Do Hormones Make My Dog More Aggressive?

One of the most common questions we get from Vancouverites at our veterinary clinic is if hormones make dogs more aggressive. Using a few studies from researchers at North Carolina State Veterinary and Dr. Rashidi’s expertise, we’ll give a bit of insight in this blog post.

TV shows aside, there’s actually little known about dog aggression in an academic context- a problem that’s causing 2 million dogs to be put down for biting yearly (Centers for Disease Control). There are 4.5 million dog bites in the states alone in a year.

The study I referenced above has been collaborated on by researchers at Duke University and explores how hormones thought to trigger violence, such as vasopressin, affect dogs’ behavior.

First, the researchers measured hormone levels of the dogs before the experiment, seeing if animals with a violent past had higher levels of these hormones. Then, they watched the dogs interact with a plush toy and observed whether the pup ripped it to shreds or just played with it.

As expected, dogs with higher levels of vasopressin tended to be much more violent than, for example, guide dogs. The guide dogs happened to have higher levels of oxytocin, a hormone stemming from compassionate acts, usually within a family context.

This study, if built upon, could have fascinating effects on how we train our pets. In addition, it could help predict violent behaviours in dogs from a young age, hopefully decreasing the number of dog bites and subsequent euthanasias that stem from the issue.

If you have any questions, be sure to stop by our Vancouver veterinary clinic to speak with our knowledgeable vet, or to inquire about our other services such as house calls, laser therapy, or dental procedures.

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