Can Dogs be Aggressive by Nature?

According to the Center for Disease Control, the United States records 4.5 million annual dog bites. Does this mean that dogs are aggressive by nature, they don’t like people petting them, or were they raised in a hostile environment?

For the most part, there are two views on dog aggression. Let’s find out more:

Nature and Genetics

One view is that some dogs generally have aggressive personalities. While some dogs are bred to be service animals, others are bred to be police dogs. However, both of these dogs are chosen according to their genetic aggression level. According to the Animal Humane Society, dogs of some breeds can be aggressive intentionally, as well as unintentionally.

Even if you don’t agree that certain dog breeds are aggressive, there is no denying that the breed does matter if two dogs are put in a fighting situation. For example, out of a Chihuahua and Rottweiler, which dog do you think will be more dangerous? Definitely the Rottweiler! This is because it has always been bred to be bigger, stronger, aggressive, and more powerful.

In fact, regardless of how much a dog owner trains his dog, some dogs will never be fully comfortable enough to let go of their aggressive streak. They will always have some form of aggressive behavior stored within. You can never really be completely sure of this breed’s behavior. They may get triggered randomly, despite months of constant training, and still get aggressive enough to harm innocent people or other dogs they come across during their walks.

The truth is that when put in a difficult situation, some dogs feel the “fight” response more strongly than the “flee” one. For example, while a golden retriever may run fast any time it is in a difficult situation, a German shepherd will face the situation head-on and, chances are, it will get into a fight. Both these responses are expected based on their breeds. Keep in mind that this does not mean that a German shepherd will always be aggressive. However, you do need to be more careful around them.


Another view on aggression is that depending on how a dog is trained, it can be aggressive or docile. Forty percent of aggression in dogs is a result of a lack of obedience training on the part of dog owners, according to a study published in the Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances.

Today, the method of showing your dog who’s boss is not completely effective. In fact, confrontation methods, such as training your dog, have proved to be more effective. This can be done by making stern eye contact with your dog any time it disobeys you or using verbal communication to scold your dog. However, remember; you cannot use aggression to fix aggressive behavior.

While any dog can be aggressive, some dogs are just naturally aggressive, according to the Association of Pet Counsellors. These dogs are born with aggressive tendencies that are a part of their gene. However, this is no excuse to justify aggressive behavior. In fact, if you do not try to tame it, your dog could cause serious damage to you and those around you.

Don’t be scared to house a pup that is known to be aggressive. All you need to do is be careful and cautious while you nurture it so that it understands how to channel its aggression in the correct manner.

Aggressive Dog Breeds

Many people believe that the bigger the dog, the more aggressive it is likely to be. However, there is nothing further than the truth. Pitbull’s, Rottweilers, and Dobermans have received the reputation of being extremely aggressive breeds. The truth is that, according to a study published in Applied Animal Behavior, Dachshund, Chihuahuas, and Jack Russell are genetically aggressive.

On the other hand, according to the American Temperament Test Society, American Pitbull terriers have a wonderful reputation for being kind and friendly.

Why Some Dogs Show Aggression

Keeping in mind everything said above, don’t forget that sometimes, the friendliest dogs can start to show signs of aggression. Before you start to blame yourself and your training methods, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Is Your Dog Sick or Hurt?

Sometimes, when a usually friendly dog suddenly starts to growl, snap, or bite, there be a deeper issue at play.

Pain can make a dog aggressive. It causes distress that most dogs do not know how to deal with. Moreover, some illnesses can also alter your dog’s mood, causing them to be aggressive with their owners. Before you start to question and doubt yourself, take your dog to a vet so that you can rule out all physical problems.

2. Is Your Dog Scared?

Scared dogs can be aggressive. They believe that they are in a dangerous situation and need to protect themselves. That is why we thoroughly discourage owners from raising their hands on their dogs, as this can make the dog feel threatened, resulting in violence and aggression.

However, if you have adopted a rescue dog, you should expect some form of aggression. This is because rescue dogs are most neglected and abused. Some of them may not have received appropriate training as puppies or may have gone through a traumatic experience in their past. These dogs are likely to develop PTSD and can show signs of aggression at random moments, even if they have spent years living with their new owners.

Bottom Line

The nature vs. nurture view on dog aggression is for you to decide. Do you believe that some breeds are inherently aggressive? Or, do you think that you can train any dog to be friendly and good-natured, regardless of their genes and breed?
Whichever school of thought you believe, make sure to socialize your dog appropriately. Look for professional help if you need it. Behavior learned at a younger age is likely to last for a lifetime.

by Maria A Davidson || You can’t buy love, but you can rescue it™

Facts About Animal Homelessness:

  1. Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home.
  2. The main reasons animals are in shelters: owners give them up, or animal control finds them on the street.
  3. Each year, approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats are killed every year because shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes. Act as a publicist for your local shelter so pets can find homes. Sign up for Shelter Pet PR.
  4. Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
  5. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2% of cats and only 15 to 20% of dogs are returned to their owners.
  6. 25% of dogs that enter local shelters are purebred.
    About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.
  7. It’s impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States. Estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.
  8. Only 10% of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered. Overpopulation, due to owners letting their pets accidentally or intentionally reproduce, sees millions of these “excess” animals killed annually.
  9. Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.
  10. According to The Humane Society, there are about 3,500 brick-and-mortar animal shelters in the US and 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in North America.
  11. Here are a some adoptions for consideration: