When shopping around for a new pet, it is only natural to want to avoid dangerous dog breeds. Even if not looking for a new pet, it is important to do research on a type of dog before classifying them as dangerous or untrainable. For those reasons, we have put together a guide on what are statistically considered the most dangerous dog breeds if they are not trained properly.
It is important to note that this article is not stating that all of these dogs are dangerous. The training element is key. Human behavior greatly influences canine behavior, and there may be dogs that fall into one of these breeds that are very gentle and loving. The information provided in this article is based on statistics from Statista.com and goes over the breeds of dog involved in fatal attacks on humans over a 13-year period.
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The Problem With Insufficient Training
There is a bit of controversy surrounding the relationship between dogs and why they attack. Dog attacks are not only scary, but are also expensive. In fact, higher legal settlements and increasing medical costs have led to the average cost of a liability claim rising by 90% between 2003 and 2017. The issue with blaming the dogs is the controversial part. After all, dogs will do what they’re trained to do, even if that training comes in the form of no training at all. An untrained dog will do as it pleases with nobody telling him not to. Additionally, evidence suggests that owners of dangerous dogs are more likely to have past criminal records for committing violent crimes. A violent owner may result in a violent dog.
Even breeds that are deemed as gentle can be dangerous, as you’ll see in our list of the 10 most dangerous dog breeds. Below we list information about each breed, starting with the breeds responsible for the highest number of fatal attacks on humans between 2005 and 2017. What’s startling is that some of these breeds are some of the easiest to train. That’s further evidence that their behavior may be due to lack of training by their owners.
1. Pit Bulls
The term ‘pit bull' is controversial in and of itself. In fact, many dogs are classified as pit bulls without having any of the three breeds that are considered “pit bull” breeds in their bloodline. In reality, the term is used to refer to “pit bulldogs” that were used in the 1800s as stocky dogs that were used for dogfighting.
Within the classification of “pit bull,” there are four recognized breeds: the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Bully. Although they’re unique in their own ways, they all tend to be medium in size, stocky, short-haired dogs with broad heads, wide-set eyes and strong jaws. It’s those straws that make a bite from a “pit bull” more fatal than a bite from, for example, a Collie.
As a general classification, the “pit bull” category considers any of the four breeds mentioned above; however, it may even include other breeds. That’s why pit bull aficionados understandably get upset when they look at the pit bull’s bad and possibly unfair reputation. Nonetheless, “pit bulls” are blamed for the highest number of fatal dog attacks in the United States. There were 284 deaths from pit bull attacks during the 13-year period that the Statista study looked at. That accounts for 66% of the total fatalities.
It is worth noting that many pit bull owners love the dog for its charming, loyal nature. However, proper training and early socialization is vital. They can be great pets if they receive enough physical and mental stimulation, and if their owner is able to make the dog understand that the owner is the pack leader.
According to a recent canine aggression study, Rottweilers are no more aggressive toward their owners than the average dog. However, they are territorial and protective in nature and tend to be more aggressive toward strangers than the average dog. Combined with their large, strong build, it is no surprise that they’re capable of causing harm. Like all other dogs on this list, Rottweilers need formal training and early socialization. Unfortunately, however, many Rottweiler owners fail to provide this, setting the dog up for failure. That is, perhaps, why this breed was responsible for 45 deaths between 2005 and 2013.
It isn’t genetics that makes the Rottweiler dangerous; it is poor owners and dogfighting enthusiasts who are drawn to the breed because of its intimidating appearance. With the right owners, they’re lovable, loyal pets that even get anxious when away from their owners for too long. They also love having a job to do, which makes them great service dogs and police dogs.
3. German Shepherd
German Shepherds are some of the most intelligent dogs of all breeds. That’s why they’re so commonly used as police dogs and in movies. They’re very eager to please and love having a job to do. Again, without a job to do and without the right owners, they can be aggressively protective of their owners. Additionally, some people may not be aware of how to approach a German Shepherd. Running up to it quickly and excitedly can scare the dog into going into protective mode. In turn, it may attack if allowed. It is important to use caution when approaching a German Shepherd, just like you would with any breed.
A German Shepherd requires an experienced owner who is able to display dominance from an early age. Without this, the dog will become difficult to train and break out of any bad habits. Those difficult-to-train Rottweilers with irresponsible owners are likely responsible for the 20 fatalities that occurred over the 13-year time frame.
4. Mixed Breeds
Mixed breeds are difficult to classify into one group. They could be a mix of two or more of the dogs on this list or a mix of completely different dogs. In short, they can basically be defined as dogs that cannot be classified by breed, so they’re grouped into a generic category. During the time frame of the Statista research, mixed breeds were responsible for 17 human fatalities.
5. American Bulldog
When you look up the American Bulldog on the website of the American Kennel Club, ironically, you’ll see the word, “loving” listed as one of the main characteristics. It is one of the descendants of the English Bulldog, and it came to the United States in the 19th century with working-class immigrants. They were highly-valued working dogs that became popular in the South due to their ability to hunt feral pigs.
An experienced owner who provides early socialization and knows how to channel the excessive energy of an American Bulldog can ensure that it doesn’t end up being grouped with the dogs that caused 15 fatalities during the length of the Statista study. Owners need to establish boundaries very early so the American Bulldog doesn’t assume he can go and act wherever and however he wants.
The Bullmastiff is a very large, intimidating dog that can reach 130 pounds. It is a cross between a Bulldog and a Mastiff and hails from England where it was used to catch poachers. The Bullmastiff is considered to be gentle at home but fearless while working. In addition to its size, the Bullmastiff has a broad, large head with dark eyes and highly set ears pointing up.
As with all guarding breeds, Bullmastiffs need early socialization and training while the dog is still small and able to control. Despite its’ intelligence and ability to excel in scent work and agility training, it can be strong-willed and difficult to train. Again, regular training can ensure the dog gets accustomed to being told what to do, while also providing it a chance for mental and physical stimulation. Without this stimulation, a bored Bullmastiff becomes a destructive Bullmastiff, hence the 14 fatalities they were blamed for between 2005 and 2017.
The Siberian Husky is a very attractive dog known for its ability to pull sleds through cold, snowy conditions in the northern part of North America. They have incredible endurance and work well in packs if socialized early. They’re not as big as many of the dogs on this list, averaging about 50 pounds, but their fur makes them look larger.
Siberian Huskies are actually quite friendly dogs, making them not the best watchdogs. They are, however, very energetic. And a dog who has a lot of pent-up energy can become a destructive dog. The Husky is not very easy to train, as they are sometimes stubborn. They also have a high impulse toward running, so they need to be in a securely fenced area at all times so they don’t end up escaping. Their tendency to run may find them in situations where they could get into trouble, thus the 14 fatalities they were responsible for.
8. Labrador Retriever
It may be shocking to see the Labrador Retriever on this list, as they are the most popular dog in the United States. After all, they are known for their playful, friendly nature. They’re also great with kids and other pets. Labs have a very high trainability rating and are rarely aggressive in nature. However, with the number of Labradors in the country, it’s no wonder that some are responsible for fatalities (specifically nine fatalities between 2005 and 2017).
There was a recent article published by pet insurers in the United Kingdom, stating that Labrador Retrievers were responsible for the most personal injury claims of any breed. Most of the attacks by labs were toward delivery drivers and mail carriers. It is believed that these cases occurred because the dogs were left alone in the yard without supervision, with the owners believing that their dog was gentle and not a threat. Any dog who is startled by a stranger who enters their space is going to react. Again, with the popularity of this breed, it is only natural that some Labrador Retrievers will bite, albeit a small percentage.
Labrador Retrievers need lots of exercise, and being left alone in a yard isn’t going to always suffice. Without daily walks, runs or opportunities to swim, they’ll be destructive, anxious and possibly overprotective. Additionally, their friendly appearance may work against them, as they’re more approachable than other breeds on this list. And when you approach a strange, scared dog in his personal space, attacks are bound to happen.
Boxers are attractive dogs with a confident posture that, when combined with their tuxedo-like coat, makes them look quite dapper. They’re a large breed, averaging 75 pounds, but not as large as some other dogs on this list. The shocking thing about seeing a Boxer on this list is that they’re actually known for being exceptionally patient with young children, as they form strong bonds with their families. They’re also very sensitive and friendly.
However, Boxers were responsible for seven fatalities between 2005 and 2017. Although it isn’t necessarily an aggressive dog by nature, it does have a tendency to jump up onto humans out of excitement. They also have a strong bite and can be incredibly fast. Boxers need owners who can train the dog that this is unacceptable from an early age. In addition, training needs to be done with patience and without being too harsh, as Boxers are so sensitive.
10. Doberman Pinscher
To see Doberman Pinschers at the bottom of the list of 10 most dangerous dog breeds might be alarming — especially coming in behind the Labrador Retriever. After all, they have quite a menacing look with their short coat, muscular body, long legs, pointy ears and sharp teeth. That is why they are used so often as guard dogs. And when an owner trains this highly intelligent breed to be a guard dog, the Doberman will excel at his job. In fact, it was these guard dogs who were most likely responsible for the six fatalities that occurred during the 13-year period between 2005 and 2017.
Dobermans cannot wait until 6 months of age for obedience training and puppy socialization. Waiting until then may ensure you end up with a willful, stubborn dog who thinks he’s the pack leader. They need experienced owners who can provide an active lifestyle and companionship so the dog doesn’t become aggressive.
If you take away anything from this article, it should be that the dogs on this list can also make great pets for the right owner and can even be quite gentle. The effort you put into training a dog will determine the type of pet you get.
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