of it we can compare the issue of condemning particular dog breeds as condemning people of a specific race/age/ sex or economical status for committing crime.

Even though statistics may show that people of particular race, age, sex, or economical status may be more prone to commit crime it would be discriminatory to ban them from our society.

In the above comparison the nature versus nurture theory arises as an open debate. The cause of aggressiveness has been studied at length both in humans and in the animal kingdom. But yet, the results remain questionable. Some theorize that aggressive behavior is linked to how an animal has been trained while other relate it all to the theory of genetics.

While waiting the true findings rather than accusing certain breeds it would be wiser to allow them the gift of doubt; just as in humans, they should have the chance to be claimed "innocent until proved guilty"...

Rottweilers are black listed by most home owner insurance policies
Rottweilers are black listed by most home owner insurance policies | Source

The real nature of Rottweilers


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    • Girllookingout profile image


      10 years ago from Behind A Window

      I have had 5 Rottweilers and each one has been sweet, I had a male who was about 175 pounds, his name was Gunnar but we all called him fufur because all he wanted to do was sit in your lap. Also I worked at a food store and saw more pittbulls than any other type of dog and every single one that I saw were super sweet and well behaved. I know that it is the owner who makes the dog good or bad.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      10 years ago

      Rottweilers were not bred to fight... they were bred to herd and guard cattle during the Roman Empire, they are working dogs.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      stereotyping dogs is not the same as stereotyping humans. personally i agree that a dog with a bad reputation, such as a pit bull, can be socialized and will grow up to be a great dog but the difference is breeding. pit bulls and rotts are negatively stereotyped because for a long time they have been bred as fighting dogs. conversely, human ethnic groups who have been profiled as violent are obviously not bred to fight other humans to the death.

      the most important thing to remember with a dog is that it's an animal and it will do whatever it's been trained and/or bred to do. i think rotts and pit bulls are generally good dogs but i wouldn't get one if kids played nearby or if i had frequent house guests. i wouldn't get a jindo if i had rabbits. i wouldn't get a pomeranian if i had neighbors that complained about a yappy dog. the reason some dogs are a higher liability is people don't think about what breed of dog is appropriate for their lifestyle before they get one, and because people assume any bad behavioral traits can be overcome with good training. there are plenty of stories about wonderful, loving dogs that snap suddenly and do something the owners did not expect. even my family's beagle/terrier mix, which we had since he was 8 weeks old, which grew up with several other animals and 3 kids in the house, got carried away guarding the perimeter one day and ended up killing my son's pet rabbit. the same dog had never made a move on that rabbit or any other rabbit in the 5 years we'd owned him by that point, and he never did anything like that again. people just need to remember that animals are unpredictable.

    • jeanie.stecher profile image


      10 years ago from Seattle

      Nice article you have here Alex. I guess we cannot really blame other people why they are such judgmental when it comes to dogs who had a history of biting. Afterall, dogs are merely creatures which can also be aggressive or sometimes be nice. This will depend upon the situation. I think dog owners should really take time to train their dogs for the latter not to become aggressive. This might be the only way to spare our dogs from judgment.

    • Wandah profile image


      11 years ago

      Good story, I love dogs too. We had a dog years ago that became aggressive once he became three years old.

      I now have a 13 year old Shih Tzu and he has been a handful from day one, but I love him dearly. He is asleep beside me right now as I'm writing to you. I call him my grumpy old man.

      Keep the articles coming.. Best Wandah

      If you like I have posted a few articles about Bogey on my page, check it out. I'm under Wandah


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