London, July 6 : They might be small, but the sausage dogs have beaten the likes of pit bulls, rottweilers and Rhodesian ridgebacks to claim the title of the most aggressive breed in the world.
That's the conclusion of a new research, which found that one in five dachshunds have bitten or tried to bite strangers, and a similar number have attacked other dogs; one in 12 have snapped at their owners.
Known as sausage dogs for their elongated bodies, dachshunds have not, until now, had a fearsome reputation, although they were originally bred to hunt badgers in their setts.
However, they topped a list of 33 breeds, which were rated for their aggression, after academics analyzed the behaviour of thousands of dogs.
Chihuahuas, an even smaller breed, were the second most hostile, regularly snapping or attempting to bite strangers, family and other dogs. Another small favourite, the Jack Russell, was third.
Dr James Serpell, one of the researchers, said smaller breeds might be more genetically predisposed towards aggressive behaviour than larger dogs.
"Reported levels of aggression in some cases are concerning, with rates of bites or bite attempts rising as high as 20 per cent toward strangers and 30 per cent toward unfamiliar dogs," the Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
The study, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, involved researchers from the University of Pennsylvania questioning 6,000 dog owners.
Breeds scoring low for aggression included Basset hounds, golden retrievers, Labradors, Siberian huskies and greyhounds.
The rottweiler, pit bull and Rhodesian ridgeback scored average or below average marks for hostility towards strangers.
Joyce Summers, treasurer of the Rottweiler Club in Britain, said: "I have lived with rottweilers for 40 years and they give nothing but love and affection. I am not surprised Jack Russells are up there near the top; they are yappy little things."