There are so many things to consider before adding a puppy to your family. Things like would you be able to give it the time it needs? What about its diet? What about its personality and temperaments? What about its health needs? And the list goes on and on.
If you are a new owner with little experience managing a dog, things can initially be difficult. Many new owners hurry to buy a puppy but soon start regretting their decisions. They could have small children at home and have accidents related to big dogs. There could be cats at your place, and some breeds don’t tolerate cats no matter how well they are groomed.
Without proper research and guidance, injuries and hurt happen that could have been avoided with due diligence.
Before buying a puppy, the most important thing to consider is its training needs and temperament. These two go hand in hand. Without proper training, a dog as docile as a lamb can turn out aggressive. And some dogs have special training requirements. They can’t be dealt with like every other dog.
To help you choose the breed that best suits your needs, we have compiled a list of the 25 most aggressive dog breeds.
What Is Meant By Aggression in Dogs?
Many dog owners use the word aggressive with a dog that bites. However, aggression has many types and forms. A dog growling, snarling, or barking can be considered aggression. Most of the time, dogs are aggressive for a reason or in a certain situation like a stranger breaching their boundaries, possessiveness, pain, anxiety, or stress.
No matter the breed, dogs will turn out caring and docile when trained properly. They will never showcase aggression and surely will never bite. But, all of it comes down to the training and socialization they received growing up.
Mostly, a dog’s high prey drive is confused with aggression. A dog running after a small animal like a cat or a rabbit is very different from growling, barking, or snarling at a human stranger. A dog running after a small animal isn’t aggressive but has a high prey drive and hunting instinct.
The American Temperament Testing Society conducted a temperament test on different dog breeds and ranked them according to the percentages they achieved. The test isn’t perfect, but the breeds with the lowest scores showed frequent signs of aggression, shyness, and fear.
This guide will include a few breeds that scored low on the test and a few popular breeds known for their aggressive behavior.
Weighing 2-6 pounds, Chihuahua is the world’s smallest dog breed. A full-grown dog is even smaller than a cat. But, their small sizes don’t account for their huge temperaments and moods.
Chihuahua has one of the lowest scores on the tests conducted by the American Temperament Test Society. They have broad personalities ranging from aggressive to timid. They are known for their tempers against strangers, making them excellent “watch dogs”.
A chihuahua’s aggressiveness is mostly linked to a lack of proper training and socialization. Due to their small sizes, they are often presumed to be docile, and owners don’t take due diligence in their training and socialization. A lack of proper dog training can make any dog snap in unforeseen situations.
Chihuahuas are possessive of their owners and don’t appreciate a stranger lurking close to them. They are not recommended for homes with small children. They are not kid-friendly and may injure or hurt them badly.
It’s not uncommon for Chihuahuas to be possessive of their owners and distrust strangers who linger nearby.
2. German Shepherd
A military and police favorite – you must have seen them sniffing around a suspicious location, searching for bombs or drugs. But, they are mostly cruising on police mobiles wearing bulletproof jackets and assisting in searches. There is a reason they are police and military favorites, and that is because of their high intelligence, trainability, and the strength to inflict serious injuries to suspects.
German shepherds are large dogs with strong jaws. A dog weighing an average of 75 pounds and a height of 26 inches can pose serious threats to humans. An aggressive German Shepherd with a jaw as strong as a hammer can easily break a bone. And because they are wary of strangers and have a high protective instinct – makes them excellent guard dogs.
German Shepherds can easily break bones with their strong jaws.
3. Siberian Husky
A Siberian Husky was originally bred as a strong working dog and found its origin in Southeast Asia. They are keen family pets, great with children, and mostly work around farms tending to the livestock. As they were bred in cold, harsh environments – they have a high prey drive and chase furry animals like squirrels and rabbits.
Siberian Huskies are caring, and docile dogs, but their aggression issues are mainly territorial and linked to poor training. They are high-energy dogs, and first-time owners may find it difficult to manage and train them. If they are kept locked all day, anxiety and stress develop, leading to uncalled aggression.
The Huskie is a high-energy breed that can be challenging for first-time owners to manage and train.
4. Pit Bulls
The list can’t be complete without the inclusion of Pit Bulls. They are a dangerous dog breed responsible for 284 deaths in the US alone over a span of 13 years. This behavior is expected of them as they were bred as fighting dogs. Their aggression is mostly directed at dogs or strangers trying to invade their boundaries.
Pit Bulls are ferocious, muscular, and strong dogs. They have a strong hunting drive and make excellent guard dogs as they are wary of strangers. When trained properly, they make excellent family pets, and only a handful of such incidents exist in which a family member was injured.
Pit Bulls are wary of strangers and have a strong hunting drive.
5. Wolf Hybrid
As the name suggests, a wolf hybrid is a mix between a dog and a wolf. And, their personalities and temperaments wary a lot. Generally speaking, wolves are the alphas of their packs, and when you are the leader in your family, that creates an unhealthy relationship between you and your dog.
As a wolf mix, they have high prey drives. You can’t keep small animals or pets at home as they will most likely hunt them or hurt them. Adopted at a young and small age, they can have different temperaments. They need a high level of skill to train and manage. New owners are advised to take precautions when considering a wolf hybrid pup to adopt.
Wolf Hybrids can have varying temperaments if adopted at a young age.
6. Cane Corso
Cane Corso’s origin dates back to the early Roman Empire, where they had a noble bearing. They are intelligent, muscular, and heavy dogs averaging 100 or more pounds and make excellent guard dogs. They are very popular among police forces, and you will often find them wearing bullet-proof jackets and chasing suspects.
Cane Corso’s intimidating figure and expression often scare the wits out of strangers. They are excellent guardian dogs and loyal, caring family pets. But, with hunter training, they can become lethal weapons in the wrong hands.
Many police forces use Cane Corsos, and you will often find them wearing bullet-proof jackets and chasing suspects.
7. Chow Chow
Chow Chow gained popularity in the US as President Coolidge’s favorite pet dog. It originates in china, bred as a hunting and guardian dog. They are not very keen on strangers but are loyal and caring companions to their owners.
Chow Chow, with its teddy bear appearance, is often related to cats in terms of temperament and behavior. They are intelligent, strong, and caring pets. A well-rounded Chow Chow will never showcase aggression. They make good family pets and require early training and socialization.
They can be tricky to train and manage for first-time dog owners. They require good training and guidance to control their snaps at strangers. A well-rounded Chow Chow will always behave well in unforeseen situations and not show aggression.
Chow Chows with a balanced temperament will never show aggression.
8. Great Dane
Also known as the “Apollo of Dogs”, this enormous dog can reach a height of 32 inches at the shoulders. They can tower against almost every dog on the planet and are mostly taller than people when standing on their hind legs.
They are friendly, caring, and docile dogs. Many experts recommend them as apartment dogs but are not advised for first-time owners. They have a great temperament for children and bond with their owners quite well. They are wary of strangers and can be ferocious toward people mistaking their friendliness for softness.
With Great Danes, early socialization is important. To be well-groomed dogs, they need exposure to people, dogs, animals, and their environment from an early age. Aggressive nature has been noted in Danes who have not received proper exposure and socialization during puppy life.
Despite their friendly nature, Great Danes can sometimes be ferocious toward people who take their friendliness for weakness.
9. American Bulldog
The strong, muscular, and agile American Bulldog is historically related to the old English Bulldog. They were bred as working dogs and mostly found their use around farms tending to livestock. They are energetic dogs and are recommended for active parents.
Bulldogs make great family pets. They are caring dogs and have great temperaments for children. They are wary of strangers, and their ability to stay active makes them exceptional at being guard dogs. Although due to high exercise needs, they can develop aggressive moods if kept locked for a long time.
While since Bulldogs need to exercise a lot, they can develop aggressive moods if locked up for a long time.
Rottweilers are among the first dogs to serve in the military and the police. They were bred as working dogs driving cattle to the market and pulling carts for the butchers. They are huge dogs with an average of 26 inches at the shoulder when standing, making them one of the scariest dogs on the planet.
Rottweilers are caring, loving, and great family pets. Their aggression is mainly toward strangers, as they are not tolerant of them, making them good guard dogs. Their huge size is enough to make sure no intruder sets foot on your property. They are known for territorial aggression, but good socialization and training can harness it positively.
Because Rottweilers are intolerant of strangers, they make excellent guard dogs.
11. Akita Inu
Hailing from native Japan, there are two different variations of Akita Inu. Akita is found in the region of Northern America, while Akita Inu hails from Japan. Both of the breeds are strong hunting dogs with a high prey drive.
Akitas are great with families and adore children. In Japan, they are a symbol of happiness and long life. They are excellent watchdogs who are not very lean towards strangers and easily snap at them. They form a long companionship with their owners and are revered as family protectors in Japan.
Akita Inus are considered a symbol of happiness and long life in Japan.
12. Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their tracking skills and extreme athleticism. They were bred in Africa for the sole purpose of tracking and baying. But, nowadays, they are famous as excellent family pets. Great with children and even strangers, they make ideal apartment dogs.
Many experts suggest that keeping them locked up in an apartment is not a good idea due to its high training and exercise requirements. They need a spacious environment to thrive and develop good mental and physical health.
Although they are friendly to people, they have a high prey drive, and any fluffy animal in your yard is not safe, especially cats and rabbits. You must take special care if other pets are around because they will most likely hunt them.
A spacious environment is essential to Rhodesian Ridgeback’s growth and development.
13. Bull Terrier
You can spot a Bull Terrier easily from afar due to their “egg-shaped” heads. Originally bred as fighting dogs, they are one of the most aggressive breeds of dogs and one of the scariest too. They are muscular and energetic dogs with strong jaws. However, they consider themselves lapdogs but are too muscular and bulked to fit in a lap.
Bull Terriers make excellent family dogs and are great with children. They are highly social and easily mix with all family members, even strangers. If left for too long, feelings of stress and anxiety kick in easily – leading to aggressiveness.
Originally bred to fight, they are one of the dogs’ most aggressive and scary breeds.
14. Dogo Argentino
The strong, muscular, and athletic Dogo Argentino was bred as a hunting dog. They have been known for hunting wild boars and possess the lung capacity for long runs. One look at a Dogo Argentino can give you the impression of serious prey drive and aggressiveness. They are obviously, the ideal hunting dogs.
Dogo Argentinos are not the ideal candidates for first-time dog owners. They require skilled hands to train, and being highly energetic – they have rigorous exercise requirements. They are not ideal for families having other small pets at home. Due to their high prey drives, they hunt and injure small animals like cats.
Dogo Argentinos are known for their prey drive and aggression.
15. Bull Mastiff
Bull Mastiff, “The Silent Watchdog”, is a silent protector and a strong companion. They are mellow and excellent family pets, but only when trained in the right hands. They are strong muscular dogs and don’t take well to strangers.
Bull Mastiff is a mix between Bulldog and Mastiff. As a result, they inherit a strong muscular build from both parents. This breed is a reliable companion but can be difficult to manage and control without proper training. They require early socialization to be well-rounded dogs.
The Bull Mastiff is a strong, muscular dog that does not get along well with strangers.
16. Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier is one of the most intelligent and witful dog breeds. That makes them one of the most difficult to train as well. Jack Russell Terriers are excellent family pets. They were bred for hunting foxes by England’s “Sporting Parsons”. What better to hunt foxes than the cunning Jack Russell Terrier?
Jacks are confident dogs, and it’s quite visible in their gait. Like every dog breed with high prey drive, they need early socialization to become well-rounded dogs. And similarly, they hunt furry animals like cats and rabbits, so it’s best not to keep a pet in the same place with them.
For Jack Russell Terriers to become well-rounded dogs, early socialization is essential.
17. Doberman Pinscher
Without Doberman Pinscher, no list of the most aggressive dog breeds can be complete. Hailing from Germany, this breed is the aristocracy of the canine race. Their intelligence, vigilance, and agility make them one of the finest protection dogs, and their energetic build makes them a favorite for police and military service.
Training a Dobbie is easy, but things can easily go sideways in the hands of a first-time owner. They are strong, energetic dogs and can be a bit much for first-timers. They are energetic dogs and require daily exercise to keep them fit.
A first-time owner can easily go awry when training a Dobbie.
A Dalmatian is very easy to spot in a herd of dogs due to its characteristic black spots all over its coat. They are excellent firehouse dogs and circus performers. They are fire fighters’ favorites because they are agile, energetic, intelligent, and easily trainable.
Dalmatians were bred as “coach dogs,” protecting the wagons of circus performers and nobles. They are wonderful family pets. They bond well with their owners and don’t take well to strangers, and can be extremely aggressive towards them. Being active and agile, they are wonderful partners to take out on the run.
Dalmatians generally bond well with their owners and don’t take well to strangers.
Boerboels, “the farmer’s dog”, is a protection dog used to keep its family safe from sneaky predators in South Africa. They are aggressive, strong dogs who know the trade of keeping guard. Their intimidating looks can often be deceiving, and well-rounded and trained Boerboels make excellent family pets.
Boerboels are highly territorial and assert dominance over their owners. They require open spaces to live and grow. They are aloof from strangers and need a quick introduction because they feel threatened by their presence.
Dogs like Boerboels are aggressive and strong and know how to guard their territory.
20. Saint Bernard
Saint Bernards are one of the most famous breeds among dogs. They get their name from The Great St Bernard Hospice in Switzerland, where they performed guard duties. They helped and saved lost travelers as well. But, now, they simply enjoy the comfort of an average American household.
Saint Bernards are heavy muscular dogs and easily get attached to their owners. They are docile, caring, and loving family dogs. But, they are known to show aggression in defense of their family members.
Heavy and muscular, Saint Bernards easily become attached to their owners.
Boxers are one of the most dangerous dog breeds. They are good at being watchful guard dogs and are not keen on strangers. They were trained in World War 1 as guard dogs and served on the front lines. Their jaws are strong as a hammer, and a single bite is enough to break a bone.
Boxers, as the name indicates, are high-energy dogs. They require extensive exercise daily to maintain their muscular builds. Feelings of stress and anxiety easily kick in if kept locked away for too long. And with that, aggression follows suit. Owners should be active participants in their training as Boxers bond well with their owners.
Boxers bond well with their owners, so they should actively participate in their training.
22. Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamute is one dog that you will always find at work. They are the ideal working dogs in true terms. They are energetic dogs and require strong leadership to handle. Otherwise, things get out of hand easily. Malamutes like living in packs, and you must be the pack leader in your family.
Malamutes are energetic dogs. If you expect to leave them stranded in apartments for days, get ready for aggressive and destructive behaviors.
True to form, the Alaskan Malamute is an ideal working dog.
Dachsunds were bred as hunting dogs to trail wild boars. They are stubborn and independent but make good family pets. Don’t let their small size and posture confuse you; they can be equally aggressive as any other big dog breed. Dachshunds need early socialization for them to turn out as well-rounded dogs.
Early socialization is necessary for Dachsund puppies to turn out well-rounded dogs.
Basenji, “The Barkless Dog”, is a hunting dog used by the natives of Congo to flush out small animals. They have a strong sense of smell and are known for managing rodent populations in communities.
Basenjis are elegant and graceful dogs. They are cheerful, friendly, and intelligent dogs – and pretty easy to train as well. As they are a hunter breed, they have a high prey drive. Keeping small animals in their company is not a good option, as they will most likely try to hunt them.
Basenji, as a hunting dog, has a high prey drive.
25. Perro de Presa Canario
Perro de Presa Canarios are strong and muscular dogs. They originally hail from the Canary Islands and, unfortunately, found their use in the rings in dogfights. They have a tendency to develop aggressiveness if they are not socialized from a young age. They have found use as guardian dogs and are fond of their owners. Being muscular, they require daily exercise and are not fit for small apartments.
The Takeaway: Is Training The Right Solution?
No dog breed in the world is inherently vicious or aggressive. It all comes down to how well a dog is trained. In the right hands, every dog breed will be docile, caring, and great family pets. The most aggressive dog breeds can be tamed with proper socialization and positive reinforcement training. It all comes down to how properly trained they are and how much effort you will put in to raise them into well-rounded pets.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.