What Are the Most Aggressive Dog Breeds?

What Are the Most Aggressive Dog Breeds?

Author WDF Staff


A dog’s behavior can be influenced by different things, and determining which dog breed is aggressive and which is not can be a tricky thing. First, we need to understand two types of aggressions we will take into account here: dog aggression and human aggression.

1. Dog aggression

Dog aggression is when a dog shows aggression towards other dogs. Some breeds show such tendencies towards other dogs but are generally friendly towards people.

2. Human aggression

Aggression towards humans should not be tolerated if you do not have a working dog whose job is to guard and protect. Having an aggressive dog can become a huge problem and make your life a lot harder than it has to be.

Signs of aggression

Biting isn’t the only display of aggression that needs to be taken care of. Yes, it is the most dangerous thing, but there are also other signs you should be working on with your dog if they display them. Here are some signs you need to look out for:

  • Growling
  • Snapping
  • Showing teeth (different from submissive teeth showing)
  • Charging
  • Muzzle punching
  • Snarling
  • Biting

Why do dogs become aggressive?

There are different reasons any particular dog can be aggressive. No matter how big or small they are, dogs can show aggressive tendencies and behaviors. When talking about aggressive dogs, people usually think about Pit Bulls or Dobermans, but the truth is that smaller dog breeds can bite just as often as larger ones.

The difference is that most small breed bites often go unchecked. A Pit Bull bite is more likely to have devastating consequences than a bite from a Maltese.

Some breeds indeed have a natural tendency towards aggressive behavior because they have been bred as guardians or bull-baiting dogs. That doesn’t mean they are aggressive; that only means they are doing what they were bred to do.

Other reasons for such behavior are learned or experienced. If a breed was not bred for protecting or guarding, you could generally find a pretty clear reason why a dog has behavioral problems. Some of the reasons are:

  • Illness
  • Fear
  • Possessiveness
  • Pain
  • Social aggression
  • Frustration

The good news is that most of these reasons are learned behavior, and if properly trained, they can be unlearned, and the dog can beat their problematic behavior.

Here are our top 7 dog breeds that show aggressive tendencies towards humans or other dogs.

7. Chihuahua

There is a long-standing belief that Chihuahuas are among the most aggressive dog breeds globally, especially among the younger online community. There is a good reason for that. These dogs might be small, but they are very intelligent and full of affection towards their owners.

chihuahua in forest

Chihuahuas can be jealous, fearful, dominant, untrustworthy, and aggressive when it comes to other people or dogs. The good thing about it is that they are rather small, so a bite from a Chihuahua will not cause too much damage to an adult. However, if a Chihuahua bites an infant or small kids, they can cause significant problems.

In the American Temperament Test Society, only 69% of Chihuahuas pass.

Check the full Chihuahua breed profile here.

6. Dachshund

You would probably be surprised about hearing that Dachshunds fall into this category. Unfortunately, they do. Small dogs can fall for the “small dog” syndrome, and they try to compensate for their size by dominating behavior, and sometimes, even aggression.

dachshund closeup

These dogs can make wonderful companions, but families with small children should teach their kids how to safely approach and interact with their Dachshund. They can be snappy and won’t tolerate any sort of rough handling. If that happens, they are quick to snap and bite the person handling them inappropriately. These dogs were also hunting dogs, so aggression and hunting instincts will kick in if they encounter small animals like gerbils or guinea pigs.

Read more about the Dachshund breed here.

5. American Akita

The American Akita is a proud, large, powerful dog breed that should be handled by skilled owners. They are known for their loyalty and protectiveness, but their aggressive tendencies can get out of hand if their behavior is not properly developed.

young american akita

Akitas were bred for hunting and protecting, so dominant behavior and aggressive tendencies are not something that is not expected. Other than genes, these dogs can become aggressive because they weren’t treated right. Abused dogs almost always become aggressive.

4. Jack Russell Terrier

Terriers, in general, are known for their high energy and enthusiasm. Jack Russells are typical members of the Terrier family, and they need to be occupied. They have an abundance of energy, and their intelligence will demand their minds are engaged as well.

jack russell terrier

If you fail to provide these dogs with these activities, they will most likely become destructive and aggressive towards other animals and humans. These dogs are not the most tolerable dog breed out there, and they are not a good match for families with children.

Check out the full Jack Russell breed profile here.

3. Pit Bull

The American Pit Bull Terrier is often thought of as the most aggressive dog breed globally. They have an unfortunate history where these dogs were bred primarily for illegal fighting pits, so their aggressive behavior is not something unexpected.

pit bull laying

There are various movements for saving these dogs and breeders that are trying to change their image. There is no denying the fact that these dogs are responsible for the vast majority of dog-related fatalities. However, if a Pit Bull is raised right and the breeders have carefully chosen their breeding dogs, there is a chance that these dogs can become great family companions.

If you are interested in Pit Bulls, check out this article: Pit Bull Fun Facts.

2. German Shepherd

German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world; not only are they a popular pet choice, but they are also one of the best police and military working dogs. They are also amazing guards and protectors, which can only happen if a dog has a certain amount of natural aggression in them. The most important thing is to teach the dog when that aggression is needed.

german shepherd stance

These dogs are energetic, and if their energy levels are not channeled to something productive, they can become destructive. This is not a breed that will sit idly at home and wait for your return; these dogs require extensive training and socialization.

Read more about the German Shepherd here.

1 Tosa Inu

The Tosa Inu is a Japanese dog breed that is somewhat unfamiliar to the general public. The tosa ownership is heavily regulated, and inexperienced owners should not attempt to get a dog like the Tosa.

tosa dog laying

These dogs were specifically bred with fighting in mind, and they will not tolerate other dogs in their company. Some Tosas might tolerate the opposite sex, but if there is a dog of the same sex in the house, the possibility of a fight happening is pretty sure. These dogs are not for everyone and even if you think you can handle such a dog, check your local and state laws to see if these dogs are even allowed.

If you liked this article, you might want to check out the Most Dangerous Dog Breeds.

World Dog Finder team

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