Different breeds have historically been known for different things. Today, however, most breeds are kept as companion dogs and pets. Unfortunately, in some cases the public opinion still has some pre-conceived notions about some specific breeds. Most dogs no longer fit these old stereotypes. Dogs usually have the kind of personality they develop according to how they are raised by their breeders and owners.
Breeds Viewed As Dangerous Over Time By The Public
People might be surprised to know that in the 19th century the Collie was considered a dangerous dog. Scottish people were often considered to be thugs and since they often had Collies, it was believed that the dogs were dangerous, too. Public opinion about the dogs (and the Scots) didn’t change until Queen Victoria became enchanted with all things Scottish and had some of the dogs herself. She loved her Balmoral estate and spent time in Scotland. Once the Queen made it clear that Scottish dogs were good dogs, Collies and other Scottish breeds began to be very popular. Today we can’t imagine anyone harboring any bad feelings toward Lassie or her relatives.
The German Shepherd as a breed was only created about 110 years ago. It became popular with the police and military in Germany almost immediately. During World War I American soldiers had a chance to see the dogs in action and quickly brought some of them back to the U.S. where the dogs were a great success. As soon as Strongheart and Rin-Tin-Tin began appearing in movies the breed became very popular in America as noble, intelligent, and courageous dogs. However, with the coming of World War II and the U.S. entering the war against Germany, the popularity of the German Shepherd declined. In Britain the name of the breed was changed from German Shepherd to “Alsatian” (a region on the French-German border) to avoid calling them German. There was a decided dislike or prejudice against the breed because of their connection to Germany which lasted for some time. Eventually the breed recovered and they are once again quite popular nowadays.
In the 1970s and ‘80s the breed to fear was the Doberman Pinscher, possibly due to some films which made these dogs the villains. Well-trained Doberman Pinschers have never posed a problem. Problems can always occur when a protection dog is improperly trained or when a dog is raised by a problem owner. Possibly due to the popularity of the films about these dogs there was a boom in Doberman Pinscher breeding in the 1970s and ‘80s and some dogs had some temperament problems. Breeders have worked hard to remove dogs from the gene pool with temperament problems and insure that only the best dogs are bred. As a result, the Doberman Pinscher today has a stable temperament and when properly trained these dogs make great family dogs.
A few years ago, and even today, the Rottweiler was singled out as the breed to fear. The Rottweiler is a large dog and, like the average Doberman, it is also black and tan in colour. It is possible that people are more inclined to fear black dogs. Rottweilers are also used for protection dog work. However, a Rottweiler that is well-trained and raised well is not a dangerous dog at all. Rottweilers can and have make wonderful family dogs as well.
The “Pit Bull”
Today people often have pre-conceived ideas about the “Pit Bull”. The term “Pit Bull” usually refers to any of a number of breeds of dog that were a cross between Bulldogs and Terriers a 100 or more years ago. The dogs are usually stocky with a block-shaped head. People claim that they have terrible jaw strength and fear that they are vicious dogs. Actually, their jaws are no different from any other dogs and they are not vicious. Like any other dog, their temperament depends on how they are raised. At one time these dogs were used for dog fighting but the dogs fought other dogs, they did not fight people. Even if you have a bully breed dog who comes from dogs who were used for illegal dog fighting more recently, there is no reason to think the dog will be vicious toward humans.
Most of the breeds that are mistaken for “Pit Bulls” such as the Bulldog, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, and others, are decades removed from any dog fighting. Some of these breeds have the temperament of teddy bears because breeders have worked very hard to make them gentle dogs who are good with families.
Unfortunately the public will always have pre-conceived and inaccurate ideas about specific dog breeds. These ideas can lead to local ordinances and legislation which punishes good dogs and their owners. In most cases when there is a problem with a dog it is an individual problem and not a breed problem. Dogs are the way they are because of the way they are raised, not because of their breed.