Dogs have long been known as man’s (and woman’s) best friend. Canines are loyal and lovable, and they often provide comfort, protection and other services to their human counterparts. However, they can also be dangerous.
Depending on the animal’s upbringing, temperament and circumstances, any dog can be a threat. Even small dogs might bite someone. In fact, chihuahuas sink their teeth into vets more often than any other type of pooch.
But certain breeds can cause greater harm simply because of their size or the force of their jaws. Based on the damage they can do, these are some of the world’s most perilous pooches, in no particular order.
26. St. Bernard
These giant dogs from the Swiss Alps are famous for rescuing people from the snow. They are generally intelligent and friendly animals. However, they can become aggressive in certain situations, especially if they are not properly socialized. Due to their enormous size, this can mean trouble.
25. English Mastiff
Large, strong and instinctively protective, English mastiffs are naturally low-maintenance guard dogs. The massive breed is generally gentle but is better suited for homes without small children. With a bite force of 556 PSI, they can do some damage with their jaws.
24. Chow Chow
This East Asian dog breed is one of the most ancient still in existence. In northern China, chow chows are called Songshi Quan, which means “puffy lion dog,” and it is easy to see why, with their small ears and bushy “manes.” They also have powerful jaws like a lion, with a bite force of 220 pounds per square inch (PSI), and can become aggressive due to lack of socialization or an overprotectiveness of their owners.
23. Bull Terrier
Depending on your age, these pups might make you think of either Spuds MacKenzie or Bullseye, the Target dog. Bull terriers are affectionate pets that love to have fun. Although the unique-looking dogs are not especially large, they are quite muscular and were originally bred to be champion dog fighters. Because of their strength and strong prey drive, they should be watched around children and other animals.
22. Great Dane
Standing as high as 32 inches at the shoulder and taller than an adult human when on their hind legs, Great Danes tend to be sweet, friendly and patient with children. However, they are still alert guard dogs. Just their sheer size is capable of injuring a person with a tackle. Great Danes have caused fatalities in the past.
As the name would suggest, the bullmastiff was originally a cross between bulldogs and mastiffs. These big dogs can weigh more than 100 pounds and stand as tall as 27 inches at the shoulder. During the 19th century, gamekeepers bred bullmastiffs to stop poachers in their tracks. Although they usually form deep bonds with their people, a dog that is not used to socialization can be dangerous.
This large sheepdog has its roots in Turkestan and comes from the mastiff family. Kangals are large and strong enough to ward off impressive predators, such as wolves and bears. Although they are protective, Kangals are also gentle and friendly. However, their size and bite force, which is reportedly as strong as 743 PSI, make them dangerous to anyone who threatens these gentle giants or anything in their care.
Labrador retrievers are consistently the most popular pet dogs in the United States. Perhaps this is why they are also responsible for a high number of serious biting incidents. While labs are generally very well-natured, lab owners should learn and watch out for signs of reactivity, such as fearfulness, frustration and even medical issues, that may cause them to bite.
18. Australian Shepherd
Aussies are highly intelligent, energetic and agile ranch dogs with a strong urge to herd everyone and everything. Because of their herding nature and tendencies to chase and nip, they should be watched around small children and other animals. They can also become aggressive, particularly toward strangers, so early socialization is vital.
17. Mixed Breeds
Mixed breed dogs are often healthier, happier, and just as great companions in comparison to purebred dogs, and their puppies can certainly be just as cute. However, that doesn’t exactly make them perfect. They can be somewhat more wild in comparison to purebreds, and are responsible for the second highest number of dog bites in the US. It can be hard to tell what traits a mixed breed may adopt from its parents.
16. Siberian Husky
These lively and striking dogs are loaded with energy and ready for playtime. Although they are friendly, outgoing and eager to please, they can also be stubborn and require a great deal of training and attention. Studies show Huskies are among the most dangerous dogs, particularly when there is a lack of structure or training.
15. Belgian Malinois
Often mistaken for a small German shepherd, these herding dogs are highly intelligent and energetic. Their nature makes them excellent guard dogs and police dogs. However, they can also be aggressive, especially with small children and other animals. They have a bite force of 195 PSI, as well.
14. Alaskan Malamute
Not to be mistaken for the husky, this dog was originally bred to act as Arctic sled dogs. Malamutes are strong pack animals and, because of this, they require firm leadership and disciplined training from their owners. Without leadership, they might believe they are in charge and can become dangerous pets.
13. Japanese Akita
Akitas tend to be big-boned and burly. They naturally have an imposing appearance and their quiet nature can add to this impression. Although they are affectionate with their favorite people, Akitas tend to be protective, wary of strangers and not especially fond of other animals. They can become dangerous without proper training and careful handling.
12. Pakistani Bulldog
This strong, intelligent dog is known by several names, including bully gull terrier, gull dong and kanda. Pakistani bulldogs are smart, loyal and strong-willed, which means they need an owner who is a strong leader. Without proper, consistent training and a watchful eye, they can be quite dangerous.
11. Caucasian Shepherd
Also known as the Caucasian Ovcharka, Caucasian sheepdog or Kaukasische Schaferhund, these massive dogs can weigh as much as 200 pounds. Originally bred for herding and guarding livestock from all sorts of predators (including bears!), the dogs are known for being powerful and confident. Because they are so large, strong and protective, they can become aggressive and dangerous when they are not trained correctly.
Boxers are happy, playful, loyal and smart. They tend to be gentle with children and protective of their families. They can also be strong-willed and stubborn, making training a chore. However, proper training is a must, as they can become aggressive and have an extremely powerful bite. It makes sense, considering they were once bred for fighting.
9. American Bulldog
Bulldogs were originally bred for farm work, guarding and fighting. American bulldogs can be gentle, loyal and affectionate pets when raised properly. However, the strong dogs can hurt small children inadvertently due to their sheer size.
8. Tosa Inu
Also known as a Japanese Mastiff, these dogs were originally bred as fighters in Japan. Fully-grown Tosa Inus can weigh up to 200 pounds and can pull about 3,000 pounds, making them a serious force to be reckoned with. While Tosa Inus can be calm and gentle, they are actually banned in the U.K. and several other countries because of their potential for aggression.
7. Cane Corso
A mastiff breed from Italy, the cane corso has been around for thousands of years. The dog’s name roughly translates to “guardian dog,” and they were originally bred to hunt, battle and participate in blood sports as well as guard people and property. Irresponsible breeding and training practices can result in dogs that are aggressive and dangerous.
6. Perro De Presa Canario
This mastiff’s name translates to “Canary Island catch dog,” and they are used to drive livestock or chase off (and kill) predators. These dogs typically weigh upward of 100 pounds and are extremely powerful. Socialization and consistent training are crucial for this breed, as poorly trained dogs have killed people.
5. Doberman Pinscher
Dobermans are powerful and energetic, and they are excellent guard dogs. They are fiercely loyal to their human companions and will be affectionate and protective of children with whom they are raised. Their excessive energy and protective personalities can cause them to become irritable, aggressive and dangerous. Dobermans require a great deal of exercise, training and socialization.
Most Rottweilers are generally obedient dogs, well-behaved and sociable. But on occasion they can become incredibly aggressive, intent on protecting themselves and those they hold dear. Look for signs of aggression, such as growling, standing tall, or the ears standing tall, for they might be getting ready to attack. Rottweilers in particular have a strong bite force, capable of easily injuring both humans and dogs alike.
3. German Shepherd
One of the most popular dogs around the globe, GSDs (German shepherd dogs) have been around for a little more than a century. They were the first service dogs, they often work alongside military and law enforcement personnel, and they thrive on protecting the humans they love. Perhaps this is why they are responsible for so many injuries, including 19 fatalities over a 17-year period.
2. Pit Bull
Intelligent, affectionate, funny and playful are all words that can be used to describe these dogs. However, these beloved pets are also responsible for a large number of injuries and fatalities, and even PETA advocates for all pit bulls to be spayed or neutered. Some experts believe the many pit bull attacks are a result of the dogs increasingly popular. Also, being bred for fighting, they are often improperly trained, handled, or treated. Pit bulls are responsible for the most bites in the US in comparison to all other breeds of dogs.
A hybrid of a domestic dog and one of four types of wolves, wolfdogs are a controversial pet and are restricted in some states and cities. Wolfdogs may have fear-induced aggressive tendencies, which can be hard to predict or control. The hybrid dogs are much longer than regular dog breeds and have a powerful bite force of 406 PSI.
Honorable Mention: Tibetan Mastiff
There was a woman described in the the Beijing Times that was attacked by an unrestrained Tibetan mastiff. She was bitten multiple times and even suffered a hemorrhage. This breed is now prohibited in multiple Chinese cities.
Honorable Mention: Boerboel
This is a mastiff breed native to South Africa. Like a lot of particularly dangerous breeds, this one was bred to protect, guarding farms and houses from predators. They’re known to be very skilled at attacking and restraining targets and being overly loyal to their owners.
Honorable Mention: Gull Dong
The gull dong is a strong breed from Pakistan. It’s a crossbreed between the Bully Kutta and Bull Terrier. It has a perfect mixture of its parent’s abilities, having great strength and agility. It was bred as a fighting dog, making it rather difficult to control.
Honorable Mention: Basenji
The Basenji is a hunting dog local to central Africa. While strong and inquisitive, they’re also known to be quite passive and reserved with strangers. The Basenji is known to be the second least trainable dog breed.
Honorable Mention: Shar Pei
The Shar Pei is a dog originally bred to be loyal to and guard people in China. While technically domesticated, they require a great deal of training to become good pets. Otherwise they remain aggressive and can become dangerous to humans.
Honorable Mention: Dalmatian
Dalmatians have great endurance and strength, even when compared to other dogs. While ordinarily portrayed as docile, if irritated they can do quite a bit of damage.
Honorable Mention: Bedlington Terrier
This dog looks cute, almost like a thin sheep, but don’t let that fool you. It actually can’t be crossbred. It’s considered a versatile dog; good with children and capable of killing any other dog of the same weight.
Honorable Mention: Korean Jindo
The Korean Jindo is the national dog of Korea. And it’s easy to see why, just based on looks. But looks can be deceiving. If you don’t do a good enough job taking care of them and correcting behavior, they can become quite domineering and destructive.
Honorable Mention: Bully Kutta
One of the breeds that make up Gull Dong is about as violent as its descendent. It dates back to the 16th Century in India. It was a working dog made for guard work and hunting. But if not given enough attention it can become quite violent.
Honorable Mention: Brazilian Mastiff
A large, working dog bred in Brazil, it’s known for its tracking ability, aggressiveness, and boisterous temperament. Rather than killing its prey, it would instead capture it and wait for the hunter to arrive.