There are a number of variables to be considered when deciding whether a certain breed of dog is “dangerous.” The key factors considered in this article are prey drive, aggression, size and strength, combined with the available bite statistics. But to be fair, the number one factor in determining a dog’s behavior and aggression isn’t breeding, it is training and socialization – especially during the first months of life.
Any breed of dog can be a loyal and affectionate companion given the proper upbringing, and most attacks and bite injuries can be traced to irresponsible owners. That being said, certain breeds have an undeniable aggressive streak, and others are considered high risk simply because of their size and strength.
Bearing all this in mind, here is a list of breeds that are widely considered to be high-risk, and have the most potential for causing harm: the 10 most dangerous dog breeds in the world.
10. Dogo Argentino
The Dogo Argentino is a large, white dog bred from the now extinct Cordoba fighting dog, for the purpose of hunting wild boar and other big game. They are occasionally bred for fighting purposes, and are incredibly fierce and dangerous when on the attack. Although typically loyal and protective of humans, Dogos have been involved in serious, even fatal, attacks on people.
9. Chow Chow
Chow Chows are a very old breed that originated in ancient China, where they were used as guard dogs and referred to as “purple-tongued lion dog.” Don’t let the furry cuteness fool you! They possess a strong protective instinct, and they can be irritable and hard to manage, if not properly trained and socialized. And when they do bite, they are strong enough to do some serious damage.
8. Doberman Pincsher
The Doberman Pinscher originates from Germany, where they were trained primarily as guard dogs, police dogs, and used for personal protection. They are highly intelligent, and if properly trained they are quite loyal and obedient. Over time, some strains have been bred to be more calm and well-mannered, and make ideal house pets. But other strains still possess their original, strong protective instincts that can make them a serious threat to strangers.
Their are two distinct strains of Akitas, the Japanese (or Akita Inu) and the American, of which the American is significantly larger. These dogs are mostly solitary, and intolerant of other dogs – especially of the same gender. They are typically not aggressive to humans, but unless they are properly trained and firmly handled, they can become willful and hard to control. Due to their size and strength, they are very dangerous when they attack; although nearly all incidents of attack can be traced to fight training and/or poor handling.
Huskies (and their close cousins, the Alaskan Malamute) were bred as sled dogs in the far north, and have a close genetic kinship with the wolf. They tend to howl more than bark, and they like to roam and are known to jump fences or dig under them. They are an extremely active breed with a powerful prey drive, and they require proper training and frequent exercise to ensure good behavior. When they do get out of hand – due to poor training, boredom, hunger, etc – they are fast and strong and very dangerous.
5. German Shepherd
German Shepherds are commonly used as police and service dogs, due to their high intelligence and train-ability. However they can be overprotective of their owners and family if not properly socialized. They are strong and extremely dangerous when roused to attack, possessing some of the most powerful jaws of any breed. Several studies have found that German Shepherds are involved in more bite incidents than most breeds, although this is usually due to improper handling.
The Wolfdog is, as it’s name suggests, a cross breeding between a grey wolf and a domestic dog – usually a Husky or Alaskan Malamute. Due to genetic variations, they vary considerably in size and temperament. With proper training and socialization, they can be well-mannered pets and loyal companions. But their powerful prey drive and unpredictable behavior makes them potentially dangerous, especially to pets and other animals.
3. Presa Canario
The Perro de Presa Canario (or “Canary catch dog”) originates from the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain, where they were bred for herding and protecting livestock. They are large and well-muscled, weighing up to 120 lbs. They have become popular in the world of illegal dog fighting, for their size, strength and fearlessness. Training and socialization is important to prevent aggressive behavior toward other animals and, in some cases, people. Presas have been involved in several fatal attacks on humans, including the notorious attack of Diana Whipple in 2001. She was mauled to death in the hallway of her San Francisco apartment by two Presa Canarios owned by her neighbors.
Rottweilers are a very old breed of herding dog, large and strong (males can weigh up to 130 lbs) with a considerable prey drive. They also possess one of the most powerful bites of any breed. In a 20 year study on dog bite fatalities, Rottweilers were found to be one of the breeds most at risk of injuring and killing people and pets. However, they are typically friendly and protective of their owners, and most attack incidents are likely the result of abuse or other mistreatment.
1. Pit Bull
No surprise here: the American Pit Bull Terrier tops the list of most dangerous dog breeds. Bred for pit fighting and animal baiting, these aggressive animals combine the speed and agility of a terrier with the size and strength of a mastiff. Nearly every study ever done on dog bite injuries and fatalities has concluded that pit bulls are by far the most likely to harm humans or other animals. They are banned in a dozen countries around the world, and restricted in many states and municipalities in the U.S. However, like any breed, pit bull attacks and fatalities are overwhelmingly the result of poor training and handling. Given early training and responsible care, they too can make loyal and love-able family pets.