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An unlikely candidate for 'world's meanest dog': The English cocker spaniel?

By jim Published: May 26, 2009

A floppy-eared, innocent-looking breed may be one of the world's most aggressive dogs, according to a new study that found English cocker spaniels tend to be more hostile than other breeds.

The findings, published in the latest Journal of Veterinary Behavior, confirm an earlier study conducted by a separate Spanish team from the University of Cordoba, which also found males and golden English cocker spaniels were more aggressive than females or those with black and mixed-color coats.

A high percentage of aggression problems and a tendency to display noninhibited aggression in the English cocker spaniel (ECS) have been suggested by many authors. The authors of this paper designed a retrospective study to analyze the aggressive behavior of 145 ECSs presented for aggression problems to the Animal Behavior Service at the Barcelona School of Veterinary Medicine's veterinary teaching hospital. Aggressive ECSs were compared with a population of dogs of the same breed presented for a behavior problem other than aggression and with a population of aggressive dogs of other breeds. The most common forms of aggression in the ECS were owner-directed aggression (67.6%), aggression toward unfamiliar people (18.4%), aggression toward unfamiliar dogs (10.1%), and aggression toward family dogs (3.3%).Owner-directed aggression was more common in the ECS than in other breeds, although in similar contexts. In the ECS, the golden coat color was more common in the aggressive dogs than in nonaggressive dogs. ECSs showed impulsive aggression more frequently than aggressive dogs of other breeds. The aim of the study was to analyze cases of aggressive ECSs seen in a referral practice.

More coverage at Discovery.com and L.A. Unleashed.

Discovery also has a list of dog breeds rated for feistiness.

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