When it comes to man’s best friend, there is a dog out there for everyone and any dog lover will always have a preference for a particular breed. Some are cute and are desired by all while other breeds are tailored to more experienced owners.
When it comes to aggressive dog breeds, an experienced dog owner is better suited to handle them but there are a few that any new owner could handle. With breeds that have served in wars, been lapdogs to the Imperial family and built to survive in the harshest conditions, dogs are versatile animals that everyone loves to own.
If you are looking for something with a little more relaxed temperament and won’t leave a trail of hair everywhere they go, have a look at these big dogs that don’t shed.
For those who want a little protection and safety, I have put together a list of 27 dog breeds that may be aggressive but with the right training are absolutely lovable and can be great family members and companion dogs.
- 1 27 Aggressive Dog Breeds
- 1.1 1. Bull Terrier
- 1.2 2. Rhodesian Ridgeback
- 1.3 3. Boerboel
- 1.4 4. Saint Bernard
- 1.5 5. American Bulldog
- 1.6 6. Doberman Pinscher
- 1.7 7. Alaskan Malamute
- 1.8 8. Rottweiler
- 1.9 9. German Shepherd
- 1.10 10. Boxer
- 1.11 11. Great Dane
- 1.12 12. Bull Mastiff
- 1.13 13. Siberian Husky
- 1.14 14. Chihuahua
- 1.15 15. Cane Corso
- 1.16 16. Pomeranian
- 1.17 17. Wolf-Dog Hybrids
- 1.18 18. Akita Inu
- 1.19 19. Chow Chow
- 1.20 20. Shar Pei
- 1.21 21. Pit bull Terriers
- 1.22 22. Shiba Inu
- 1.23 23. Dachshund
- 1.24 24. Dalmatian
- 1.25 25. Pekingese
- 1.26 26. Fila Brasileiro (Brazilian Mastiff)
- 1.27 27. English Bulldog
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions about Dogs with Aggression
- 3 Aggressive Dogs – Should You Get One?
27 Aggressive Dog Breeds
1. Bull Terrier
Bull Terriers have been known to be loyal family companions for some time now but they also happen to be one of the most aggressive dog breeds. This is because they were originally bred to be fighting dogs but then later became fashionable companions for gentlemen.
These terriers are effectively all lean muscle but have a belief that they are lap dogs. They will need proper training, and a thorough understanding of this breed is essential.
The Bull Terrier is not a good choice for any first-time dog owners but will be more suited for experienced owners and handlers. This is primarily because of their tendency to become aggressive and are known to be difficult to handle when left untrained.
With the right attention, they are lovers, not fighters and are known to be affectionate towards everyone in the house, especially children.
2. Rhodesian Ridgeback
This breed originated in Africa for the purpose of protecting livestock from lions, yes lions. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are powerful dogs and are capable of being exceptionally brutal. They are also known for their speed and hunting instincts, which is why some consider this breed to be aggressive.
Ridgebacks are pretty calm when it comes to strangers but are immensely loving towards their family. They will even get along with other dogs in your family.
They are gentle and loving but will need a lot of training to get there. Their strong instinct for hunting prey may kick in when they come across smaller animals and dogs they don’t know. Anyone looking to adopt a Ridgeback should be ready for a strong commitment, as well as having ample space for their active lifestyle.
Another African-bred dog, the Boerboel originated in South Africa where it was bred to guard farmers’ livestock against leopards and lions. These giants can grow to weigh between 150-200 pounds and up to 27 inches tall.
Although intimidating, they are also known as guardians of the family because of their devotion to protecting their people. Boerboels have key character traits of being dominant, confident, and trainable.
This intense protective nature is what makes them one of the most aggressive dog breeds. This is why it is essential for the training and socialization of your pup to begin at an early age.
Boerboels are a lovable breed that loves to spend time with their owners but with their size and temperament, it can be too much dog for a first-time owner to handle.
4. Saint Bernard
Originating in the Swiss/Italian Alps, Saint Bernards have been used for centuries as rescue dogs to save people from avalanches. This strong working background means that they do well when they have a purpose. Even though Bernard’s are extremely talented dogs, they do have high levels of aggression.
It is a necessity to ensure that your Saint Bernard pup is socialized and trained from a young age to ease their aggressive side towards unfamiliar people. The males can be pretty stubborn and like to challenge their owner’s authority. It is important that during their training, they come to respect you.
5. American Bulldog
The American Bulldog breed has multiple types with each having its own distinct appearance. There is the Classic type, also known as the Johnson type, and the Standard, also known as the Scott type.
There are also hybrids of the two types. Bulldogs are a stocky breed built for chasing cattle due to their agility and drive.
This breed is incredibly intelligent and affectionate but does require a lot of exercise and an experienced dog owner. Bullies need a fair amount of patience to train and do not like being left alone, particularly in small apartments as they need space to roam.
Although they are amazing with families, they can be aggressive towards other dogs and strangers because of their territorial nature.
6. Doberman Pinscher
Known as being one of the best guard dogs around, the Doberman Pinscher was bred for protection which is why they are widely used within the military and police. Because of this, they have a reputation for being aggressive – one that isn’t undeserved.
Dobermans can be aggressive to those they do not know, either out of fear or because of an instinct to protect their owners. They are fiercely loyal and only attack when provoked.
Along with their fierce side, Pinschers are also immensely intelligent and highly trainable dogs who, with the proper training, can be loving and friendly. It is imperative to socialize a Doberman as early as possible to teach them how to behave in new environments and when meeting new people.
A strong leash is an essential training item that will help you keep control. This breed is for an experienced owner because of their aggressive tendencies.
7. Alaskan Malamute
Malamutes are often confused with their relative, the Siberian Huskies, but are larger in size and much more aggressive. In general, most new dog owners will have trouble with this breed. They are extremely difficult to train and require daily exercise otherwise they become bored and when they get bored, they get destructive.
But, after all the hard work they are incredibly playful and loyal dogs. Malamutes are not dogs that attack first and are careful around people they don’t know. They are also friendly with children and love spending time in a family environment at home.
Try not to leave your Malamute alone for too long, they can get pretty anxious so, a cuddly toy can keep them entertained and happy for hours.
Rottweilers are a popular breed if you’re looking for a powerful and loyal dog. This is the breed that is perceived as being a highly aggressive dog, especially within the media. They can be affectionate and loving dogs or immensely aggressive protectors. How Rotties are raised and trained plays a key role in which of those qualities are explored.
Rottweilers are stocky and can weigh up to 150 pounds and are naturally territorial and protective. This is where correct training comes in and a dedicated owner will result in a relatively docile and well-socialized family pet.
If you show them love and affection from a young age and let them be social, you will have a loving pup that won’t pose much threat to others.
9. German Shepherd
Another extremely popular breed, German Shepherds are stunning yet powerful dogs. They are the breed of choice for the military and make great police dogs based on their agility and intellect. The most obvious trait of theirs is that they can, and do, bite when being territorial.
But, this doesn’t mean German Shepherds aren’t suitable for families as they are a passionately loyal breed that will guard their loved ones with their lives. They are easy to train and can learn a wide range of skills but training is essential with this breed.
The best training tool to use from a young age is socialization to negate any aggressive behavior, as well as frequent exercise. If you keep your dog busy and active, they won’t act out. German Shepherds have a thick coat and shed continuously because of their double coats, with them shedding their undercoat twice a year.
That’s a lot of hair so a dog brush is an essential item when owning one of these hairy giants.
Boxers got their name from being known to “box” with their front paws and today they are known to be one of the more aggressive dog breeds.
These dogs are used as hunting dogs, and back in the day, they were also World War 1 guard dogs. They are a high-energy breed that needs vast amounts of exercise. If Boxers don’t get enough, they start to become frustrated and bored, they then act out with aggressive behavior.
What makes this particularly worrying is that Boxers are known to have a strong bite that can lead to serious injury. They are a protective breed that needs to be trained extensively to hamper the impulse to dominate.
Boxers don’t generally act in this way though towards humans, with the breed normally being friendly, cheerful and playful. Unfortunately, most attacks involve children due to them antagonizing the dog and not respecting the breed.
Respect for this breed is absolutely critical for safety. That being said, a bad owner will bring out those aggressive tendencies in boxers whereas a compassionate one will not.
11. Great Dane
Great Danes are the giants of the dog world and are only perceived as aggressive because of their size. In reality, they are not overly aggressive and unlikely to bite but without the proper training, they can be somewhat aggressive.
Great Danes are gentle and good with children and don’t need much exercise but do need space.
They do vary in character and will always let you know when visitors come over. Some are highly territorial while others will be friendly to all. Danes will also get along well with other dogs if they have been socialized properly.
This breed will use their size to try and dominate the house and requires training to keep them in line. They shouldn’t be left alone with children but otherwise they are not overtly dangerous and make magnificent family pets.
12. Bull Mastiff
The Mastiff is another giant in the dog world that originated in England and is immensely loyal to its owner. However, it is also a breed requiring an experienced owner who knows what they are doing.
Unless you want your house to be run by your Mastiff dog, socialization and training are important to prevent them from turning into aggressive dogs.
This aggressive behavior comes from their natural guarding instincts, which may cause other unwanted behavior. Their attitude towards other pets will also depend on how they are raised. Mastiffs don’t bite but rather just growl at possible intruders.
Bull Mastiffs are gentle with children and are always ready to help their masters. The older they get, the more insightful they become and can generally tell when someone has bad intentions.
13. Siberian Husky
Siberian Huskies are fun to be around and are one of the most lovable dogs. Everyone loves them for their striking eyes and how vocal and expressive they can be with their emotions.
Huskies were bred for the sole purpose of being sled dogs in arctic environments, naturally they are very energetic. Be prepared to take them out for exercise regularly otherwise, they can become destructive and their howling will disturb your neighbors.
Huskies are generally not aggressive by nature but sometimes will attack if provoked. They only really behave aggressively as a result of poor training.
They can be stubborn and will be a challenge even for experienced dog owners. On top of that, Huskies are prone to preying on small animals and should not be left alone with them unless you fully trust them.
They make great companions for kids, as long as the kids aren’t mean to them. This breed is a pack dog, so they’ll constantly be in need of your attention.
You might be surprised that a dog as small as a chihuahua is on this list and it might seem a little strange. These are some of the smallest dog breeds that are pretty much incapable of inflicting a lot of harm. But, that doesn’t mean Chihuahuas are not prone to aggressive behavior.
Chihuahuas may be tiny but their attitudes are big. They are known to form strong bonds with one family member and will be immensely protective of their chosen person. Although they won’t cause too much harm, these tiny pups can give a nasty bite if they perceive a stranger as a threat.
This breed may not be a good choice for a family with small children as they can be quite intolerant of rowdy kids and will get quite nippy.
15. Cane Corso
The Cane Corso is an Italian breed that is a descendent of an ancient Roman dog, the Canis Pugnax. They were bred to be used as Roman war dogs for their bravery and power. With it being related to a war dog, it really is not a surprise that this breed can have aggression issues.
The Corso’s aggression is more related to bad breeding habits that result in these dogs having a somewhat dangerous temperament. This dog requires an expert owner with constant training to combat its headstrong nature. If you are firm and confident with your Corso, they will gain respect towards you.
A small dog is a strong candidate for small dog syndrome, Pomeranians are a very small breed that gets easily intimidated by people and larger animals. Because of this, Pomeranians are known to be territorial and are suspicious of strangers, often acting aggressively towards them.
Pomeranians are notorious for their yappy bark, alerting you if someone is coming. This small ball of fluff tries to dominate its position in the house, so you might need to try and establish your dog’s position in your family ‘pack’.
17. Wolf-Dog Hybrids
This breed’s name alone brings thoughts of wild wolves hunting in the wild. The Wolf hybrid dog has a very high drive to hunt prey and it must be exercised on a regular basis. This is to stop them from participating in their instinctual hunting needs.
It is believed that these hybrids still have a lot of rugged behavior traits because of their wild ancestors. This leads to quite a lot of unpredictable behavior.
This breed is not for you if you are looking for your first dog. They need a strong leader with a consistent training regime. If a wolf-like appearance is what you are looking for in your dog, there are other breeds, like an Alaskan Klee Kai, with a much calmer attitude than this.
18. Akita Inu
The Akita Inu is a large Japanese breed that is mainly used as a police dog in Japan because of its protective nature. They were bred for harsh conditions and even have webbed toes to help walk in snow and ice. If you are looking for one as a pet, Akitas form strong family bonds and respond well to positive reinforcement instead of forceful training.
Akita Inus make amazing watchdogs because of how wary of strangers they are. On top of this, they do have a strong need to hunt prey which makes them difficult for new owners.
19. Chow Chow
With a teddy bear appearance, Chow Chow’s are fluffy and relatively small but can have a bit of a mean streak. They are a bit of a paradox in that Chow Chow’s are incredibly independent but need a lot of attention and training on a regular basis. They are overprotective of their owners and so are not too fond of strangers.
As an aggressive dog breed, they need a lot of exercise or they can become hostile and unpredictable.
20. Shar Pei
The ancestors of the Shar Pei can be traced back to the Chinese Han dynasty, around 2000 years ago. Shar Pei’s generally great companions, despite a history of being guard dogs, pit fighters, and hunters.
These wrinkle-covered dogs can be stubborn with aggression being shown towards other humans and dogs with that fighter instinct coming out.
They are known to be a rare breed that is strong-willed, independent and territorial. Shar Peis need a strong-handed and patient owner who will socialize them properly – although, don’t expect them to enjoy the company of other dogs.
21. Pit bull Terriers
Possibly the breed with the worst reputation, after once being considered a ‘nanny dog’ during World War II. Pit bulls fought in the war and are considered amazing family protectors.
There are 4 different breeds that fall into the Pitbull breed family ; the American Pit bull Terrier, American Bully, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Most mixed breeds are classified as purebreds and are misunderstood.
Pitties are some of the sweetest dogs but have a bad reputation through dogfighting and other bad behavior habits. It is more the irresponsible owners that caused most of the harm to this breed. Regardless of the label, Pitbulls do make amazing family companions when in the right environment.
22. Shiba Inu
Another Japanese breed, the Shiba Inu is a smaller dog that was bred to flush out birds and smaller animals when hunting. These small dogs are known for their cat-like disposition – being extremely agile and having small upright ears.
This breed makes a wonderful companion dog but is also extremely possessive and highly intelligent, often making up their own minds on how things run.
Shiba Inus do have a fiery side with other dogs and can be hostile towards them. In general, Shiba’s cannot be trusted off a leash as their high prey drive will kick in. They are also wary of strangers and need socialization from an early age to curb any potential aggression.
Although small, they have mighty bark. Dachshunds are the most aggressive towards strangers, even though they can’t do much harm. Barking a lot is one of the main issues with this pooch.
This breed originated in Germany for the purpose of hunting badgers and small animals. That strong hunting desire is not lost, so do not leave them around small mammals.
These sausage-like dogs are strong-willed and independent and will become aggressive if they are not trained properly or lack boundaries from a young age.
Early socialization is an effective way to combat their naughty behavior. Most owners do think that their small dog taking an aggressive stance is cute so they encourage that behavior, making them think they rule the house.
The famous spotted breed, Dalmations are a unique, spotty breed that was bred as a guard dog. They are dogs that prefer the outdoors so if you leave them locked up inside the house or don’t stimulate them enough mentally, they will become destructive.
Dalmations are affectionate and love to play but can get rowdy and like to jump on people. Their behavior depends entirely on how they were bred. If bred poorly, Dalmations develop a number of behavioral issues that can be hard to manage. Positive reinforcement training is essential in the training of these large dogs.
Back in the day, the Pekingese was a breed that was only allowed to be owned by the Chinese Imperial family. Throughout the centuries, they have led extremely pampered lives by being lapdogs to the royal family.
It is because of this their aggressive tendencies are easily given into, mostly small dog syndrome. Pekingese are impulsive with a sensitive temperament and despite their small size are not suited for a house with a lot of children.
These dogs can become incredibly jealous and act out so training is essential with any leniency equating to a disaster. If you have frequent visitors then this also is not a good choice of breed for you.
26. Fila Brasileiro (Brazilian Mastiff)
The Brazilian Mastiff is a large breed often used for herding. In Brazil, they act as guard dogs and require experienced owners to handle them. This is because they can be aggressive and be protective.
To such an extent, new owners could find it almost impossible to control them. This is important because the results can be fatal when these dogs attack.
Filas make stunning guard dogs and are suspicious by nature, resulting in them being hostile to unknown people.
Don’t let that put you off though; they do have good qualities, being intensely loyal and channeling that aggression to defend their owners if properly trained. The older they get, the harder they are to train. So, the younger you start training them the better.
27. English Bulldog
These Bulldogs may give off an appearance that is fierce but they are relatively gentle. At first though, they were originally aggressive as they were bred to bait bulls. They have been bred further in an attempt to remove most of their aggression.
Bulldogs are intensely protective when it comes to their food, and will guard it fiercely. They should be left alone when eating and should not share food with any of your other dogs. Bulldogs also have a tendency to be aggressive to any other male dogs if they have not been socialized properly.
Apart from those aggressive tendencies, they are pretty lazy dogs who can be obedient and lovable. Give them a comfy bed and they will sleep by your side all day long.
Frequently Asked Questions about Dogs with Aggression
Are certain dog breeds inherently aggressive?
No dog breed is inherently aggressive. Aggression is a complex behavior that can be influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, socialization, training, and individual temperament. While certain breeds may have specific tendencies or characteristics that can make them more prone to aggressive behaviors, it is essential to remember that aggression can be found in dogs of any breed or mix.
Can aggressive behavior be eliminated or managed in aggressive dog breeds?
Aggressive behavior in dogs can be managed and modified with proper early training, socialization, and behavior modification techniques. Working with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist experienced in aggression cases is crucial. It is important to address the underlying causes of aggression, implement appropriate training methods, and create a safe and structured environment to reduce the risk of aggressive incidents.
Can aggressive behavior be a result of poor breeding practices?
While genetics can play a role in certain behavioral tendencies, including aggression, it is important to note that responsible breeding practices aim to minimize these risks. Reputable breeders prioritize temperament, health, and overall well-being when selecting breeding pairs. However, environmental factors, socialization, and training also significantly contribute to a dog’s behavior, regardless of breeding practices.
How can I prevent aggression in my dog, regardless of the breed?
Preventing aggression in any dog, regardless of breed, involves responsible ownership, early socialization, and positive training methods. Providing proper socialization opportunities, exposure to different environments, and positive interactions with people and other animals can help build a well-rounded and confident dog. Consistent, reward-based training and ongoing enrichment activities are also crucial for mental stimulation and preventing behavioral issues. If aggression does arise, seeking professional help early on is key to addressing and managing the behavior effectively.
Aggressive Dogs – Should You Get One?
Not all dogs are aggressive naturally; they may have that characteristic from their breed but through proper training and socialization their aggression can be tamed. It comes down to the owners and the habits that they instill in their dogs through their training.
Your dog will only be aggressive if you allow it to but remember that in certain circumstances, having an aggressive dog that is loyal to you and your family is a gift. If you are looking for that guard dog to help keep an eye on your family during the night but be a lovable pet during the day, one of the above breeds is your best option.