Dog Breed Myths

Breed Profile


Alaskan Malamute

  • WEIGHT: 75 to 85 lbs
  • HEIGHT: 23 to 25 inches
  • COLOR(S): All white, gray, or black with white shading, mask or cap.
  • BREED GROUP: Working

Misunderstood Dog Breeds of Today

The Misunderstood Dogs of Today
by Jack Russell

Dogs greatly enrich our lives and provide us with constant companionship. Throughout history they have played important roles such as hunting partner, protector, and friend. Certain breeds, though, have been maligned through popular opinion and media bias. The breeds listed below are often misunderstood and misrepresented as being inherently aggressive or vicious. While any dog of any breed can display aggressive tendencies, the majority are loving and affectionate toward people when properly socialized and trained.

Rottweilers are medium-to-large size dogs that originated in Germany. They were developed to herd livestock and for pulling carts. Due to their intelligence and eagerness to work, they are often employed as police dogs, guard dogs, guide dogs for blind people, therapy dogs, and search and rescue dogs. Rottweilers are commonly listed on dangerous dog lists and deemed to be vicious by virtue of their breed alone. It is blatantly assumed that these dogs will attack other dogs and people when given the opportunity. This is simply false. Many times, the “aggressiveness” shown by a rottweiler is simply an expression of its natural guarding and protective instincts.

Introducing the Rottweiler: Breed characteristics of the rottweiler from the American Rottweiler Club.

Who Should Own a Rottweiler?: Information on the rottweiler breed.

The Rottweiler: History, temperament, health, and other information about rottweilers.

Western Rottweiler Owners: This breed group's homepage showcases the many activities that rottweilers excel at.

Activities With Your Rottweiler: This site from the Medallion Rottweiler Club explains the many activities that rottweilers can participate in.

Pit Bulls
The term pit bull is often used to refer to dogs of several breeds, most notably the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. These dogs are medium size and were produced by crossing bulldogs with other terriers. They were initially bred as catch dogs, hunting dogs, companion dogs, and for dog-on-dog combat. Because of their dog fighting history, it is often assumed that these dogs will just as readily attack people as they will other dogs. This is not the case. It is true that pit bull-type dogs are generally dog selective or dog aggressive, but the extent is relative to each individual dog. Some dogs and puppies will want to fight other dogs at an early age, while others may not become dog aggressive until they are older, if they do so at all. The biggest misconception is that animal aggression equates to human aggression. This is completely false. Pit bull-type dogs are very family oriented and loving to people, even strangers. Due to their people-friendly nature, they make terrible guard dogs.

The American Pit Bull Terrier: This site contains photos and facts showcasing the true nature of the American pit bull terrier.

The American Pit Bull Terrier: This page gives an introduction to the breed and history of these dogs.

The Staffordshire Terrier Club of America: (PDF) A description of the American Staffordshire Terrier, along with the breed standard and a brief history.

What is a "Real" Pit Bull?: This page addresses the age-old question of what a real pit bull is.

About the Stafford: This site from the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America provides information and history of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed.

German Shepherds
The German Shepherd Dog is a large size dog, from the AKC Herding Group, that originated in Germany. The dog's original role was that of herding sheep and protecting them from predators. Many German Shepherds today still perform that role, along with other more notable jobs. The most popular job today for this breed is that of canine police officer. They excel in this job due to their natural guarding instincts, strength, and their high intelligence. In order to do well in this profession, the dog must have adequate obedience training and discipline to properly channel its strength and instincts. Without these things, the dog may become a dangerous liability.

The History of the German Shepherd Dog: Breed history from the German Shepherd Dog Club of America.

German Shepherd Breed Profile: This page contains general breed information on the German Shepherd.

What is Schutzhund Training?: Information on the popular sport of Schutzhund, which was developed to assess desirable traits in the German Shepherd Dog.

The Different Types of German Shepherd Dog: This site discusses the differences between American and German lines in terms of show dogs and working dogs.

German Shepherd Dog Information: Origin and breed characteristics of the German Shepherd Dog.

The German Shepherd Herding Dog: This site highlights the history of the breed as a sheep herding dog and details the training methods used by a Master Shepherd in Germany.

Doberman Pinschers
The Doberman Pinscher was developed in Germany by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann. Mr. Dobermann was a local tax collector, and he set out to develop a breed that would protect him while he performed his collections. He sought to create a dog with the characteristics of strength, intelligence, loyalty, and fierceness. The fierceness and aggression that is often attributed to the Doberman is merely a demonstration of its superior guarding abilities and discernment. A properly trained and socialized Doberman Pinscher is a protective and loyal companion to all members of its family.

The Doberman – Versatility: This page from the Doberman Pinscher Club of America highlights the incredible versatility of this breed.

Demystifying Doberman History: Doberman history from the American Doberman Pinscher Educational Foundation.

Doberman Myths: An explanation of a few popular doberman myths from the Doberman Rescue of North Carolina.

The Doberman Pinscher: Breed information from the Doberman Pinscher Club of Indiana.

Doberman Pinscher Breed Standard: Detailed information on the breed standard and temperament of this great dog.

The Akita
The Akita dog comes from northern Japan. It was originally used in bear hunting. The Akita is known to be loyal and affectionate with its family, while being territorial over its property and somewhat reserved in the presence of strangers. They are often intolerant of other dogs, or they take on a dominant role. Their aloofness and dog intolerance/dominance can make it appear that these dogs are not to be trusted around other people and animals, but that is not usually the case. Properly socialized Akitas make great therapy dogs, and this breed excels at obedience trials, agility courses, tracking, Schutzhund, and weight pulling.

The Akita Standard: General breed characteristics from the Midwest Akita Rescue Society.

Akita Behavior and Temperament: An in-depth article covering the behavior & temperament of the Akita.

Hachiko: The true story of a loyal Akita dog from Japan.

History of the Japan Akita and American Akita Breeds: This site provides breed history of the Akita dog.

The Chihuahua is a small breed of dog that is named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua. This breed comes in a variety of coat colors, as well as different head shapes and coat lengths. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such dog as a Teacup Chihuahua, Toy Chihuahua, or even a Standard Chihuahua. These are merely terms created by breeders to help them sell puppies. This breed is described as being fiercely loyal to its owner, sometimes being overprotective, and extremely aggressive, around other people and animals. Proper socialization and training can help to diminish any aggressive behavior displayed toward other animals and people. Chihuahuas are often described as 'terrier-like,' meaning they are confident and self-reliant.

Breed Information – Chihuahua: A brief description of the Chihuahua breed.

The History of the Chihuahua: This page explains the history of this tiny breed.

Chihuahua Savvy:  (PDF) Everything you always wanted to know about Chihuahuas, all in one place.

Chihuahua Fanatics: This site discusses the AKC standard for Chihuahuas, along with other breed characteristics.

Is the Chihuahua Right for Me?: This site presents breed traits of the Chihuahua to help people decide whether this is the right type of dog for them and their family.

Terriers and Terrier Mixes
There are many different dog breeds which fall under the category of terrier. They range in size from a few pounds to over 60 pounds. All terrier dogs possess certain characteristics such as being fearless, wiry, and extremely active. Many terrier breeds were created in Ireland and Great Britain. Their purpose was to hunt rabbits, foxes, rats, and other animals. Behavior problems typical of the terriers, such as being destructive in the house, digging up the yard, going after small animals, and other behaviors are usually due to a misunderstanding of the dog's original purpose and its need for daily exercise and an energy outlet. When given proper training, exercise, and provided a 'job' to do, terriers become a much more easily-managed and loving companion.

Meet the Cairn Terrier: This page provides info on one of the many terrier breeds, the Cairn Terrier.

Terriers: This page from the Atlanta Terrier Club lists terrier breeds recognized by the AKC.

What is a Cesky Terrier?: Information about one of the newest AKC recognized terrier breeds.

The Terrier Temperament: This page discusses common attributes of terriers.

Jack Russell Terriers: Information about Jack Russell Terrier breed traits, history, and health.