by Carol Bryant
Have you ever been out in public, minding your own business, simply walking your dog, and people start moving to the other side of the street in fear? There are many dog breeds that don’t deserve the bad rap society places upon them. Perhaps your dog is one of the breeds or mixed mutts that get a bad rap.
Dogs of certain breeds are not born dangerous by default. This, coupled with breed legislation, media focus on particular breeds, and the sensationalizing of certain incidents of attack have led to an overall generalizing that ultimately hurts a dog, and may cost him his life.
“The behavior of any dog is best understood at the individual level. While the breed tendency for a Jack Russell Terrier may be to chase, dig and hunt, any one Jack Russell Terrier may or may not chase, dig or hunt. Behavior is influenced by so many factors — from experience and learning to the environment — including the environment within the womb,” according to Dr. Emily Weiss, Vice President of Shelter Research & Development for the ASPCA. “Speaking in breed generalities risks not only the likelihood that we will misidentify behaviorally sound pets, but could also mean that we may put ourselves at risk of assuming that another pet is friendly and safe simply because of his breed.”
Dr. Weiss helped develop the Meet Your Match program for the ASPCA, and it is in use by hundreds of shelters across the country for this very purpose — to encourage adopters to focus on the behavior and personality of the individual dog or cat, and not on the breed.
Check out this list of dogs that are often unfairly judged.
- Pit Bull: Sadly, this breed has taken on more criticism and warnings than most other breeds in recent years. Often labeled as vicious, untrustworthy, and in possession of locking jaws, the Pit Bull tops our list as receiving a bad rap. According to the American Temperament Test Society, Pit Bulls ranked second in reliability overall. In other words: This original “nanny breed” is not the problem, but the way he is trained may be the issue.
- Chihuahua: Any dog can snap or bite, so labeling this pint-sized pooch as an “ankle biter” is unfair and creates an inappropriate stereotype. This small breed is lively, alert, and publicized by Hollywood movies and on mainstream commercials. As a result, improper breeding and owners not familiar with the breed are part of the bad rap reasons unwittingly bestowed on the Chihuahua.
- Doberman Pinscher: As Dobie owners can attest, this breed’s descent stems from tax collector, Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman. Used as a tough, reliable, and perhaps intimidating dog, breeders have generally moved away from using the breed for its ferocity and protecting abilities. Instead, the Doberman is an intelligent, loyal, and athletic breed who is eager to please.
- Cocker Spaniel: The American version of the Cocker Spaniel descends from Spanish import. The breed standard calls for a merry disposition, yet time and again the Cocker Spaniel is dubbed a “snappy” breed. Any dog of any lineage of any age or size can and might snap, for one reason or another. This breed is generally a trusting, happy, Velcro dog who wants nothing more than to retrieve a ball and cling to his owner’s side.
- Rottweiler: This mastiff-type breed with his German working background seems to have sidestepped his bad reputation a bit, as the Pit Bull seems to be more of a mainstream media focus. Although fiercely loyal and protective, he is a loving dog who can be playful and loving. He was originally bred to drive cattle and cart meat to market, but railroads and modern means of transport overtook his previous functions. His girth is second to the size of his heart, as the Rottweiler is a loving and mellow pooch when under the guidance of the right owner.
- Mutts: Although not purebred, dogs who are a combo of more than one breed are sometimes sneered down upon by certain segments of society. This is a sad statement, as mutts are as loving and loyal as their purebred counterparts. All breeds of dogs have, at one time or another, been cross-bred to become the breed they are today, so in a world full of mutts, how about giving non-pedigreed pooches a break?
- German Shepherd: We’d be remiss not to mention the German Shepherd, as time and again, the German Shepherd is given a bad rap. Used in World War I and World War II as favored dogs in the military for guarding and patrolling purposes, this herding breed is actually a protective, alert, curious, loyal, and energetic breed and undeserving of the bad rap.
The Humane Society of Central Arizona is located at 605 W. Wilson Court, just south of Main Street off South McLane Road. Hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Closed Sunday and holidays. Following are just two of the many wonderful pets currently available for adoption at the HSCAZ shelter. All adoptable pets are already spayed or neutered and current on vaccinations.
Dante and Ace are our long-timers. Ace has been here since March 7, 2013 and Dante has been here since June 30, 2013. Both are deserving of a loving, forever home.
Ace: Ace is a social butterfly and spends his days as our resident lobby greeter, bright-eyed and tail wagging for anyone who comes through the door. Ace is outgoing, affectionate and friendly with people of all ages. Ace loves to play, and hits the yard running! He is a smart boy, and is learning fun skills like “fetch” and mischievous skills like “how to open doors.” Ace sits on command, walks well on a leash, and is crate-trained. He cannot go home with cats, but is friendly with most other dogs. Ace has a loud, rough and tumble play style that can annoy some dogs, so playful, tolerant canine companions are best.
Dante: Dante is a big boy with an equally big heart. He loves people and will rub up against you, asking for some attention. Dante has lived with cats and likes to play, but prefers a home without dogs. Dante has also lived with older kids and is very affectionate. He likes to meow and talk and isn’t afraid to tell you that he wants some of your time and attention. He seems to get along best with other male cats and likes to have a “bromance” going on.