Perception Is Everything! (Some Reality About “Vicious” Dogs)

I’m a dog person in a big way. Even thought I currently don’t own one, I grew up around dogs, and take every opportunity to get close to them.

In my forty-two years, I have NEVER had trouble with any dogs, including the supposedly “vicious” dog breeds. If anything, I’ve found many of these “aggressive” breeds to be among the most loving and gentle creatures.

About the Video Maker

Ryan is the prankster, and social experimenter behind the HammyTV YouTube channel, and earlier this month he put out a video that I found fascinating. As a dog owner, Ryan is used to people reacting to his dogs in very different ways.

Over a period of a couple of weeks, Ryan walked both his dogs along the same route. The first week he took Kano (his Blue Nose Pitbull), and the second week it was Molly’s turn (his Australian Shepherd). Both dog breeds have been tested by the American Temperament Test Society, and the Pitbull tested higher on tolerance than the Australian Shepherd.

The Social Experiment

Ryan opens the video with this statement.

“If I were to ask you to form a list of what you thought the top three most aggressive dog breeds are, it’s likely that most of you would have the American Pitbull somewhere in your list. According to applied animal behavioral scientists, the top three dogs that exhibit the most aggression were actually the Dachshund,  followed by the Chihuahua, followed by the Jack Russell Terrior.”

Watch what happens carefully…

About the American Temperament Test Society

The ATTS is a non-profit organization that conducts and promotes uniform temperament testing for dogs. For each of the dogs tested, three ATTS testers conduct a 8-12 session designed to assess the temperament of that dog. Of the almost 32,500 dogs tested, nearly 27,000 have received the Temperament Tested title, which equates to an average of 83%.

For comparison, the American Pitbull scores an average of 86.8% while the Australian Shepherd scores only 82.2%, based on statistics released in February 2013. So I was interested to watch this video, and see people’s reactions to these two, very different breeds of dog, both of which I have had very positive experiences with.

My Conclusions

Both breeds of dog score a lot higher than many of the other dog breeds tested by the ATTS, but watching people’s reactions shows that their perceptions are skewed against the Pitbull.

  • One person in the video states that they see stories of Pitbull aggression in the news all the time. Unfortunately this is very often how people hear about the “aggressive” breeds, but they rarely hear about the neglect, mistreatment, and aggression leveled against those same dogs.
  • Another demonstrates a clear bias against Pitbulls, and other “aggressive” dogs – going so far as to instruct Ryan to remove himself and Kano from the property, since they do not allow dogs there. A week later his reaction is entirely different, when Ryan brings Molly around to the same location.

I’ve been up close with many dogs over the years, and have found pitbulls to be fiercely loyal, loving, and intelligent creatures with a temperament that is suitable for all ages. Yes, some of them become aggressive, but there is almost always a history of mistreatment, as there is a with almost every dog that turns to aggression. However, those dogs can be rehabilitated in almost all cases, with care and attention, and above all love.

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