Dog fighting is a cruel animal blood sport where dogs are put on strict diets and training regimes, and the winning canine wins the owner cash. Some dogs were specifically bred for this sport, and most fighting dog breeds are medium sized with sturdy bodies, strong jaws and bite force. However, while you're familiar with some breeds known to this sport, other most popular fighting dogs used in this disgraceful activity may surprise you.
Dog fighting goes back centuries…
Today, dog fighting is illegal in most developed countries and considered animal cruelty with huge penalties and even jail time for the owner. Where it still remains legal, the blood sport of dog fighting is divided into categories:
- Street fighting
In parts of Russian Federation and in Japan, dog fighting remains a legal sport. Elsewhere, even if it's officially unlawful to organize dog fighting events, the law turns a blind eye on it in Latin America, Pakistan, some Eastern European countries. It's even occasionally spotted in the U.S. and the U.K.
According to a story from NPR, dog fighting sport have originated when the ancient Romans would pit fighting dogs against each other in gladiator-style fights to the death. These fights last up until one dog dies, exits the pit, or fails to scratch. As history shows, the dog who loses the battle is then either shot by its owner, tortured or beaten severely.
Other than the entertainment aspect of dog fighting, there are large sums of cash at stake. Money is made by charging stud fees and admission. Thus, a gambling format is reached. People can bet on a certain fighter dog to win some extra dough.
Fortunately, in today's society, we find the idea of two dogs being forced to fight against each other for sheer entertainment repulsive and immoral. In fact, dog fighting is considered a felony in all 50 states in the United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and many other countries. Only as recently as last year, Mexico has also said “no” to any type of dog fighting activities.
RELATED: 20 Most Aggressive Dog Breeds
A dog in the fight and bait animals
- Tibetan Mastiff
- Great Dane
- Saint Bernard
- Danish Mastiff
Today, none of the above five make the list of popular fighting dogs. Years ago, fighting dog breeds were revered for their large bodies, powerful builds and extremely strong jaws. They had to have a low and loud bark. But now, fighting dog handlers prefer medium sized and sturdy dogs.
Another cruel aspect of dog fighting that is less known or forgotten are bait animals.
Bait animals are used to test the fighting ability of any fighter dog. They are usually tied up, and then the fighting dog is let loose. These training methods also include killing and torturing other animals to test the fighting dog's strength.
Records show that most bait animals are attained through dog adoption scams, stealing people’s pets, adopting pets from shelters under the pretense that the pet is going to a good home, and applying for “free to good home” ads. There are stories circling around about Americans being scammed in online puppy sales. That's why you must never advertise your pet online where you can’t go see where the animals will be going.
In South Africa in particular, dog fighting is a huge problem to this day, especially smaller provinces like Western Cape. Even though it is illegal there too, there's less manpower taking care of these activities. The SPCA do their utmost best to try and eradicate the illegal sport, but because it’s very underground, it’s difficult to reach everyone and spread awareness.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular fighting dog breeds out there, going back centuries ago. Some of these fighting dogs were bred from the beginning for this purpose, while it was realized later on that other similar dogs may be good in the pit, too.
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15 Most Popular Fighting Dog Breeds
(some of these dogs will surprise you)
1. American Pit Bull Terrier
As you have probably expected, one of the first on the list is the most famous fighting dog – the American Pit Bull Terrier. We all knew the Pittie was going to make the list of fighting dog breeds, and there's a reason for that. They have had a terrible reputation going back many decades in the western society.
Pit Bulls are the most preferred breed when it comes to dog fighting, because they are not only strong and sturdy but also very loyal and are genetically more aggressive due to breeding. What makes them a perfect fighting dog is also their relentlessness – the dog won't back away from the fight even when injured or close to death, unlike other breeds.
2. American Bulldog
This breed doesn’t do well with other animals, which is what makes it a strong contender in the pit. This is especially true when the other dog is the same breed and sex. American Bulldogs never back down from a confrontation. And, because they’re highly prey driven, they are sought after in the dog fighting world and remain one of the more popular fighting dog breeds outside the U.S.
Similar to American Pit Bull Terriers, historically this breed was always known as a fighting dog. In fact, even more than Pitties the Bull Terrier breed was originally bred for dog fighting back in Roman days and can often be seen portrayed in images of Roman Empire (if you browse your history books). This breed was and still is known as the canine gladiator. Despite their look, they do, however, have a more favorable temperament than some other canines on this list of fighting dog breeds.
4. Cane Corso
Cane Corso is yet another well-known sturdy and strong breed that looks aggressive, and generally makes most lists of dogs to watch out for. This goes back to their history, because this Italian Mastiff was used as a soldier dog for the Romans. They are large and extremely intimidating when you see one for the first time.
These dogs also have a very powerful jaw and a strong prey drive. This breed can easily dominate, thanks to their large size and endurance in the pit, which always made them one of the best fighting dog breeds. Today, they are also used in the military and becoming a popular dog in police work.
Originally bred as a hunting and fighting dog, the Doberman can be a firm contender in the dog fighting pit because of their stamina and endurance. While this dog looks much slimmer than some of the other breeds on this list, don't let them fool you – Dobermans are known for their aggression and strength.
The Doberman packs a lot of muscle and power into their slim frame. They are also extremely intelligent and enjoy pleasing their owner. This is a very easy breed to train and they often take trophies as one of the smartest dog breeds in the world. However, while being among famous fighting dog breeds, Dobermans are also known for their poor genetic health and thus are not as popular today as they used to be.
Not many people know that Rottweilers are generally more aggressive, stronger and more dangerous (when not trained properly) than the famous Pit Bulls or other breeds. According to statistics, Rottweilers are the number one most scary dog out there due to how many dog bite accidents have been attributed to this breed compared to any other.
Calm, courageous and confident, this popular fighting dog breed will challenge anything that confronts them. The Rottweiler is one of the most commonly used fighting dog breeds to this day not only due to their strength, bite force and aggressiveness, but also because similar to Pit Bulls they will never back down.
7. American Staffordshire Terrier
Agile, athletic, fast and relentless, the the American Staffordshire Terrier is yet another well-known fighting dog breed that's used in the illegal sport today. AmStaff, as these dogs are also known, is generally very aggressive towards other animals. They are relentless and will fight to the death.
Don't peg them as just one of the popular fighting dog breeds, though. With training and proper socialization from puppyhood, the AmStaff can be a very well-behaved companion and a loyal, calm pet to most loving dog owners.
8. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Another Terrier on the list, the “original” Staffordshire Bull Terrier from England, is just as popular in dog fighting. The Staffy, as they're often called, will fight when it is challenged, and they aren’t great with other animals either. As a terrier breed, they also have a high prey drive which makes them a perfect contender for a sport like dog fighting.
With their stocky build and drive to fight, these breeds are commonly seen in dog fights these days. They are also smart dogs that are easy to train and like to please their owner, which makes them even more perfect for this practice.
A very rare dog breed, Kuchi – also known as the Afghan Shepherd dog – is one of the most popular fighting dogs in the Afghanistan and other countries in the surrounding area. These dogs were originally bred to protect their owners until people realized that they would also be great to make money in dog fighting.
Because Kuchi dogs are very territorial, hardy and brought up to look after themselves, they make for very strong competitors in the Middle East. In the above video, you can see a report on dog fighting in Afghanistan, with Afghan Shepherd dog in action. You will rarely see this dog breed in the United States.
German Shepherd dogs make the list of fighting dog breeds because they are used in some fighting rings to this day, mostly due to their ability to be easily trained to attack. They are not the strongest or sturdiest canine among fighting dogs, nor do they have an extremely strong dog bite, but their intellect is what makes them popular.
The German Shepherd has a natural attack instinct coupled with their aggressive nature and loyalty that can be honed even more when brought up from a puppy. They are one of the smartest dog breeds to this day, but they don't match up in strength to most other fighting dog breeds here.
Strangely enough, the Akita makes the list of fighting dog breeds, mostly due to their high prey drive and very aggressive nature. This breed never was bred to fight, but in modern times (especially in the UK) they have been used in pits against other dogs of the same strength and ferocity.
This breed traces its origin back to Japan. They were originally bred to guard nobility in their native country. They were also used to track large game such as bear and wild boar, and were great hunting dogs in those days.
Because of its size and strength, the Boerboel is often used as a fighting dog in counties like South Africa. Also known as the South African Mastiff, these canines were bred to guard against predators and work on farms.
They are one of the most powerful dog breeds in the world. With a muscular and large build, and a very powerful jaw and bite force, it's not wonder the Boerboel is often used as one of the fighting dog breeds.
13. Tosa Inu
Another very rare dog breed, Tosa Inu is a large dog that you won't often meet in the U.S. This dog breed is one of the few that was originally bred specifically as a fighting dog and for no other reason. As a result, Tosa Inus are very aggressive, skillful at fighting other dogs and are extremely powerful. This dog breed originated in Japan and remains mostly in that region, sadly still often used specifically in dog fighting events.
14. English Mastiff
Although not as favorable nowadays for dog fighting as it was back in the day, the English Mastiff is still used in fighting pits in some places and countries. These massive dogs are known for their intimidating size and power.
They are born guard dogs, but are actually known for their mellow temperament when properly trained from a young age. Trainers tap into the dog's natural dominance and drive to defend its territory when raising an English Mastiff for the fighting ring, but normally, this breed is very calm and makes a great pet when raised right.
Another mean and scary looking popular fighting dog breed that was expected to be on this list – the Dogo Argentino. Large, muscular, and usually white, the Dogo Argentino is a strong opponent when put in the pit and will pose danger to any other animal.
Because of the loose skin around the neck, it isn’t easy for the other dog to get a grip and pull the Dogo down. In the meantime, this breed is aggressive with a very strong bite force, and makes for a terrifying opponent against any other canine on this list.
These few dogs are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fighting dog breeds. A single search using Google will pull up hundreds of photos and videos of dogs fighting, and you'll see the most unexpected breeds forced to engage in this cruel activity.
In some countries, dog fighting is still thriving. It's sad to see this illegal, barbaric sport still alive today, but more governments are coming to grips with their morals and continue to outlaw dog fighting while more pet owners or dog lovers are becoming aware of it.
As for the fighting dog breeds mentioned above, each and every one of them will make a wonderful family dog if trained and socialized properly. They are only aggressive because of training and ownership, and when that isn't their life's task, they will make great pets.