Several high-profile dog maulings like the pair of presa canario dogs that killed a San Francisco woman in her apartment building have put some canine breeds in the hot seat.
According to the American Humane Assn., the most frequently reported dog breeds that bite include pit bulls, German shepherds, rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, cocker spaniels, chow chows and Akitas.
There's a reason why some of these types of dogs keep showing up on the list.
"Several of those breeds are the ones we tend to see out on a chain, not neutered, with no socialization and nothing to do," said Amy Tramill of the Lawrence Humane Society, 1805 E. 19th St.
"It's not necessarily that one breed tends to bite more than another. Part of it is the treatment they receive. I don't ever see shelties out chained in the yard. The people who want a dog that's going to be tough and mean keep getting the same (type of) dog."
So don't automatically put the blame on pit bulls or rottweilers, she said.
"These dogs are sweet as can be if they're raised right," Tramill said.
Typically it's the owners who are the problem, said Liz Phillips, a Lawrence woman who breeds American Kennel Club show-quality boxers.
"You need to look at the other end of the leash. That's where the fault lies," she said. "That's the element of our society that we must deal with. A dog itself, if put in the right environment, is a good dog."
Nor should any particular breed of canine be banned outright, she said. Rather, Phillips said people need to understand that certain breeds aren't appropriate for particular environments.
But don't blame the animals for their aggressive behavior.
"I believe there are people not breeds of dogs who are inherently dangerous, and they take an animal that has certain characteristics and use it for their own purposes," Phillips said. "Some people have taken American pit bull terriers, for instance, and put them to a malicious use such as dog fighting."
A dog's temperament depends largely upon those who raise it, according to Cindy Well of Lawrence, who, along with her husband, Dr. Mike Well, own and show grand champion Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
"I owned a pit bull when I was a kid, and it was a wonderful, loving family pet," she said. "But you have these people with negative agendas who (purposely) create that aggressive temperament.
"They're encouraging dogs to fight, and dogs like to please. They do what they're encouraged to do."