Common dog myths and stereotypes: why you shouldn’t believe them

Common dog myths and stereotypes: why you shouldn’t believe them

There are existing stereotypes surrounding certain dog breeds that most of us will have heard of; Pitbulls are dangerous, Jack Russells are loud and Border Collies need more attention, but how many of these are true? 

We explored AlsoAsked search query data which highlights a big difference in the common questions and queries regarding different dog breeds, and points to some familiar stereotypes. For example, questions related to Rottweilers included “Are Rottweilers aggressive?” and “What is the bite force of a Rottweiler?”, whereas questions for Labradors include “Are Labradors friendly with strangers?” and “Is a Lab a good first dog?”

Stereotype insights from AlsoAsked

The tables below show you a few examples of the commonly-searched questions people are asking online in relation to these specific dog breeds.

Rottweiler

Chihuahua

Pitbull

Dachshund

Golden Retriever Staffy Labrador

Spaniel

Can a human overpower a Rottweiler?

Are Chihuahuas clingy?

Why don’t Pitbulls let go?

Are Dachshunds lap dogs?

Why are Golden Retrievers so snuggly? Can Staffies get aggressive? Are Labradors good dogs for beginners? What is the nicest calmest dog breed?

Is a Rottweiler stronger than a tiger?

Do Chihuahuas like to cuddle?

What percentage of dog attacks are Pitbulls?

Do Dachshunds like kisses?

What is the safest family dog? Why do Staffies have a bad reputation? What is the best Labrador to have? What is the best Spaniel to get?

Do Rottweiler’s jaws lock?

Do Chihuahuas like to be kissed?

Are Pitbulls safe around babies?

What are the best traits of a Dachshund?

What is the happiest dog breed? Are Staffies unpredictable? Which is the easiest dog to own? What is the best Spaniel for seniors?


With these questions highlighting preconceived assumptions and misconceptions about certain dog breeds, we set out to explore the issue of dog stereotypes and shed some light on the truth.

Common dog misconceptions

  • Mastiffs are not friendly  

    x emoji False! They might look intimidating, but in fact, Mastiffs are very mellow breeds and are very content simply snoozing.

    • Pitbulls’ jaws lock if they bite 

      x emoji False again. There is a common misconception that pitbulls’ jacks lock, but this is not true. Their strength can lead to a powerful bite, but their jaws do not lock and are the same as other dogs.

      • All small dogs are yappy

        x emoji Another bit of fake news. Small dog breeds often get a bad rap for being loud, with many assuming they need to be loud to make up for their small size, but this is very much dependent on the breed. Not all small dogs are loud, with breeds such as Cavalier King Charles and Italian Greyhound often very quiet. 

        • Breeds like Rottweilers and Dobermans might turn on their owners

          x emoji You guessed it - this one is false too. Breeds like the above are often stereotyped as being aggressive and vicious, with the potential to turn on their families. However, they are not conditioned to do so, and with the right training and socialisation, they will be quite the opposite.

          “Just because the breed itself is strong, it doesn’t mean it has to be aggressive, it all comes down to the owner and how they have trained the dog.” Anna Nowrotek, owner of Bow Wow Dog Care.

          Debunking the myths

          Misinformed traits attributed to certain dog breeds can be detrimental and damaging, and can unfairly punish responsible dog owners.  

          The media play a big part in this by reporting on dog bites/attacks involving certain breeds. According to organisations like the American Veterinary Medical Association, the vast majority of these incidents can happen with any dog breed that has not been properly trained or socialised. 

          Grahame Greene, from the Norwich Dog Training School, believes that owners need to take some responsibility and focus on adequate dog training, regardless of breed.

          “People really need to research what the breed was bred for, then they will have a better understanding of the dog’s needs and characteristics.”

          He also agrees that the media is not helping when it comes to building untrue stereotypes, “It is the media, YouTube and films. Rin Tin Tin ruined the German Shepherd; The Omen films ruined the Rottweiler; The Doberman Gang films ruined the Dobermann and so on.”

          This study by Scientific American surveyed the owners of over 18,000 dogs to learn their behaviours. It found that some of these behaviours weren’t specific to one breed, and when looking specifically at how readily a dog responds to commands, this varied among individual dogs of the same breed.

          Anna Nowrotek, owner of Bow Wow dog care, says: “People confuse the breeds of dogs and their particular upbringing. Just because the breed itself is strong, it doesn’t mean it has to be aggressive, it all comes down to the owner and how they have trained the dog.

          “From my experience, the most aggressive dogs are the ones that have been treated by the owners softly and with no boundaries, and these have all been Chihuahuas, Sausage Dogs and Cockapoos so far.” 

          John Skinner, Topdog co-owner, says: “It’s always a shame to hear people talking negatively about certain breeds, when sometimes those things are very far from the truth. The biggest indication of a dog's personality and traits is not its breed, but its owner.” 

          Dog owners weigh in

          Elliot Leachman, Topdog digital marketing executive and owner of two rescue dogs, believes that a lot of responsibility is on the owners:

          I think owners should brush up on the knowledge of their breed or the breed they’re looking to acquire, or even potentially take a course on best practices etc. I think the biggest issue that the average dog owner faces is other owners who allow their dogs to run free in the park. This has recently become a meme “Don’t worry he’s friendly” because of how comically misguided these people are. This type of owner, while their dog may be “harmless”, doesn't understand that not all dogs want a dog running up to them, and that is where the danger lies!”

          “I would love to own a big squishy-faced pitbull because they are adorable, although I know that they are very strong and I wouldn’t want to walk something that I could not control. Point being, owning a dog requires a strong sense of responsibility!”

          There are 13.5 million dogs in the UK, which sees them in 36% of households across the country and the most popular pet. This has also increased by 1.5 million from last year, and so it is more important than ever to properly understand your dog's breed and its characteristics.

          No matter what size, shape or breed your dog is, Topdog has a range of great harnesses, collars and leads for training, walking and all your other doggy activities.
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