Perceived Aggressive Tendencies and Functional Attitudes Towards
Various Breeds of Dogs
Elizabeth M. Briones & Philip H. Marshall
Department of Psychological Sciences, Texas Tech University
•Little empirical research has focused on the
perceived behavioral differences in breeds of
•Common misconceptions of dog behavior
create serious problems for specific breeds
as these perceptions lead to negative
stereotypes and decreased pet ownership
(Protopopova, Gilmour, Weiss, Shen, &
Wynne, 2012 ; Wright, Smith, Daniel, &
•n= 274 (comprised of 2 samples)
•age 18 -77 (M= 24.63, SD = 11.10)
MATERIALS & PROCEDURE
•30 dog breeds were selected for
•aggression ratings on a VAS from
•six 5-point Likert-type functional
attitudes questions (FA)
•A list of mean ratings for perceived
aggression was produced. The 5 highest and
5 lowest perceived aggressive breeds are
•The current study sought to add to the
existing literature by evaluating judgements
of aggression for specific breeds of dogs,
and functional attitudes towards those
•Our findings suggest as perceived aggression
for specific breeds increases, functional
attitudes about these breeds decrease.
•Specifically, a person’s level of interaction is
affected by the specific breed of dog, such
that people are less likely to interact with
breeds that are perceived to have more
Are “aggressive” breeds being accurately
represented or do stereotyping myths exist?
•Future studies would benefit from assessing
consistencies between actual measures of
aggression and perceptions of dog breed
Duffy, D., Hsu, Y., & Serpell, J. (2008). Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied
Animal Behaviour Science, 114(3-4), 441-460.
Podberscek, A. (1994). Dog on a tightrope: The position of the dog in British society as
influenced by press reports on dog attacks (1988 to 1992). Anthrozoös, 7(4), 232-241.
Protopopova, A., Gilmour, A., Weiss, R., Shen, J., & Wynne, C. (2012). The effects of
social training and other factors on adoption success of shelter dogs. Applied Animal
Behaviour Science, 142(1-2), 61-68. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2012.09.009
Wells , D., & Hepper, P. (2012). The personality of “aggressive” and “non-aggressive” dog
owners. Personality and Individual Differences, 53(6), 770-773.
Wright, J., Smith, A., Daniel, K., & Adkins, K. (2007). Dog breed stereotype and exposure
to negative behavior: Effects on perceptions of adoptability. Journal of Applied Animal
Welfare Science, 10(3), 255-265. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10888700701353956
Does this dog look friendly
•The limited research that has investigated
aggressive behaviors has found breed
inconsistencies with those that have
stereotypically been perceived as
“aggressive” (e.g. German Shepherd,
Rottweiler, American Pit Bull Terrier)
(Duffy, Hsu, & Serpell, 2008; Podberscek,
1994; Wells, & Hepper, 2012).
•Alongside measures of perceived aggression
for specific breeds, the current study sought
to explore peoples’ functional attitudes
related to such perceptions.
•To assess if these attitudes coincided with
perceptions of breeds of dogs, we asked
several practical questions about a person’s
intended behaviors toward certain breeds.
•Correlation analyses were performed for the
6 functional attitudes questions (FA) and
mean perceived aggression for all 30 breeds:
Bonferroni corrected alpha p = .008.
* < .05, ** < .008.
Breed images © the American Kennel Club (AKC), used with permission.
Presented at the Meetings of the Southwestern
Psychological Association, San Antonio, TX, 2017
Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org