This is a question, asked by many, answered with just as many different facts, myths, and wives tales.
Most famously you have the ‘Bully Breeds’, including the Bull Dog (French and English as well as some others) the American Staffordshire Terrier (most commonly referred to as the Pit Bull) and even the mighty Mastiff.
These dogs are subject to many myths and ‘fairytales’. My personal favorite lie told about these mostly lovable dogs? That they were bred to fight and kill each other and people. The original ‘Pit Bull’ was actually bred for hunting Bears. Over the years, as is common with many hunting breeds, they were brought into the home, with children and other pets. They were well known for protecting their families, even if it cost them their lives.
This is where the title of Nanny Dog comes from. Now you will see people claimng this is a big story told by the ‘Pit Bull advocates’ which some people like to call nutters. But this is a documented occurrence. Fun fact? Nana in Peter Pan was originally a Pit Bull in the book.
Now a lot of people think its all about genetics. And here on SZ and Dogs, we acknowledge that genetics play a big part in how we as humans develop, however Nurture has just as much if not more to do with who we are, and this holds true with our fourlegged, furry, feathered friends as well. (and smooth skinned, because dolphins and whales are also higher beings)
I have had the great opportunity to both rescue and breed dogs. I have seen dogs that, if a human had been through what they had, would be mad with fear and rage, yet the dog wants nothing but to cuddle and be loved.
A good example is Teddy, a former Bait dog, he is believed to be a Hound/Lab (I apologize, I misspoke to Brian when he asked about Teddy, I was under the impression he was a staffy mix). His jaw was broken so he couldn’t fight back, he was stabbed and shot, then left for dead somewhere. Yet he plays with other dogs, and spends most of his days cuddling with his new dad. He is not only good with big dogs, but puppies and kittens as well.
Now compare that to humans who get insulted by their sexual partner about their penis and decided it is acceptable to bludgeon them to death with a lamp.
See what I mean? I know I only mentioned Nature and Nurture earlier, but there is one other aspect, one that is not scientifically measurable, yet it affects ever day life for most of the human population.
I am talking about Soul. That inner force that makes us, us. That gives us life, and gives us hope. Some people will say dogs don’t have one, I beg to differ. I have seen a lot more Soul in one dog than I have in any 50 people you will find in a political office or a wall street building.
I will break it down for you.
Nature: It provides the foundation, a foundation can be made of many things, bricks, field stones, concrete, or even just baked clay or dirt. Without this foundation, you have nothing to build on.
Nurture: This is the frame work, the skeleton that is built as we grow. Without this framework, we will fall apart, collapse in upon ourselves.
Soul: This the blue print, the design. Go ahead, build your house without a design planned. It is possible, but very difficult. Without these blueprints, your house will have windows in weird places, doors that don’t go anywhere, and, most likely, everything will tilt to one side.
Without these three components, you cant build a house, or a living creature.
The mark of a good foundation in a house is the building stays level, and doesn’t sway all over. In a person or dog, this foundation is marked by a level study temperament at a young age, before our Frame is able to go up.
A good frame in a house is marked by all your windows and doors being level and uniform in size and shape. In a person or animals, it is marked by good behavior, and obedience.
And a good blue print goes a long way. Because with a good blue print, you can build a mansion on a pile of dirt that will last for decades. But with a bad blueprint, you could build a Bunker on a concrete foundation that will collapse without notice.
So why do some dogs bite? Well its a combination of things and there really is no one reason. Some dogs are built on a bad foundation, with poor planning and little frame work. Some dogs are the opposite and it is a response to outside interference (like some idiot poking a dog in the face with a stick)
One thing to keep in mind is that BREED has very little to do with what dog will bite. And going by the ‘stats’ listed online, you will not get the whole story, since those statistic are based on REPORTED dog bites. When you factor in known aggression, a Chihuahua, yes the cute little taco dog, is the number one biter among dogs. In fact small breed dogs are so much more likely to bite, that many responsible breeders will not sell to households with children.
But really, if you were bitten by a 4 pound rat with a furry tail, would you want to report to the local news station about your horrifying experience? Probably not, and neither do the majority of people bitten by small dogs, because its embarrassing or ‘not a big deal’. ANY dog bite is a huge deal, despite popular myth a dogs mouth is NOT cleaner than a humans, it just has different kinds of bacteria in it.
To date the only two dogs never associated with a human fatality by bite, are the Beagle, and the Basset Hound. So if you wanna make sure you don’t get bitten to death, get one of those…you know, if you can handle the baying and barking and howling, the chasing of every scent and creature that it comes across, and the incessant need for constant attention.
For information on what dog would best suit your family, please contact a local Dog Trainer or Shelter Advocate. These people can actually give you a huge amount of information on what breeds fit what lifestyle.
One quick note, if you DO decided on a bully breed, make sure you have the time and energy to train them, while eager to please, some bully breeds can be stubborn.
And never NEVER leave a small child alone with a dog of any breed! All it takes is one momentary lapse in judgement on your child’s part (and at that age, they don’t know any better) and the dog may react, badly. A good case to point out is the little girl in Arkansas back in 2012, her mother left her alone with their 4 year Dachshund and, while no one is sure what triggered it, the dog bit the girl in the face bad enough she needed reconstructive surgery. On the note of Dachshunds, they come in three sizes. Standard (about 25 pound) Mini (8-15 pounds) and the little known toy or tea cup (4-8 pounds).
For more information on the myths surrounding Pit bulls and other Bully Breed Dogs, feel free to visit Zombiesanddogs.org I have the blog to most amusing and helpful. WARNING there can be some foul language on there, as she posts things from ‘popular’ Breed Specific Legislation and Banning advocates who tend to be anything but humane.