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- Some dog breeds remain more aggressive because they were bred to hunt or fight for generations.
- Many aggressive dogs are loving toward their families but must be properly trained and socialized early to welcome visitors.
- 4 million people are bitten by dogs each year.
Although we frequently keep dogs as pets, it is important to remember that they are descended from wolves. They might be domesticated, but dogs are animals at the end of the day. Moreover, many of them were bred for violent purposes, such as hunting and home defense. It’s no small wonder that 4 million people are bitten by dogs each year. That’s why we came up with the list of the most dangerous dog breeds for this year based on the breeds that bite most often as well as which breeds have the most fatal attacks attributed to them.
With this list of aggressive dog breeds, you can evaluate the risk of owning or being around dog breeds that are potentially harmful to you.
What Makes the Most Dangerous Dog Breeds Threatening?
Dangerous dog breeds are not necessarily the most aggressive dog breeds. A chihuahua can be a very aggressive and territorial breed, but that does not mean it’s very dangerous. After all, the dog weighs fewer than 10 pounds in most cases, so it doesn’t pose a threat to human beings.
Instead, we have focused on curating a list of dogs that have both the potential for aggressive behavior based on the purpose for which they were bred as well as the physical size to be harmful. In other words, the willingness to get violent and the ability to harm people or other dogs are the things that make these the most dangerous dog breeds.
Why Are Some Dog Breeds More Aggressive and Likely to Attack?
Dogs can be socialized within a home to be kind and loving, but there is always a part of a domesticated animal that remains wild. Some dog breeds remain more aggressive because they were bred to be vicious hunting animals for generations. Others were rescued from a situation where they were socialized to be violent, like fighting dogs.
Also, not every home situation is good for a dog, either. Studies have shown that some vicious dogs were raised by people exhibiting psychopathic tendencies, and those people became a dangerous influence on the dogs, resulting in poor outcomes.
When a dog with problems is introduced to small children, other pets, or people that cannot handle animals properly, bad things happen.
A dog’s breed is one part of the equation that contributes to its propensity for violence, but it is a significant piece that cannot and should not be ignored.
The 10 Most Dangerous Dog Breeds in 2023
Determining the most dangerous dog breeds for 2023 is a matter of looking at which dogs were responsible for the greatest number of fatal bites over a period of time. Based on a collection of information from 2005-2017, we have compiled a list of aggressive dog breeds that are most likely to kill a person, making them the most dangerous breeds.
Comparing this information with data about fatal attacks in 2021, we can draw conclusions about dog breeds that continue to be deadliest in the coming year.
1. Pit Bull
Although it should come as no surprise to most people who study dangerous dog breeds, the pit bull is the most dangerous dog. While not a breed recognized by the American Kennel Club, “pit bull” is a catch-all used to include bulldogs and terriers rather than a single dog breed. According to the aforementioned study, over a period of 13 years, the pit bull was responsible for 284 deaths, roughly 2/3 of all fatal dog attacks in the United States.
That is a rather discouraging statistic when one considers that only 6% of all dogs in the United States are pit bulls. They were bred to be dangerous for generations as hunting dogs and fighting dogs, so it is no surprise these dogs continue to be a threat to this day.
Another reason pit bulls are the most dangerous dog breed is that they have large bodies (weighing up to 80 pounds), strong jaws, and great killer instincts. Human beings and other animals don’t stand a chance against a pit bull. Still, many people insist these animals are merely a product of their upbringing and have loving pit bulls as pets.
Before pit bulls came into the public consciousness as highly dangerous animals, rottweilers were often considered the most dangerous dog breed in the world. These dogs can grow up to 25 inches tall and weigh 120 pounds or more and still be healthy.
They have large bodies and a temperament that can turn foul in some situations. Specifically, the dog will become very friendly and protective of those in its household, but that protection is not extended to visitors.
Rottweilers are well known to be powerful, protective, and loyal, and can be dangerous when they attack intruders. Although Rottweilers are not a threat to the family, they are usually very aggressive when they protect their owners.
During the same interim as we discussed with the pit bull, the rottweiler was responsible for 45 fatal attacks, comprising 10% of all fatal attacks that were witnessed during that period in the United States. Rottweilers also have a dreadfully powerful bite that they know how to use to great effect.
3. German Shepherd
German shepherds are working dogs that have been put to use in militaries and police forces in recent decades. The reasons for this choice are obvious: these are robust, intelligent, powerful, and dangerous dogs that can inflict deadly attacks on people.
Weighing about 90 pounds and standing over 2 feet tall, the German shepherd breed is perfect at curtailing human threats. The generational breeding into working dogs has resulted in a highly effective tool.
Unfortunately, as far as aggressive dog breeds go, German shepherds excel in aggression and territoriality, and they were the cause of 20 deaths (about 5% of all dog bite deaths) and numerous non-fatal biting incidents. The only silver lining, in this case, is that this breed is highly trainable.
4. American Bulldog
Unlike their British counterparts, the American bulldog is still a powerful working animal that has not been overbred to uselessness. Standing just shy of 30 inches high, these dogs can pack on muscle and weigh over 100 pounds. They’re thick, strong dogs that are very dangerous when they attack.
During the 13-year study, American bulldogs were responsible for 15 deaths, about 3.5% of all fatal attacks. Although that is not a large number, it’s significant when one considers that this breed is rarely mentioned alongside some of the other dangerous dogs.
Make no mistake — this breed has a powerful bite and the ability to jump high enough and hard enough to knock an adult flat on their back.
Devoted, alert, and fearless are all terms that apply to the bullmastiff breed, and that is why people value them as pets. They’ll protect your home and yard, but they might not enjoy the presence of outsiders, and that behavior has to be curbed at a young age to prevent attacks.
Although attacks by bullmastiffs are relatively infrequent, the fact is that these dogs are so large that when they do attack a person or another animal, the damage is severe. They can reach 130 pounds and stand 27 inches tall or more.
These dogs were responsible for 3.2% of all fatal attacks that occurred over the 13 years of the study, representing just 14 deaths. However, when you consider the relative rarity of the animal in the U.S., it’s a sign that the dog is dangerous.
6. Siberian Huskies
Siberian huskies are valued for their wolf-like looks. You shouldn’t be too surprised to find out that dogs sharing looks with wild animals behave a little like them.
Huskies were used as sled dogs in the coldest reaches of Canada and the United States. Although they weigh only 60 pounds, they’re strong for their size and very independent animals. These dogs are highly motivated by catching prey. Most animals that are smaller than them, including humans, can look like prey to them.
In this case, it’s their instincts for survival that get them in the most trouble. Huskies were responsible for 3% of all fatal attacks in the study we’ve cited. Although these animals are friendly most of the time, they have been known to attack children and adults that challenge them even with no history of aggression.
7. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador retriever is a hunting dog that was bred to work alongside human beings. They’re fairly large dogs, weighing up to 80 pounds and only standing about 2 feet tall. Labradors are often prized as family-friendly dogs, and they make poor guard dogs for their trustworthy nature.
So, how is it that Labradors became responsible for 2.1% of all the deaths in the study? Most of the time, it’s believed that the Labrador is defending its territory or even its food. Sometimes, humans inadvertently back their dog into a corner and make it feel threatened when they’re correcting its behavior.
Either way, Labradors are not highly aggressive animals, but they can topple over or severely bite humans.
Boxers are interesting dogs because they are simultaneously incredibly dopey in terms of their looks, but they were bred to be working dogs. These dogs have a lot of energy, and they can weigh up to 80 pounds of muscle.
When you combine their physical capabilities with their protective nature, it’s easy to see why boxers can be so troublesome. If someone the dog doesn’t trust does something they perceive as threatening near their owner, the dog could capably attack.
Boxers only caused 7 deaths in recent years, but they have a propensity for non-fatal bites as well. Like other dangerous breeds, you should only get this breed if you know how to handle and train a dog.
9. Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman pinscher has an iconic silhouette that is easily identified by the cropped ears, straight back, and look of constant alertness. These animals have been used as guard dogs, a job they performed so well that they have become almost synonymous with the job, German shepherds aside.
The name “pinscher” comes from a German term that refers to their habit of attacking and biting prey. This is another breed that was bred for generations to become perfect attack dogs. It should not be any surprise that they are quite dangerous.
Dobermans were responsible for about 6 deaths at the time of the study as well as many biting incidents. While not as prolific in the number of deaths as other dogs, the breed is dangerous and capable of inflicting serious injuries. They stand between 2 feet and 3 feet tall and weigh upwards of 80 pounds.
10. Alaskan Malamute
Lastly, we have the Alaskan Malamute, a dog that is strikingly similar to the Siberian husky. The main difference is that the Alaskan Malamute is much larger than their wolf-life counterparts. These dogs can weigh almost 90 pounds and stand 26 inches tall, so they are quite large and powerful.
They are also highly energetic, and they love jumping around and getting into mischief. Unfortunately, these dogs are not known for yielding to the wishes of their owners, so they have to be trained well from a young age.
Although they are only responsible for 4 deaths, the Alaskan Malamute is still on the list of dangerous dogs because of their powerful bite and willingness to use it against others.
Another dangerous dog breed that we could have added to this list is mixed breed dogs. They made up a significant number of fatal bites issued throughout the years, but it’s hard to contribute to a “mixed breed” category when no data is available as to what comprises their breed.
All in all, these ten dog breeds represent the most dangerous ones out there based solely on the number of people they kill and how often they attack others. They’re threatening not just because of their actions but also because they have the potential to do such terrible damage.
Final Thoughts About the Most Dangerous Dog Breeds
As we’ve said, you can socialize a dog to be kind and helpful in your home, but it’s hard for them to ignore their instincts. Also, other factors can play a role in whether or not the dog is likely to bite you. These include:
- Sex (males are more likely to bite)
- Spayed or Neutered (unneutered or un-spayed dogs are more aggressive and territorial)
- Fence aggression (People approach dogs that are defending their homes)
- Approaching unfamiliar dogs
These are all factors that can influence a dog-biting scenario. Although it may be tempting to look at a dog’s breed as the sole reason for it attacking someone, other reasons are influential too.
The dog breeds we’ve listed here are dangerous enough that owners need to take extra precautions, but that doesn’t mean they are too dangerous to own. Every dog is different, and those raised in proper settings and not subjected to prying children or other pets have a good chance at remaining peaceful throughout their lives.
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Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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