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20 Scariest Dog Breeds: The Best Dogs To Keep Out Intruders

20 Scariest Dog Breeds: The Best Dogs To Keep Out Intruders

People get dogs for many reasons but mostly as family companions and pets. It’s an accepted fact that having a dog in the home is good for your mental health. Dogs are sensitive, and they know how to lift your spirits at just the right time. They keep us entertained for hours with their fun and games, and they shower us with love and affection.

But what if you feel threatened and vulnerable? What if you feel that you need protection?

Well, most dog breeds will be naturally protective of their family and their home. They’ll bark and growl when they feel threatened, and some will even attack humans or other animals if they sense that the threat is real.

However, there’s a big difference between getting a protection dog and having a dog that’s protective. The main difference is the price: protection dogs can cost from around $15,000 up to around $100,000! These are highly-trained animals, usually reserved for the rich and famous.

They are trained to be calm and alert around the family but will spring into action when needed, often before anyone has even realized that there is a threat.

If you want one of these, and you can afford one, then that’s great. But in reality, most people will prefer a cheaper option. So, we’re going to run through a list of the scariest dog breeds to help you choose one that will help you feel safer in your home.

1. The Dogo Argentino

 Dogo Argentino standing in woods

This list is in no particular order, so don’t think that the Dogo Argentino is the number-one scary dog! However, it can be pretty scary when it wants to be.

As you’ve already guessed, this dog originated in Argentina. It was used as a hunting hound, usually involving big-game. It was developed to be fearless and brave and protect its owners at all costs.

This large dog measures between 23 and 27 inches at the shoulder. They weigh between 80 and 100 pounds. Despite their size, they love close physical contact and will lean against your legs and sit on your feet. They’ve been known to climb on their owner’s laps at times!

The Dogo Argentino has what’s been called a thunderous bark, which is usually deterrent enough. But when 90 pounds of white fury comes hurtling toward them at speed, even the hardiest criminal will hesitate.

The challenge with these dogs, aside from their size, is their high prey drive and energy levels. They can also be aggressive toward dogs, so it’s not a good idea to keep cats (or other small pets) or male dogs in the home. If the cats are raised alongside them, there’s a good chance that they’ll get on okay.

They have a generally friendly disposition and are usually calm within the home. However, when you get them outdoors, they are seriously energetic! You’ll need to keep this dog occupied and give it plenty of exercise to keep it in shape.

Early, extensive socialization is essential if you have one of these dogs. You will also need to train them as they are strong-willed and will try to rule the roost if you don’t take charge confidently.

Key points: this dog is intimidating in appearance and has a bark that will deter intruders. It’s smart and alert and will challenge intruders fearlessly. The Dogo Argentino is also a good pet but requires hard work and dedication. It deserves a place on our list of scariest dog breeds.

2. The Boerboel

scariest dog breeds Boerboel sitting in grass

The Boerboel originated in South Africa, where it defended homesteads, humans, and livestock from wild animals like lions and hyenas.

It’s a large and intimidating Mastiff-type dog that came about when Dutch settlers bred their own dogs with those of other European settlers.

These confident dogs make the Dogo Argentino seem small by comparison, although they are fairly similar in height, measuring between 22 and 27 inches at the shoulder. However, in terms of weight, they are generally between 150 and 200 pounds!

For the most part, Boerboels are quiet, calm, and docile. Despite their immense size and powerful, muscular bodies, they are playful and agile.

The Boerboel has a reputation of fearlessly defending its owner, even to the point of death. They are wary of strangers, which makes them good guard dogs. Even so, you’ll need to introduce visitors to them when they enter the home.

They don’t share the high prey drive of our previous scary dog, as they have a history of protecting livestock.

The biggest problem with the Boerboel is that they try to be dominant. It’s not that they don’t adore every family member, but they will seek to assert themselves in the ‘pecking order’ of the home. This means that they need special handling, ideally from an experienced dog owner. You need to make it clear that even the youngest and smallest family members are to be respected.

According to the breeders, proper training and socialization are important, as always, and this should continue even when the dog is an adult.

Key points: for sheer size alone, this dog belongs in the scariest dog breeds. They carry the weight well and are considered the most agile of the Mastiffs. A well-trained and socialized Boerboel will definitely make a formidable foe for any intruder.

3. The Chow Chow

Chow Chow standing on grass

Now, you might think, seriously? The Chow Chow? It’s a big fluff ball!

And yet, here it is on our scariest dog breeds list.

Despite all the mass of fur and fluff, the wrinkled face, and wagging, curved tail, this dog is frequently reported for biting humans.

This may have something to do with their origins. As one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, they were used to guard palaces in China as well as for hunting more than two thousand years ago.

Their teddy bear looks are deceiving, as they aren’t the most social of dog breeds. They can be affectionate and loving, but they are more independent and aloof than many other breeds.

More often than not, they form a strong bond with one family member. They have an intensely protective streak that will make them confront strangers and other dogs.

Chow Chows measure between 17 and 20 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 50 and 75 pounds.

Needless to say, socialization is imperative! This should help iron out any major behavioral problems, but you still need to be cautious.

Key points: fluffy but not a teddy bear! Very independent and protective, it usually focuses its attention on one family member. Needs consistent socialization.

4. The Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Shepherd Dog standing outside

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is another guardian breed. It was originally used to guard livestock in the Caucasus mountain range in Eastern Europe.

It stands at an impressive 25 to 30 inches in height, weighing between 99 and 180 pounds. However, it looks even bigger with all that hair!

These dogs are very loyal, calm, and reserved. They can be affectionate but not anywhere near as soft as a breed like the Pit Bull. They possess a quiet confidence and a strong will. Like many on this list, they are not recommended for first-time dog owners!

In fact, some dog experts suggest that the Caucasian Shepherd dog is only suitable for guarding duty and should not be kept as a pet. Over the years, it has become a common sight in prisons to deter unruly inmates.

A thousand years of breeding have resulted in a dog that is designed to guard and protect above all. This is one very territorial dog, and it will protect and defend its territory fiercely. It will take on bears and wolves without a second thought, so a human intruder won’t be a problem.

People do keep this dog as a pet, but to do so successfully takes a lot of effort and many hours of obedience training and socialization, as they are stubborn and often unwilling to learn. It will protect its family, including children and other pets, but it takes an experienced hand, an iron will, and a lot of patience to make this work.

If you do succeed, you’ll have a devoted and loyal companion that will give you peace of mind. You can rest assured that they’ll protect you.

Aside from its size and ferocity, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog has another feature that qualifies it for our list of scariest dog breeds: it has the longest teeth of any dog breed!

Key points: Fearless and protective. An excellent guard dog but not always the best pet, unless you’re an experienced dog handler.

5. The English Mastiff

English Mastiff standing outside looking into distance

For the most part, the English Mastiff can be described as a gentle giant. They can be polite, shy, or timid, but don’t let that fool you!

This dog is truly intimidating at first sight. Males are over 30 inches tall at the shoulder and can weigh more than an adult male human, usually somewhere between 160 and 230 pounds! Even female English Mastiffs are big, measuring more than 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 120 and 170 pounds.

The English Mastiff is another ancient breed (even mentioned by Julius Caesar and Shakespeare!), but it has experienced many alterations over the years, resulting in a more docile and affectionate companion. Even so, they require extensive and continuous socialization throughout their lives to avoid any problems.

These dogs are designed to be intimidating by appearance alone, and watchfulness is usually discouraged. They can be protective, but they don’t bark a lot.

One major drawback is their short lifespan which is between 6 and 10 years.

Key points: A gentle giant that intimidates through its sheer size. Not very vocal, so you need to rely on its presence to scare people away.

6. The Brazilian Mastiff (the Fila Brasileiro)

Brazilian Mastiff walking outside

As the name implies, this giant dog hails from Brazil. They are versatile animals, great at tracking and hunting, and also used for herding livestock.

They are known for their faithfulness, even inspiring a Brazilian saying, as faithful as a Fila.

But do they belong on a list of scary dog breeds? The American Kennel Club (AKC) seems to think so, along with many countries around the globe where this dog is either banned or heavily restricted!

The AKC states that the Fila’s fierce guard dog instincts make it incompatible with AKC sports and events, so it will never become a recognized AKC breed. More than 10 countries worldwide regard this big dog as too dangerous to allow breeders to produce and sell them.

So, what’s the problem?

The answer lies in the Portuguese word ojeriza, roughly translating as hatred or extreme distrust. Many other dog breeds are loyal and affectionate toward their owners and distrusting of strangers, but this is taken to another level with the Brazilian Mastiff.

They are generally calm and docile, and this can be mistaken for laziness and indifference. For an intruder, this would be a grave misjudgment. This dog’s hatred of outsiders is extreme, and they can’t stand to be touched by anyone who isn’t accepted as family.

As with most of the breeds here, this isn’t a dog for inexperienced owners!

Once again, early socialization is the key to toning down some of this aggression. As they develop, they should be able to determine the difference between a real threat and a passing stranger. Even so, you need to keep a close watch on them when you have visitors.

The trouble is that some dogs will be fine, while others are less predictable. It’s this uncertainty that has resulted in bans and restrictions.

This is another mastiff breed, so it is big, measuring between 24 and 30 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 90 to 180 pounds.

Does it belong on our list of scariest dog breeds? You bet it does!

Key points: strong protective instinct and natural aggression. This dog needs an experienced, dominant owner who will commit to regular socialization and training. Even then, there is a chance that this dog will take exception to visitors to your home.

7. The Canary Mastiff (Perro de Presa Canario)

Canary Mastiff sitting outside

Staying with mastiff breeds, we now turn to the Canary Islands and the Canary Mastiff.

This big, powerful dog is similar in appearance to the Cane Corso, though it lacks its affectionate nature. And unlike the Cane Corso, the Canary Mastiff is not considered good with small children.

In essence, this is a guard dog through and through. Like most mastiffs, they are calm, placid, and gentle under normal circumstances. But when they are roused, you’d better watch out, especially if you’re a criminal attempting to break into a property!

They’re not the biggest mastiff, standing between 22 and 26 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 84 and 110 pounds. They are naturally suspicious, strong-willed, and stubborn. Unlike our previous candidate (the Brazilian Mastiff), they have been accepted by the AKC as a recognized breed. However, the U.K. Kennel club regards it as a mixed breed.

As you’ll have guessed, socialization is essential. This is a complex dog that needs special treatment. It has a strong prey drive and will hunt down small animals unless you train them very well to curb this instinct. They are also naturally suspicious of strangers and will confront anyone they don’t trust.

The secret is to get your dog to regard all humans as dominant, whether they’re a visiting family member, a friend, or a stranger that you trust. If you can do this, your dog will learn to relax as they can see that there isn’t a threat.

Key points: naturally suspicious and wary of strangers. Strong prey drive. If you can teach them to trust your judgment, then you’ll have more success.

8. The American Pit Bull Terrier

Pit Bull Terrier standing looking into distance

We purposely put this dog way down on the list to downplay the whole ‘dangerous dog’ issue. That’s not to say that it doesn’t deserve a place on our list of scariest dog breeds, just that the poor old Pittie has faced a lot of negative press and discrimination over the years.

Essentially, they make great family dogs. Despite their intimidating looks and muscular build, they are as soft as anything, sweet-natured, and affectionate to their owners, especially kids. They are loyal and loving to a fault but can be stubborn at times.

Some of the negativity that surrounds them is born out of ignorance and misinformation. Many of the reported attacks on humans were by Pit Bull-like dogs, but these were often incorrectly identified as the American Pit Bull. Finally, breed-specific legislation that restricts or bans them does little to help, simply reinforcing the stereotypical image of an aggressive dog.

Most of the blame for any attacks and aggression lies firmly with humans who have mistreated the dogs or failed to train and socialize them. However, the fact remains that they have the capacity to cause a lot of damage. They have been bred to never back down, and when they sense a threat, that’s precisely what they’ll do.

Anyone who’s been on the wrong end of an angry Pit Bull will know just how terrifying they can be. When you’re faced with a snarling dog that’s all solid muscle, your best bet is to leave as swiftly as possible.

This puts the American Pit Bull firmly on our list of scariest dog breeds!

Key points: they don’t deserve their reputation as one of the more aggressive breeds, although they can be aggressive if not treated well. They are essentially friendly dogs that just want to play with everyone! However, they can be scary when they need to be.

9. The Dobermann (Doberman Pinscher)

Dobermann standing outside in autumn

The Dobermann (Doberman Pinscher is only used in the U.S.) is often considered the ultimate guard dog. They have a natural instinct for it, and many experts recommend against special training as this can make them too protective and aggressive.

Dobermanns are also naturally people-oriented, often bonding with one special person. They can be affectionate and make great family pets as long as they are socialized from an early age.

The sight of a Dobermann confidently standing its ground and defending its property is an impressive one, depending on where you’re standing! Anyone lurking around a property is going to be put off when they come across this sight.

The Dobermann was said to have been bred using many different breeds of dogs, including the Rottweiler, the German Shepherd, and the Great Dane. A German by the name of Louis Dobermann is credited with the breed’s creation, and he did this to provide a fierce and loyal guardian while he went about his daily business as a tax collector!

They are still widely used as watchdogs and guard dogs but are also used in the police and military, search and rescue operations, and as therapy dogs.

Like all working dogs, they have a lot of energy and need to be kept active. They thrive on being given a job to do.

Key points: natural guardians with a strong protective instinct. Can be affectionate and good with small children, but obedience training and socialization are important. Guard dog training is discouraged, or they may become overprotective and aggressive.

10. The Kangal (Sivas Kangal Shepherd Dog)

kangal one scariest dog breeds standing on hill

This dog originated in the Anatolian hills of Turkey, where it was a livestock guardian rather than a herding dog.

It is famous for its bite force of 743 PSI, higher than any living dog breed at this time. For this reason alone, it has earned a place on our list of scariest dog breeds!
They have the gentle expression of a Golden Retriever, but don’t be fooled, as they are built to be intimidating. They are immensely strong dogs, measuring between 29 and 34 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 120 and 143 pounds. In the past, this muscular frame and powerful bite were enough to scare away mountain lions, wolves, and bears.

Opinions vary widely on whether they make good family pets. Some people say that the Kangal is not good with kids and should only ever be used as a guard dog. Others say that they make great family pets and are especially good with children!

In the end, it comes down to the individual owner and how much effort they put into training and socialization. When it comes to kids, these dogs have been known to show extra care, protecting them over anyone or anything else.

What sets them apart from some of the others here (the mastiffs in particular) is that they have self-control. While they are generally calm, they are also alert, watching out for any threats.

The best way to describe this breed is to say that they are loyal companions rather than pets. And they’ll definitely scare off potential intruders!

Key points: powerful bite, natural guardian, not as affectionate as some dogs but intensely loyal.

11. The Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff standing outside on grass

Known as the scourge of poachers across England in the 19th century, the Bullmastiff was a favorite of gamekeepers patrolling the vast country estates of the English aristocracy.

They were produced by crossing Bulldogs with Mastiffs, creating a breed that was powerful, trainable, intelligent, and gentle with its owners.

This makes them great family pets, as they are docile and affectionate around family (including small kids if they are well-behaved!). They are easy-going and calm but have a natural suspicion of strangers.

The good thing about the Bullmastiff is that it is smart, easy to train, and eager to please. This makes it a pleasure to be around, and when it is needed as a guard dog, it will spring into action immediately. And the best bit is that it knows just the right amount of force and aggression that’s required. It knows to hold an intruder fast without mauling them, keeping them in place until the authorities arrive or you give the command to release them.

Yes, it can be a scary dog, if you’re on the wrong side of the law!

Measuring between 24 and 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 110 and 130 pounds, it’s not a dog that you want to argue with.

Key points: its intelligence is a bonus, as is the fact that it is affectionate and loving toward family. This is an ideal family pet that can act as a deterrent to intruders.

12. The Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff standing outside

Although its name suggests that it comes from Tibet, little more is known of its origins.

However, it is generally accepted that these mighty dogs are the foundation for all other mastiff-type dogs we know today!

They measure between 24 and 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh anything from 70 to 150 pounds. Although they can be aloof and willful, they are still regarded as good family pets and are even generally okay around other dogs.

Just like some other mastiffs, they are mostly gentle and quiet, but the urge to protect can show itself in extreme ways. They feel a powerful instinct to protect their families and property.

Thankfully, like our previous entry, they are intelligent. However, they aren’t as easy to train. Continuous and consistent training is vital to keep their instincts under control.

Key points: a great watchdog, good with families and kids, but can be independent and aloof. Training and socialization must be continued into adulthood.

13. The Tosa Inu

Tosa Inu standing looking into distance

We enter controversial territory here, as the Tosa Inu was originally bred in Japan as a fighting dog and is still used for this purpose today. Unusually for fighting dogs, it is large, measuring between 21 and 23 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 100 and 200 pounds.

Obviously, aggression is a key quality, qualifying the Tosa Inu for our scariest dog breeds list.

Its fighting dog history has led to this breed being banned and restricted in several countries. Any aggression should never be directed toward humans, but there are no guarantees as this is a powerful dog with a strong will. It’s best kept in a household with no other dogs or small pets.

As you’ll have gathered by now, socialization and training are absolutely essential. You’ll also need secure, high fences all around your property, and you should never let this dog off the leash in a public area. You’ll want to invest in public liability insurance if you can find a company that will provide it!

If you are prepared to take on this dog, you’ll need to use psychology to control it. It’s no use trying to use your strength – it will beat you every time! This dog has been known to haul 3,000 pounds in weight-pulling sports.

Make no mistake – they are affectionate! But this is only reserved for immediate family. Intruders need to beware, as this dog will stop at nothing to protect you. While that might sound good, your Tosa Inu might see a neighbor’s kid as an intruder when he comes across your yard to play with your own kid. And that’s not a scenario that you ever want to happen.

Key points: definitely a scary dog! Designed to fight silently and not make a noise when hurt. This is a special project dog that requires an assertive owner that has the upper hand at all times. Not for the faint-hearted.

14. The Akita

Akita playing in snow

This Japanese bear-hunting dog has achieved mythical status in its homeland, but is it scary?

With an average height between 24 and 28 inches and a weight of between 70 and 130 pounds, they can certainly be intimidating. Most aggression is aimed at other dogs, especially of the same sex.

They were prized as silent hunting dogs, so they won’t bark excessively. However, when they detect a threat, they will alert you.

The Akita is very loyal, devoted to its owners to the extent that it will follow them everywhere! Aggression is usually aimed at other dogs, and most Akita owners accept that it is better to have just one dog in the home.

As with some of these other breeds, you must take care when visitors are in the home. The Akita needs to understand that the guest is welcome and not a threat, or they may become aggressive toward them.

These dogs are generally okay with kids, but it is always wise to monitor any interaction between dogs and children, whatever the breed.

The Akita makes a great watchdog, as they will only bark when there’s a real threat. They are easy to potty-train and are naturally clean animals, which is a bonus!

Key points: this isn’t a social pack animal, and it prefers to work alone. It can be aggressive towards other dogs and is best kept as an only pet.

15. The Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois sitting on field looking away

The Belgian Malinois is essentially a slimline version of the German Shepherd in appearance.

They’re roughly the same height, between 22 and 26 inches at the shoulder, and they weigh a little less on average, between 40 and 80 pounds.

However, there are other differences that set it apart from the trusty GSD.

To begin with, they don’t share the German Shepherd’s level of affection. That’s not to say that they don’t adore their owners, just that they’re more reserved.

Loyalty is one of their best qualities, and they make excellent companions and family pets.

They secure a place on our scariest dog list mostly because they are frequently used as protection dogs. Some people suggest that they are suited to this role because they are naturally aggressive, but this is incorrect. They are very confident dogs, and they’ll defend their territory with courage, but this isn’t necessarily a sign of aggression.

The misunderstanding arises because some owners aren’t prepared for the Mal’s high energy. They need to be given a job to do, or they will become frustrated. They must get all the exercise they need, or they’ll have excess energy and become bored.

This is a dangerous mix! A smart dog that’s frustrated and bored will often become aggressive. The best antidote to this is training, agility courses, flyball, etc. Keep your Mal busy, and it will be happy.

Obedience training is a must, and because this dog is intelligent, it will catch on quickly. Even when relaxing at home, you might catch your dog watching you, waiting for a command. They are always alert and ready to protect you. It’s your job to help them learn when to take action and when to stand down.

Key points: loyal and devoted, a high-energy dog that needs to be kept busy. Makes an excellent guard dog but needs a firm hand and dedicated training.

16. The American Bully

Not to be confused with the American Bulldog, this is a fairly new breed that stems from the American Pit Bull.

It is squat, solid, and extremely muscular, giving it a truly intimidating appearance. Because of this, it is often used as a guard dog, even though it doesn’t have a reputation for being aggressive. To be fair, it’s quite the opposite: they are well-known for being affectionate and friendly!

This dog was bred for companionship and will be your buddy until the day it dies – it’s as simple as that. Breeders who were fed up with the discrimination against Pit Bull breeds decided to create a dog with a low fighting drive that kept the muscular body.

It was also bred for intelligence, and this dog will always wait and consider its actions before going ahead. Despite being used as a guard dog, it is unlikely to attack or show aggression toward strangers.

The American Bully is great with kids and other animals. It doesn’t mind a bit of roughhousing and will happily tolerate kids climbing over it!

So, what’s it doing on our list?

Well, aside from looking like an American Pit Bull, this dog has the misfortune of being associated with dogfighting. This horrific pastime still takes place, and the despicable human beings involved often use Pit Bull type dogs, training them to be as aggressive as possible.

Ear cropping has been linked with dogfighting for many years as it reduces the chance of injury. It also adds to the dog’s ferocious appearance, which is something that some people love to see as they believe it makes them seem tough. The fact is there’s nothing cool or tough about slicing off part of a dog’s ear to make it look aggressive.

The American Bully comes in four sizes, pocket, standard, classic, and XL. Some breeders produce micro and XXL versions, but these are widely rejected by most enthusiasts as they are often unhealthy, and the larger dogs are often injected with steroids to increase their size.

The four official sizes range from 13 inches to 23 inches, and in terms of weight, they are between 40 and 132 pounds.

Key points: not a great guard dog as such, but definitely intimidating. It has a deep bark and will alert you to any trouble.

17. The Boxer

Boxer dog standing on grass outside

This happy and energetic dog is another surprising entry on our list.

Variously described as cheerful, friendly, playful, and calm, it’s puzzling to think that it might be scary! However, they are no strangers to aggression, and they can be frightening to behold when this happens.

To back up this claim, statistics show that 4% of fatal dog attacks in 2019 involved Boxers or Boxer mixes.

Now, 4% is a pretty low number, but that doesn’t change the fact that people went through a horrific ordeal, leaving families to cope with the fallout.

Boxers are medium-sized to large dogs, measuring between 21 and 25 inches at the shoulder, weighing between 50 and 80 pounds. They are strong, muscular dogs with a will of their own and a fearless confidence that can be intimidating.

What makes them a candidate for our list?

Humans! That’s right. It’s our actions that have given these dogs a bad name. Under normal circumstances, Boxers are devoted, loyal, and happy dogs. But they need guidance in the form of socialization and training. They also need to be kept active as they have a lot of energy. Some owners neglect to do this, resultings in bored, frustrated animals.

This is when dogs turn nasty, taking out their frustration on whatever or whoever upsets them. That may be a mailman, a visiting friend, or your neighbor’s cat.

However, if you can channel their energy into training and keep your Boxer happy, they will be your best friend for life. Early socialization will help them tolerate and accept other dogs, strangers, and animals. You can then teach them to use their protective nature to ward off any potential intruders. And if they happen to come across one in your yard, you can be sure that it won’t back down.

Key points: not naturally aggressive but has learned to be so due to human failure. Can be a good deterrent to intruders if trained properly.

18. The Great Dane

Great Dane standing outside looking away

Known in Germany as the Deutsche Dogge, these are giants in the dog world, rivaling some of the other mastiff breeds, with a height of between 28 and 32 inches at the shoulder. They also weigh between 110 and 175 pounds.

Once again, it’s the size of this dog that makes it scary. Your average Great Dane is a big softy! They are friendly, gentle, and devoted to their families. Anyone who has owned one of these gentle giants will tell you how sweet and affectionate they are with kids.

Their scariness comes from the fact that they can be extremely territorial, attacking without warning. Even just one bite from those huge, powerful jaws would do a lot of damage.

On the whole, they are easy to train and make excellent guard dogs due to their natural protective instincts.

Key points: a good deterrent because of their size. They will guard the home, but you’ll need to keep them in check and watch for any overzealous territorial behavior.

19. The Rottweiler

Rottweiler sitting outside on grass

Almost universally accepted as the archetypal scary dog, the Rottweiler is another German breed.

Much of their reputation comes from films and TV, where they are portrayed as scrapyard dogs, or they’re guarding a villain’s lair. They’re big and black, usually shown with bared fangs and drooling jaws.

Is this a fair assessment of the breed? Many people will disagree, describing how loveable and affectionate these dogs are. And that’s true, to an extent. They adore anyone within the family circle, especially small kids. If there’s a danger to children, it’s from their size, as they measure between 22 and 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 80 and 135 pounds.

These dogs are always self-assured, fearless, and confident. They are also calm and good-natured most of the time, but sudden aggression can be a problem, especially with males when they meet strangers or other dogs.

Rottweilers take a while to make up their minds about you. Once they decide that you’re a friend, you’ll be fine!

They have a strong urge to protect you and will act as they see fit when they believe you are in danger. The good news is that they respond well to training and are very obedient. This makes them an ideal pet/guard dog as long as you put in the work!

Key points: excellent guard dogs with the right guidance. Can be aggressive if not trained and socialized properly.

20. The Siberian Husky

husky standing on rock in woods

Most Husky owners will be surprised to see this name here. Huskies are famous for their mischievous character and playfulness. They are crazy, affectionate bundles of fun, so what are they doing on a list of scary dogs?

First, they are highly energetic and have a strong prey drive, so you’ll need to watch them around small animals and pets.

Second, they can look intimidating with their wolf-like looks, especially when they have piercing, light-colored eyes. They’re not massively big, standing between 20 and 23.5 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 35 and 60 pounds. But they are extremely strong dogs built for pulling heavy loads across the frozen Siberian wastes.

Finally, they are unpredictable, and this is what can make them scary! They have a mind of their own, and they’ll use it when this suits them. This means that they’ll be off and out of your yard if they find a loose plank or hole in the fence. They’ll also take off after any small creatures when the mood takes them. They can also be very boisterous and bouncy, especially as pups and young adults.

They don’t have a reputation for aggression. In fact, they are known for their friendly and affectionate nature toward family, kids, and strangers alike. They aren’t the best guard dogs, as they are too friendly, but they can be trained as watchdogs to alert you when there’s a problem.

This unpredictable nature can be a concern as you never know how they are going to react.

It takes a lot of effort and patience to train them, and this process must start as early as possible!

Key points: its scariness lies in its unpredictable nature. Not a guard dog but can be trained as a watchdog. Needs a firm and assertive owner.

What Makes A Dog Breed Scary?

Boxer dog standing on grass outside

When we think of scary dogs, we naturally think of big breeds, massive fangs, and excessive aggression. The trouble is, we’ve been tricked by books, films, and TV, as well as popular opinion that’s usually based on hearsay.

While it’s true that some big dogs can be intimidating, this isn’t always the case.

Let’s take a look at some of the qualities that make dogs scary.


All dogs are around 99.5% genetically identical to gray wolves. This fact, although hard to believe, means that dogs carry a lot of genetic information that makes them act like wild dogs at times. They have deep-rooted instincts that we often don’t recognize.

Even the smallest dogs can be possessive and protective. In fact, many of them suffer from small dog syndrome, and they don’t realize how small they are. This trait makes them seem fearless, and they’ll take on dogs ten times their size.

Of course, an intruder may laugh at a snarling, barking Chihuahua or Pekingese. But there is a chance that it may deter some criminals, even if it’s just because it has raised the alarm. Even a medium-sized dog might do the trick, as they can be surprisingly vicious when they feel threatened.

For example, a Cocker Spaniel will put your safety above its own if they sense that you are in danger.


Generally speaking, black dogs are regarded as the scariest. They have been associated with folk tales going back hundreds of years, often seen as an omen of bad luck. They are called hell hounds, devil dogs, and messengers of death.

Nobody is really sure why this image persists today, but once again, the media tend to use black dogs when they show aggressive or evil animals.

One thing that adds to this belief is that some of the most feared dogs are often black, like the Doberman Pinscher, the Rottweiler, and the Cane Corso.

So, whether it’s a primeval fear that’s firmly embedded within us or a learned response from centuries of folktales shared around the hearth, black or dark-colored dogs are best when it comes to scaring away intruders!

The Bark

When you approach the front door of a house and hear a deep bark coming from within, it makes you think twice about knocking or ringing the bell.

You imagine some kind of horse-sized beast waiting to pounce the minute the door is opened. And when the occupant answers the door, a happy Labrador trots out and presents you with a toy or a blanket! The only danger will be from that tail that beats repeatedly against your leg as the excited pooch walks around you a dozen times.

So, sometimes a loud, deep bark is enough to do the job. Most criminals will reconsider when they hear what sounds like a big, aggressive dog. In fact, a study proved this when a number of convicted burglars were asked what was likely to put them off. The majority of them said that hearing a dog bark would do the trick, especially if it sounds like a big, scary, or aggressive dog.

This means that Beagles, Springer Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers, and even Toy Poodles might scare away an intruder!


Breeds like the American Pit Bull have a reputation for being aggressive. In some senses, this is justified. However, it’s a little unfair to judge the whole breed based on a few isolated incidents.

The trouble is, they look like they’re made to be aggressive. This isn’t helped by a small faction of people who play on the breed’s reputation and appearance. Some of these people are involved in criminal activities themselves, including the despicable world of dogfighting.

Ear cropping adds to this image, giving the dog a sharp and fearsome look, stopping the ears from being damaged during a fight. Other than this, ear cropping is an obsolete, outdated, and unnecessary cosmetic procedure that has been rightly banned in most countries.

Pit Bull type dogs are bred with gameness in mind. This trait means that they will complete a task or die trying. It’s this quality that has made them popular in dogfighting circles for many years.

When you meet a Pit Bull for yourself, you’ll see just how soft and gentle they can be!

This is the case with most ‘dangerous’ breeds. They are loving and affectionate with their families, and with proper socialization, they are good with other animals and people.

The snag comes when you want a guard dog as well as a family pet. Can your dog be both?

It can! But only with the right training. The trick is to choose a smart breed that’s easily trained. They can be taught to use their natural intelligence to determine whether someone is a threat or not.

What you’re looking for is a breed that is obedient, smart, and won’t back down easily when threatened. Some dogs will bark and snarl, then run a mile when push comes to shove! A dog that stands its ground is a formidable foe. Few intruders are going to mess with them, even if they aren’t the biggest dog in the world.

In Conclusion

two The Bullmastiffs standing in woods


So, what have we learned?

In effect, all dogs can be scary! Some don’t really belong here on our list of the scariest dog breeds. They have earned a reputation for being scary because of human failure, either through mistreatment or deliberate interference.

We have shaped them and changed their character through years of selective breeding. We’ve even sliced off pieces that we feel don’t look right or because it will benefit us in some way.

When you think about it, we owe dogs a great debt. They enrich our lives and have performed so many roles for us over the millennia.

These days, they still help us in many practical ways, and we still look to them for protection. We want a scary-looking dog to deter criminals from our property, so we look at lists like this one for guidance.

The very least we can do is treat them right, no matter how scary they are!

Whichever breed you choose, there is work to do. Every breed needs proper socialization from an early age. Now, you are probably sick of the word, as it appeared dozens of times in this article. Well, we make no apology for it! Every one of these amazing dogs deserves the very best chance, and if you want to make a success of it, you need to commit to socialization and training.

There are around 14,000 animal shelters and rescue groups in the U.S., and thousands of dogs have ended up there through laziness, apathy, or indifference. Some dog owners just don’t want to do what it takes to care for their dogs. And when a dog becomes aggressive or unmanageable, they surrender them to a shelter.

In conclusion, choose your dog wisely. You want a companion that’s going to offer protection and peace of mind. Do your research and find a breed that suits you and your family. Then do what it takes to make sure that your dog is well-adjusted, happy, and healthy.

You can count on your dog to love and protect you because that’s just what they do.

It’s up to you to give them everything they need in return.

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