When it comes to navigating through different dog breeds, there are plenty to choose from. Some breeds are known for being gentle and sweet, while others are known for being fierce and scary.
And if you’re looking for a dog that will protect you and your family with its intimidating looks, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re talking about some of the scariest dog breeds available.
But before we begin, let’s talk about what really makes a scary dog scary. Because the truth behind some of these scary dog breeds just might surprise you!
What Makes A Dog A Scary Dog So Scary?
Dogs are often considered scary more due to appearance and size than anything else.
Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so might be a scary dog breed. Still, there seems to be a general consensus about what makes a scary dog look so frightening, and it generally comes down to size, color, and reputation.
For example, a big dog is more likely to be a scary dog due to its ability to overpower a person should it become aggressive. And let’s be honest – if you are walking alone down an empty street, chances are you would much rather be approached by a loose Chihuahua than by a large Great Dane.
However, appearance or size is not always a good indicator of a scary dog. Pop culture also has an influence on what a scary dog really is. Media and breed biases also play a role in which dog breed you might consider a scary dog or not.
The color of a dog has also historically been shown to cause people to shudder away from a scary dog. Darker dogs, and especially large black dogs, are commonly considered more frightening due to a number of factors, including their role in pop culture as well as their role in ancient legends and myths.
In fact, some cultures see large black dogs as an omen of evil, while others view large black or dark-colored dogs as a sign of impending death.
Hollywood hasn’t helped large black dogs when it comes to their scary reputation. In fact, movies like Cujo have only helped fuel the fire of what makes a scary dog breed scary.
Last, reputation plays a role in what makes a scary dog breed seem so scary. Dogs like Pitbulls and bully breeds, for example, have a reputation of being unpredictable and aggressive thanks to their history of being bred for blood sports in the early 19th century.
Sadly, many of these breed biases have led to these “scary dog breeds” being more likely to be banned in certain cities, and more likely to be euthanized first in overcrowded shelters.
The truth is, it is very rare for dogs to be inherently aggressive, even if they are large, dark, or breeds with a history of bloodsports in their lineage. In fact, the majority of dogs, when raised and trained properly, are not aggressive or vicious regardless of their breed.
Many studies suggest that what really makes a scary dog scary is how a dog is raised and trained. Dogs that have been abused or neglected will often become aggressive toward people and may attack, sometimes seemingly without warning. This can be true for any dog, whether it’s a small Maltese or a large German Shepherd.
For the most part, a well-trained dog who has been properly socialized and trained from puppyhood makes a healthy, well-rounded, and friendly companion.
Of course, that’s not to say that there isn’t some truth behind dog breeds and certain behaviors. And this is where the fine line between breed discrimination and breed working history can come into play.
Regardless, there are a few dogs that are considered to be the scariest dog breeds thanks to a combination of factors mentioned above. And if you’re looking for a scary dog breed, even if they’re not really that scary on the inside, you might consider one of the dogs from our list below. Take a look!
1. The Doberman Pinscher
Doberman Pinschers are large dogs with a reputation for being scary dogs.
The Doberman Pinscher is a powerful, muscular dog famous for being protective and loyal to his family. This breed may be aggressive with other dogs and strangers if not properly trained and socialized, but properly raised Dobermans are friendly and make excellent companions.
With that said, we should note that Doberman Pinchers are strong-willed, intelligent, and energetic dogs that do best with an owner who can manage their independent personalities. They need daily exercise to keep them mentally and physically sound, and they require early socialization to help curb any guarding tendencies toward people or other animals.
In spite of his scary dog appearance, the Doberman Pinscher does have a good temperament overall. He makes a great guard dog and enjoys being around his family, children, and even other pets when properly trained and socialized.
2. The Great Dane
Great Danes are considered the gentle giants of the dog world.
When it comes to choosing a scary dog breed based on size, you will find no bigger than the Great Dane. However, size is probably the only thing that makes the Great Dane a scary breed.
In truth, Great Danes are considered the gentle giants of the dog world. He is an even-tempered dog with a sweet nature and a zest for life. This gentle giant loves his family and does well with children as he is large but not overly excitable. He’s also not known for being aggressive, though he can be protective of his home and family.
This is a sweet, good-natured, and patient dog breed best suited for families, couples, and singles who are able to manage their size and unique health requirements. Great Dane dogs are also quite intelligent, so training them should be a breeze when using positive reinforcement training techniques.
It’s important to note that Great Dane dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy and happy starting from puppyhood and carrying on into adulthood. A large fenced yard is ideal for this breed and may even help keep him from becoming overweight, which can put pressure on his bones and joints.
So, if you’re looking for a dog who’ll be your best friend forever while still looking like a scary dog to outsiders who don’t know any better, the Great Dane might be just the ticket.
3. The American Pitbull Terrier
American Pitbull Terriers are some of the most widely feared dogs due to the media.
The American Pitbull Terrier is a medium-sized, stocky dog that is sadly infamous for being top of the list when it comes to scary dog breeds. And, as mentioned above, Bully breeds are often some of the most common breeds to be discriminated against in media and pop culture across the board.
For this reason, Pitbulls are often the first to be put down in shelters and the last to be adopted by families. A Pitbull’s appearance can also make the breed look scarier than it actually is, especially with its extra muscular form, large head, and wide jaw.
Some owners exasperate the scary appearance of a Pitbull by choosing to crop their dog’s ears, although this is a practice that is quickly flailing out of favor for most dog owners and breeders.
In truth, the American Pitbull Terrier’s temperament makes it an excellent family pet and protector. They are loyal, outgoing, playful, protective, and intelligent dogs that are easy to train.
They love to play games with their owners and get along well with children when socialized properly from birth. They do not do well being left alone for long periods of time without companionship or exercise, however, as they can become bored or destructive.
4. The Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois are highly intelligent and protective, and are often used as police and military dogs.
The Belgian Malinois is a medium-sized, short-haired dog with a working history. Often confused for the German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois is a famous police and military dog coveted for his intelligence, obedience, and trainability.
Because of this dog’s history working as a police and military dog, many people might consider the Belgian Malinois to be a scary dog breed. In reality, this breed makes an excellent companion to the right owner and is highly adaptable to different situations so long as its needs are properly met.
However, that’s not to say the Belgian Malinois is the right dog for everyone. In fact, Belgian Malinois could be considered a high-maintenance breed due to the level of training and commitment needed by their owners to ensure they are raised properly. They require daily training, mental stimulation, socialization, and exercise in order to reduce potential behavioral issues.
Because Belgian Malinois are so devoted and protective, they can have strong guarding instincts which in turn can make wonderful guard dogs. But, when not properly raised, trained, and socialized, Belgian Malinois may exhibit aggressive behaviors, leading many to consider them scary dog breeds.
5. The Cane Corso
Cane Corso dogs are massive dogs with a fearsome look.
When considering scary dog breeds, you are not likely to find a list that doesn’t include the Cane Corso. Massive in size and intimidating in appearance, Cane Corso dogs are sure to make any intruder or trespasser think twice before getting too close to your domain.
The Cane Corso temperament is alert and confident, but not aggressive unless improperly raised, trained, and socialized. This breed is known for its loyalty and protective nature. It is a dog that can be trusted to protect its family and property if necessary, but it can also make an excellent companion when properly raised.
Keep in mind that the Cane Corso is a powerful, muscular dog that was bred to be a guard dog and a working farm dog. It is large, strong, and agile, but at its heart, this scary dog breed has a gentle and friendly disposition.
6. The Rottweiler
Though often feared because of his appearance, the Rottweiler can make a friendly and family-oriented dog.
The Rottweiler is a large, black dog breed known in German as Rottweiler Metzgerhund, meaning “Rottweil butchers’ dogs”. Historically, Rotties were bred to herd livestock and pull carts laden with butchered meat to market.
Modern-day Rottweilers are a powerful breed with an intimidating appearance. They have a very high resistance to pain and are powerful diggers with lots of energy. Some owners may find these dogs difficult to train due to their stubbornness, intelligence, and strength. However, Rottweilers thrive on human companionship and love being around people and children when well-trained and socialized.
They can also do well with other dogs when raised with them at an early age, and they make excellent guard dogs thanks to their naturally protective nature.
7. The German Shepherd
Though German Shepherds are considered a scary dog breed, they are also one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.
The German Shepherd is a large, strong, and intelligent dog famous for military and police work. While his appearance may have landed him on our list of scary dog breeds, this breed is also one of the most popular dog breeds in the world for families thanks to its trainability and obedience.
Along with working as military and police dogs, German Shepherds have also been used as guard dogs and search and rescue dogs. The German Shepherd’s temperament is often described as serious, alert, attentive, and fearless.
German Shepherds are very clever dogs with a strong desire to learn, meaning they do best in homes with owners willing to commit time and attention to training and mental stimulation. Luckily, these “scary dog breeds” are a joy to train because they want to please their owners.
8. The Kangal Shepherd
The Kangal Shepherd is a massive dog known for his bravery and devotion.
The Kangal Shepherd is another large dog on our list famous for its powerful body structure and well-developed muscles. The head of the Kangal Shepherd is broad and rectangular, the muzzle is pointed and wedge-shaped, and the ears are triangular. All of this can equate to a dog that looks like a scary dog breed, and thus the Kangal has landed himself on our list of scary dog breeds you might not have known about.
However, like most dogs on this list, when it comes to temperament, the Kangal Shepherd has an innate sense of loyalty that makes it ideal as a companion and guard dog.
And while the Kangal Shepherd does make a good companion for the right owner or household, it’s also not the ideal dog for everyone. This dog requires consistent training, socialization, and exercise in order to grow up happy and healthy.
9. The Wolfdog
Wolfdogs are highly controversial and often considered unpredictable.
Wolfdogs have become increasingly popular over the last ten years or so, especially thanks to popular shows like Game of Thrones.
The wolfdog is just what it sounds like – it is a hybrid crossed between a domesticated dog and a wolf. There are several varieties of wolf dog hybrids, and most are quite controversial. Some are 50% wolf and 50% dog while others maintain a majority of domesticated dog in their DNA with a very small amount of wolf DNA.
Regardless, it’s easy to see why a wolfdog would land itself on our list of scary dog breeds. Many people claim that these hybrid dogs are unpredictable not only when it comes to appearance and health, but also temperament.
Others say that like most dogs when wolfdogs are raised and trained properly they can make wonderful, affectionate family pets.
Still, wolfdogs remain highly controversial and are even banned in some regions. Furthermore, if you are considering investing in a wolf dog from this list of scary dog breeds, you should keep in mind they are also considered more high maintenance than many other breeds and mixes.
10. The Dogo Argentino
The Dogo Argentino is another scary dog breed that made it to this list largely due to size and appearance.
The Dogo Argentino landed on this list for a number of reasons, but mostly due to its size and appearance. This scary dog breed is a large, muscular dog with a short coat. It has a square head, powerful jaws, and very strong legs, all making for an intimidating appearance.
Like many dogs on this list, the Dogo Argentino’s temperament is intelligent, fearless, and protective. They are loyal and obedient to their owners when properly trained and socialized, but they can have a tendency to be aggressive toward other dogs and animals.
We should note that this breed requires an experienced dog owner who is ready and willing to commit time and attention to this dog’s unique needs. Otherwise, the Dogo Argentino can exhibit behavioral problems that include not only aggression, but also destructive behaviors like barking, chewing, marking, and stubbornness.
Scary Dog Breeds And The Reality Behind Breed Discrimination
Breed discrimination is a hot topic amongst many people, and for good reason.
Breed discrimination is a growing problem that affects both dogs and their owners. It can lead to dogs being prematurely euthanized, unfairly treated, and even banned from living in certain cities or districts.
Owners who do own dogs that are notoriously known for being scary dog breeds or aggressive dog breeds may even be required to have their dogs registered through special services and may have to pay more fees for licensing and registration.
The American Kennel Club estimates that more than 30 breeds are currently banned as “dangerous” in some municipalities. These scary dog breeds include dogs like pit bulls, German shepherds, and Rottweilers, all of which top our list of scary dog breeds above.
And while many support breed specific-legislation (BSL), there are many that do not. Those people who oppose BSL claim it’s not effective at reducing dog bites or other dog-related problems, including abuse and neglect. Research continues to be ongoing to better determine whether BSL is truly effective and whether it is being implemented correctly. .
So, if many scary dog breeds on the above list come with so many rules and regulations, why would someone want to own one?
There are also many reasons why someone would want to own a specific breed of dog, such as wanting a guard dog for protection or one that looks intimidating for show purposes. Regardless of the reason behind it, it’s important for all potential dog owners to understand the importance of breed history and the unique needs of specific dogs.
Remember, not all dogs are right for every owner, and it’s important not to invest in a dog simply because of its appearance. While we do understand that appearance is a big reason many people choose to invest in a dog, it should be secondary to the dog’s needs.
It’s a good idea to remind yourself that the dog not only needs to be a good fit for you and your lifestyle, but that you need to be a good fit for that dog.
The Most Important Factors To Look For When Looking For A Dog
Choosing the right dog for you and your household takes time and research.
When you are looking for a new dog, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment. This is especially true if the dog you are seeking is an intimidating dog or a scary dog.
If you are looking for a new furry companion, no matter the reason, there are some important things to consider before you make the commitment.
Be aware of the type of dog you want and why, and then ask yourself if that dog’s exercise needs, socialization requirements, and training requirements land within your scope of capability.
Do you have time to devote to training and early socialization? What are the implications if you do not properly train and socialize this dog breed properly?
Is the dog active and energetic? If so, does this align not only with your lifestyle but also you’re home type?
All of these are important questions to ask yourself when you are considering investing in a dog.
Key Takeaways You Should Consider When Considering A Scary Dog Breed
While many dogs on our above list of scary dog breeds are family-friendly, some are easier to care for than others.
Dogs are truly man’s best friend. They can be great companions and protectors, and they can add incredible value and substance to your life. However, not all dogs are good for every household or owner.
If you are considering getting a scary dog breed, then there are several things that you should take into consideration before making the decision, as we mentioned above.
It’s also important to remember that just because the media or pop culture tells you a dog is a scary dog breed doesn’t mean it is. Size and color are not always great indicators of a dog’s true personality, and many dogs that look like scary dog breeds are really just softies at heart.
And this is great news, considering that most people looking for a scary dog breed don’t actually want a dog that is aggressive and dangerous. Instead, they may be looking for a dog that looks intimidating on the surface for protection but that is truly a sweetheart at the core.
Remember, many factors play a role in your dog’s overall temperament, including breed history, early socialization, training, and environment.
It’s incredibly important to choose a dog that is not only right for you, but also right for your lifestyle, home life, and family.
So, from our list above of 10 scary dog breeds, did you find a dog you might consider calling your own?
Tell us what you think about scary dog breeds in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!
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.