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Huge German Shepherds may look like fearsome guard dogs that are ready to strike (particularly as they are typically the breed we see as police dogs), but it's actually smaller pups that are more likely to attack you, new research has found.
It's always the littlest dogs that have the biggest attitude!
A new study by Helsinki University saw data collected on 13,715 dogs across the world through an owner-completed online questionnaire, before 9000 were then picked for the study.
They discovered that small, old, male dogs belonging to first-time owners were more likely to attack people and that dogs that lived alone had higher aggression, and that breeds such as miniature Schnauzers and rough collies were the most likely to exhibit aggressive behaviours.
The absolutely tiny Toy Chinese Crested dog is also considered an aggressive breed, while German Shepherd pooches came further down on the list.
Dogs were classified as aggressive if they growled often and/or had attempted to snap at or bite a human at least occasionally in the situations described in the survey. Growling, barking, snapping and biting were the behaviours typically exhibited when pups were in an aggressive mood - though it should be noted that this behaviours can also be exhibited during play.
Researchers found that small dogs are more likely to behave aggressively than mid-sized and large dogs, but their aggressive behaviour is not necessarily considered as threatening as that of large dogs - and therefore, the behaviour is not disciplined out of them.
Let's face it, a bite from a rottweiler would be far worse than a bite from a chihuahua.
Smaller dogs are also more at risk of being trampled on or hurt by larger adversaries, which may also contribute to their higher levels of aggression.
The study also found the first dogs of dog owners were more likely to behave aggressively compared to dogs whose owners had previous experience of dogs. Research also indicated that dogs that spend time in the company of other dogs behave less aggressively than dogs that live without other dogs in the household.
Unsurprisingly, Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers, both famous for their calm and loving temperament and a popular choice for families, topped the list as the least aggressive dogs.
Speaking about the study, doctoral researcher Salla Mikkola explained: "Understanding the factors underlying aggressive behaviour is important. In what kinds of circumstances does aggressive behaviour occur and what is the dog's motive for such behaviour?
"In normal family dogs, aggressive behaviour is often unwanted, while some dogs with official duties are expected to have the capacity for aggressiveness. At the same time, aggressiveness can be caused by welfare issues, such as chronic pain."
"Dogs' fearfulness had a strong link to aggressive behaviour, with fearful dogs many times more likely to behave aggressively," Salla continued. "Moreover, older dogs were more likely to behave aggressively than younger ones.
"One of the potential reasons behind this can be pain caused by a disease. Impairment of the senses can contribute to making it more difficult to notice people approaching, and dogs' responses to sudden situations can be aggressive."
Most aggressive dog breeds
1. Rough collie
2. Miniature poodle
3. Miniature schnauzer
4. German shepherd
5. Spanish water dog
6. Lagotto Romagnolo
7. Chinese crested
Least aggressive dog breeds
1. Labrador retriever
2. Golden retriever
3. Lapponian herder
4. Shetland sheepdog
5. Staffordshire bull terrier
6. Jack Russell terrier
7. Smooth collie
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