I had a book I loved with every Dog known at that time with a page description of what to expect from that breed.
it had little picture icons of character traits. Like a growling dog with fur lifted if the dog was protective, or a dog house if the dog could be an outside dog. The book was published so people could make a good choice when choosing a pet, I think there are standard characteristics that come with each breed.
No I would not have a Pit Bull especially if I had children. It's bred in the animal to be unpredictable and vicious for reasons only the dog could understand. Some dogs are working dogs or hunting dogs, others are strictly pets, best to stay with a breed that fits your lifestyle and activity level.
My two golden doodles are very social and never shed, I do take them for walks every day which I sometimes don't want to do, however they really expect that walk. One also requires grooming at a minimum 3 times per year, the other could do with home brushing but I get her groomed with the other.
Karin...I am very sorry for the tragic mauling of your little dog. I can't even imagine the pain you went through...I LOVE my dogs. I love all dogs I guess. I am "on the fence "with the Pitbull controversy. On one hand, I think its mostly bad publicity and the fact that they do make great fighting dogs for people who are disgustingly inclined to train unsuspecting dogs for that purpose. On the other hand, I am uncomfortable when I see Pits in a family of babies/young children.
My ex boyfriend has a SWEET Pit bull and he always talks about getting another. (he has had several over the years and they have ALL been nice (even his MOM loves them) That dog MIGHT kill a rabbit but he would NOT hurt a human.
My daughter was a Vet Tech for a "Mobile" spay clinic and there were pretty much only 2 dogs that came through the clinic....Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas. NO ONE at the clinic was EVER bit by a pitbull but the CHIHUAHUAS get hysterical when you touch them and they will "fear bite" and those little tiny teeth...its ALWAYS a bad bite.
My daughter works at a "DOG DAY CARE" and was VICIOUSLY attacked by a BEAGLE!! Yes, a BEAGLE!! She ended up in the hospital for 5 days with a staph infection and when they went into her hand to operate, they found a little piece of food that went in there with the teeth.
Chief...I "LOVE" your story about that little dog...I think you WERE being adopted!! HOw cute!!
All dogs are capable of biting. Problem is in that case "size really does matter" You could get most dogs off or get away from them. A pit is a different story. My neighbor had one named Brandy. She was sweet as heck in the daytime. At night she was meaner than cooter brown. He asked me to feed here while he was on vacation and I politely said "nope"
i guess i have to add my 2 cents to all this. there isn't a simple answer to the whole dog bite question. yes, it is partly the breed. some breeds are more prone to bite than others due to the recurring breeding down the generations (in fact one test of pitbull pups has to do with temperament at a very very young age (even before they are eyes open) and some breeders recommend that the pups that display biting behavior at that age should be put down. there are individual differences within the breed. some will bite, some won't. but remember those that do have something like a 3500 pound/square inch force. thus they also get reported a heck of a lot more because the bites are more severe.
then there are the circumstances....one dog by itself may be fine. add another dog or two and suddenly they are NOT fine. they start showing pack behavior instead of just individual dog behavior. remember a pack society is all about status...the dogs are constantly jockeying for position trying to move up the heirarchy toward the alpha spot. the alpha human is THE alpha so when gramma or grampa goes inside leaving the grandchildren playing with the dogs, they can start getting aggressive to shift status...and the grandkids are part of the pack. or the grandkids can begin shrieking and running....that is prey behavior to the dogs and they may react to that by chasing and biting.
bottom line is dogs can be unpredictable especially if you aren't paying attention. dogs and their behavior are a product of both nature AND nurture and react to what is going on in their immediate environment. there aren't simple answers...only simple questions