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Most Aggressive Dog Breeds: What Breeds Are Considered Dangerous?

Are some dog breeds more aggressive or dangerous than others? Find out below as we talk through 20 different breeds that seem to carry bad reputations.

Last Updated: August 31, 2020 | 13 min read

Most Aggressive and Dangerous Dog Breeds

There can be a lot of media-perpetuated fear surrounding the aggressiveness of certain breeds. It’s important to note that the goal of this article is not to perpetuate some of this fear-mongering. In truth, any dog can become aggressive in certain situations. There is a strong argument for the aggressiveness of any individual dog having more to do with nurture than it does with nature.

With that said, there are breeds with a higher propensity for aggressive tendencies, whether that is due to breeding practices, instincts or simply anatomy. Care must be taken to properly socialize and train these breeds under the direction of a confident handler that can assert their dominance. Given the proper environment, these breeds can flourish into loving and gentle companions.

Aggressive & Dangerous Dog Breeds

Before we get into the breeds that are labeled the most “aggressive” or “dangerous”, we want to point out that in almost every case of an aggressive dog, the owner is the one responsible for the accident.  Poor training, socialization, and improper rewarding of problem behaviors will give any dog the lack of structure it does not desire to be a well balanced and properly behaved canine.  Lack of leadership and lack of physical stimulation means that any well-intentioned dog can end up being aggressive. 

The breeds listed below are breeds that have either been known to “bite” or are in the top 10 of all breeds in caused fatalities from 2005 to 2017.  Causation does not imply representation. It just so happens that many awful dog owners end up owning breeds that are strong-willed. This can cause behavioral problems in their environment, leading to undesired aggression.  We truly believe at Love Your Dog that all dogs can be trained properly and live a happy, meaningful life.  But the bottom line is some breeds have a reputation. Those reputations have been handed down somewhere along the line.  Let’s look at the 20 most likely breeds to be labeled as “dangerous” or “aggressive.”


Chihuahua

Chihuahua Angry
The Chihuahua can have major anger problems.

The tiny Chihuahua may not have the formidable stature of some of the others on this list, but that shouldn’t have you underestimate their ferocity. Weighing, on average, under 10 pounds this lap dog can sometimes be treated more as an accessory than an animal. They are typically built with an apple head or a deer head, and the head type doesn’t really make them more or less aggressive.

By not giving this breed proper boundaries, obedience training and socialization, they can easily become highly territorial. Chihuahuas won’t hesitate to snap or bite at any unwanted visitors. This behavior is likely a method of self-preservation. When you are as tiny as a Chihuahua, you need to know how to stand your ground and defend yourself. However, owners that spoil this breed exacerbate this instinct, leading to unwarranted aggression.

The Chihuahua likely inflicts more bites per breed than just about any other dog breed.  This has little to do with their genetics. It has far more due to the fact that many owners with small dogs do not correct problem behavior early.  Chihuahua aggression will often go unchecked or even encouraged because owners think it’s “cute.” This results in owning a small dog that is just as every bit as aggressive as the most feared Pitbull or Rottweiler.


Pitbull Terrier

Pitbull Terrier Aggressive
Accurate or not, the Pitbull has a reputation for being aggressive.

Pitbull Terriers have a bad reputation.  They were once considered the “nanny dog” by many families in the United States during the mid-1900s after World War II.  They fought with soldiers during the war and were considered to be great family protectors. 

There are actually 4 different types of dogs that fall into the Pitbull breed family, which gives more opportunity for something bad to be credited back to this misunderstood breed.  It’s not uncommon that many mixed Pitbull breeds are classified as purebred Pitbulls after an attack. Despite many insurers having a problem with this breed, they can be some of the sweetest dogs you’ll ever meet.  Unfortunately, plenty of bad actors have given them a poor reputation through teaching bad behavior habits and dogfighting. 

These irresponsible owners have unfortunately caused a lot of harm to a very sensitive breed.  Because there are so many fatalities accredited to this breed, they make the list of most aggressive dog breeds.  We do feel that regardless of this “label” that most Pitbulls are perfect family companions and do extremely well when placed with the right owner.


German Shepherd

Dangerous German Shepherd
German Shepherds are known to be prone to biting.

The wildly popular German Shepherd is a beautiful and powerful breed that has become a favorite working dog for militaries and police forces, along with being a top choice as a beloved family companion. These canines are agile, smart and fiercely loyal. They are also a highly trainable breed and can perform a wide variety of tasks, which is why they are a popular choice as working dogs.

If they feel their owner is threatened, they will defend them ferociously. This makes the German Shepherd an excellent guard dog. However, they can become territorial and aggressive if not socialized. They also can act out aggressively if they do not receive enough exercise and have pent up energy to spare. 


Shar Pei

Dangerous Shar Pei
The Shar Pei can be very wary of strangers.

The Shar Pei is a Chinese breed with a short, wrinkled coat. They remain somewhat of a rare breed, ranking 64th in popularity by the American Kennel Club. Unfortunately, this breed has been a desired choice for dog fighting rings in China. They were, and sometimes still are, bred for their aggression.

A trait that has been passed down through the generations. Shar Pei is a naturally independent, strong-willed and territorial animal. They require firm, kind and consistent training with an owner who is both patient and dedicated to properly socializing them. Just because a breed is built well for fighting, doesn’t mean they will fight nor should they.


Chow Chow

Chow Chow Dangerous
Chow Chows have a history of turning on their owners.

The Chow Chow is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous breeds in the world. This perception is mainly due to the fact that they can sometimes turn on their owners – a trait many other pups on this list do not exhibit. It’s important to remember any animal has a level of unpredictability.

Those who are familiar with this breed say that their aggression usually stems from boredom, therefore it is very important to properly exercise and socialize a Chow Chow. They require a confident handler that can assert themselves over this dominant breed. 


Cane Corso

Cane Corso Aggressive Stance
Cane Corsos can be protective of their families.

The Cane Corso is a very intimidating looking dog, with a large and thick muscular body. Due to their formidable appearance and trainability, they are becoming an increasingly popular breed amongst police forces. Ironically, this breed is considered generally quiet and calm.

However, they can become aggressive if not trained properly by an experienced owner. Therefore, this breed should not be a choice for first-time dog owners. If given the proper environment and socialization, this pup is likely to have a scary appearance but nothing beyond that. 


Rottweiler

Aggressive Rottweiler
Rottweilers are notoriously protective of their families.

The Rottweiler is a popular breed choice for those looking for a powerful, loyal breed. They are exceptionally capable guard dogs. This breed certainly has a perception in the media of being a highly aggressive dog. If you own a Rottweiler, it is likely that you are accustomed to people crossing the street when they see you coming. In truth, a well-trained and socialized Rottweiler can make a wonderful family companion.

However, socialization from a young age will be especially important to curb their instinctive territorial aggression. If they are shown kindness, love and consistent training, you will have an affectionate and devoted pup that is not likely to pose a threat to you or anyone else.


Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky Dangerous
The Siberian Husky can be dangerous to people outside the family if not properly socialized.

This one may surprise people. Believe it or not, the Husky isn’t always just a ball of fluff that loves everyone it comes into contact with.  Huskies are ranked in the top 10 of dog breeds that caused fatalities from 2005 to 2017. It’s hard to know if these were all purebred huskies, or just some type of husky mix that were responsible for the fatalities.

While this number is not nearly as high as other breeds, it’s still high enough to land them on the list of most dangerous dog breeds.  If properly socialized, the Husky is an amazing companion.  But if not socialized properly, they can become protective of their family.


Wolfdog

Aggressive WolfDog
The Wolfdog is half wolf, which means they can be aggressive.

With a name like Wolfdog, it’s not surprising this canine strikes in the mind images of violent wolf packs hunting innocent prey. It is certainly true that this breed has an exceptionally high prey drive. They must be exercised extensively to help burn off excess energy which can lead to a Wolfdog engaging in their own “hunts.”

Experts claim this breed still exhibits much of the wild tendencies of their ancestors, which can lead to quite a bit of unpredictability from a Wolfdog. This is not a breed for first-time owners and they require a strong leader and consistent training. There are plenty of other dog breeds that look like wolves with milder temperaments, if wolfy looks are your thing.


Bull Terrier

Dangerous English Bull Terrier
English Bull Terriers can be a stubborn and dominant breed.

The Bull Terrier is a smart and stocky breed who have a lot of power behind them. Bull Terriers are known for being devoted companions and can be quite affectionate and playful. They are also considered one of the most aggressive dog breeds in the world.

They require consistent, life-long training and socializing coupled with ample exercise to maintain a balanced, happy and friendly dog. With too much time on their paws, they can act out in destructive and aggressive ways. Bull Terriers do best with owners who are experienced with their breed and can give them proper discipline and love!


Boxer

Aggressive Boxer
Boxers are great family dogs, but can also have an aggressive streak,

Boxers have been known to affectionately “box” with their front paws, which is what got them their name in the first place.  But did you know that they are often considered one of the more aggressive dog breeds, and some homeowners insurance companies won’t insure you if you own one?

While most boxers are sweet, there are some that have landed on the top 10 list of fatality causing breeds from 2005 to 2017.  For this reason alone, they make our list of most aggressive and dangerous dogs.


Dogo Argentino

Dogo Argentino Aggressive Breed
The Dogo Argentino can be aggressive if not properly socialized.

The Dogo Argentino is a stunning dog: all white and all muscle. This canine is as powerful as it is beautiful. Historically, the Dogo Argentino was bred for big game hunting. They have the capability to take down game such as wild boars. Despite these intimidating accolades, most Dogo Argentino owners report a happy and affectionate pup who is very loving and devoted.

Unfortunately, countries like the UK have banned this beautiful breed because of perceptions that they are overly aggressive. It is certainly true that a Dogo Argentino should be trained by an experienced handler or else they can show signs of aggression, but that’s no different than many other breeds. However, bans such as these perpetuate an idea that certain breeds are innately “bad.” This is certainly not the case for the Dogo Argentino – or any pup, for that matter.


Doberman Pinscher

Dangerous Doberman Pinscher
Doberman Pinchers have a reputation of being cautious and aggressive with strangers.

When asked to picture an intimidating dog, many will conjure the image of a Doberman Pinscher. Makes sense, as this breed has been bred for generations to be menacing guard dogs and have become almost synonymous with our cultural idea of an “aggressive breed.”

The loyal Doberman has perhaps gotten a bad wrap, as they are not spontaneously violent dogs. They will, however, loyally protect their families if they perceive danger. Extensive socializing and consistent training by experienced owners will produce a well-behaved Doberman Pinscher that is not likely to be more aggressive than any other dog. 


Shiba Inu

"Aggressive

Shiba Inu’s are known for their seemingly endless energy and somewhat “cat-like” dispositions. They are often aloof and independent. Female Shiba’s can be especially territorial with other animals. One should be vigilant when headed to the dog park with a Shiba to make sure she doesn’t start any fights.

They have a high prey drive and prefer to be dominant in the pack, therefore they need a strong leader who enforces boundaries and socializes them regularly. Make sure to frequently exercise a Shiba Inu, as with many dogs, if they have too much energy they are likely to get into trouble.


Rhodesian Ridgeback

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Rhodesian Ridgeback is an exceptionally impressive canine. This powerful dog was originally bred to hunt lions and protect African farms from predators. There’s no doubt this dog is capable of being ferocious and brutal. They are known for their speed, prey drive and are considered by some to be quite a dangerous breed.

However, many Rhodesian Ridgeback’s are beloved family companions whose owners report being gentle and loving. Still, they need quite a bit of training and exercise to get there, so anyone looking to adopt a Ridgeback should be willing to make that commitment and should probably not reside in any sort of confined space.


Pomeranian

Pomeranians Aggressive
Pomeranians can be assertive and sassy if not trained properly from a young age.

This adorable and fluffy toy breed is perhaps a surprise to see on a list of the most aggressive dog breeds. However, this cute pup can be quite feisty behind all that fluff. The Pomeranian is one of the most popular dog breeds in the US, coming in 23rd in AKC’s popularity ranking. They are notorious for being expensive for such a small package.

Pomeranians are also known to be very territorial and act suspiciously and even aggressively towards strangers. They are especially notorious for their bark – this breed will certainly alert you if someone is approaching. However, as with most other dogs, the Pomeranian’s defensive and aggressive tendencies can be mitigated by introducing them to many different places, people and animals while they are still young.


Saint Bernard

"Dangerous

Saint Bernards are not a violent dog because they have a desire to be aggressive. In fact, these pups are known for being gentle giants with a calm and even timid disposition. However, these massive canines are notoriously hard to train. With an animal this size that can be spooked easily, the possibility of accidents where someone gets hurt is much more likely.

A Saint Bernard’s danger is not with their temperament but with their size. That’s why it’s important to raise this breed with plenty of positive reinforcement training and socialization to encourage them out of their shells. When done right, this giant breed is nothing but love!


Labrador Retriever

Dangerous Dog Breed Labrador Retriever
Believe it or not, Labs can be dangerous with the wrong owner.

Crazy that the Labrador Retriever would make this list, isn’t it?  Really for the Lab, it comes down to a numbers game.  Labradors are some of the most highly owned dogs in the United States.  Bigger populations of certain breeds mean that you’ll have a higher chance of someone getting bit, injured or maimed by that breed. 

While most Labradors are sweet family dogs, just like any breed they can become hostile if not trained, socialized and given the proper attention early in their puppyhood. There are also many labrador mixes that fall under the breed credit of “Labrador” which makes some dog bite statistics even more unreliable.


Bullmastiff

Aggressive Dog Breed Bullmastiff
Bullmastiffs are typically protective of their families,

The Bullmastiff is a breed that has been around for over 100 years now, after having a Mastiff crossed with an English Bulldog.  Because of their English Bulldog heritage, these pups can become very defensive of their immediate family, which is not much different from the English Mastiff.

If they are not properly trained early on in life, they can become wary of strangers or even friends of the family that come to your home.  Since most dog bites happen with someone that “knows” the dog, it’s not uncommon for a Bullmastiff to find themselves amongst the plotline of statistics when it comes to dog bites. They are also challenging to train, and are known for being less intelligent than other breeds.


Akita

Akita Dangerous Dog Breed
Akitas are a very selective breed when it comes to who they trust.

Akita’s are known for being very independent dogs. They are a dominant and powerful breed that need a skilled and experienced owner to guide them. Without proper structure, an Akita is likely to lash out, sometimes aggressively. Due to their dominant personalities, Akita’s are known to pick fights with other dogs of the same sex.

It is not recommended owners keep two Akita’s of the same sex for this reason. However, some may find it surprising that Akita’s are actually known for being very gentle with children and can make wonderful and protective family companions. It is still not recommended to leave an Akita with children unattended, especially young kids. However, in the right environment, Akita’s are sure to be devoted to your family and a loyal protector.


Dachshund

Aggressive Dachshund
Dachshund aggression is usually the result of improper obedience training.

“Small but mighty” is the perfect expression for the bold Dachshund. These little dogs have big personalities. They were originally bred to kill vermin, especially those dwelling in tunnels. Generations of breeding Dachshunds to hunt has resulted in a modern-day pup with a very high prey drive.

They are also known for being quite feisty and territorial over their beloved person, to whom they are fiercely loyal. Don’t underestimate this little dog, they have a lot of spunk and can be a handful if not given proper boundaries and training. 


Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why someone might want to adopt a breed that has a reputation for aggression. Perhaps you are looking for a guard dog to make you feel safer or you’d like to provide structure and love to a breed that is often stigmatized. You might also be reading this list right now in order to learn what breeds not to adopt. It’s important to be diligent and make the right choice for yourself and your family.

If you feel you can’t handle a breed that has been known to show signs of aggression, you certainly should not adopt one. However, I hope this article has proven that these breeds are not “bad” or “evil.” Oftentimes they are simply mistreated, poorly trained, understimulated or misunderstood. As with all animals, there is always a level of unpredictability with any dog. But, if you are willing to dedicate the time to train these special breeds, the rewards can be endless!

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