Study: Left-Pawed Pups Are More Aggressive

Sorry, lefties!

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

Do you know if your dog is a leftie? Like people, dogs tend to be either left- or right-pawed, preferring to use one over the other in certain tasks. What’s more, it turns out that if your sausage-snatching Schnauzer snarls at strangers, it might be a hint that he is left-pawed.

A new study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior indicates that dogs whose front left paw is dominant may have more aggressive tendencies than right-pawed pooches. (The study only involved front paws, although dogs also tend to have a dominant back leg too.) Reporting on the findings, the University of Adelaide’s Dr. Luke Schneider told the Telegraph, “We found that dogs with a preference for left paws were reported by their owners to show high levels of aggression towards strangers. The left-pawed dogs scored almost twice as high as ambilateral [ones with no preference] and also higher than dogs with right paws.”

(MORE: Dogs Rescued From Oklahoma Tornado Find Shelter in Boca Raton)

Although researchers failed to detect a link between being left-paw dominant and other traits like excitability or attention-seeking behavior, dogs with a left-paw preference were slightly more likely to show aggression towards strangers. This behavior mirrors what has been observed in left-handed people. Researchers believe that this is due to the fact that the left hand (or paw) is controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain, which is associated with more negative emotions in both humans and dogs. Schneider explained,

“There is research in the human world as well that positive and negative emotions can be located in the left and right hemispheres and it seems to go the same way in humans and other animal species, that the negative emotions are located in the right hemisphere. There are many, many overlaps between human and animal brains.”

It should be noted that while one-third of the 75 dogs used in the experiment were identified as left-pawed, none of them were known for having aggressive behavior. The researchers now want to carry out further research with a larger group, specifically including dogs that are known to be more aggressive.

MORE: Puppies Keep Lost Boy Warm

MORE: Pitbull-Puppy Cam Is Here to Provide Your Daily Cute Break