THE BEASTS!

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Photo from Corp Athlete. Image of Pitt Bull by dubuc.
Chart attributed to FIGURE 1 from this abstract in Pediatrics Magazine.

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Can you imagine my horror when I read in the Toronto Star (May 5, section B, GTA) that Dachshunds are the fifth most likely breed of dog to bite children under seventeen years of age?Dachshunds? Daschies? Wiener dogs? There must be some mistake.

True, my own adorable little Dachshund is likely to snap at you if you try to remove a bone he's found in the gutter. But who wouldn't protest in such a situation? And, yes, he does at times lunge and snap at larger dogs. But these dogs are never harmed and seem completely un- threatened.

Now consider the risk for my ten inch tall tube of love: A preemptive strike against, by comparison, a Goliath sized dog. Some might call that bravery.

And yet the big boys rarely even show their teeth.That's because the giant dogs my little guy 'assualts' understand his psychology. In a word or two; the Napoleon complex. No, he's not ashamed of having a notoriously tiny member. He's merely a little embarrassed at being so short and that embarrassment escalates to humiliation when napoleonhorse.jpgconfronted by a German cousin like, say a one hundred pound Rottweiler.
The truth of the matter is that my Dachshund, now 25 pounds, is expressing what canine therapists call 'fear-aggression'. Not uncommon in dogs who have been attacked by other dogs as he was when he was a puppy – by a crazed Dalmatian who grabbed him its jaws and shook him violently. Ever since then its been strike first or die.

The Star published an interpretation of the above chart coming up with a so called risk factor of 1.4 for Dachshunds. Compare that to the highest, the German shepherd at 2.8 or (at the bottom of the Star's chart anyway ) the Rottweiler at a risk factor of .9.

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But wait, somethings is amiss here.Where is the Pitt bull on this list? A dog so notorious for attacking humans (Pitt bull lovers' often valid arguments aside) that here in Ontario they are no longer allowed to be bred or sold and the existing dogs must be muzzled.

Look closely at the study and you see will it was conducted in Austria. How many Pitt Bulls are there in Austria? Perhaps as many as there are English Bulldogs (docile creatures who the French have seen fit to eliminate from their breed registry because the deformation of their faces is considered inhumane. Have you seen a French Bulldog? Yikes!).

But the larger more relevant issue for my little guy is that Dachshunds are a German breed. Mine, in fact, is a standard-smooth-haired-red-German Dachshund. They're larger than what we normally see in North America but I assure you no more viscous. No, the point here is that I would surmise that Austria, just like it seems to have a shortage of Pitt Bulls, is positively saturated with Dachshunds.

My Dachshie has been around babies and children many times. He seems to like them – being extra cautious and occasionally trying to give them little lick-kisses. About the only aggressive attention he shows is to their soiled, discarded diapers.

The Toronto Star is, obviously, a Canadian newspaper. The journal "PEDIATRICS is owned and controlled by the American Academy of Pediatrics". So what is Austrian data doing being bandied about in a North American context?

The abstract is clearly authored by Austrians using data taken from Austria – and good data it may be – but the content suggest universal conclusions could be drawn from the research.

The Star babbles on about the restrictions on dogs being a hot political potato here and, you know, a lot of these dogs BITE. Although they site the Austrian study as source (albeit in extremely tiny print at the bottom of their chart), nowhere do they mention that things just might be a little different across the Atlantic and half of continental Europe in Austria.

That this chart just might not apply to Canada. Or Toronto. Or to my little guy.

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