Johanna has cared for a variety of breeds—from Dachshunds to German
Shepherds. She is an advocate for animals and their welfare.
Breed Traits and Bite Statistics
Does Breed Matter?
As the argument for/against pit bulls continues, the question remains: Should
we have special laws against some breeds, thereby discriminating one dog from
another? I want to offer my few cents as a genuine dog-lover and life-long
owner of different breeds.
I have discovered that the breed really does matter and that a dog is not just
a dog—it’s not that simple. It makes a difference which breed of dog you get
regardless of how you take care of it or even train it. Of course, most dogs
will become hostile if abused, but I am not talking about that. Rather, I’m
talking about breed traits. There are certain innate traits to each breed.
German Shepherds are protective and smart herding dogs.
What I Learned From Observing Different Traits in My Dogs
I have a purebred German Shepherd currently (my first), and I had no idea that
the herding instinct was so ingrained in my dog’s personality. She is
constantly keeping an eye on everybody at home and prefers for people to be in
the same room. Even with friends visiting, she hates it if some of them are
outside and she is inside, and vice versa. Basically, all the sheep must be
together, otherwise, her instinct of rounding them up kicks in, which causes
some anxiety for her. I think herding and protecting go hand in hand.
My German Shepherd’s Instincts
The only time the herding instinct in my German Shepherd became annoying was
when I went swimming. I learned that I needed to keep her on leash, otherwise,
she would come after me at a fierce swimming speed, huffing and puffing, and
once she reached me, she was not nice. She would scratch and even bite in an
effort to get me back to shore. I guess she felt unable to sufficiently
protect me in water. Even when I was out of the water just sitting on the
beach, she would circle around and keep a close eye on me.
My Dachshunds’ Instincts
On the other hand, while growing up, our Dachshunds would take off at any
chance they got. We had four of them over the years and they would disappear
for hours and roam around and look for things to hunt like foxes. They somehow
managed to find fox holes in the woods and yap their heads off until we came
One time, part of an ear on one of my dogs was badly torn by a fox. Those
little dogs could put up a fight. Another time, one of them bit a young fawn’s
leg in half. The poor deer’s screams echoed through the woods, leaving us in
shock and disbelief that our sweet dogs could do such harm.
Dachshunds make great pets but they are hunters, too!
Breeds Are Bred for Different Tasks
Why did my Dachshunds need to go and hunt stuff? Why not stay put like my
I believe certain traits were bred into various dog breeds. For generations,
dogs were used to help their owners with farm animals and to protect property.
Hunting was also a useful trait, as was retrieving. (Have you ever met a
retriever that would endlessly keep catching the ball? My shepherd would grow
bored after some time.) According to the AKC, there are 35 breeds of hound
dogs and 25 different herding breeds.
Pit bulls can be sweet but come with a troubled history.
TheEditorSF, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikipedia
What About Pit Bull Breeds?
So where does this leave us with pit bulls? There are many types of dogs that
are referred to as pit bulls according to Wikipedia:
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
There are also any mixes of these breeds. Some say the American Pit Bull
Terrier is the same as the American Staffordshire Terrier, and others say just
as soundly that they are entirely different breeds.
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These bull and terrier breeds were used for bull- and bear-bating in the early
1800s. When those sports became illegal in 1835, dogfighting sprung up in its
place in Europe, Russia, and here in the United States. That is when some of
these dogs were selectively bred for their fighting prowess. But
paradoxically, the American Pit Bull Terrier is well-respected for its
intelligence and is noted as a good family dog and for being great with
children. This can be confusing.
Although small-breed bites are under-reported, large-breed bites cause more
Pit Bulls Can Be Sweet but May Also Exhibit Negative Breed Traits
I think dogs described as pit bulls, especially the American Pit Bull Terrier
and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, could either be the sweetest dogs or fall
victim to their dogfighting past. I am not an expert by any means, but I have
seen my dogs’ inherent traits surface on their own, so the same is probably
the case with other breeds.
Since pit bull breeds have historically demonstrated a genetic predisposition
for aggressive tendencies and fighting, don’t we owe it to these dogs to take
precautions by neutering and perhaps enforcing special laws to ensure the
safety of people around us as well as other animals?
I think so, since these inherent traits can creep up in the animals at any
time. Due to their size and sheer strength, these breeds can be especially
dangerous and even lethal. In some countries, pit bull breeds are banned
Why People Should Research Their Breed of Interest
Learning about a breed’s history and its specific traits is needed before
choosing a dog to own. The Dachshunds I had as a kid should never have been
able to roam free in any forest. I wish we had known that then and spared a
fawn’s life and the lives of many other creatures that may have fallen prey to
our dogs over the years.
I think anyone who wants to own a pit bull breed should do some research on
their own accord. This also really goes for all dog breeds, as safety should
be a priority for all owners. This is not only with the safety of the dog’s
family members and other household pets in mind, but for the general public
and other animals in the community as well.
Pit Bull: Wikipedia
New Study Identifies Most Damaging Dog Bites by Breed
Nearly five million people in the US are bitten by dogs each year. The most
common victims are children, most of whom are bitten by family pets. But which
breed bites the most? That’s hard to say, because according to a new study,
“unknown” tops the
2018 U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities: Dog Bite Statistics
2018 U.S. dog bite fatality statistical data collected and recorded by
DogsBite.org. Source citations for each fatality victim are located in
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and
is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a
© 2014 Johanna Sandev
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 29, 2019:
You’ve raised some interesting points in this article. I’ve only got to know
one pit bull personally and have discovered that she’s a lovely dog. I suspect
that many factors combine to make a good dog, including general breed
features, features emphasized by a particular breeder, and the training of a
dog. As you say, people should do a lot of research with respect to a breed
that interests them.
Besarien from South Florida on April 12, 2015:
I agree that any breed of dog can be a very good dog if well bred, treated
properly, and appropriately trained. Improper breeding can cause behavior
problems as well as physical ones. It is likely in places where, say, pit
bulls are illegal, that the only breeding being done there is substandard-
including inbreeding and breeding for violence and aggression to produce
I have met some lovely pit bulls, including one big soppy boy named “Puddin”
who likes to hold my hand and, well, most of my arm too very gently in his
mouth to say hello. He is also a complete belly ho.
In England, German shepherds (or Alsatians as they were called there) had a
very bad (mean, aggressive, attacking their owners) reputation for a while in
the 70’s and 80’s. Not sure what it is like now.
My favorite breed is the mutt. I have a rescued golden/mutt right now. She is
a sweet soul and a very good girl. I think she appreciates us after whatever
craziness she went through. Great hub!