5 Dog Breeds That Bite but Are Almost Never Reported
Many Small-Dog Bites Are Never Reported
Since this is an article about dog bites that are never reported, it cannot be based on numbers from those reported by the CDC and AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). This is not a list of the 10 most aggressive dogs based on dog bites. There are plenty of those lists, and all of them are wrong.
Anyone who believes a mellow Siberian Husky is more aggressive than an angry Chihuahua does not understand dogs. There are a lot of people out there who will repeat that list and claim that it is true because it is has been reported in a study by a government agency, the Center for Disease Control. Government studies can be wrong.
According to a journal article from Applied Animal Behavior Science, the three most aggressive breeds are the Dachshund, Chihuahua, and Jack Russell Terrier. A University of Pennsylvania study interviewed 6,000 dog owners and most thought that the smaller dogs were more aggressive. At least 20% of Dachshunds had bitten strangers.
The other breeds listed here tend to be aggressive but were not listed in the Applied Animal Behavior/University of Pennsylvania study. They are dog breeds that I have decided to add to the list.
So you can choose to believe in all or none of the studies. What dog breeds have I seen bite and go through life without being reported? These five are at the top of my list.
- Jack Russel Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Yorkshire Terrier
This may be the breed most likely to bite. These dogs are usually playful and make great pets, but they do chase smaller animals, show aggression to strangers and new dogs, and if they develop separation anxiety tend to be destructive and chew up the house.
The reason that they are not reported for aggression is a common one: They are small, so their bites do not cause serious injuries.
Sometimes a child in the family will need to go into an emergency room for a tetanus shot, and if the parent lists “dog bite” on the admitting form, the bite will be reported to animal control. But a lot of the time, that does not happen.
Other bites may happen when a Dachshund comes across a stranger in his house or yard. If the Dachshund bites a kid running through the yard, the parents may not even find out about it, much less animal control.
Doxies will probably go on biting, and will probably not be blamed very often.
This tiny dog is often aggressive even when he does not want to be. They are not hunters like the Dachshund and are usually happy when left alone to curl up on the couch or in a warm basket of laundry just out of the dryer. A lot of times they are not left in peace.
Since they are not able to do much damage when they bite, they may be teased by small children and by adults with nothing better to do. They are easy to provoke. Some breeds may ignore a provocation and go lie down elsewhere; a Chihuahua will get tired of all the foolishness and bite.
This dog is rated as one of the most aggressive, and is one of the dogs most likely to bite and get away with it. If you don't agree with me, watch a few of the videos where they are teased.
3. Jack Russell Terrier
This dog is an active dog and can be one of the most aggressive, but when he is able to work, the aggression is not really a significant issue. JRTs were bred to dig down to dens to hunt fox, badger, and other small game, and aggression was a good quality in such a dog.
Working dogs that have nothing to do become bored and destructive. The JRT is no exception. If they cannot hunt, they should be taught to play flyball, compete in agility, or at least taken to obedience classes.
Not providing a JRT with an outlet for his energy encourages him to become aggressive.
4. Cocker Spaniel
The rating on this dog is only based on my personal experience. Anecdotal evidence does not count for much, but if I were to use the “official” ratings, the Great Dane would be next on the list. Most people would probably report a Great Dane bite. They would probably be embarrassed to report a Cocker bite.
The Cocker Spaniels I have worked with are great pets but they are usually unhappy to be examined by a veterinarian and are willing to bite to get away. This may be due to shyness and poor socialization, not aggression, but it does lead to biting.
This breed also may develop a neurological disease called “Cocker Rage Syndrome.” When a dog is affected he will have an epileptic-type seizure and bite anyone in the area.
Note: Although the techniques used to control the dog in the video below are not what I would use, the video is good in that it shows this breed, which many people consider mild and happy, displaying aggression.
5. Yorkshire Terrier
This dog was originally bred to work, and although he has become one of the most popular dog breeds, the Yorkie still has a lot of energy and a drive to be active.
They are not a small lap dog that will sit around and wait to be showered with attention. They will bark a lot, run at doors and act as a watchdog, and do their best to show how important they are.
I read an article about separation anxiety in which the owner complained that his Yorkie bit him on the ankle every time he came home. The owner put up with it for years and eventually the dog died of old age. If the dog was a pit bull, the owner probably would have reported him to animal control and the dog would have been euthanized.
Do I know that Yorkie bites are never reported? No, this is just anecdotal information. They are known to bite but are almost never reported to do so on the statistics.
Every Dog Is Unique
Do not be so quick to condemn a breed of dog that you are told “bites a lot.” Statistics are wrong. Some data indicate 1 in 12 Dachshunds bite their owner. What if it is 1 in 10? What about 1 in 8? No one knows.
The studies available on aggression are not enough to decide which breed is most likely to bite. Since small dogs may not do much damage, or the damage may even be ignored, the statistics on dog bites are definitely meaningless.
Siberian Huskies, one of the most aggressive dogs according to the CDC, were also rated in this Animal Behavior study. They were found to be as docile as the Greyhound and Golden Retriever. No one can say a Boxer is aggressive and meant to be feared.
Can anyone tell you the top 10 most aggressive dog breeds? No. Can anyone tell you the dogs most likely to bite? It is not possible.
The only thing we can be sure of it that every dog is an individual. Come to think of it, so are we!
Have you been bitten by a dog and not reported it?
Gershman KA, Sacks JJ, Wright JC, Which dogs bite? A case-control study of risk factors., Pediatrics, 1994 Jun;93(6 Pt 1):913-7.
Farhoody, P., Mallawaarachchi, I., Tarwater, P. M., Serpell, J. A., Duffy, D. L., & Zink, C. (2018). Aggression toward Familiar People, Strangers, and Conspecifics in Gonadectomized and Intact Dogs. Frontiers in veterinary science, 5, 18. doi:10.3389/fvets.2018.00018
Questions & Answers
My lab was attacked twice by a friends dog when there was food around. Now my lab is aggressive towards other dogs (but not our pug). Is there any hope for our lab to be able to interact with other dogs again?
You are fortunate in that your Lab still gets along with your Pug. Dog-dog aggression is difficult to deal with and when it is in a home is one of the worst situations you can deal with.
When out taking a walk, some things can be done. Read this article, and you may find some solutions: https://hubpages.com/dogs/dog-to-dog-aggression.Helpful 5
Are Cavalier King Charles spaniels aggressive?
No, Cavs are one of the sweetest and most affectionate dog breeds around. They are great lap dogs.Helpful 2
Are pugs aggressive?
Though Pugs are not usually known as a dog breed that bites, I have known dogs that bite. They were unhappy to be at the vet because of numerous visits.
At home, around their families, Pugs are not an aggressive dog breed.Helpful 1
Are chihuahuas aggressive?
No dog breed should be considered aggressive. Chihuahuas are small dogs and often teased since people consider their bites such a joke.
© 2013 Dr Mark