Labradors are a family favourite. So can the reports be accurate?

I have just been alerted to a story in The Times that the breed of dog blamed for the most dog attack claims in the UK is the Labrador. This doesn’t surprise me at all, despite the fact that almost all the Labradors I have met have been big softies, without any hint of aggression. However, Labradors are so popular that there are a lot of them around.

Labradors, German shepherds, Jack Russells …

With the Labrador population so high, there is bound to be the odd one that is aggressive or overly protective. If it is only 0.05 per cent of the total UK Labrador population, that is still quite a few dogs. You are unlikely to be surprised that German shepherds and Staffordshire bull terriers are also frequently implicated in attacks, along with border collies. Another breed with a poor rating is the Jack Russell.

show bred cocker spaniel

Show-bred cockers are more likely to “see red”

Though I have often read about golden retrievers and golden cocker spaniels suffering from rage syndrome, it is something that I have never come across. 
It is genetic and apparently only affects solid-coloured cockers. As far as I am aware, it occurs more commonly in show-bred dogs, which might explain why I have no first-hand experience of it.

While rage syndrome might be genetic, many dogs become aggressive because of poor training or bad handling, not because of bad breeding. I’m surprised that more dogs don’t bite, as many put up with a huge amount of abuse without responding with so much as a growl.

I’ve only been bitten once, by a friend’s miniature schnauzer. It didn’t hurt me badly, but made me wary of the breed. Once, in rural Romania, a mongrel tried to attack me. Dogs, and wolves, rarely attack from the front but prefer to ambush from behind. I’d already spotted my would-be attacker creeping up behind me, ears flat and generally looking anything but friendly. I turned round and ran at it, scaring it off. I’m not sure what I would have done if it had stood its ground.