Vol. 1 No. 3 (2015)

Dog dangerousness test (DDT): preliminary results

Marcella Zilocchi
Dipartimento di Scienze Veterinarie - Università di Pisa- Viale delle Piagge 2- 56124 Pisa.
Manuel Mengoli
IRSEA-Institut de Recherche en Semiochimie et Ethologie Appliquée-Le Rieu Neuf, 84490-Saint Saturnin Les Apt-France.

Published 2015-12-11


  • dog,
  • aggression,
  • behavioral test,


Aggression manifestation in familiar and urban context, where the dog lives, requires careful management as canine aggressions constitute an event which often provokes serious injuries. Our research aim was to develop a test to assess the potential dangerousness of the dog (DDT).

The test was carried out in an open space and it is divided into four phases:

Step 1: Reaction of the dog on the leash towards a stranger.

Step 2: Reaction of the dog when a fake hand is positioned on his hear by a stranger..

Step 3: Reaction of the dog to the positioning of the muzzle by the owner.

Step 4: Walking on the leash.

All phases of the test were evaluated separately by two different observers (a veterinarian expert in animal behavior and an expert dog trainer). To evaluate the efficacy of the test, two groups of dogs were selected: the first group was composed of dogs classified by their respective owners as non-aggressive dogs (n. 12 dogs), while the second group was composed of dogs that were potentially dangerous (n. 11 dogs) towards strangers in a public environment.

Statistical analysis performed on the test scores of the dogs in group 1 and 2 showed a significant difference concerning the total score assigned to each subject (U = 0.000; p = 0.000) and in relation to step 1 (U = 36.00; p = 0.010), the step 2 (U = 0.00; p = 0.000) and the step 3 (U = 36.00; p = 0.010), but not for the step 4 (U = 60.00; p = 0.269).

Based on the results obtained it was possible to create an evaluation grid where dogs are divided, according to the behavior exhibited in the test, in three categories: Category A: not aggressive dogs; Category B dogs with reduced aggressiveness; Category C: dogs with potentially high aggressiveness.

The test allows users to carry out a rapid screening of animals suspected to be potentially dangerous, to put in place all necessary measures to avoid accidents and then send the dog to a specialist.