In the veterinary industry, we frequently talk about how our perception of which dog breeds display aggressive behaviors differs significantly from the general public’s perception. Consider the recent attempt to ban pit bulls in Montreal: this legislation was met with much public outcry and has recently been suspended, pending further review. Most of us who work with animals on a daily basis are outraged and confused when breed specific legislation is enacted. Banning specific dog breeds has been definitively disproven in reducing the frequency of dog bites.
A recent article in The Atlantic proves what most of us who work with dogs have known for years: pit bulls display less aggressive tendencies than many other dog breeds. The most “aggressive” dog cited in the study? Chihuahuas! I personally love Chihuahuas, and used to own a super special one named Olive. These tiny terrors hold a special place in my heart. But I also know that virtually every Chihuahua coming in for an appointment is going to try to bite me, whereas very few of my pit bull patients will. (I do have some special “Chihuahua whisperer” techniques that work well for these little pups!)
The point is, passing sweeping legislation about specific dog breeds does not make the public safer. And pit bulls are not the breed most frequently reported as perpetrating dog bites (German shepherds are). The reality is: any dog can bite and any dog can cause injury. Banning specific breeds does not prevent bites; better training might!