Last Updated on March 24, 2021 by Dogs Vets
What is dog aggression?
Dog aggression is a behavior that is exhibited by all breeds of dogs. The behavior can continue or stop at a certain point depending on how it is approached. There are a variety of behaviors a dog can exhibit that show aggression. These include:
- Showing teeth
- Charging a person forward
- “Muzzle strike”
- Any other known unusual behavior from your dog
In a biting incident, remember that your dog will give a warning before biting.
Some people prefer small lap dogs and others enjoy the company of a large slobbering powerhouse. Every dog breed is different. There are mild lazy breeds as well as very active and aggressive dog breeds. All prospective pet owners and puppy adopters are urged to be careful in their selection, especially if it is their first time.
See also: Top 21 most beautiful dog breeds in the world today
Any dog can become aggressive under certain circumstances. Certain dog breeds simply have a shorter fuse or a higher prey drive. Some may think that these dog breeds are more dangerous, but that is not the case; understanding aggression in dogs is critical.
Thousands of people own these dogs or use them as working dogs with no aggression issues.
It is important to know which breeds are more aggressive so you can manage the challenges these dog breeds can present. Think about the traits you need in a pet and stick to breeds that are likely to have those traits. Choose a breed that is easy for you to handle based on your experience.
Science on the aggression of different dog breeds
Many previous studies have examined a variety of behavioral traits in different breeds and how genetics determine them.
For example, they have examined compulsive behaviors in breeds (1, 2), behaviors such as
reactivity,adaptability, affability, and caution (3), trainability and boldness (4, 5), sociability (6), and more.
Aggression in different breeds is also highly genetic.
In one of the most ambitious attempts, geneticists in a 2016 study succeeded in determining canine fear and aggression in several hundred breeds using a genome-wide association.
Scientists found that the amygdala and hypothalamus are the two main parts of a dog’s brain responsible for aggression, fear, anxiety and prey drive. Using multiple genotype data sets, they found several primary traits related to fear and aggression that differed between breeds:
- other-directed fear
- other-directed aggression
- dog-directed aggression
- owner-directed aggression
- dog rivalry
It has also been discovered that there are many different genetic factors that influence fear and aggression traits in dogs, and the brain is just one of them.
A dog’s size and body weight were found to be directly related to aggression, with medium and small breeds being the most aggressive; a dog owner’s personality was a determining factor in some breeds but not in others, and breeds carrying Chr18 chondrodysplasia mutations were also found to be more fear aggressive.
Reasons for most aggression in dogs
When they are not feeling well, dogs instinctively protect themselves. If your dog suddenly shows aggression, it may be an indication that he is not feeling well. The disease can affect the dog’s brain and trigger aggression. Dogs should be taken to the vet immediately after the owner notices sudden changes in behavior.
A dog becomes aggressive when it is protecting its territory. It may become aggressive if it feels that another dog or human is invading its space. Some dogs may attack and bite an intruder even if the intruder is a friend. The dog is protecting the boundaries it normally guards.
Your dog may also become aggressive if he has his favorite toy or food bowl and feels you are trying to snatch them from him. The extent of your dog’s aggression may vary, as he may not care if you approach him while he is playing with one toy and growl or show his teeth when he is playing with another.
Dogs naturally have a protective instinct. Some dogs are very protective of their owners and become aggressive when they receive visitors, thinking that the visitors are intruders. Mother dogs may show aggression to anyone who tries to approach their puppies. However, protective aggression is not present in puppies because they have not yet developed this instinct.
Dogs that are afraid will try to escape the source of the fear, but if they cannot, they will use aggression as a defense mechanism. Dogs that are punished may bite or growl at a person when they approach the dog.
It is not advisable to turn your back on a fearful dog because it will come up behind you and choke. Dogs will only attack if there is no other way to get out of their situation.
Dogs that are treated like kings and queens believe that they are the bosses of the house. Therefore, they become aggressive towards other family members and other people. If this behavior is not checked, it will get worse and worse.
When a dog is in pain, it becomes aggressive to protect itself from further pain. All dogs, regardless of breed, age or sex, are prone to pain-related aggression. It is advisable to be extra cautious when handling an injured dog, even if he has never attacked you before.
Dogs can become aggressive when they are prevented from doing something they love or getting something that excites them. This behavior is similar to a child’s behavior when they have been forbidden to get ice cream when the ice cream truck passes by.
What does the average person mean when they talk about aggressive dog breeds?
With the technical definition of aggressive dog breeds out of the way, how does the average person usually use the term?
They usually consider behaviors such as:
- Attacking people
- Showing teeth
- Perform other aggressive behaviors
Top 20 Most Aggressive Dog Breeds in world today
1. Wolf hybrid
The wolf hybrid is the most common dog breed of the wolf type. It is a cross between a dog and mostly the gray wolf (although other wolves can be considered as well). It goes without saying that this breed will be unpredictable due to its high prey drive.
You will not be able to have smaller pets as the wolf hybrid will most likely hunt them, hurt them, and maybe even try to eat them because of its high prey. This breed needs someone who is a very experienced handler and will not allow the dog to dominate.
2. Cane Corso
Cane Corso as the most aggressive dog breedCane Corso already has the appearance of an aggressive dog, and many experts will definitely call this breed as such. Today they are becoming popular as police dogs.
This breed is a descendant of the Canis Pugnax, a dog that was used many centuries ago during the time of the Roman war. It goes without saying that the Cane Corso tends to be aggressive unless it is well handled and trained by an experienced trainer.
3.Bull Terrier – is one of the most aggressive dog breeds
Bull Terrier as the most aggressive dog breedThe Bull Terrier has long been a loyal family companion, but it is also one of the most aggressive dog breeds in the world and probably the smallest of them. They aren’t great for first-time owners, but can be fantastic companions for experienced handlers.
Bull terriers tend to think they are lap dogs, even though they are pound for pound just muscle. Without proper training and understanding of this dog breed, a bull terrier tends to become aggressive and difficult to handle.
4. Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgeback as the most aggressive dog breed Originally from Africa, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large dog that was used to keep lions away from cattle and guard farms. They have evolved to be constantly aware and ready to fight in case this dog’s help is needed for protection.
This breed of dog is aloof with people they do not know and can be very sensitive. Using positive reinforcement is the only way forward with this type of dog, and you will need to consult a professional trainer on how to handle this breed in the future.
5. Dogo Argentino
Dogo Argentino is a white, muscular dog breed from Argentina whose ownership is banned in the UK and many other countries due to its aggression.
This dog was bred for big game hunting like puma and boar. They are really nice canines, but rather wild for a family living in the suburbs. Dogo Argentino is a great and powerful hunting dog, but needs an experienced handler.
6. Boerboel – is one of the most aggressive dog breeds
The Boerboel dog breed originated in South Africa, where it was bred to protect farms and livestock from lions and leopards. It was also used to track wounded animals and protect them until their owner arrived. The Boerboel is a very loyal and large dog.
They are extraordinarily protective of their families and properties, which puts them on the list of the most aggressive dog breeds. This dog is still used today on farms in South Africa.
A farming lifestyle is the perfect environment for Boerboels, as they work with farmers and are very adept at protecting farms from unwanted intruders.
7. Basenji – is one of the most aggressive dog breeds
Sometimes it is hard to believe how certain canines that look small and cute can be put on the list of the most aggressive dogs, but it all depends on breeding history and genes.
The Basenji, which originated in Central Africa, is a hunting dog. This means that every movement of a small animal brings its hunting instinct to full speed and does not stop.
The Basenji is one of the least trainable dogs there is. They are reserved and aloof with strangers and usually have only one master. If you are thinking about adopting a Basenji dog, it is best to talk to an experienced dog trainer who has dealt with them before.
8. Saint Bernard
Saint Bernard as the most aggressive dog breed Although they are known for their good deeds in movies and in reality, they are one of the best rescue dogs. Saint Bernards actually have a high level of aggression.
This great working and talented breed originated in the Swiss and Italian Alps. This breed was used for centuries to rescue people who were trapped in avalanches. Known as one of the best rescue breeds of all time, these dogs are used to work and thrive when used for a purpose.
It is absolutely necessary that a Saint Bernard be socialized and trained from puppyhood to prevent (to some degree) this dog from becoming one of the most aggressive dog breeds.
9. American Bulldog
American Bulldog as the most aggressive dog breedThe American Bulldog is a very heavy set dog that is actually very friendly and loyal.
However, American Bulldogs tend to be high-spirited and very stubborn, which makes them difficult to train and handle. They can be great house family dogs with the right training, but without it they could be one of the most aggressive dog breeds.
10. Akita Inu – is one of the most aggressive dog breeds
Akita Inu as the most aggressive dog breedThe Spitz breed from Japan is a beautiful medium-sized dog. There are two variations of this breed – one is Akita Inu from Japan and the other is Akita from America.
Both dog breeds are strong and dominant species with high prey drive. They are extremely affectionate towards their family, but are distant and territorial towards strangers and will often be extremely aggressive.
11. Chow Chow
Chow Chow as the most aggressive dog breedDistant and extremely independent, the Chow Chow breed requires a lot of attention as well as proper and regular training. Socialization is extremely important for the Chow Chow because they do not like strangers and are very protective of their owners.
They are known as one of the most aggressive dog breeds, which means that recorded bites are higher for this breed than for many others. Chow Chows also require a lot of exercise or can become unpredictable, aggressive and dangerous.
12. Doberman Pinscher
Doberman Pinscher is known to be one of the most aggressive dog breeds in the world today. The Doberman Pinscher is a very loyal and alert dog breed that is known to be one of the best guard dogs around today. They attack only when provoked and are quite aggressive towards other dogs and strangers.
However, Doberman experts who love this breed are aware of its tendency to be extremely aggressive. Since they are known as one of the most aggressive dog breeds, you should not adopt a Doberman Pinscher unless you are an experienced dog owner.
13. Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamute as the most aggressive dog breed Another wolf-like dog, Alaskan Malamute is related to the famous Siberian Husky dog breed, but much larger in both size and personality. They are also much more aggressive than Huskies and most dog owners will have problems with this breed.
Without daily exercise, these dogs get bored and are therefore destructive. Alaskan Malamutes are extremely difficult to train and are very unreliable guard dogs. With a high prey drive, they do not do well with most other small pets.
Rottweiler as the most aggressive dog breedThe Rottweiler is a strong dog that was bred for herding and guarding. To this day, they are considered one of the scariest dogs in the world based on dog bite statistics.
This working breed can become very aggressive very quickly, especially due to neglect, abuse and irresponsible pet ownership. Socialization at an early age is important to ensure your Rottie gets along with other dogs, people and pets, but caution is also advised.
15. German Shepherd Dog
German Shepherd as the most aggressive dog breed. The German Shepherd is a fearless, confident and extremely intelligent dog breed. They are the most commonly used canines in both the military and police forces. This dog breed is very trainable, which is why they are mainly used as working dogs.
GSDs are very territorial and fiercely protective of their families. They need early socialization and someone who understands the German Shepherd needs it well. Without the proper tools and dog training, they can become destructive and very aggressive.
16. Boxer – is one of the most aggressive dog breeds
Boxer as the most aggressive dog breedBoxers are headstrong and slender dogs with very high energy and for this reason they are often classified as one of the most aggressive breeds. They were bred as hunting dogs and were also used in World War I for guarding.
The Boxer is another guarding breed and thrives when properly trained and exercised. The bite of a Boxer can cause serious injuries, so it needs a lot of exercise and something to keep it busy all the time.
17. Great Dane
Great Dane as the Most Aggressive Dog Breed On the lower end of the spectrum in terms of dog aggression, Great Danes are generally known as gentle giants and are even highly recommended as the best apartment dogs.
See also: Top 15 most dangerous dogs in the world
But that’s only if your Great Dane is properly trained. Without an understanding of these extra-large canines, they can become one of the most aggressive dog breeds. Often Great Danes are considered dangerous because of their size, but they are unlikely to bite.
18. Bull Mastiff
Bull Mastiff is a very large and strong breed that is very loyal to its family. This is another type of dog that needs an experienced handler who knows what they are doing.
If not, your home will be run by a huge breed of dog that can wreak havoc just by running through your kitchen. Socialization and training are very important when adopting a bull mastiff to avoid this dog from becoming one of the most aggressive dogs.
19. Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky considered the most aggressive dog breedSiberian Huskies are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world and are considered by many to be gentle pets. But experts say that they are one of the most aggressive dogs.
Huskies closely resemble the Alaskan Malamute discussed above, but are slightly smaller and calmer. They require a lot of exercise and stimulation.
A Husky’s temperament is very close to that of a wolf, which can make them unpredictable. Stubborn and dominant are two other traits this breed is known for. This is a very difficult dog to control and it does not get bored.
20. Pit Bulls – is one of the most aggressive dog breeds
Pitbulls are the most aggressive dog breeds According to dog stereotypes, no list of the most aggressive dog breeds can do without pitbulls.
Pit bull is a name for a variety of dogs, all closely related, but not the same dog breed. The American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Bull Terrier, and the Staffordshire Pit Bull Terrier all fall into this category.
Originally, the pit bull was bred to bait and tear down bulls and bears. This group of dogs is the breed most commonly used for dog fighting to this day, reinforcing the stigma that they are inherently one of the most aggressive dogs.
In addition to the most aggressive dog breeds listed above, there are several other breeds that are occasionally part of similar lists. These include:
- Australian Shepherd
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Labrador Retriever
- Perro de Presa Canario (Canary Mastiff)
- Tosa Inu
FAQs about aggressive dog breeds
We’ve compiled the most common questions about aggressive dog breeds to give you a clearer picture of which breeds are most likely to be aggressive or dangerous.
What is the most aggressive dog?
The Wolf Hybrid is the most aggressive dog breed, followed by the Cane Corso.
What is the most dangerous dog?
According to the Humane Society, the American Veterinary Association and the CDC, the Pit Bull Terrier, Rottweiler and German Shepherd are the most dangerous dogs.
What is considered the most aggressive dog?
While the wolf hybrid is the most aggressive dog, other dog breeds commonly referred to as the most aggressive include the Cane Corso, Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher, Chow Chow, Siberian Husky, Pit Bull Terrier and other breeds mentioned above.
Which dog is very aggressive?
Pit bulls, Dobermans, Rottweilers, wolf hybrids, Akitas and German shepherds are generally considered aggressive. Chihuahuas are also particularly aggressive, but rarely cause injuries due to their size.
Which dog can kill a lion?
The Rhodesian Ridgeback from southern Africa can reportedly kill a lion.
Which dog has killed the most people?
Pit bulls have killed the most people in the United States. According to research, in 2018, pit bulls accounted for 66% of deaths but 6.5% of the dog population in the country.
Remember that training addresses aggression
While all of the above are generally considered aggressive dog breeds, it is important to remember that a significant amount of dog behavior is behavioral.
With proper training, many of the breeds on this list can be non-aggressive and peaceful. Many on the list will also not be aggressive towards their family members, but will show aggression towards strangers. Training is the key in most cases.
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