It’s hard not to love dogs. With their furry faces, droopy ears, and happy-go-lucky attitudes, dogs seem to have been put on this Earth specifically to make us lose ourselves over their adorability.
All that cuteness makes it easy to forget that dogs were once vicious hunters, roaming the land and hunting in packs. They are still capable of doing extreme damage to anything that stands in their way if the circumstances are right — and some breeds seem to be more prone to dangerous behaviors than others.
We’ve put together a list of the 10 most dangerous breeds in the world, so you can see which ones are most likely to revert to their primal ways.
A Quick Note About This List Before We Begin
It’s difficult to define what makes a dog “dangerous.” Is it how often the breed bites? The damage that they do when they attack? The number of fatalities associated with the breed?
For this list, we defined “dangerous” as the likelihood of attacking, along with the likelihood of doing serious damage with a bite. However, it should be noted that most experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say that breed plays little to no part in how dangerous an animal is.
So, take these rankings with a grain of salt, and remember that any dog can be dangerous — and most “dangerous” dogs are just big sweethearts.
1. Pit Bull
The Pit Bull is notorious for being a dangerous dog, and while they are implicated in the majority of serious dog attacks, there’s reason to doubt those statistics. For one thing, Pit Bulls are often mistaken for other dogs, so they’re likely taking the rap for attacks that should rightfully be attributed to another breed.
Also, statistics fail to take into account the popularity of the breed; the more dogs of a certain breed there are, the more bites you’ll likely see. Pit Bulls are one of the most popular breeds in the world, so it makes sense they’d be well-represented on any list.
2. Mixed Breed
This one goes hand-in-hand with the Pit Bull. Given that most dogs in the world are mutts and that as many as 98% of all Pit Bulls are misidentified, it would make sense for these dogs to rank higher. However, if you can’t accurately identify the breed, then you can’t blame them for any attacks.
Regardless, this is further proof that just about any reports of a certain type of dog being responsible for an attack should be taken with a grain of salt unless DNA testing is done.
Rottweilers are often lumped in with Pit Bulls as inherently dangerous dogs, but reported incidents of Rottweiler attacks seem to ebb and flow with their popularity. That is to say, it doesn’t seem as if the breed is inherently dangerous, but that more Rotties in the world directly translates to more Rottie attacks.
However, there’s no denying that these big, powerful dogs can do serious damage if they turn violent, regardless of how likely they are to attack in the first place.
4. German Shepherd
One thing to keep in mind with both German Shepherds and Rottweilers is that they’re often trained as guard dogs, which means they’re taught to use controlled violence in certain situations. They’re also more likely to be chained up, and chaining a dog is one of the biggest risk factors for canine violence.
German Shepherds are usually one of the top three most popular dog breeds, so their popularity is likely inflating their numbers here as well.
5. Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky isn’t commonly associated with violence; instead, many people associate these dogs with winter-time heroics, due to how they’re usually portrayed in movies. However, they’ve been implicated in numerous deaths, especially in Canada.
However, this points to a breed’s popularity affecting the statistics. If Huskies were truly that dangerous, we should see them as well-represented in American statistics as we do in those from Canada.
Another breed that’s not often considered dangerous, the Malamute actually has the highest risk of causing a dog-bite-related fatality per capita, according to one study. Their total fatality numbers are relatively low, though, which is likely why they don’t get much hype.
Many Malamutes are used as sled dogs and kept chained up outside, though, which is a huge risk factor for aggression. Unfortunately, no data is available for Malamutes who are purely kept as pets.
7. Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is a relatively rare dog, ranking as the 75th most popular in the U.S., according to the AKC. As a result, its inclusion on most dog attack lists may indicate an actual aggression problem with the breed.
Far more likely, though, is that the Chow Chow is an independent dog that prefers to be left alone, and many people — especially children — fail to respect those wishes. This breed’s notoriety may be due more to poor education about how to behave around dogs than to a defect with the breed.
8. Jack Russell Terrier
Having the Jack Russell on this list may surprise some people, as these small dogs are often not thought of as dangerous. However, they’re considered one of the breeds with the highest risk of harming children, and they’ve been responsible for killing kids in the past, mainly infants.
One issue that may affect their ranking here is the fact that owners usually don’t take aggression seriously from smaller dogs. This can allow these dogs to get out of control, when earlier intervention could have perhaps prevented a catastrophe.
9. Saint Bernard
Often thought of as lovable giants, Saint Bernards have nonetheless been responsible for several deaths over the years. This is almost certainly due to the damage that they can inflict with their massive size rather than an innate aggressive streak, but it’s further proof that you should exercise caution around any animal, even one known for being friendly.
10. Doberman Pinscher
While St. Bernards are considered lovable balls of fluff, Dobermans are often given the reputation of being ferocious animals. However, while they’ve caused a few deaths over the years, it’s not enough to justify the stigma that surrounds them.
It’s possible that since people are afraid of these dogs, they’re less likely to own one, thereby driving down the number of attacks. If so, it’s just further proof that breed popularity is perhaps the biggest driving factor in the risk factor associated with the breed.
What Causes a Dog to Attack?
Most experts dispute the idea that a dog’s breed is a primary cause of them being likely to attack. Instead, the factors that seem to play the biggest role in the likelihood of a dog attack are whether the animal has been fixed, the way in which the human interacts with the dog, and whether the dog is chained or tethered most of the time.
As a result, more education is needed on the proper way to own and interact with dogs (particularly strange dogs). It would seem that most attacks are preventable, and teaching people how to behave around these animals would go a long way toward driving down the number of incidents that occur each year.
Dogs Are Wonderful — But Be Careful
If the data supports any conclusion, it’s that every dog is capable of biting, although some are likely to do more damage than others. As a result, you should always ask before petting a strange dog and display good canine manners around every pooch, even your own.
By staying on your best behavior, you dramatically reduce the risk that you’ll have to make a trip to the ER — and dramatically increase the likelihood that you’ll have a positive interaction with every dog you come across.
Featured Image Credit: mariuszopole, Pixabay