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29 Aggressive Dog Breeds: Unjustified Label Or Reality?

29 Aggressive Dog Breeds: Unjustified Label Or Reality?

Some dogs are usually perceived as being more aggressive than others. Those that are considered as aggressive dog breeds are often big, strong, and bulky, with intimidating “smiles“. I mean, you’ll only see their sharp teeth if you are unlucky.

There are a few petite exceptions though, like Chihuahuas, who have this infamous title too. But let’s be honest, we are all aggressive sometimes and so are dogs. Maybe some of them have a more stormy reaction in some situations than other dogs.

Fear is something that derives from an unknown that intimidates us. So, this is the same with “aggressive dog breeds“. Once you get to know them and you learn how to behave around them, they are not that scary. Of course, you should always proceed with a dose of caution.

Let’s meet these potentially aggressive breeds.

1. Akita

Akita is lying on the grass

There is a touching movie named Hachiko, with Richard Geere starring in it and a beautiful Akita Inu. The dog waits at the railway station everyday for his master to come back from work, even after the master has died.

This movie tells us a lot about this breed. Akita Inus are proud loners who develop great affection toward a master but they are not very keen to interact with people that they do not have an emotional connection with.

If this dog feels overwhelmed, he can get defensive and show signs of aggression. It is not a very bright idea to let young children near an Akita alone, because they sometimes do not have boundaries when playing.

There is some research that shows differences between male and female Akitas when it comes to aggression.

2. American Pit Bull Terrier

American Pit Bull Terrier runs in the field

The American Pit Bull Terrier is the kind of dog that has a reputation of a bad boy. There are many countries, on all continents, that have ruled out breed-specific legislations for keeping this breed at home.

All types of Pittbuls carry the aura of dangerous dog breeds. So does the American Pit Bull Terrier. The history of this breed is partly why some insurance companies are not willing to “cover“ these breeds.

All of these factors reinforce the idea that this breed is among the aggressive dog breeds. And that can be true, as it is for any other breed in certain circumstances.

3. Basenji

Dog basenji lying on the grass

I am not really sure if this is more of a cat or a dog. It is a breed that likes climbing up trees! That is certainly cat-like. And, it does not bark, it jodles.

One might think it comes from the Swiss Alps, but he actually comes from Egypt. There are a lot of hieroglyphs that testify that this dog was part of the pharaohs’ courts.

Considering the hype that this country had for cats, it is not surprising that this breed tried to adapt to look like one. But, why did I put it on the aggressive dog breeds?

Well, he is not that good with other pets and he has a strong exterminating drive. He can show signs of aggression if a situation gets too much for him.

If you live in the States and you are interested in purchasing this breed, see the Top 12 Basenji Breeders In The U.S. (2022)

4. Boerboel

Boerboel is walking in the field

Sometimes called the Southafrican Mastiff, this dog’s name is not actually of African roots but of Dutch. Boer is a name for a farmer, while boel is a name for a dog.

This large dog was bred to be strong and scary enough to chase away huge wild animals from their master’s properties. It is not a big surprise that it ended up among the aggressive dog breeds.

They are large, and you can check its size on the Boerboel growth chart. But, they have to be that way. This breed is also forbidden in some countries and the FCI does not recognize it.

5. Border Collie

Border Collie is lying on the grass

As his name suggests, this is a dog that herds something and that is not a border but sheep. And sometimes your kids. It is a dog that was first developed in the areas near the Scottish borders.

This is one fine working dog that works really hard. And, that is his main quality. Herding a huge flock of sheep requires strong vocal abilities. That means his owners have to get used to their Border Collie barking.

With the right training and a lot of daily exercise, this medium sized breed can be a very nice family pet. But, he requires some extra training to get along well with kids. Because of his natural protective drive, he has it in him to get aggressive.

6. Bulldog

Bulldog runs across the field

Bulldogs are the kind of dogs that always leave a great impression. There are a few different breeds of Bulldogs that you can choose from, but they all share a few common traits.

This breed is recognisable for their face expression, which is enhanced by the loose skin on their cheeks. You have three options and they are all a bit pricey. The Price for American Bully, price for French Bulldog and price for an English Bulldog is high.

The American Bulldog has the most aggressive tendencies out of these three breed options, but all of them can show signs of aggressive behavior. Of course, with proper training, unwanted behavior can be reduced to a minimum.

7. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff is standing on the grass

This is a dog that was made for the game and he likes the game. It is a mix of the English Bulldog and English Mastiff, with a prevalence of Mastiff genes.

The first game that he was introduced to was catching poachers at night. That is why this mixed breed dog is also called the “Gamekeeper’s Night Dog.“

Later, he had a main role in betting games, where he would search for people that hid in the shrubs. And, the dog always wins.

This dog is usually only trained to overpower a man, not harm him, but accidents can happen. That is why he has a reputation that places him among the aggressive dog breeds.

8. Cane Corso

Cane Corso lies on the grass

The Cane Corso is the type of dog that looks intimidating to passersby and they usually look at it with caution. That is why you should get the best harness for your Cane Corso.

Even though this breed is very affectionate, he is still a big dog that has a natural protective drive. His name means bodyguard.

So, he can be really intimidating toward strangers or people who he estimates as a danger. To be honest, a dog that was used against the gladiators in the arenas will definitely become aggressive if he is forced to be.

9. Chihuahua

Chihuahua walking in the snow

When we say small dog, a great number of people will automatically picture a Chihuahua. It is small indeed, the Chihuahua growth chart testifies to it. But do not be fooled, this little breed of dog is very tricky to handle for an inexperienced dog owner.

Many people ask why are Chihuahuas so aggressive? But, if you ask Chihuahua owners that question, they would still say it is the best dog out there.

So, where is the problem? Probably in the way that some people approach this dog. Studies say that this dog is moderately aggressive. So maybe, the best advice is to show it some respect.

10. Chinese Crested

Chinese Crested

Honestly, when someone mentions this breed, I immediately think of a dragon. His name reminds me of the dragons that were mentioned in Harry Potter. But, he is not even close to the size of a dragon.

This is indeed a small breed, but it is as fierce as many others. It reminds me a bit of the Chihuahua, both in its looks and attitude. They are super-fun toy breeds that are very affectionate and loveable.

At least, if they like you. If they do not like you, then you are in big trouble. I mean, they are small so it does not mean big trouble, the best they can probably do is bite and bark. But, it is unpleasant.

11. Chow Chow

Beautiful dog chow-chow in the park

Some legends say that Chow Chows were used to guard the buddhist temples against evil spirits. Well, I guess you need to be a little bit aggressive to be successful at such a task.

Sometimes they call this dog a “lion pup“ but that is not just because this dog can show aggression or because this dog bites. It is also because of his beautiful mane.

There are many other Chow Chow names that can describe the true nature of this big pup. And he is quite heavy. You can check this on the Chow Chow weight chart, if you want.

12. Coton de Tulear

Coton de Tulear runs across the field

Sounds French to me and it looks French too. The name almost looks like couture at first glance. Such a fine breed. But, it does not come from the Parisian Pret-a-porter, it comes from Madagascar, believe it or not.

He is named after the harbor on the south of the island. It soon became part of the royal family. And I am not surprised, considering how fine looking he is.

And, he does have a royal attitude too. He is very playful and lively but do not interrupt his play,he can get offended and show his teeth. Otherwise, he is a delight.

13. Dachshund

Dachshund is standing in the grass and looking at the camera

The Dachshund is best known for his sausage-like looking body. But, how can something so adorable looking be classified among the aggressive dog breeds?

We must take into account the fact that this dog is an excellent scent hound and that he was used to instill fear and trembling in badgers back in the day.

So, you might consider getting a harness for your Dachshund, just in case there is a badger around. We don’t want to cause any traumas, do we?

14. Dalmatian

Dalmatian lies in the grass

Did you know that Dalmatia is actually a region in Croatia? And that it is apparently a place where this dog was first found as he appears today?

I am not sure why he is considered aggressive. Maybe because of the southern mentality of his homeland region. It is a beautiful Adriatic coast, with people of spicy temperaments. So maybe, the dog is just the same way inclined.

Or maybe, he just gets angry when we assume that there are only Dalmatians with black and white spots. It is true that there are a few more Dalmatian color variations.

15. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher in the forest

Dobermans are the sort of dogs that are always surrounded with a mystic aura. Have you heard of Warlock Doberman? It is no wonder that there are so many myths around this breed.

What is certain is that this breed makes an excellent guard dog. With proper training and socialization, it can also be a fine family member but a lot of energy and time must be put into raising this dog.

Since it is a dog with an enhanced protective drive, there is the possibility that it will act aggressively in situations that seem too intimidating to him. That is why you should consider finding a suitable collar for your Dobe.

16. German Shepherd

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd – it is a name that says everything about this dog. I believe that his producer probably didn’t even dream that one day his beloved pooch would become the most popular dog of all time.

It is a dog that can be excellent in many jobs. But, it can also show some signs that are connected with aggressive dog breeds, such as lunging and roaring, and in some cases, German Shepherds howl and bark a lot.

Some owners use shock collars to train their German Shepherds. All in all, getting a good collar for a German Shephard is a must.

17. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever sets around the park

Are Golden Retrievers aggressive? They can be, to be honest. As can any other dog breed. But, even though they have a reputation of being a perfect family dog, these blond beauties can manifest some nasty traits. But, only when they’re provoked to do so.

Otherwise, they are relaxed pooches that, though have emphasized hunting instincts, can get along with other dogs or small animals. And they show some real skills when they’re dealing with small children.

These dogs are excellent therapy dogs, they help people with disabilities and they are capable rescue dogs. And tell me, is it possible not to love them, despite their occasional nasty behavior?

18. Great Dane

Great Dane

The Great Dane is the kind of dog that looks and acts intimidating at first glance. But, they are actually a dog that is a real sweetheart. However, all big dogs need to be supervised.

The reason for this is because there are people that do not know how to behave near them. It is best to get your dog a good collar and a harness to prevent any accidents.

Having a Great Dane might require frequent visits to a veterinarian because there are quite a lot of health problems that this dog can encounter.

19. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier running across the field


This is a short dog with a high prey drive and a well developed hunting instinct. And, given the chance, he will hunt foxes that are quite a bit bigger than he is. And we all know how cunning foxes are.

So our dog here had to develop some defense mechanisms, which included a bit of aggression. If you want a male Yorkie, it is probable that he will be more aggressive than a female.

To prevent unwanted behaviors in this particular breed, you should take care that he has enough exercise and socialization.

20. Kangal

big white kangal

The Kangal is among the best guard dogs in the world. Some place him among the most aggressive dog breeds too. But, he only shows aggression when necessary, when he needs to protect his flock or property.

In some places, they know him under the pseudonym, Kurdish Kangal and Turkish Kangal. It has an enormous body, which makes him look even more intimidating.

He is a national Turkish breed and he even has his own stamp.

21. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever was once known as a Saint John breed. This breed has held its position among the three most lovable breeds for a long time and I believe it will remain up there for a long time.

What is the cause for so much hype about this dog? Well, first of all, I do not believe it is actually a hype. This dog is a really excellent breed and is capable of doing a wide specter of tasks.

But, do they become aggressive? Well, it can happen. Some say that there are differences between male and female Labradors, where males are more likely to get aggressive. But, this is not scientifically proven.

22. Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo standing in the grass

This breed, with a funny name, has a few desirable traits. It does not shed a lot, it is perfect for family life, and it can sniff out absolutely anything!

He is very affectionate, good with kids, and he likes to play. He always wants to protect his human, so he can get defensive and aggressive if necessary.

His name says it all. His homeland is the Romagna region in Italy, while Lagotto means a lake, which indicates that this dog likes water.

23. Lapponian Herder

The Lapponian Herder stands on the pier

Lapinporokoira, Lapsk Vallhund, or Lapp Reindeer Dog are all the alter egos of the Lapponian Herder. As you can imagine from his many names, this is a dog that was used as a sheepdog for reindeers – a “reindeer dog” maybe.

Sami people gave him a responsible job and he had to be on top of his tasks, so it is no wonder that this dog has a strong will and attitude.

He is ready to defend what is his and if that means some aggression, then so be it.

24. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute running in the snow

As his name suggests, this is a dog from Alaska, made for carrying and pulling heavy cargo through the Alaskan snow. It resembles a wolf but it is far more docile.

But do not be fooled, it is a dog with his own will and it takes a lot of training to discipline him. He has a high prey drive, so he will probably chase smaller animals and smaller dogs. And, he can show signs of aggression. Some people interpret howling and chasing prey as bad behavior.

If you want to get yourself this dog, then you better find a reputable Alaskan Malamute breeder, because it is important to have a person you can trust when making this big decision.

25. Rottweiler

Rottweiler runs across the field

Some people instantly assume that Rottweilers are aggressive. Some people ask, are Rottweilers dangerous? Some also assume that there are big differences between male and female Rottweilers when it comes to aggression. And some wonder if they are good with kids even though they look so intimidating?

But, the truth is in there somewhere. Rottweilers are capable of being dangerous and aggressive. But, they will not attack or hurt people for no reason. There are certain signs of Rottweilers aggression that can be foreseen.

There are many people out there that are intimidated by this breed, with or without reason. So, it is best to buy the best collar and harness for when you’re walking this dog.

26. Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky sitting on a tree in the forest

When people say “a beautiful dog”, one of the first breeds you think of are the Siberian Huskies. And it really is hard to resist these blue eyed piles of gray fur. They really are stunning. But, this does not mean that you should get one immediately.

It is a really difficult dog to handle and is not for a first-time owner. He can show some nasty behavior if you do not know how to train him. He can even bite or show aggression.

Some perceive even a Husky howling and Husky vocalizing as aggression. But, his natural Siberian drive has simply remained from his original northern nights.

27. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier lying on the grass

A long time ago, people would watch other people fighting with wild animals just for fun. This happened in Ancient Rome and was a strange sort of fun I must say. Later, they would watch wild animals fighting other wild animals, bulls and bears for example.

When all that was forbidden, they started betting on a new “sport”, fighting between dogs. And, this was considered fun until the moment it was forbidden.

But at the time, they needed great fighters and that is how the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was created. It is as strong as a bull and has a Terrier attitude. So, this dog is also perceived as aggressive and intimidating and that is how it got on the list of possibly aggressive dog breeds.

28. Tornjak

beautiful Tornjak

This is an officially registered dog within the FCI, although it is not widely known. It is a dog that comes from the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia.

It has a history that is nine centuries long, back to when he was mentioned in some papers as a Canis montanus or a dog that lives in mountains. It is a docile breed that is used as a sheepdog.

He is big and strong and that gives him the ability to defend his flock from wolves, bears, or poachers. But he can be aggressive, even toward humans if he assesses them as a threat.

29. Poodle

A poodle is sitting on the grass

Poodles are among the most intelligent dog breeds. There is a story that in the 19th century, there was a circus Poodle that could count and spell.

If you train it well, it can distinguish your orders with great detail. Tell her to bring you a certain toy and it will do so.

Poodles are very affectionate creatures, so if she is used to you and you leave for too long, she will develop separation anxiety and can show some nasty behavior, including aggression. However,h it is not a naturally aggressive dog.

Worthy Of Mention

There are a few more breeds that are often mentioned in the context of aggressive dog breeds. Check them out!

Cairn Terrier

Croatian Sheepdog

Finnish Lapphund

German Spitz Mittel

Miniature Schnauzer

Perro De Presa Canario

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rough Collie

Saint Bernard

Shetland Sheepdog

Smooth Collie

Spanish Water Dog

Tosa Inu

Wheaten Terrier

Wolf Hybrid

Conclusion For The Aggressive Dog Breeds

Even those that are considered the most aggressive dogs, do not necessarily have to be that aggressive if they have proper training and socialization from a young age.

Most of the dogs who are considered as aggressive dog breeds can do very well in the hands of a skillful owner and learn how to properly react in situations that are assessed as potentially intimidating.

If you are about to get yourself a new best friend, then do the research and find the breed that suits you the best. Some breeds are not recommended for first-time owners because they are difficult to handle.

Sometimes, it is not the entire breed that is the cause of the problem but an individual dog. It may be an illness that is causing the problem, or already learned behaviors and sometimes, there is not much you can do to adapt the dog to his new environment.

But remember, in every dog lies a gentle side. Sometimes you just need to wake it.


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