Chihuahuas were second place on the aggression index and Jack Russells held down third.
According to the Telegraph,
Dr James Serpell, one of the researchers, said smaller breeds might be more genetically predisposed towards aggressive behaviour than larger dogs.
“Reported levels of aggression in some cases are concerning, with rates of bites or bite attempts rising as high as 20 per cent toward strangers and 30 per cent toward unfamiliar dogs,” he added.
Until now, research into canine aggression has almost exclusively involved analysis of dog bite statistics. But the researchers said these were potentially misleading as most bites were not reported. Big dogs might have acquired a reputation for being aggressive because their bites were more likely to require medical attention.
The findings have angered owners of small breeds. Chris Moore, secretary of the Northern Dachshund Association, said: “As far as breeders in the UK are concerned, this is rubbish. It is not in the dogs’ nature. I have never been bitten in 25 years.”
Unfortunately, Rottweiler owners took the news of their dogs average aggressiveness less than gracefully and with a large grain of schaenfreude. Commented Joyce Summers, treasurer of the Rottweiler Club in Britain, said: “I am not surprised Jack Russells are up there near the top; they are yappy little things.”
Among the lowest scoring breeds for aggression were Basset hounds, golden retrievers, labradors, Siberian huskies and greyhounds. Having just dog-sat a Basset this weekend, I can attest that he was a lovely fellow but a total wuss. He was scared of cats and small children although he did have a good frolic at the dog park this morning.
The study, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, was based on interviews with 6,000 dog owners by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.
If you want to see pictures of the most and least aggressive dogs, the Telegraph has some great shots.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail has put its customary tabloid spin on things:
And on this side of the Atlantic, the Discovery Channel has been probing the news and has the most complete results including a table which shows different breeds’ aggressiveness towards human strangers, owners and other dogs.