What Makes a Dog Vicious?

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Story Updated: Jan 13, 2014

Dog breed is a major risk factor for aggressive behavior? That's what researchers in the UK wanted to find out, so they surveyed about 4,000 dog owners.What they found? The majority of vicious behavior was exhibited in three specific instances.

The first when strangers entered the home. Nearly 7 percent of owners reported that their pet barked, lunged, growled or bit when someone they didn't know came to the house. Just over 5 percent reported aggression towards people when they were outside on walks. And about 3 percent said their dogs exhibited similar behaviors towards family members.

Certain breeds were associated with increased aggression but the researchers concluded that the association explained only a small amount of the overall difference between aggressive and non-aggressive dogs.

Other factors that affected whether a dog displayed aggressive behavior included whether the dog attended training classes, the type of training method used, origin of the dog, gender and neuter status and the age of the pet, as well as the owner.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the health news for you and your family.

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