So you’re looking for a new addition to your family, you’ve spent hours researching different breeds and looking for responsible breeders.
You want to learn about a dog’s temperament, their typical behaviors and what it takes to look after them.
The question a lot of people want answering is simply, are they aggressive?
When we think of dangerous dogs, we tend to think of body language such as snarling, growling, biting, barking, snapping or lunging.
We see a dangerous dog as a dog who poses a threat to another, whether it be a human or dog. In this article we will explore:
- The 10 most dangerous dogs
- Fatalities by dog breed
- Banned dog breeds by state
- Banned dogs by country
10 Most Dangerous Dog Breeds
A quick search for the 10 most dangerous dogs will throw up a range of breeds: Pitbulls, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Akitas, German Shepherd Dogs, Dogo Argentino, Rottweiler and Mastiff. The list goes on, but, each list is different.
Taking a pragmatic look, we considered the tests carried out by the American Temperament Test Society.
This temperament test simulates a casual walk whereby a dog will encounter typical, everyday situations. Neutral, threatening and friendly experiences are encountered and assessors will observe the dog’s reaction.
It seeks to measure the dog’s stability, shyness, friendliness, aggressiveness and it’s instinct to protect it’s handler or itself.
|Polish Lowland Sheepdog||54%|
*The lower pass rates suggests these breeds are less stable and more reactive
Interestingly, 90.9% of Staffordshire Bull Terriers passed this test.
To confuse the issue even further, German Shepherd Dogs passed this test 85% of the time and Rottweilers passed 84% of the time.
Let’s consider the record of fatalities by dog bite over a 13 year period covering 2005-2017.
|Dog Breed||No of Fatalities|
|German Shepherd Dog||20|
How is it the dogs, who more often than not pass a temperament test for stability and friendliness, are also the breeds more commonly involved in fatalities?
Dogs are such a diverse species, there are several factors which influence their behavior. Their parents, their first experiences, their socialization, their training and their environment.
You’ll notice that Pitbulls were top of the list for recorded fatalities.
We know that Pitbulls have a checkered past. They were bred initially for bear or bull baiting. Once this sport was outlawed, barbaric fans turned to dog fighting as it was easier to conceal. To this day, Pitbulls are still used in illegal fighting rings. Not surprisingly they have earned a reputation which is hard to lose and have become banned in many Municipalities across the US; you will see this in the list below.
Banned Dog Breeds by State
There are also a number of Cities and Towns which impose restrictions on breeds such as the Pitbull, or deem them as a dangerous or vicious dog.
By definition, dangerous or vicious dogs are then subject to conditions as per state law. Further information can be found on your local government website.
|State||Breed Specific Legislation|
|Alabama||4 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
Lanett bans Pitbulls and Presa Canarios
|Arkansas||20 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
3 towns/cities ban Pitbulls and American Bulldogs
Salem bans Pitbulls and Rottweilers
|California||Statewide sterilization of Pitbulls
Hollister requires mandatory sterilization of Pitbulls and Chihuahuas
Lancaster requires mandatory sterilization of Pitbulls and Rottweilers
|Colorado||7 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
Broomfield bans Wolf Hybrids
Lone Tree bans all fighting breeds: Pitbulls, American Bulldogs and Dogo Argentinos
Louisville bans Pitbulls and Wolf Hybrids
|Florida||Statewide ban on Pitbulls apart from Sunrise who restrict them|
|Georgia||2 towns/cities ban New Pitbulls|
|Idaho||Georgtown ban Pitbulls
Ashton bans Pitbulls, Presa Canarios and Cane Corsos
|Illinois||Champaign bans Wolf Hybrids
2 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
|Indiana||4 towns/cities ban Pitbulls|
|Iowa||53 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
8 towns/cities ban Pitbulls and Rottweilers
3 towns/cities ban Pitbulls and Dobermans
Centerville bans Pitbulls, Rottweilers and Presa Canarios
Fairfield bans Pitbulls, Dobermans, Rottweilers and German Shepherd Dogs.
|Kansas||77 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
Concordia bans Pitbulls and Mastiff type dogs
Girard bans Pitbulls, Dobermans and Rottweilers
4 towns/cities ban Pitbulls and Rottweilers
Miltonvale bans Pitbulls, Rottweilers and Chow Chows
Pratt bans Pitbulls and Wolf Hybrids
Udall bans Pitbulls, Rottweilers, Wolf Hybrids and Tundra Shepherds
Westwood bans Pitbulls and Presa Canarios
|Kentucky||20 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
Williamstown bans Pitbulls, Rottweilers and Mastiffs
|Louisiana||6 towns/cities ban Pitbulls|
|Maryland||Statewide ban on Pitbulls apart from Ridgely who only declare them as dangerous|
|Michigan||11 towns/cities ban Pitbulls|
|Mississippi||7 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
Ridgeland bans Pitbulls and Wolf Hybrids
|Missouri||50 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
4 towns/cities ban Pitbulls and Rottweilers
Trenton bans Pitbulls, Chow Chows, Akitas and Dobermans
Plattsburg bans Pitbulls, Presa Canarios and Presa Manorquins
|Montana||2 towns/cities ban Wolf Hybrids
Lincoln County bans Pitbulls and Wolf Hybrids
|Nebraska||5 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
Albion bans Pitbulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and Chows
Hebron bans Pitbulls, Rottweilers, Chows and Wolf Hybrids
Loup City bans Pitbulls, Rottweilers and Dobermans
|New Jersey||No banned breeds|
|New Mexico||Tijeras bans Pitbulls|
|New York||Larchmont bans Pitbulls|
|North Dakota||9 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
3 towns/cities ban Pitbulls, Dobermans and Rottweilers
Ray bans Pitbulls, Rottweilers, Chow Chows and Canary Dogs
Wilton bans Pitbulls and Rottweilers
|Ohio||19 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
Brook Park bans Pitbulls, American Bulldogs and Presa Canarios
Lakewood bans Pitbulls and Presa Canarios
|Tennessee||25 towns/cities ban Pitbulls|
|Washington||14 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
Wapato bans Pitbulls, American Bulldogs, Mastiffs and Rottweilers
|West Virginia||Ceredo bans Pitbulls
Bluefield bans Pitbulls and Wolf Hybrids
|Wisconsin||28 towns/cities ban Pitbulls
Washburn bans Pitbulls and Presa Canarios
Yorkville bans Pitbulls and Wolf Hybrids
|Wyoming||Manderson bans Pitbulls
Ranchester bans Pitbulls, Hybrid Coyotes and Wolf Hybrids
Banned Dogs by Country
As we have found, there are a number of dogs that are banned in a number of municipalities across the US. Let’s compare these dogs to the rest of the world.
|USA||Pitbulls, Rottweilers, Wolf Hybrids, Dobermans, Presa Canarios, American Bulldogs, Chow Chows, Mastiffs, Tundra Shepherds, German Shepherd Dogs, Dogo Argentinos and Cane Corso|
|UK||Pitbull, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasiliero|
|Ireland||No banned breeds but restrictions apply to the following breeds: American Pitbull Terrier, Bull Mastiff, Doberman, Pinscher, English Bull Terrier, German Shepherd (Alsatian), Japanese Akita, Japanese Tosa, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rottweiler and Staffordshire Bull Terrier|
|New Zealand||Ban on Importing the following breeds: American Pitbull Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Brazilian Fila, Japanese Tosa and Perro de Presa Canario|
|Australia||Ban on importing the following breeds: Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Japanese tosa, American Pitbull terrier or Pitbull terrier, Perro de Presa Canario and Presa Canario|
|India||No breed bans but there is a ban on importing any dog for breeding purposes|
|Malaysia||Akita, American Bulldog, Dogo Argentino, Fila Braziliero, Japanese Tosa, Neapolitan Mastiff, Pitbull Terrier / Pitbull (also known as American Pitbull, American Pitbull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier)|
Dogs Blacklisted by Insurance Companies
There are some dogs who don’t face government or legal bans, but are blacklisted by various companies or instiutions (e.g. PetSmart banning pitbulls).
You may find that insurance companies won’t cover a particular breed or premiums are higher; so high it’s unaffordable.
If you are looking for a Doggy Daycare or Walker, you may also find that they won’t allow certain breeds (e.g. PetSmart again).
|Pitbulls||As we have already noted, Pitbulls are involved in more dog attack related fatalities than any other breed. Yet ask any owner, when raised with early socialization, consistent and reward based training Pitties can be the most loyal, affectionate and obedient dog you could wish to meet.|
|Staffordshire Terriers||Again, these guys often face bans as they have been recorded as attacking humans. Interestingly, they aren’t included in the list of most common breed involved in dog attacks. The American Kennel Club describe them as confident, smart and good-natured.|
|Dobermans||Shortly after World War II, people started to notice that the Doberman was a favorite of the Nazi’s. Unfortunately, Dobbies were then known as “Demon Dogs” The American Kennel Club describes them as alert, loyal and fearless.|
|Rottweilers||Strong and powerful dogs, these guys were always involved in the heavy duty tasks. Most forget that Rotties were amongst the first guide dogs for the blind. They also excelled as search and rescue dogs during the attack on the World Trade Center.|
|Chow Chows||Loyal companions to the ancient Chinese nobility, Queen Victoria even owned one. These Wild Dog’s of China are dignified, bright and serious-minded. Serene and adaptable – but banned in a number of towns and cities.|
|Great Danes||The American Kennel Club describes these guys as friendly, patient and dependable. Their history as hunting dogs probably gives them their bad reputation as the Germans used them to hunt ferocious wild boar.|
|Perro De Presa Canario||Banned in a number of towns and cities in the US and in many countries across the world. They were bred to protect farms and cattle and to exterminate wild or stray dogs who posed a threat to livestock.|
|Akitas||A banned breed in Malaysia and subject to a number of restrictions throughout the US, these dogs can be the most loyal dog you could ever wish to meet. Take the story of Hachiko who waited for his owner at the train station for around 9 years after he had suddenly died at work.|
|Alaskan Malamutes||Affectionate, loyal and playful these snow dogs have been involved in fatal attacks. Highly intelligent with a high energy drive (they were sled dogs after all) means early socialization and consistent, continued training is essential.|
|German Shepherd Dogs||Interestingly, German Shepherd Dogs are subject to restrictions in a number of states or cities, unless they are police or military dogs. It seems strong and courageous dogs are a credit in experienced hands.|
When we look at a breed of dog, we notice that they all have their own characteristics and qualities:
- We have dogs from working, herding and guardianship roles
- Some are high energy, some are low energy
- Some have high intelligence, some are more laid back
When we look at the breeds most noted for being problematic, involved in attacks or they can become vicious or dangerous, they all have similar characteristics.
They are strong, powerful breeds with high intelligence and courageousness.
The reality is, these strong, powerful breeds get into inexperienced hands, or those hands who want them for the wrong reasons (e.g. illegal dog fighting).
They aren’t socialized, trained or loved for. In these circumstances, any dog has the capacity to behave aggressively, but when a chihuahua has a tantrum, they just don’t do the same amount of damage – so we just don’t hear about it.
We’re not denying that a dog with aggressive ancestors doesn’t have the same ability to be aggressive, that it is somewhat in the genes.
But what is clear, considering the idea of epigenetics, in a positive environment, there is the potential that we can change how these genes are expressed:
- We need to be buying dogs from reputable breeders, who are breeding for health and temperament
- We need to socialize all dogs from a young age
- We need to train them, through positive reinforcement and reward based training
Ultimately, it is your responsibility to raise a well-rounded and stable dog. In a nutshell – don’t bite off more than you can chew. So what do you think, is it the breed or the owner? Let us know in the comments below.