by Scott Morgan, Demand Media

Dachshunds get a pass for being playful, precious and loyal, but the fact is, the lovable weenie dog is considered the most aggressive of all dog breeds. And yes, that includes the oft-maligned pit bull.

The Most Aggressive Breed

A 2008 study by animal behavioural scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, published in the Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science, identified the dachshund as the most aggressive breed toward strangers and the second-most aggressive breed — right behind the beagle — toward their owners. The study also found dachshunds to be among the most aggressive toward other dogs. The study measured how likely 32 breeds were to bite or try to bite others.

When a protective nature goes too far.

Born to Be Tough

Though diminutive, dachshunds were bred to tangle with one of nature’s most fierce fighters, the badger. In fact, “dachshund” translates from German into “badger hound”; the dogs were bred to ferret badgers out of holes and kill them. This is why dachshunds have long, low bodies, sharp teeth and prominent claws on their forepaws. Dachshunds also were used to hunt small surface animals, trail wounded deer and hunt wild boar.

Small Dog Syndrome

Many small breeds share certain negative traits. They can be irritable, jealous, stubborn and disobedient. Dachshunds, who stand a mere foot tall at the most, typically, certainly fit the bill. These traits can trigger behaviour problems in dachshunds, causing them to be snappy or to bite. Like other members of the hound family, dachshunds require steady, strong leadership and a lot of patience. When well-trained, dachshunds make excellent watchdogs and are far less likely to be aggressive without provocation.

Be the Leader

Dachshunds are willing to recognize you as the leader of the pack — unless you abdicate. If they don’t recognize a leader, they will assume the mantle. Dachshunds are wilful and independent, meaning they can veer toward dominance. Proper training, perhaps under the guidance of a certified animal behaviourist, can usually correct the problem. Also, though dachshunds don’t need to be outdoors a lot, they do need plenty of exercise to burn off their high levels of energy.