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The top 3 most aggressive dog breeds

Attention, America, or at least all you state and local politicians who are banning or considering banning ownership of pit bulls, Rottweilers and other big, scary dogs: In the midst of your rush to pass breed specific legislation, a new study has shown that the most aggressive dog breed in the world is ...

Yes, the dachshund, the weiner dog, better known in some countries as the sausage dog.

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This vicious beast, despite enjoying a good reputation, is at the very top of a list of 33 dog breeds that were rated for their aggression in a study that analyzed the behavior of thousands of dogs.

One in five dachshunds have bitten or tried to bite strangers; about one in five have attacked other dogs, and one in 12 have snapped at their owners, according to the study, which was reported in the London Telegraph.

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Before all you dachshund owners start experiencing the same fears as pit bull owners, and begin contemplating how to hide your pet from authorities (a large bun, perhaps?), it should be pointed out that, as a small dog, a dachshund won't inflict the same amount of damage as a large one, or the same amount of headlines.

So you're probably safe. Now that we're all relaxed we can move on to No. 2 on the most aggressive list .... German Shepherd, maybe? Perhaps the Chow Chow, or Doberman.

Nope. It's the chihuahua. Look out, Paris Hilton.

Chihuahuas, even smaller than dachshunds, and the fashion accessory of choice for Paris Hilton and other celebrities, were the second most hostile breed.

According to the study, they are fairly regularly snapping or attempting to bite strangers, family and other dogs.

In third place was another small dog ... the breed that captured our heart in the television show, Frazier -- the Jack Russell terrier. The study shows beyond any doubt: Small dogs are not to be trusted.

Just kidding, of course. But that is precisely the sort of generalization those passing laws against pit bulls are making. (Then again, they are probably small politicians, who really can't be trusted.)

There may, however, actually be some basis behind my theory that small dogs often display a bit of a Napolean complex -- at least judging from the number that yap and snap at my big dog.

Dr. James Serpell, a University of Pennsylvania researcher who worked on the study, said smaller breeds might be more genetically predisposed towards aggressive behavior than larger dogs.

"Reported levels of aggression in some cases are concerning, with rates of bites or bite attempts rising as high as 20 per cent toward strangers and 30 per cent toward unfamiliar dogs," he added.

Most research into canine aggression up to now has focused on dog bites, but researchers said that data (pit bulls aren't at the top of that list either) is misleading. Most dog bites aren't reported, and because the bites of big dogs are more likely to get reported, they are generally viewed as more aggressive.

The study, published this week in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, involved researchers from the University of Pennsylvania questioning 6,000 dog owners. Breeds scoring low for aggression included Basset hounds, golden retrievers, labradors, Siberian huskies. The rottweiler, pit bull and Rhodesian ridgeback scored average or below average marks for hostility towards strangers. Greyhounds rated the most docile.

The study also showed that "temperament testing" isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Owners of 67 dogs temperament tested and subsequently adopted from one shelter were interviewed by telephone within 13 months of adoption. The interviews included questions about jumping up, house soiling, separation-related behavior, barking and aggressive behavior.

In evaluating dogs that passed the temperament test used by the shelter, it was found that 40.9% exhibited lunging, growling, snapping, and/or biting after adoption. When barking was included, this percentage rose to 71.2%.

"Our results indicated that there are certain types of aggressive tendencies (territorial, predatory, and intra-specific aggression) that are not reliably exhibited during temperament testing using this particular evaluation process," the researchers said The researchers said temperament tests often fail to identify certain types of aggression.

(Photos by Associated Press)

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