Seeing a news report about a dog attack, reading about illegal dog fighting, or hearing about other horrific stories involving dogs usually all involve one common element – a bad human, not a bad dog breed. A child is not born afraid of mice, for example, but given enough exposure, stories or empirical reasons to become fearful of a mouse, and surely he will become afraid of them. The same is often true for dog breeds that achieved a bad reputation; a few incidents or sensationalized stories that standout primarily, while frequently involving a human element that conditioned them to be the way they are. Here are three dogs that have achieved bad reputations that don’t deserve them:
Few dogs have received as much negative media attention as the Pit Bull dog breed of the last two decades. No dog breed is born inherently good or bad. The Pit Bull, like any other member of the family, is largely a product of its upbringing. While it is true that Pit Bulls love to compete, fight and play, they absolutely love human interaction, giving kisses and feed on positive attention. Their bad reputation as a dangerous dog is greatly publicized in the media, but rarely do we hear about the human factor that created the situation or scenarios of abuse that leads to these incidents. Further, Pit Bulls can be rehabilitated even after being conditioned to be “bad dogs” as witnessed in the Michael Vick incident, wherein 49 of 50 of his Pit Bulls that were used in illegal dog fighting were eventually successfully placed with loving families. Don’t be too quick to judge the loveable Pit Bull. Irresponsible humans have given this dog breed a bad reputation is doesn’t deserve. With proper care, patience, training and love, the Pit Bull is an awesome addition to your family.
Since it is often used as a guard dog or in service with law enforcement or the military, the German Shepherd has a presupposed intimidation factor that tends to give it an undeserved bad reputation. While it is true that this dog breed needs firm direction by a convincing handler, their loyalty to the human pack tends to perpetuate their fearful or intimidating stereotype. The German Shepherd is one of the most highly trainable dog breeds and capitalizing on that drive to perform for its leader for positive attention will dispel any conception of a bad dog breed quite quickly. An intelligent, energetic and playful dog, the German Shepherd’s bad reputation needs to take a walk.
When a dog weighing the size of an average adult male approaches, it has an immediate intimidation factor for most people. The Neapolitan Mastiff weighs in at approximately 165 pounds; however, that doesn’t mean that it deserves the bad reputation that is often associated with it. To be upfront and fair, the owner of a Mastiff must be established clearly as in charge, or it will gladly throw its weight into the matter and attempt to assume that role. However, with early socialization (as with all dogs), continual training, and daily exercise, your Neapolitan Mastiff will be a happy, relaxed and well-behaved family member.
Neil Kilgore is the Jack (Russell) of all trades at Greenfield Puppies in Lancaster Pa. He regularly blogs about dogs, breeders and puppies on the Greenfield Puppies website.