Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dog attacks on horses: My eyes are opened

I wish all dog/horse encounters were like this...

But they aren't
If you google around even a little, you'll find article of dog attacks on horses. When I say attack, I don't mean dogs chasing, or dogs barking, or dogs herding. These are attacks where horses experience traumatic, and sometimes life-ending, injuries. I always thought serious dog attacks on horses were rare. I was wrong.

Pit bulls and Rottweilers
Many people will argue that pit bulls and Rottweilers can make wonderful pets. I can't understand why anyone would bring such a safety hazard into their home. However nice an individual dog might be, these animals are bred to be aggressive and tenacious. Statistically these breeds are by far the most likely of any breed to attack humans and large animals. Pit bulls and Rottweilers are responsible for over 70% of fatal attacks on humans (, and they are almost always the predator involved in sustained attacks on livestock.

My eyes are opened
I had always thought that horses -- as big and powerful as they are -- would kick the crap out of any dog that crossed them. Doing the research for this article shocked me into the reality of how vulnerable our horses (and cats, dogs, and children for that matter). There's no other way to say this -- when they attack they can inflict MASSIVE tissue damage. They can and do bring down large animals and kill them. Even more alarming, the "attack" dog breeds carry out sustained attacks, going after multiple animals in a herd. If you have the stomach for graphic photos of injuries, view the report on livestock attacks. Laws to protect our citizenry, property, and pets are badly needed.

The list that made itself
I wish I could say this list took time to compile, that I had to ferret out these articles. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. I found these articles with almost no effort at all, and there are many more I omitted for the sake of brevity. Articles that represent different kinds of attacks, victims, and unique situations are included here...
Dog Attacks on Livestock and Horses January May 2008 , report
Dog attacks horse, kicks woman Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online, Wisconsin
Dog attacks horses, fatally injures one, Baltimore Sun
Dog attacks horse, throws cop, San Francisco
Horse euthanized after dog attack, Livingston Community News (near Ann Arbor, MI)
Mastiff mix bites horse, drops it to the ground Eagle Tribune
Boulder County horse dies after dog attack , Boulder County Metro Pulse
Pit bull attacks horse on Burnaby trail, from
Pit bull attacks horse, rider,
Pit bull attacks horse in Maryland, Youtube video of Maryland TV report
Boy suffers facial scars after dogs attack pony while riding,
Dog attacks Miami police horse, Miami Herald
Dogs attack horses at Maple Valley sanctuary,
Seattle Times
Dogs and horses: Predators and prey, from The
Second miniature horse dies from dog attack, Houston Chronicle
Dog attacks on horses, Australia Weekly Online
Two police horses injured in dog attack in Essex (UK, Horse and Hound online)
Dog's caretaker charged in attack on horse and rider Cleveland Plain Dealer
Dogs attack horses on Washington farm Seattle Times
Residents urge tougher dog laws after 2 horses killed Lubbock Online
Pit bull kills horse
Dog attack leaves horse with severe injuries Daily Echo
Horse injured in dog attack News Post Leader (Blyth, Northumberland , UK)
Vicious dog attack leaves Monty hurt
Joey Porter's dogs gets loose, kills miniature horse (Pittsburgh, PA)
Dog Attacks Horse, (North Carolina)
More than 200 dogs attacks on livestock in the UK ,
Horse goes lame after dog attack on Epsom Downs (From Surrey Comet)
Worthing horse riders terrified after dog attack, The Argus
Dog unleashes vicious attack on horse in South Jersey

More (contribution from reader)

this story is no longer available at the original news site:


  1. I kind of wish this wasn't true. I have a pit bull and unfortunately, he has attacked me several times. I just love him too much to put him to sleep. But you have to remember, some dogs only attack when provoked. I know my dog bites after he goes to the vets && get's a shot. He's drowsy- therefore his predator instincts kick in and he attacks. But I would NEVER let my dog around a horse, goodness only knows what he would do to the poor pony.

  2. I believe that a dog is a a reflection of his owner and these types of breeds can become a weapon in irresponsible person's much as I love a nice pitbull or a rotie (they can be excellent family pets gentle with children) they should be always monitored, safe fencing is a must, they should never be allowed to roam on their own - especialy in a pack...these dog-horse-encouter stories are terrifying indeed...

  3. I second Petra's point-- many common dog breeds were bred for fighting, including the sharpie, akita, and many mastiffs. Furthermore, rottweilers *were not* bred for any sort of fighting or even guarding activities; they are/were draft and hunting dogs! Both pitbulls and rotties score extremely well on aggression tests; the 70% figure you cite is a reflection of both breeds' status as "fad" breeds, which generally end up in the hands of people who shouldn't have dogs in the first place!

    A thought experiment: I'm sure a relatively very high percentage of equine-related injuries occur on thoroughbreds, not because of any innate qualities of the breed that makes them dangerous, but because they are both common and frequently retrained from racing careers, leading to a higher incidence of accidents than in, say, Akhal-tekes. Shall we ban the breed? Of course not! Shall we make irresponsible comments about how we can never understand why someone would want one? Well, we could, but we'd just come off as moderately paranoid and highly ill-informed. To sum it up: a common breed has more incidents of bites than an uncommon one, and there is no factor that sets pit bulls (arguably not a distinct breed in the first place) apart from any other breed of its type besides is popularity and reputation. Arguing that any particular breed is inherently dangerous is ignorant and fails to address the problem entirely.

    Forgive my somewhat ticked-off tone, but breed-specific stereotyping and legislation really gets under my skin. If you're at all interested, please check out a site like Do your research! Dog attacks on horses are a serious issue for us horsepeople, so let's try to be fair and sensible when addressing the problem. Breeds of dog don’t post a threat—if I were you, I’d address the problem of feral and loose dogs! There is where you’re going to find a threat to your horses.

  4. 2 1/2 years ago the neighbor's lab x coonhound cross dogs attacked an 8 day old foal of mine. When I rushed in to drive them away, one scooted off but the other actually faced up to me and snarled at me. I threw everything I had in my hands at him before he turned and left - good thing, as I was down to a pocketknife and an asthma inhaler! The foal escaped with scratches but is terrified of dogs still. The neighbors were given a citation and the dogs labeled potentially dangerous. They still have them and I'm still nervous about them. We do have some pretty good legal protections here, thank goodness!

  5. I'm really surprised that you'd stereotype dogs this way. Imagine if you read an article about how dangerous horses are, even though you'd always heard that a pony was a great pet for a kid. Or if you read somebody badmouthing OTTBs as all crazy and unrideable!

    Dogs running in packs are a terrible menace. I'd never let my Labrador roam unsupervised, and I wouldn't be angry at a rancher for shooting her if she was hassling his stock. If I had land and my horse at home, and a pack of dogs started coming around, I'd definitely SSS.

    The danger comes from the pack mentality. One dog is unlikely to start hassling stock and learn to kill or maim all by itself. But a pack of dogs goes feral pretty quick, and it's a terrible habit that can't be unlearned. And it's any breed at all, except maybe the toy dogs who just don't have the size and jaw strength to play the "game" with the big dogs. Again, compare it to horses - would you sell your horses and advocate against them if a friend got kicked in the head by a "playful" stallion? Of course not.

    With that said, the pit bull statistics are BS. People tend to misidentify the dog that bit them or their stock as a pit bull, regardless of its actual breeding, because everybody knows pits are vicious. It's a really unfair stereotype of what is often a really nice breed. Me personally? I'm too practical to own one - I don't want the liability risk or cost. But I'm always glad to meet a well-behaved pit in public.

  6. Well, having owned both a Rottweiler (herding breed) and pit bull as well as a horse, I'd say that it's the owner, not the dog in 99.9% of the cases of dog bites on humans or animals beside dogs(those .1% cases have medical causes).

    If you train a horse badly, you know it will be a problem. If you train a dog badly or don't neuter/spay it, you should know the same. (Thinking back on yesterday's post, how many of those stallions would have been okay to handle had they been gelded?)

    That said, people who leave dogs in rural areas off-leash and roaming contribute to a lot of problems. I remember being chased by latch-key dogs out riding Pepper around Foxton. That was always terrifying!

    We used to take our dogs with us when we'd visit friends with a farm a few hours east of here. While their own dogs mildly harassed their own horses when we stumbled on the field after a long walk in the woods, ours immediately responded to the recall and spent the rest of the walk on leash. Better to be safe and if only all dog owners felt the same way!

    1. It's interesting to note that far more people are killed each year by horses than by pit bulls. One is tempted to say "I can't understand why one would bring such a safety hazard into their lives."

      Dogsbite is a highly biases site. It passes itself off as being about dog bites in general but it is an anti pit bull website.

  7. Years ago my mare was attacked by two un-leashed, un-trained, un-vaccinated, un-licensed pits on a public trail. The owner shouted at his dogs but they ignored him. Finally, my mare dumped her rider (not me) and ran for home. The dogs pursued, tearing her flanks and vulva. She stomped them and fled.

    A friend working at another vet office reported that one of the dogs died the next day (internal injuries), owner having declined to pay for treatment.

    Local Animal Control did NOTHING. My mare healed physically, but it took months of work with my own dogs (a pit, a rottweiler, and two shelties) to get her over the fear.

    My current mare HATES dogs and will chase and stomp them without provocation. We built a dog-proof fence around her pasture to protect the neighbors' dogs as much as to protect the mares.

    In my experience, a horse CAN do a lot of damage to a dog, but most won't (our other mare likes dogs, and is very gentle with them).

    If you ever want to borrow a dog-stomper, let me know.

    1. Your current mare will chase and stomp dogs without provocation. How is that not equally as bad as a dog attacking without provocation?

      Many more people are killed by horses each year than by dogs....

  8. ALL large dogs can be dangerous.

    Breed "profiling" does not solve the problem of careless owners. Legislation that would render owners responsible for their pets actions, like good non-breed specific dangerous dog laws, would be the best protection.

    Breed bans play to our fears like racism. Think about all the racial prejudice faced by people of Middle Eastern Descent after 9/11. Unless you support that too...

  9. My conclusions are based on personal experience with pit bulls (a family members has owned several, a few friends have them) and statistics from the CDC and research reported in medical journals. You seldom come across stats that are this compelling -- 2/3 to 3/4 dog bite related fatalities relating to specific breeds.

    The argument that only badly raised dogs are aggressive does not carry weight with me. I know personally a woman hospitalized when her daughter's pit bull attacked her in her own home. The dog was handled responsibly from puppyhood.

    If you think the stats are bull, please say why, or (IMHO) you start to sound like smokers who don't want to believe tobacco causes cancer.

    Can individuals within a breed be nice? Sure. Will badly handled dogs be more likely to show aggression than those raised responsibly? Sure. But in the end I don't really care about this dog or that dog, I'm interested in probability across all dogs, which is the most likely to take down my horse, or chase my cat, or attack my neighbor's kids. I think the stats are pretty hard to argue.

  10. The Pit Bull Problem is that very few people know what a pit bull IS. And if it's got a "bully" head or "bully" markings, then people will retroactively identify it as a Dangerous Pit Bull after it's bitten someone.

    Try this quiz:

    I'll look deeper if you want, but I've seen numerous instances where the media reports a dog attack as being by a "pit bull" originally, when later it is very quietly revealed that the dog isn't a pit at all.

  11. I'm glad I'm not the only one who got ticked at the dog comment.

    Statistics can be made for just about anything. (How long did tobacco companies get away with saying there was no link to cancer, if you want to use your smoking statistics?) If you don't understand that, then you don't understand statistics.

    Many, many people buy pits FOR their reputation and TRAIN them to be aggressive and nasty. Gee, I wonder if that tips the information at all? OF COURSE they are going to be OVERWHELMINGLY higher then ANY other dog. If people who wanted a nasty guard dog started buying a different breed of dog, you'd watch the scales and your precious stats change in months.

    For every story you have about a pit attacking someone, people will tell you thousands of stories of them growing up with families and being great dogs. I know of many myself.

    Ill-informed indeed.

  12. I can speak on this topic with sad experience. My good young gelding was attacked in a public park by a leashed pit bull. The attack lasted 20 minutes, covered a mile and was terminated by direct Park Ranger action. The owners of the dog did nothing to help us and have not paid a cent for my vet bills, injuries, or losses.
    Any time there is negative press on pit bulls the pit advocates turn up with that nonsense about "nobody can identify a pit bull", "it wasn't a pit bull","any dog can bite", "it's all in how you raise them", "my dog is the sweetest dog in the world", "my dog must have been provoked". The only group of dog owners that consistantly have trouble identifying pit bulls is pit bull.
    Pit bulls have been bred over many, many generations, to participate in something so violent that it is now a felony is all 50 states. There is no shock when a border collie herds, or when a bird dog points. Please give the public credit enough to notice when a dog bred to kill does so. My life was changed by the attack. My horse did live but he will never be the same. Pit bull advocates need to stop blaming the victim and the media, and take ownership of the problem that they have created. Please value the lives of people peacefully going on about their business, please value the lives of our livestock and pets, the lives of our children and grandparents.
    Breed specific legislation is the voice of the public saying "we have had enough, if you can't control these animals the law will have to do it."

  13. Bluesmom, Amen. So sorry to hear of your experience.

  14. I'm going to come to the defense of Rotties here. I speak from experience. My husband's Rottweiler was one of the most well mannered and bred dogs I have ever known. In his 14 years he was even tempered, dependable and a fine example of a family dog. My Jack Russell terrier was nastier by nature than this big dog on his worst day.

    My husband is very knowledgeable about the breed and before he bought the dog, he researched pedigrees and talked to professional breeders of show quality dogs. He looked for a Rott who was bred for generations to have the dependable temperament desired. Unfortunately, it would seem my husband is in the minority in how he researches a dog before bringing it into the family.

    Maybe you didn't know Rotties are excellent therapy dogs and are bred specifically to have the temper compatible with the job. Google "Therapy Dogs" and find out more. The children's story "Good Dog Carl" is not just a child's fantasy tale. It's based on the author's real experiences with Rotties.

    It's unfortunate that this breed has been embraced by those who need a strong, tough looking dog to boost their self-esteem and through reckless breeding have brought out some of the worst and weakest traits and exploited them.

    It all comes down to the origins of the breed and what has become of it across generations. Read the following links regarding the history of both Pits and Rotties and you might be surprised.

    I don't expect my support to change anyone's view of this breed. I support good, intelligent handling and breeding of any dog breed and am very prejudiced against careless, ill-intentioned handling and breeding of any dog breed.

    Other posters have made valid points. I am not fond of regulations that tell me I can't own a dog breed I love because statistics show the breed can be dangerous. I wouldn't mind if potential owners of these breeds were required to go to classes to be educated about the breed and dogs of those breeds were subjected to testing to prove their quality before allowing them to pass on their genetics through breeding. The Germans do this to protect the standards of the Rottweiler breed. If you love the breed, then this is how you preserve it.

  15. I think you can chock most of those instances up to moronic people not controlling their dogs. Not all, but most.

    My grandma grew up on a farm and she told me about a stray dog (some kind of terrier mix) that her father took in. The dog got into their chicken coop and killed every one of their chickens. My grandma was up until 3:00 in the morning de-feathering and dressing chickens. Her dad shot the dog, and that was the end of it. I think some dogs just have a strong prey drive and they do things like that just because it's in their nature. It's the owner's obligation to know if their dog is like that and to manage that dog responsibly.

  16. I just thought the video was sweet!

  17. I am going to speak against the comments you made referring to Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. These dogs were BRED to be aggressive, yes. They were bred to serve with the military and to guard buildings such as the butchers meat shop and whatnot. They were often found carrying the butcher's money purse so that no one would touch it.

    HOWEVER, the pekingese and pug type dogs were bred to be lap dogs - quite literally. They were bred to keep people warm. Nowadays you see them excel in agility and even tracking. I would love to point out that even though an animal is BRED for something, it doesn't necessarily mean it will fall in that category.

    Aggressive dogs are the result of mistreatment of the owners. There is NO such thing as a bad or aggressive dog; just bad owner's.

    I am not defending dogs around horses. I am simply defending the breeds you have seemed to given such an awful reputation. Pit bulls are over-bred and bred within their own lines, making them demented and dangerous.

    Instead of thinking that "Oh pitbulls and rotties are dangerous" think, ALL dogs are dangerous. I have seen Golden Retreivers get snappy with horses and they are suppoesed to be the world's greatest pet for the family. Truth is, NO dog is. Any dog can throw the breed's stereo-typical temperment out the window.

    If any dog is not raised properly from puppy-hood, anything can go wrong. Ultimately, it is the owners fault and responsibility for the animal. I am sorry to hear your family owned some nasty dogs, but they probably did something wrong. It is important with bull-headed breeds (Loads of herding dogs fall into this category, BTW) to be trained properly by a professional.

    I really wish you didn't stereo-type these two breeds because though there be some bullcrap statistics, there ARE loving and caring Pit Bulls and Rottweilers out there and my neighbor is the proud owner of such dogs. My cousin has a Lab and she is the most vicious thing ever - she's bitten her a few times already.

    As for horror stories about Pit Bulls, of COURSE anti-pitbull groups want you to hear those. They NEVER tell you about the GOOD pitbulls. They want you to hear the most god awful stories instead of hearing all of it. I realize some members here have had their fair share of woes with dogs, but those dogs were improperly trained.

    As for the first poster who "loves her dog too much to put him to sleep", you aren't doing anyone any favors, dear. That dog is a LOADED canon and it's people like you who have dogs that hurt other people and ruin other people's lives.

  18. I am pretty sure that there is a confounding variable in the correlation between attacks and Pit Bull (Bullie Breeds) and this is their owners and bad breeders. The popularity of such dogs as of late is also going to skew the statistics as well as the fact that these large animals are often kept out doors and when they do attack it is reported with much more regularity than an attack from a smaller breed or an indoor dog (who would only have the chance to be aggressive to friends and family members).

    If blogs posts had a "dislike" button, I'm afraid I would have to dislike this one Stacey :( The claims made are unfair and although many statistic have been sighted, I certainly don't believe the research is anything close to unbaised, or from a reliable data set... sorry.

  19. Hi Rachel,

    THe first point you make would only be true if 77% of dogs owned as pets were the breeds in question. That would account for them being overrepresented in the stats. But while the breed is experiencing growth in popularity it is NOWHERE NEAR this number.

    The point about indoor vs. outdoor I'm not sure I understand, but 1/2 of the attacks reported take place off the owner's property. Most of the reports I am guessing are gathered from hospital stats. I suppose you might call that "confounding" except that it speaks to the amount of damage done. When a collie or spaniel bites it tends to be once and done, a few puncture holes that may not rise to the level of a hospital or dr. visit. When a pit bull or similar breed attacks, it is much more likely to cause substantive tissue damage requiring a hospital or doctor visit, which to mind mind is not a confounding factor but supporting evidence of how these dogs are more dangerous.

    Someone find me articles or stats or other evidence of collie or spaniel or beagle attacks that cause the kind of damage/injury that we see with pit bulls.

    It's conformation (size, muscle, jaw strength and structure), it's breeding, it's a lot of things, but the bottom line is the dogs are a loaded weapon and the attacks are happening. It pains me to see people go to such lengths to try to explain it away, or suggest "safe fencing." As if a fence is impermeable or no one has ever left a gate open or a dog slip through the door!

  20. Stacey,

    You are right that "pit bulls" are physically well-built to cause damage with their bite. Of course so are German shepherds. Many of the breeds that we call pit bulls were not bred to be vicious or to fight other dogs -- historically pit bulls have been good family dogs. Remember the dog in Little Rascals? He was a super-cute pit bull: calm, laid-back, good with children, and low-energy. Those are pretty desirable traits.

    I personally will never get a pit bull, although I know several very good ones, because of the breed bans. I don't want to have a dog that, if I have to move because of a job or another reason, will need to be put down. Prince George's County, MD, for example, bans the breed and does not accept them in their shelters, which means they put some down and send some out to other counties. How does that solve the problem?

    I also have some friends who had a rescue cocker spaniel, that they put down after he bit their niece. He had "cocker rage", which I had never heard of, until then. Dogs are animals, just like horses, and can be dangerous. But banning breeds? I strongly disagree with that.

  21. Hi Jessica,

    I take a view that I assume is libertarian, where your right to throw your fist stops where my face begins :-). I really don't care what people do in their private lives, but when it starts interfering with my life, health, and property I'm willing to entertain regulating ownership of exotic breeds or certain dog breeds. Banning? I don't know. Personally I'd be more inclined to just REALLY crack down on owners of dogs that attack or cause property damage. Jail time is fine with me.

  22. Well, I sort of agree with that. I don't understand owners who keep a dog after it has bitten (anyone, person or horse) once. If I had a dog that bit, I would put it down immediately, no matter how much I loved him. And I generally am in favor of "dangerous dog" legislation, which increases owner liability for a dangerous dog. But this is very different from a breed ban.

    Also, I wonder about these anecdotes of dogs attacking horses or people. The owner is liable, isn't he? This may not equate to jail time, but a lawsuit compelling medical/veterinary fees would harass the owner.

  23. Take a look at the Cleveland Plain Dealer report, the victim of this attack contacted me privately. Her horse was attacked and wounded (26 stitches to close). The horse has never been the same and the rider experienced what sounds to me like post-traumatic shock. The owner faced a minor misdemeanor, and was downright casual about what happened. He claimed that the animal was injured fleeing from the dog, not due to a bite. Whether deception or denial, the lack of consequences for the assault is just outrageous.

  24. We once had two large dogs that appeared out of nowhere and savagely attacked all dogs. We could not tell what breed mix they were. They were fast and cunning. They would appear about every three days and only attacked other dogs. They roamed all over the valley. We didn't have dogs, but if they appeared in the driveway we shot them with a pellet gun. We figured it was just a meete rof time before they started on the livestock. The next door neighbor had two racehorses and two broodmares. We had horses, a pony and lots of cats. Another neighbor had two old dogs, one of which was injured so badly it was put down. These intermittent visits went on for almost two weeks. One day when the dogs reappeared and my husband drove the truck, my brother jumped in the back with a rifle, chased the dogs up the road and shot them. He didn't like to shoot animals, but adrenalin was high and he killed them with a bullet each.

  25. Jessica... and all actually,

    While I will not comment in favor of either side (due to having both factual as well as ignorantly impassioned arguments for both sides), I will note that banning is often a joke. I say this for the mere fact that I live in Prince George's County, In an Apartment Complex that also claims to ban Pits... Does that curb the amount of times I see groups of teens walking around the complex In broad daylight with Pit Bulls in tow? Not in the least.

    And trust me... I know what a Pit Pup looks like... Because I have met and grown adoration for two of my friends' dogs, but also because I want to know what to steer clear of if I ever see it loose around the apartments. Although in retrospect, I would probably not approach any loose dog without serious caution!

  26. Here is your proof:
    ^ Two labs and a Boxer attacked and killed a horse.
    ^A small dog bite to a horse.
    ^ Donkey was attacked by Shepherds.

    I can find more if you like.

  27. My husband was bitten by a visiting friend's dog at the beginning of September. He had deep puncture wounds on his thumb that have healed, but he still has pain in the spot. Luckily, the dog was little, so the bite was small. I can't imagine what the wounds would have looked like if the dog had been bigger than 8 pounds. The attack was entirely unprovoked, so there was nothing my husband could have done to escape it.

    Dogs can be dangerous, and if you combine aggression with size, the danger increases. I'm so incredibly weary of the pit bull/rottweiler apologists who come storming out every single time someone dares speak up about "their" breed. Enough already.

    Statistics DO bear out the fact that pit bulls and rotties are more likely to attack and cause significant damage. I don't care if that's because of bad breeding or bad handling. It's a statistical fact.

    If you want to make a difference, stop shouting at those of us who distrust your favorite dog breed and get out there and work alongside legislators to help curb those people who are undermining the breeds' reputation. Get the breeds out of the hands of dog fighters and animal abusers and other people who have perverted what you see as the breeds' natural positive attributes. Put your money where your mouth is, and I'll listen. Shout at me about how it's prejudice and stereotyping and unfair, and I'll just write your concerns off.

  28. Sure Cathryn, find as many as are on my blog, and then we'll talk...

  29. topic. Had a lunch debate with co-worker on subject. He claims dog hunting instincts have been bred out with domestication. Scary to think there are people such as that out there. We had a pup (lab X rotttie) given to my son. He was well sociallized, raised with farm animals and horses. Doing chores one day he rushed past me and went for our ponies throat. No warning, no sound. Her shetland winter hair and my grabbing the pups (8 months old) collar stopped her from more than superficial wounds. Yes, he was put down. At my yard there is a firm rule..NO dogs. I have my own two, however there are too many owners who refuse to see dogs for what they are, hunters and carnivores. But wow...what a volatile topic you opened here Stacey...good job!

  30. I applaud this post Stacy, but I knew you would stir up a lot of defensive comments. Hell hath no fury like a Pitt owner scorned! Reasoning with them in a waste of breath.
    It really doesn't matter if you can 'Identify the Pitt' because all of the bully breeds are related anyway, and often interbred for fighting.
    I do agree there are no bad dogs, but there are dangerous ones. I don't blame the dog for following the instinct that has been bred into them. Every dog has a trigger. What happens when that trigger is pulled depends on the breed. For most it means a nip, or chasing a cat, or ripping up a rug, barking, herding, etc. For a breed bred to bite and hold on, rip and kill, such as Pitts, etc, that is what they do. No amount of socializing and training can stop this. A dog can be fine for years, then snap and go for a person, or animal.
    I have had experience with both a Staffie and a Rottie snapping like this. Both were dogs that were well socialized, trained, the Rott was a therapy dog! The Staffie went for my then 6 year old son, the Rott went for her own owner. The Staffie owner made excuses, so we no longer are friends. The Rott owner put her dog down.

  31. I'm not usually one to invite controversy. Making up for lost time!

  32. I found something else that rather perplexed me in your original post. You spoke of "Why would anyone bring a safety hazard into their home?" All dogs are safety hazards in one form or another. Pit Bulls are a famous breed with Gangs and violent people because Pit Bulls are prized for their jaws, not their temperament. My friend personally owns two Pit Bulls, Deogi and Rocket. Both of which were subjected to violent pasts but both came out changed dogs in the end. My friend takes precautionary steps with them, as they can easily kill their cats and keeps everyone safe. They KNOW what they are dealing with and they KNOW that these dogs have had emotional and mental trauma in their lives.

    I believe it's hypocritical to say that "all pit bulls and rottweilers are physcos and should never be around people or horses." If someone came up to you and said "Oh, all OTTBs are crazy, hot headed killers," then you would easily be defending them.

    However,yes pit bulls are dangerous like guns are dangerous. If they are put in the wrong hands and not cared for like they should be then bad things may happen...

    Check out this site:

  33. Horses are prey animals, not predators, so the thoroughbred analogy is a stretch IMHO. Most are non-aggressive and any injury they cause tends to be from a flight reaction. Horses do not attack people, usually; horse-riding is inherently risky (as many barn signs point out); horses are not usually just pets, they do a job; the general public is not exposed to horses they way they are to other pets (dogs, cats) in everyday life.

    That said, if a recreational trail rider came to me for advice on what breed of horse to buy, I would NOT recommend at TB as a breed. They tend to be spookier, hotter, more sensitive. As a group, they are more suited to competitive disciplines than to recreational riding.

    My own TB has a spook and at age 20 he bucked someone off and put them in the hospital. My best friend has a TB that she herself describes as a lunatic at times. Don't be so confident that everyone would follow your logic if it was applied to a breed they love (and I do love thoroughbreds).

  34. My point is proven, then. I used the TB is a example. I love all breeds of horses, as I do dogs. I know you love TBs, and it's usually the first breed that pops into my head, which is why I used it.

    You may, however, want to go look at your previous post about "Bad TB's". You named plenty who have attacked handlers or other horses. Don't tell me this is flight reaction. These horses are HOT and fresh. I understand that. And usually, people on the track don't care about ground manners and this is the result of it. Much like the Pit Bull - or any breed for that matter - people skip steps or just forget to do the steps altogether. Pit Bulls, and more 'bull headed' breeds, should be intended for more advanced dog people. It's NOT a first time dog, much like a TB. With proper care and management, Pit Bulls and TB's can lead a very fun filled life and be in a positive environment.

    With Pit Bulls (much like you described you would never offer an OTTB to a trail rider) people who mishandle the breed are the ones who allow this animal to get such a bad reputation. It is the inexperienced people who allow dogs of ANY breed, to become destructive.

    The problem with dog breeds with this day and age, like you pointed out, is that they DO NOT have jobs. Some select few have owners who actually care to stimulate their instincts with agility, tracking, etc.

    I do respect your opinion, Stacey. And I do love a good debate (Hehe). I can understand why some people may be terrified of the breed or dislike it from some situations, but please do not put a label on these breeds of dogs. Any dog can be dangerous given the chance. I agree with pursuing legal terms with owners who mishandle and mistreat ANY breed of dog, however, and i think this world would be a better place without the moronic and careless owners. Often people who buy Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Mastiffs, etc because they want a "scary looking dog" or a dog that will "guard them" but don't take the time to actually TRAIN them to be a guard dog. They let the dog rule them until they [dog] spin out of control.

  35. A handful of outlier testosterone-laden stallions among hundreds of thousands of thoroughbreds is not a good case. The thoroughbred example DISproves your point, as I responded that far from defending the breed I would not recommend them. You claimed I would defend a breed I like. Quite the contrary.

    I don't mind a good debate and I know we're unlikely to change each other's mind. As they say, a good lather is half the shave!

  36. I have to add something even though it's probably been said. I love your blog, but was very disturbed by this post as it smacks of breed-specific legislation. While these breeds are definitely not for everyone, banning them would not solve the problems you're highlighting. Instead of creating an eventually, never-ending list of "banned" breeds, we need to get tough on irresponsible dog owners. I support such legislation with my dollars to the AKC and their balanced legislative efforts.
    I have absolutely zero tolerance for people who do not safely and humanely confine their dogs at home or keep them on a leash, even if these dogs are supposedly not a "problem". I've had my dog viciously attacked on a walk in the neighborhood and this dog was a large mixed breed of none of the so-called "dangerous" breeds. How is breed-specific legislation going to help me there? I can't imagine how horrifying it would be to experience a dog attack on horseback.

  37. Wow! This is obviously a hot topic. My two cents worth: I'm the owner of a Neapolitan mastiff, a breed often referred to as a dangerous dog. I do not in ANY WAY support breed specific legislation for mastiffs, pits, or any other breed. My dog is a sweet, steady, lovable therapy dog. HOWEVER, as the owner of a dog that was bred to be massive, strong-jawed, and tenacious, it is my responsibility to NEVER forget for a moment that he could kill someone and to never put him in situations that might challenge his nature. I think breeds like this can be great dogs, but it is important to remember that a dog is not just a dog - a Labrador does not think or react in the same way as a Mastiff and the owner HAS to be knowledgable and educated enough to manage different breeds appropriately. My opinion is that this is why there are so many incidences of attacks by these breeds. Irresponsible people get them for irresponsible reasons and don't know how to train or handle them. As they become known for aggression, less savory people continue to be attracted to them and the cycle continues.
    Anyway, I think the important thing to remember is that the take home message of this post, to me, is to have an awareness of the possibility of attack. I also thought that if a dog attacked my horse and I, she could kick it, outrun it, whatever. No big deal. But now I'm thinking that when I go trail riding, I need to be prepared for a worst case scenario. Thank you for posting things and inspiring thought about this horrible topic.

  38. Excellent post, Stacey.

    I find aggressive dog discussions very frustrating. It always surprises me when horse people insist that it is the owner not the dog. Yes, obviously owners are at fault to some degree BUT why are people so reluctant to ascribe negative behaviour issues to breeding.

    As horse people we seem quite comfortable with accepting that behaviour and temperament can be attributed to genetics. How many times have you seen people on horse bulletin boards asking for advice on choosing a stallion to produce a foal with "amateur friendly" temperament.

    I have had three horses from the same QH line. All three have had solid, sensible minds. Two of them were broodmares from out west with very limited human socialization. Both of them switched over to being riding horses without batting an eye. The third filly was raised by me and the family who owns her now have nothing but praise for her nonchalant temperament. I can tell you she was like that from the time she hit the ground and her manageability had absolutely nothing to do with me as I was a complete neophyte when it came to handling young stock.

    I have had dogs all my life and I can state that terriers have a strong tendency to stubbornness, herding dogs can be neurotic if mishandled during training and there are still certain lines of Labradors who are complete family friendly couch potatoes until it comes time to work and then they can show almost magical retrieving talent. I doubt that anyone is going to jump down my throat for making such comments.

    Why is it so hard then, for people to accept that certain dog breeds have a tendency towards aggression, and because of their breeding have the physical conformation to do considerable damage if they do attack?

    Like many performance horses, there are some dogs that are best left to trained professionls or to very aware and talented owners.

    1. This is exactly it. Being in the veterinary profession, we've seen many clueless, first time dog owners caught up in the hip, rescue a pitt-bull or bully breed dog for your first dog. Breeds are breeds and the word means something. My Maltese-Poodle mix doesn't care about a tennis ball. My Golden Retriever refuses food when a human carrying a shotgun appears. My Bullmastiff was highly territorial. My Terrier mix dug up and killed mice. My pointer would point at songbirds on the fence. A greyhound will pursue and kill hares. We are all willing to accept that these breeds do these things. Friends that do Schutzhund do not seek out Labrador, they seek out Shepherds, Malinois, and Rottweilers. If we are all willing to admit the type and breed predilections of all the non-Pitt Bulls out there, why can we not accept the inherent traits and qualities of Pitt Bulls. That's actually the only way to solve the problem, we have to name it, learn about it, and learn to appropriately handle it.

  39. Anon (dec 11th),
    Brilliantly put.

  40. I find it a bit hypocrytical that you have the post below about horrible stallion behavior. Haha, isnt it funny??? Look that one took a finger. Oooh you bad stallion. Lets bred them some more. And then you post this one, pits/rotts are evil and the bane of our existance. Please.

    Poor stallion behavior if continually allowed is BEHAVIORAL...much like dogs that are aggressive...ITS BEHAVIORAL. Very little of aggression is gentic, 8% of temperment is passed on from the parents.

    This is my masters degree in animal behavior speaking from an ACCREDITED univeristy, not an online school.

  41. Unlike the dogs, these stallions are hardly a public nuisance -- the people who work with them are experienced handlers, and horses are inherently risky.

    But it's hard to argue with someone from a masters degree from not-an-online school, I genuflect in your direction ;-)

  42. And when I think the FOTD blogger deals with this acrimonious banter on a daily basis!

    Now, back to Harv and Riley stories...

  43. Oh Stacey, good post and good discussion. I fear a vicious dog attack more than a mountain lion. And there are statistics to justify the breed generalizations.

  44. I've had dogs chase us on the trail and my horse kick a dog. Surprisingly the dog owners do not want to take responsibility for their animals even after their dogs had chased us. I am very aggressive toward owners of dogs who have their animals off leash as a result. I do not trust unfamiliar loose dogs around horses at all.

  45. Stacey, I applaud you bringing to light the dangers involved in having dogs and horses mixing together.

    However, I don't think we are going to change eachothers minds and I have packing to do for college. xD

  46. cathryn, i would like to see a link to an attack by ONE non pit bull dog, not two or three, that mauled a large horse, not a miniature donkey, that died of it wounds, not an infection.

    i'm waiting.

  47. Cathryn, you make very good arguments and write really well. It was fun sparring wit'ya. You'll have a great time in college -- Good luck!

  48. I disagree with you that Rotwilers and Pitbulls are more dangerous than other dogs. I do dog training, and I have found these dogs want to please their owners - they are very pack driven animals. If they have an owner who doesn't train them well, or trains them to do bad things, they may be aggressive, but it is almost always the human's fault.

    My dad has worked in the local ER for the past three years. He has had somewhere around 50 dog bite cases over the years, only two have been by a dog that weighted over 40 pounds - one was a lab. (Yes, and cute, cuddly, family dog Labrador.) The other was a German Sheppard who accidentally bite the owners hand while they were playing tug with a toy, and the dog immediately let go. The rest have been little dogs, with poodles, Chihuahuas, and Yorkshires topping the list.

    The reason the big, powerful dogs are on it the is because they are powerful. I won't deny it, they are stronger and can inflict more damage when they do attack. With the little dogs, stitches often aren't even needed. The cases don't get reported, and so they aren't part of the statistics.

    Reputation and fear also have a large part to do with the statistics. For example, you are far, FAR more likely to get attacked by a deer than a bear, yet do people run, terrified, from Bambi? No, they don't... even if Bambi is more likely to go after you. The fact is, Bambi doesn't have very big teeth, so people aren't frightened, even if they do kill more people each year than bears, wolves, and sharks combined!

    As for dogs and livestock, it's all about training, socialization, and being dominant. The first time I brought my dog to the farm (Chesapeake Bay retriever mix), she immediately took off after a goat; however, because she's well trained, she came back and heeled when told, even if she really, really wanted to get the goat.

    ALL dogs are carnivores and are more than capable of killing/maiming another creature. It's up to us, the humans who bred them, to be responsible for their actions by controlling situation. If someone isn't will/able to do that, they shouldn't own a dog. Period.

  49. I would rather not add to debate going on here, but I have read all comments and it's been good intake on this subject.

    Stacey, I think you should do a follow-up post on this. It should be continued! You have good points and so do some of those who've left comments on here. It certainly is worth talking about further IMO.

  50. Thank you, Stacey. I love debates, haha. Myself and my old Social Studies teachers used to get into it once in a while. Keep the blogging up, I love hearing what your thoughts are on things! =]

    Ernie, I don't really have time to be looking around for links, as I commented I am getting ready to go off to college. I'm assuming you know how to use the computer? You can look them up. Have a great day.

  51. Ernie, in my previous post I did have one.

    Read it this time.

  52. I understand this is late in commenting, but I have had rotties my entire life. Have never had a problem and we have had three so far. Some from the breeder, and one adopted from the Humane Society. They were all wonderful around horses. As I read in a previous comment, it depends on the handler, which is very true. But I do not agree that they still "need to be monitored". They dont need any more monitoring than any other breed of dog. They make excellent pets, and are loving, kind a gentle. And in terms of them being "bred to be aggressive" that may have been the case 30 years ago, but it mostly isnt today. Of course you are going to see cases where people are breeding out of their backyards for fighting dogs, but for the rottweiler breed, they are NOT being bred for aggression.

  53. yes conveniently-leaving-for-school-now-cathryn, i read it. you should try taking your own advice. i specifically asked for a single non-pit bulldog attacking and KILLING a horse. 2 labs and a boxer does not meet that criteria.
    i can't find that story on the internet, i thought maybe the snot nosed princess could.

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