Source: Mail Online (Extract)
Posted: May 19, 2023

Scientists have studied aggression in some of the UK’s favourite dog breeds.

It’s not unheard of for Rottweilers to be branded as a ruthless breed of dog.

But pet owners may be surprised to know that English cocker spaniels are the most vicious of them all, with aggression almost twice as prevalent across these dogs than any others in the UK.

Experts at the Royal Veterinary College in London revealed that four per cent of cocker spaniels are aggressive – which triples to 12 per cent if they have a golden coat.

On the flip side, much larger – and perhaps scarier seeming – Rottweilers were much friendlier with just 7.46 per cent being hot-headed.

The results come after much talk of ‘cocker rage syndrome’ – a rare uncontrollable condition that causes dogs to suddenly flip out.

Dr Dan O’Neill, who led the project, told MailOnline: ‘Choosing between breeds is one of the decisions that owners worry about most when getting a new dog. The growing information from VetCompass across a range of breeds helps owners to make these choices based on good evidence.

‘Although not a hugely aggressive breed, owners should be aware of higher aggression in English Cocker Spaniels compared with some other typical breeds owned by families with children such as Labrador Retrievers.

‘Levels of aggression in English Cocker Spaniels were higher in male dogs and in dogs that were golden coloured so owners who are particularly concerned about aggression could choose female or non-golden animals.’

The English cocker spaniel research has come after a number of previous studies looking into the characteristics of other breeds such as Chihuahuas, Greyhounds and Labradors.

Currently, scientists claim that just 2.2 per cent of all dogs in the UK are aggressive.

But you may be surprised to know that size really doesn’t matter when it comes to temper, as Chihuahuas are almost as aggressive as German Shepherds.

Meanwhile, the UK favourite Pugs and Labradors were far less aggressive, with a prevalence of just 2.24 and 1.97 per cent respectively, according to The Telegraph.

Innocent-seeming West Highland Terriers and Greyhounds were similar too, with just two per cent of pups being hot-headed.

For the English cocker spaniel study, scientists looked at a pool of 2,318 dogs, drawing from veterinary records from all over the country.

Aggression ranked sixth in a list of disorders most commonly experienced by the breed, coming after others such as anal sac impaction and diarrhoea.

Almost 230 dogs experienced obesity which ranked third on the list, while the top disorder was periodontal disease, with a prevalence of 20 per cent.

This condition – commonly known as gum disease – usually comes about when bacteria and leftover food particles build up in a dog’s mouth.

Yet the pups were most likely to die from neoplasia – a condition that causes the uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells, which often come in the form of a tumour.

Experts also looked at the coat colour of more than 64 per cent of studied dogs to understand potential links between appearances and disorders.

While golden dogs were the most aggressive, brown ones were the least, with scientists finding that just 4.3 per cent were on the feisty side.

Meanwhile 6.5 per cent of red pups and 6.3 per cent of black dogs were seen to be aggressive.

Scientists claim these figures back previous research highlighting that solid-coloured dogs are far more likely to show signs of anger than bi-coloured and tri-coloured pooches.

Despite this, any cause for this association remains unclear, with some believing there is no true link at all.

Pet expert, Zita Wells, of pet care service Pet Patrol 365 said: ‘From my understanding coat colour is primarily determined by genetics and has no direct correlation with a dog’s temperament or behaviour.

‘Temperament in dogs is influenced by a combination of genetic factors, early socialisation experiences, training, and individual personality traits.

‘While certain breeds may exhibit certain general temperaments or tendencies, such as being more energetic, calm, or sociable, these traits are not solely determined by coat colour.’