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Keep Your Guard Up Against These Dog Breeds
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Keep Your Guard Up Against These Dog Breeds

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Apr 29, 2022

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Dogs can be wonderful, loyal companions. But about four million Americans are bitten by these animals annually. Some dogs may be fearful due to a history of mistreatment, and others may be more primed to defend their territory. This hardwiring can cause them to lash out. In addition, dogs, like people, experience negative emotions such as frustration and anxiety and may go on the offensive when they feel unwell or are in pain.

Being on the receiving end of canine aggression is terrifying for your pets, neighbors, and household members, no matter the size of your dog. Certain large dog breeds are banned in various countries because of harmful incidents involving humans, but smaller breeds can be dangerous too.

The American Temperament Testing Society tests dogs and provides clues about the breeds to be wary of. The RSPCA maintains that there's no evidence that one breed is more hazardous than the next, but some breeds are present in low numbers in a country but account for a high proportion of attacks.

1

Doberman pinscher

Doberman Pinscher Male Standing JamesBrey / Getty Images

Insurance companies consider certain dogs to have more 'damage potential.' Dobermans are often on these lists. Dobermans first came to America from Germany at the start of the 20th century and were status symbols of a kind. They were known as faithful and reliable watchdogs, but the breed got a bad rep during WW2 when they were often featured in pictures of Nazi concentration camps. These intelligent creatures were branded 'demon dogs.'

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2

Pit bull terriers

American Pit Bull Terrier in nature

Pitbull, the rapper, may hurt your ears, but his canine counterparts get the most backlash worldwide. Pit bulls were bred in the 19th century for blood sports like bull baiting and dogfighting. In 1960s America, drug-dealing street gangs employed pit bulls as guards and indicators of ferocity. If they bit their masters, they were instantly put down. Along with Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers, pit bulls are banned or restricted in many American counties for their unpredictable nature and potential for violence. Pit bulls may need to be muzzled in public areas, so you'll need to check local regulations to stay on the right side of the law.

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3

Rottweilers

Rottweiler dog alberto clemares expósito / Getty Images

Rottweilers trace their ancestry to Roman dogs of war. They were also popular guard dogs before the Second World War and would herd livestock and haul meat carts to the market. Royal City in Washington currently classifies rottweilers as dangerous and banned dogs. And this breed also often shows up on insurance companies' lists of breeds more prone to attack people and properties. They are large and formidable, and they have super strong jaws.

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4

German shepherds

German Shepherd dog lying on a green lawn Christian Sorensen / Getty Images

Between 2005 and 2017, German shepherds came third after pit bulls and rottweilers, respectively, for the highest number of fatal attacks in the United States. The CDC landed on a similar top 3 in an earlier study. Even the seemingly harmless labrador retriever cracked the top 10 list published in DogsBite.org's 2018 report.

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5

Japanese tosa

Head shot closeup of a japanese bandog tosa inu acceptfoto / Getty Images

The Tosa was bred to be a fighting dog in Japan. It was favored as a companion for samurai and saw a resurgence in popularity after WW1. Tosas are interesting for their relatively quiet nature, especially during fights. They are banned in many countries, despite the gentleness they often display. Tosas can be tolerant, too, with early socialization and time dedicated to training.

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6

Siberian huskies

Siberian Husky in winter format35 / Getty Images

Siberian huskies are beautiful and can be excellent pets because they're often calm and unexcitable. But, with poor handling or under less than optimal circumstances, huskies can be destructive, cause severe injury, and be harmful to small children. They have a high prey drive, and you probably won't want them around your house cats or pet birds.

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7

Dogo Argentinos

Dogo argentino lies and looking at the camera in autumn park near red leaves

Dogo Argentinos have faces that look almost cute in repose. They can act as service dogs and guides for the blind, so they have immense potential for good, but they were bred as big-game hunters so can bring down a puma. When dogos are snarling with teeth bared, they can seem like vicious hounds from hell. These dogs are much bigger than pit bulls and are banned in some nations because there have been instances of savage maulings.

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8

Boerboels

Big Boerboel

Boerboels hail from South Africa. They're huge and muscular and have been described as pit bulls on steroids. Proponents say that Boerboels are kind and affectionate. But, if they're unbalanced or lack proper training, these guard dogs can kill, and inexperienced breeders are especially vulnerable to attack. Owning a powerful breed is a great responsibility, so understanding how a dog might fit your lifestyle is key to preventing a bad match. Animals have needs, and if they're not fulfilled, they can manifest in tragedy.

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9

Basenji

Mature Basenji dog looking around standing on a tree branch Yurikr / Getty Images

Now, going a little left field, let's consider two small breeds that are more aggressive than you'd imagine. Basenjis' hunting instincts are strong, and they're not the easiest breed to train. Often, a Basenji may seem shy when it sees new faces, but its countenance can change on a whim. Seek the help of a professional trainer so you can learn potential triggers and prevent your otherwise sweet dog from acting out.

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10

Chihuahuas

Little Chihuahua sitting on the couch in the room Glida46 / Getty Images

They say dynamite comes in small packages, and chihuahuas, the tiniest dog breed, sure can be explosive. Chihuahuas are a 'toy' breed, but there's nothing playful about their possessiveness towards their owners or the way they can bark at unfamiliar individuals. They might not scare away home intruders, but they'll alert you to any unusual activity. Chihuahuas can be moody, and, as a result, they might not be the most kid-friendly dogs despite how cute they are.

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