‘Burke’s Backyard’, in conjunction with the RSPCA, has just completed an Australia-wide (all mainland states but not Tasmania) research project to compare the number of dogs of each breed surrendered to the RSPCA in 2003, with the 2003 registrations of births for that breed.
The aim of the exercise was to ascertain a satisfaction rating for each breed. The presumption was that loved or good dogs are less likely to be surrendered to the RSPCA. The RSPCA keeps dumpage figures by breed, as well as the reasons for each dog being dumped. We divided the number of dogs of each breed dumped during 2003 by the number of puppies of that breed bred during 2003. Breed statistics were accessed from four sources: Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Australian National Kennel Council, Greyhounds Australasia Ltd, and The Working Kelpie Council of Australia Inc. This yields an index which was used to compare 87 dumped dog breeds with each other.
The research indicates that the Maltese is Australia’s most unsatisfactory dog.
The Maltese is listed as the most common purebred dog in NSW yet nationally
it is the most dumped purebred dog at RSPCA shelters.
Best loved of all
There were 62 dog breeds not recorded as being dumped at all in 2003. These are in many ways the best dogs of all. Everyone loves them. Nonetheless, many of them are very rare and may not even be recognised as purebreds at the time of surrender to the RSPCA.
However, figures show that 11 undumped breeds had puppy registrations of 100 or more in 2003, making them a clear statistical choice. These are: Afghan hound (123), Boston Terrier (225), Cairn Terrier (324), Chinese Crested (203), Dogue de Bordeaux (201), French Bulldog (159), Griffin Bruxellois (115), Italian greyhound (176), Japanese Spitz (159), Lowchen (100), Scottish Terrier (174).
Dog breeds not dumped at all
Any of the breeds listed below have very good credentials as none were recorded as being dumped at all:
Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
Black Russian Terrier
Bouvier des Flandres
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chinese Crested Dog (hairless, powder puff)
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Dogue de Bordeaux
English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan)
Flat Coated Retriever
German Wirehaired Pointer
Griffon Bruxellois (Standard, Rough)
Irish Red and White Setter
Irish Water Spaniel
Kerry Blue Terrier
King Charles Spaniel
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Parson Russell Terrier
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Portuguese Water Dog
Pyrenean Mountain Dog
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Welsh Springer Spaniel
The 10 most dumped dogs
These are the least satisfactory, in descending order:
1. Maltese (ie, most dumped)
2. Australian Cattle Dog
3. Australian Silky Terrier
4. Maremma Sheepdog
6. Fox Terrier
7. Alaskan Malamute
8. English Setter
9. German Shepherd
10. Jack Russell Terrier
Two other breeds, the Finnish Spitz and the Foxhound also had extremely high dumpage rates. We left them off our most-dumped list due to their very low overall numbers (4 and 11 respectively) which render the statistics questionable. Nonetheless, these breeds remain suspect.
The 10 least dumped dogs
Of those actually appearing on the dumpage lists, these are the most satisfactory breeds, in descending order:
1. West Highland White Terrier (least dumped)
2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
3. Hungarian Vizsla
5. Airedale Terrier
6. Welsh Corgis (both types)
8. British Bulldog
9. Shetland Sheepdog
10. (Equal) Bernese Mountain Dog & Schnauzer (all sizes)
It is interesting to note that, of those breeds dumped, the Maltese is the most dumped, yet the West Highland White Terrier is the least dumped. Both are small, fluffy, white dogs, yet one is heavily dumped and the other isn’t. Why?
Agression turned out to be the most significant reason for dumpage of dogs when you ignore random causes such as ‘owner moving’, etc. Almost all of the most dumped dogs were commonly dumped for aggression, whereas none of the 20 least-dumped dogs showed a significant problem with aggression.
Three breeds stood out as nasty pieces of work. Can you guess the three breeds? They were the Maremma Sheepdog, Maltese and Australian Cattle Dog. The number of Maremma Sheepdogs was small, so the title for Australia’s most aggressive dog goes to the Maltese. While it might be acceptable for a guard dog to be a little aggressive, it is certainly not acceptable for a lap dog like a Maltese to be aggressive. This raises serious issues about Maltese breeders failing to select for sound temperaments in their dogs. The single West Highland White Terrier dumped was dumped due to its owner’s bad health.
The 10 breeds most dumped due to aggression* are:
2. Australian Cattle Dog
3. Fox Terrier
4. Alaskan Malamute
7. Australian Silky Terrier
8. Old English Sheepdog
9. German Shepherd
10. Jack Russell Terrier
Both Maremma Sheepdogs and Irish Wolfhounds were also commonly dumped for aggression, but the sample was rather small.
* To index aggression we included dumpage due to the following stated reasons: ‘dog aggressive’; ‘dog bites’; ‘dog attacks/fights other dogs or other animals’; ‘dog does not get on with kids’ and ‘dog not trusted’.
A significant number of dogs were dumped due to barking. Again the Maremma tops the list of dogs dumped for barking but the numbers of Maremmas and also the Bearded Collie, the second-worst barker, are rather small so we will just issue a clear warning to watch out for these two. So again, the award for the worst barker goes to the winner of the most aggressive category, the Maltese.
The breeds most dumped for barking are:
2. Shih Tzu
3. Basset Hound
4. Australian Cattle Dog
5. English Springer Spaniel
8. Australian Silky Terrier
10. Fox Terrier
Without doubt the survey indicates that the Maltese is Australia’s most obnoxious dog: worst barker, most aggressive and most dumped at the RSPCA. The survey also shows that a sensible buyer would purchase a West Highland White Terrier instead of a Maltese. ‘Westies’ came out really well in our survey.
We would recommend against the purchase of a Maremma Sheepdog as a pet. These dogs were bred to live alone with sheep, not with a family. The small sample suggests that they are both noisy and dangerous. Australian Cattle Dogs would be a poor choice also. Many of them make great pets but a lot of them are nasty and many bark too much.
There are so many wonderful dog breeds. Please consult our lists of breeds with dumpage rates of zero, or our 10 least dumped breeds prior to purchasing your dog.
Most breeds came out really well in our survey, so why risk your happiness by selecting from some of the heavily dumped breeds.
Burke’s Backyard has spent many months compiling these statistics, nonetheless, as with all surveys, there are possible sources of errors.
1. Breeds may have been mis-identified by their owners or the RSPCA on surrender.
2. Some samples are very small (ie the dogs are rare) leading to the possibility of statistical errors
3. Some purebred dogs may be bred outside of the normal pedigree (ANKC) system, thus they could skew results. Mind you, this could apply equally across all breeds, cancelling itself out.
4. Breeds going out of fashion may be more heavily dumped
5. When dogs are surrendered people may not necessarily state the true reason for dumping them.