Allegedly Aggressive Breeds


wolves, aggressive dogsWhich breed of dog is the most aggressive is a controversial topic for many people. For every person who claims a chihuahua is inherently dangerous, there will be one who claims to have known one “who was totally friendly.” One dog does not make a study. Claiming to have been bit by a dog or to have known a dog who one time bit your neighbor’s, friend’s, uncle’s cat does not make a breed dangerous any more than knowing one really friendly dog makes the breed safe.
It is good to remember that when it comes to animals (or people, for that matter) if it has teeth it can bite. This doesn’t mean that it will bite, only that it has the potential to. If you see a strange animal, be it a dog or a bunny rabbit, don’t give him an opportunity to bite you. Give him room and let him come to you only if he so desires. On the whole, dogs actually have a very low level of aggression compared to other animals. This is due to the hundreds of thousands of years they spent evolving with us. It wouldn’t do to have dogs turn on us, so we bred them to be affectionate and bond to us. According to ethologist, Dr. Vilmos Csanyi, dogs bond more strongly to humans than they do even to other dogs. All breeds of dog can either be friendly or dangerous depending on his individual personality combined with early upbringing and socialisation.
While it is true that gangsters and other criminals  have a disproportionate number of aggressive dogs, it is less well accepted that even nice, well meaning people can raise an unfriendly dog. Keeping a dog in a fence or a yard all day, not walking him in novel areas, not socialising him properly, or using punishment-based, dominance theory training can all lead to aggressive tendencies in dogs. This is not to say that all dogs kept alone in yards 24/7, trained with brutal methods or poorly socialised will become aggressive. Only that it increases the likelihood of it happening.
Before you get any dog, you want to research the breed and make sure that it is the right breed for your lifestyle. Any dog can become aggressive,but most dogs won’t. All dogs need to be well socialised. It is good for a dog to come in contact with a hundred different people and dogs before it is 4 1/2 months old. There will always be those who claim that some dogs are more dangerous than others. There will always be those who are afraid of one breed or another for various reasons. The media does a good job of keeping us all afraid of things. It is up to us to be logical and reasonable. We must all look at facts before letting fear or other emotions cloud our judgment.
Allegedly Aggressive Breeds.
Below is an alphabetical list of dogs with bad raps or high bite statistics. This list has been compiled after extensive research into popular myths and media sensation, coupled with the most recent bite statistics. Keep in mind that bite statistics do not take into context the environment with which the dog was raised, nor the situation where the victim was bitten. Bite statistics don’t distinguish between play bites, defensive bites or aggressive bites. Also remember that many bites go unreported and many people are unable to correctly identify breeds and breed mixes, so reliable numbers are difficult to come by. Listed by the individual breeds are scores from the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) from as recent as March 31, 2011,which tests dogs based on his ability to cope with humans and their environment. Please note that the ATTS test scores are influenced by the numbers of dogs tested. Because of this, I listed the overall test score, number of dogs tested and number of dogs who passed the test. The ATTS is based on a pass/fail scale.
  1. Akita. The Akita is a very large and powerful Japanese dog. They are known to be loyal to their humans. As loyalty is valued in Japanese society, there is a spiritual significance to Akitas in Japan. When a child is born, the family will receive an Akita statue to promote health, happiness and longevity. This breed may be very loyal and affectionate to his people, but he does need lots of early socialisation, particularly to other dogs. The ATTS rates this dog a 76%. 534 Akitas were tested, 406 passed.
  2. Alaskan Malamute. This gentle giant makes a playful pet for active people. Malamutes tend to get along well with other dogs, children and adults, however, they get bored easily and need constant mental and physical stimulation. The ATTS ranks the malamute at 85.3% with 224 tested and 191 passed.
  3. American Staffordshire Terrier. The Am Staff is one of a number of breeds that make up the dog commonly known as a ‘pit bull’. The Am Staff is a high energy dog, who needs physical and mental stimulation every day. Do not get this breed if you do not have time to devote to giving him the proper care, exercise and affection that this dog thrives on. This breed is very people oriented.Some people, with evil intent, took advantage of this breeds eagerness to please and turned her into a fighting dog. This same group of people sometimes breed for aggressive tendencies. Should you choose to buy this breed from a breeder it is very important to do your research and make sure it is one of a number of reputable breeders and not an irresponsible one. Early socialisation, particularly to other dogs is very important. The ATTS ranks this breed at 84.2%  627tested, 528 passed.
  4. American Pit Bull Terrier. The American Pit Bull Terrier (pit bull, or APBT) is a fun loving, energetic, strong and confident breed. It is very friendly towards people and they are especially good with children. At the beginning of the 20th century these were known as “Nanny Dogs” because of their reputation of being naturally affectionate towards children. They are adaptable to city or country life, but these are not kennel dogs. Their eagerness to please makes them much better suited to sharing their lives indoors with their people. In the nineteenth century, blood-thirsty men developed this breed for fighting other dogs. They needed to be able to safely handle them, so they bred them to be eager to please and easy to train, but brutal to other dogs. Early socialisation, particularly to other dogs, is very important to this breed. The ATTS ranks the APBT at 86.4% 627 tested 528 passed.
  5. Australian Cattle Dog. This working dog is agile, energetic, strong, courageous and has great stamina.These dogs bond very closely to their family, but they need a job to do. Early socialisation to people is very important for this breed so they don’t become distrustful of strangers. ATTS 79.1% 187 tested 148 passed.
  6. Beagle. This popular hunting dog is often known for their happy personality, their eagerness to please, their powerful nose and their distinctive bay. These dogs’ brains are in their noses and once on the scent it can be difficult to break their concentration. The ATTS ranks them at 80.6% with 72 tested and 58 passed.
  7. Belgian Malinois. Belgian Malinois, Sheepdog and Terveren are all part of the Belgian shepherd family. Belgian Malinois are  highly tractable dogs with a strong work ethic. They are very affectionate with their humans, but can be reserved with strangers. They are high energy, one man dogs. Early socialisation is very important with this breed. Due to their loyalty and work ethic, they are often used as security dogs. The ATTS ranks them at 91.9% with 298 tested 274 passed
  8. Belgian Sheepdog.The Belgian Sheepdog is a courageous, strong and dignified dog. They are indispensable on the battle field where they work as couriers, ambulance dogs and draft dogs. They have found work as search and rescue dogs, they’ve herded livestock, they’ve been guide dogs and therapy dogs. This energetic breed is steadfastly devoted to his human and can be over protective. Early socialisation is very important for this breed. The ATTS ranks these guys at 80.5%, 486 tested and 391 passed.
  9. Belgian Terveren. This versatile working dog has been known to excel at herding livestock, obedience trials, therapy dogs, guide dogs and security dogs.  Like all Belgian Shepherds, they are loyal, one man dogs. Early socialisation is very important. The ATTS ranks Tervs at 79.9%, 472 tested, 377 passed.
  10. Boxer. The boxer is an energetic, fun loving breed. These dogs respond well to positive training and are great dogs for active people. Their ease of training has provided them with jobs from everything to war dogs, guardians, and seeing eye-dogs. Their affectionate personalities have led to a surge in popularity, they are one of the most popular breeds in America. The ATTS ranks them at  83.7% 424 tested and 355 passed.
  11. Bull Terrier. This breed is a friendly, playful, affectionate clown. It  was bred in England to bait bulls and fight dogs. Because of this, early socialisation to other dogs is very important. He generally will not start a fight, but he will finish one. The ATTS ranks Bull Terriers at 90.9% 77 tested, 70 passed.
  12. Chihuahua.This diminutive breed is growing in popularity. Their low maintenance makes them a favorite among apartment dwellers and people with active lifestyles. They tend to be one-man dogs and can be fiercely loyal to their humans. Because of their small size people and dogs can sometimes seem more threatening than they really are, so early socialization is a must. The ATTS rates them at 71.1% 38 tested 27 passed.
  13. Cane Corso. The Cane Corso is an even-tempered, highly tractable dog that is loyal and affectionate with their family, but can be shy and distrustful around strangers. Early socialisation to humans and dogs is a must with this breed. The ATTS ranks the Cane Corso at 83.0%  with 106 tested 88 passed.   
  14. Chinese Shar-pei. The Chinese Shar pei is a serious, independent and dignified dog. It is a one man dog, loyal and affectionate to his family. They need early socialization to people and especially to other dogs. The ATTS ranks the Shar pei at 70.6%. 211 tested, 149 passed.
  15. Chow Chow. The chow chow is a dignified breed. He is a loyal, independent, one man dog. With early socialisation they can be quite good with strangers and children, but socialisation to humans and other animals is important. The ATTS ranks them at 71.4% 98 were tested,  70 passed.
  16. Cocker Spaniel. The “merry little cocker” was originally a hunting dog, but quickly found his way into the hearts of dog lovers everywhere. The cocker spaniel is a high energy, fun loving and friendly dog. The ATTS ranks the cocker spaniel at 81.9%,  227 tested, 186 passed.
  17. Collie. The collie is a family oriented working dog. They get along with adults, children and animals. They can be overprotective, so early socialisation is important. This is an active breed that needs daily mental and physical stimulation. The ATTS ranks them 79.9% with 856 tested and 684 passed.
  18. Dachshund. An April 2011 study by the Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science, rated the Dachshund the most aggressive dog breed. With 1 in 5 biters, it may seem that they earned that ranking. This high raking underscores the need for early socialisation in dogs. Well socialised dachshunds tend to be friendly, playful, good natured, fun loving dogs. There are many different types of dachshunds, but temperamentally, they vary little. The ATTS ranks the smooth, miniature (the most common) at 80.0% with 35 tested, 28 passed.
  19. Dalmatian. The Dalmatian is an active, lively dog that loves to run. It is friendly and affectionate, but needs early socialisation so as not to be distrustful around strangers. It has a strong work ethic and responds well to positive training. The ATTS ranks the Dal at 82.4% with 330 tested, 272 passed
  20. Doberman. The dobie is a loyal, active, devoted dog. Their ease of training makes them popular working dogs and their alertness makes them great guard dogs. They are great with children and other dogs. Dobies need mental and physical simulation every day in order to thrive. The ATTS ranks them 77.7% with 1,592 tested and 1237 passed.
  21. English Springer Spaniel. The English Springer Spaniel is out going, friendly, hard working and full of enthusiasm. It is very affectionate with their people and very good with children, but may be too active for small children. This breed is very adaptable to most environments provided they get daily exercise. The ATTS ranks them 83.8% with 28 tested 23 passed.
  22. German Shepherd Dog. The GSD is a stable, confident, versatile, hard working dog. They have worked as war dogs, police dogs, therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs and they are very popular as seeing -eye dogs. She is warm and playful to family, but may be wary of strangers. Early socialisation is a must. GSD’s are generally good with children and other pets. Their ATTS rank is 84.4 with 3,078 tested 2,597 passed.
  23. Great Dane. The Great Dane is an even -tempered, good-natured gentle giant, that does well with children and other dogs. They are easy to train, but because of their massive size, early training is important. The ATTS ranks the Dane at 79.9% with 278 tested and 222 passed.
  24. Jack Russell Terrier. This is an energetic, affectionate, loyal breed that needs daily, mental and physical stimulation. Despite rating number 3 on the Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science list of 33 most aggressive dog breeds, Jack Russells generally do well with people, though early socialisation is preferred.  Early socialisation to other dogs, however, is crucial as this breed can be scrappy. The ATTS rates the JRT at 84.1% with 63 tested and 53 passed.
  25. Mastiff. The mastiff is an affectionate, calm, loyal, patient breed. They are stead-fast and generally good with children and adults. They do need early socialisation and because of their size, early training is also important. The ATTS ranks them at 85.1%, 188 tested, 169 passed.
  26. Old English Sheepdog. The Old English Sheepdog is a high-energy, spirited, friendly dog. The OES, gets along well with children, adults and other dogs. With abundant exercise, they make excellent house dogs, but they do tend to shed quite a bit. The ATTS rates the OES at 76.6%, 47 tested, 36 passed.
  27. Pekingese. The pekingese is an independent, dignified dog who seems very aware of their royal past. They are good natured and playful with people they know, but need early socialisation to children and other dogs. They respond well to positive training, but shut down with punishment based training. The ATTS ranking is 93.3% with 15 tested and 14 passed.
  28. Presa Canario. The Presa Canario is a calm, alert, confident dog. They need moderate exercise and early socialisation to humans and other dogs. They are affectionate and gentle with their family and children but can be wary of strangers. Their ranking in the ATTS is 90.9% with 33 tested and 30 passed.
  29. Rhodesian Ridgeback. The Rhodesian ridgeback is a good-natured, easy going dog, devoted to his family. They are independent dogs, who need firm, yet positive training. They are generally good with people, but need early socialisation. They have a high prey drive so special attention is needed if you have other small pets. The ATTS ranks them at 84.4% with 455 tested and 384 passed.
  30. Rottweiler. The rottie is a calm, courageous, gentle, hard working dog. They started out as draft dogs, but have been used as military dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs, guard dogs and companions. Rottie’s respond well to training and need moderate exercise and early socialisation. The ATTS rank is 83.7%, 5,446 tested, 4,558 passed.
  31. Siberian Husky. The husky is an active, friendly, out-going dog. He is an independent dog that needs aerobic exercise every day. This breed responds well to positive training and makes a great dog for an active family. The ATTS ranks them at 86.8% with 296 tested and 257 passed
  32. Toy Poodle. Poodles are affectionate, sensitive, easy to train dogs. They are active, but due to their size, can live easily in a house or apartment. They thrive on human companionship and are playful and loving to their families. Toy poodles need early socialisation to dogs and children. Their rank in the ATTS is  82.7%52 tested43 passed

A special note on Pit bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds.
These dogs are often demonized by the press. Several years ago, I personally witnessed an intact lab mix bite and kill a schnauzer puppy at a grooming salon. The schnauzers owner, (who was more interested in going to the bar with his friends then taking the puppy to the vet) was on the news that night claiming that a pit bull had killed his dog after first charging his young son. The story was a fabrication; the son was in no danger and the man lied about the breed involved, but the press ate it up. Pit bulls, Rottweilers and other allegedly aggressive breeds are a hot button topic, guaranteed to sell papers. These dogs get a bad rap, and are some of the most feared dogs, but most are friendly and gentle. In the hands of criminals any dog can become dangerous, with improper handling or lack of socialisation, any dog can bite. (Again, that’s not to say they will bite.)The Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science ranks these breeds as average risk for bites. Cities like London, Denver and Miami that have breed bans in place, see no drop in actual bite statistics.The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that no single breed is genetically more predisposed to bite than any other.

Sadly, this will not stop much of the fear mongering currently going on.Many people react emotionally,instead of logically, this is what makes us human. But when innocent dogs are euthanized over mass hysteria, our humanness ends up failing our best friends. This is criminal.
Now, the numbers show that these breeds may be no more likely to bite than any other breed, however, when they do bite, because of their size, they are much more dangerous. I may laugh if a chihuahua bites me, but if a Rottweiler bites me, I’m on the way to the E.R. With these big dogs (and this is true for all dogs) early socialisation is very important. It is much easier to do it when the dog is young than to have to play catch-up when he is older. Why take chances with an unsocialised dog, when socialising him is so easy?  If you are going to get one of these breeds, please, be responsible. These guys have it hard enough.