Which dog breeds are more likely to bite? An Irish perspective.

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Illustration © Lili Chin

‘Rottweilers…..don’t they bite?’ she asked.

As the lady posing the question already owns a dog she should know all dogs have the potential to bite. She went on, quite smug;

I have a Golden Retriever‘.

As she didn’t expand the conversation any further, I’m guessing her implication was that dog bites are something Golden Retriever owners don’t often think about. But they should.

I have written before about the problems regarding breed specific legislation (bsl) following the publishing of O’Súilleabhán’s research on the substantial increase in hospitalisations due to dog bites since it’s introduction. He argues that..

“Regulating breeds places restrictions on dogs that pose little risk and ignores the possibility that any breed is capable of inflicting serious injuries” 

(O’Súilleabhán, P. 2015).

  Ill-judged legislation, coupled with an absence of a proper educational campaign with supports to encourage responsible dog ownership leaves government policy with regard to ‘controlling’ dogs recklessly unbalanced.

Since the government vilified in stone, 11 breeds of dog in this country, hospitalisations in this country as a result of dog bites increased by nearly 50%.

The lady who asked a very specific question about Rottweilers might do well to consider the study published in 2012 by O’Sullivan and Hanlon  which reviewed dog control data from Cork for the year 2007.

“the experience of a growl or snarl from a restricted breed is more likely to result in a complaint to the authorities than would similar behaviour from a non-restricted breed. It is the authors’ view that this reflects the media derived perception amongst the public that the restricted breeds pose a more significant public danger.” 

The research found that although people were more likely to report incidence of aggression (a snarl or growl) from a dog on the restricted breeds list, the actual threat to public safety, in the form of dog bites, came from a variety of breeds;

The top offenders when it came to dog bites were Terriers, German Shepherds, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Springer Spaniels and Collies

(you’ll notice only one of those breeds is on the restricted breeds list. See the table here ).

So in answer to the lady with the Golden Retriever; my dogs are just as likely not to bite as yours (possibly, as studies have shown, even less likely) which is why dog control legislation in this country needs a serious overhaul in conjunction with a canine awareness education programme rolled out through all the schools.


The Aim of Art…… – Aristotle

Rocky Text with rose

image copyright agsmaoineamh.com

Since contacting the house of Givenchy with regard to one of their designers’ depiction of a snarling Rottweiler (click for full post here) I have been working on some alternative images with one of my rescue Rottie’s, who, it turns out, not only loves obedience competitions, but also posing in front of the camera.

I’ll pass it onto Givenchy on the off chance they’re looking for some original, un-clichéd images of Rottweilers.

Rocky Rabbit 2

image copyright agsmaoineamh.com

Update – Reply from Givenchy this morning. 

New report finds Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) simply doesn’t work.

IMG_9223A new report by Páraic ó Súilleabháin of NUI Galway is to appear in The Veterinary Journal with not unsurprising findings for owners of dogs on the Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) list.

BSL does not work. Since the latest legislation was introduced by the Irish government in 1998, hospitalisations due to dog bites have increased by 50%.

The report finds that of the 11 breeds on the BSL list, none are any more aggressive than any other breed of dog, and this mis-information has led the general public to believe that all the other breeds, not on the list, are incapable of inflicting injury.

The government’s mistaken focus on dog breeds rather than dog owners and educating young people, the report suggests has resulted in 50% more injuries in a five year period.

Click below for the full report;

Snooze like you mean it.

snooze (1)


Me – I think I’ll give your room a spring clean today.

Seven year old – Good. Will you be doing it while I’m in school or after school?

Me – While you’re in school.

Seven year old – Good. That means you have six hours.

Me – Please tell me you’re learning about time in school.

Seven year old – Yes.

An Spideog

Robin on branch with snow

An Spideog ©agsmaoineamh

This cold January morning, the dogs and myself were under the watchful eye of a curious robin, ‘An Spideog’.

He fluttered between snow covered branches, as the dogs investigated his earthen bank of brush and rabbit holes.

I captured some of his antics in this little homemade video (you’ll find it features ‘An madra’ freisin).

Week 5 – Rescue Tails – Let the training begin.


Rocky taking a break. ©agsmaoineamh.com.

Four weeks ago, just after we got Bane, I went online to fetch a bargain; and I got one. O.k, four weeks is a long time to wait for a small plastic clicker, but guys, it only cost seventy US cent, including postage from China.

There are loads of videos and websites dealing with clicker training, so i won’t bore you with the details. Click here for a decent introduction to this positive reinforcement training method.

My aspirations do not involve me dancing in sequins with a cane and the Rottie’s jumping through flaming hoops, sadly no. Basic obedience is the aim of the game here, for everybody’s’ benefit.

Bane already has some basic obedience; sit, down, stay and come; it just needs sharpening up a bit. Initially, fetch was a complete mystery to him, along with treats as a reward. I spent the first two weeks just bonding with him, and found he loves a good groom as a reward, just as much as a gravy bone.

Rocky on the other-hand I would describe as precious. He, unlike Bane, was obviously accustomed to indoor living. We’ve only a week but already he has his little routines, not only is he house trained but he waits to have his paws wiped when he comes in from outside. Bane took to the clicker conditioning straight away, whereas Rocky was initially frightened by the noise.

It’s going to be very interesting to see how these dogs progress with their training. They are both approached two years of age, but they have very different personalities; everything is new to Bane, he’s like an oversized puppy. Rocky, on the other-hand, is quite sensible, grown up and worldly wise.

Watch this space or check out the boys’ blog on tumblr.