Bad dog list exposed

Staffordshire Terriers and their crosses have again been shown as the dog breed with the most behavioural problems. And they are almost twice as bad as most of the other breeds on the ‘bad dog’ list.

In a survey of dogs which have been nominated as problem pets for the year 2009, Dr Cam Day, Veterinary Behaviourist has identified the top ten worst dog breeds. In 2009, 681 dogs were nominated by their owners as problem pets. Of these 11% were Staffordshire Terriers or their cross.

Dr Day stated that “while the lovable and energetic Staffie is a very popular pet, the statistics also show that 40% were presented for aggression and 30% for anxieties and fears.”
The breed second on the ‘bad dog’ list is the Maltese Terrier and its cross representing 7% of the problem pooches with the Border Collie, Poodle and the German Shepherd ranking between five to six percent of the list. Making up the remainder of the list at 4% of reports, where the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the Labrador, the Kelpie, the Cattle Dog and the Jack Russell Terrier.

While the data is not yet corrected for the ‘commonality’ of each breed, it represents a useful indication of those breeds with which owners are experiencing difficulties.

Of note is that the Rottweiler is now off the top ten list as is the Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Shih Tzu. These breeds represent 2% of the problem pooches, thus pushing them off the ‘bad dog’ list.

Pet owners nominate details of their pet’s problems through a behaviour assessment form on Dr Cam’s website,

There they have the opportunity of nominating the breed of their dog or cat and the problems they are experiencing.

The data also suggests that pure-bred German Shepherds are the highest-ranking pure breed with problems. Of those pet owners who nominated German Shepherds or their cross as problem pets, 82% or their Shepherds appear to be pure bred dogs.  There was a significant jump down to the pure bred Cavalier coming in at 68% compared with its cross bred (32%) and the pure bred Staffie ranked at 65% compared with its cross (35%).

What Behaviour Problems Cause Concern?

Dr Day also analysed the behavioural problems reported by dog owners during the 2009 year.

Aggression was by far the commonest problem for which pet owners requested assistance ranking at 36% of concerns nominated.

The next most common behaviour was barking, ranking at 13%, separation anxiety at 9%, and house-soiling at 5% of owner concerns while anxieties of all types were 18%.

“Most behavioural problems can be remedied when a balance of therapies is implemented” said Dr Day.  “That means medical causes of the behaviour, if present, need to be eliminated first.

“Then the means by which the pet can be taught to replace unwanted behaviours with  more appropriate behaviours are implemented. Many behaviours benefit from proper management to reduce the frequency and for some, the use of pheromones or medications is important.”

“When it comes to aggression, a pet owner’s first and immediate duty is to manage the risk by removing the dog or cat from its victims. Assistance should then be sought from a veterinarian or veterinary behavourist”.

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