Is a vicious dog’s behaviour down to nature, or nurture? Regardless of the breed, we can typically point to a puppy’s upbring to explain significant parts of its personality. However, certain breeds of dog have earned their terrible reputations, often labeled as vicious because of their apparent predisposition to violent interactions with other dogs and humans. Still, it has been suggested that training and domestication could iron out the kinks in the nature of an aggressive canine: Famous dog trainer Cesar Millan has a gentle and docile pit bull – a notoriously vicious breed – that he often uses to help train dogs that are out of control. “It’s not the breed that makes a good companion,” says Millan. “All dogs are great companions. Communication creates a partnership and dogs have the simplest communication on the planet. For them, everything is about trust, respect and love.”
So, almost any breed of dog can be a wonderful companion, but almost any breed of dog can kill. It’s true, though, that certain breeds are most susceptible to falling victim to a powerfully aggressive nature, and with a combination of improper care and the physical attributes and characteristics of a violent breed, these ten most dangerous breeds of dogs cause a higher number of injuries and fatalities than any other.
10. Great Dane
If trained properly then a Great Dane can be a gentle giant, but since these dogs are such large and imposing creatures they can prove to be very dangerous if improperly cared for. Fully grown male Great Danes could well be killing machines, as they can weigh as much as 200 pounds and stand 86 cm tall. Earlier this year a Great Dane being trained by Cesar Millan for his TV show The Dog Whisperer attacked a neighbor who was passing by during filming. The neighbor had his hand bitten, but he has since recovered. The last recorded fatality caused by a Great Dane in the United States happened in 2003 when a 2-year-old girl was killed in South Carolina. A six-year-old girl required surgery after being attacked by a Great Dane in Tampa, Fl. earlier this summer.
Boxers are descended from hunting dogs, and as early as WWI boxers were used as attack and guard dogs. Boxers are known for their strong jaws and powerful bites, and they’re a protective breed of dog, which is good for families wanting a sense of security. However, boxers have earned a reputation as being headstrong. The last reported fatality caused by a boxer in the USA happened on Dec. 28, 2013 in Arizona when a man tried to break up a fight between his boxer and one of his other dogs.
8. Wolf Hybrid
All dogs are descendants of wolves, but many of today’s dog species are still directly crossbred with these wild animals. Because of the inherent danger in breeding a wild animal with a domestic one, these dogs are often extremely skittish and unpredictable, to the point that many states have made it illegal to own a wolf hybrid. The CDC determined that wolf hybrids were responsible for the deaths of 14 people in the United States from 1979 to 1998.
According to a University of Texas study, Malamutes were responsible for five fatal dog bites in the United States from 1966 to 1980. These dogs are often used as sled dogs, and they are the state dog of Alaska. They are intimidating dogs known for having high prey drives – which means they often attack smaller animals.
Like the Malamute, the Husky is primarily known as a sled dog. Huskies are athletic and energetic dogs. Because of the breed’s history as a working dog, they are not primarily intended to be social – unlike breeds specifically meant to be pets. Siberian Huskies were responsible for 15 mauling deaths in the United States between 1979 and 1998.
Bullmastiffs are large and intimidating dogs, and males can reach weights as much as 130 pounds. Their large size makes them an imposing animal and training is of the utmost importance to keep this dog breed obedient. Bullmastiffs were bred as guard dogs, so they have a naturally aggressive temperament. This year in New Jersey, a Bullmastiff attacked and killed a 13-year-old boy after it escaped its enclosure. In Texas, again this year, another Bullmastiff killed a teenage boy after he saved a young girl that the dog was attacking.
4. Doberman Pinscher
Doberman Pinschers were once commonly used as police dogs, but this is less commonplace today. Dobermans can be often be aggressive towards strangers, but less frequently towards their owners. The breed’s reputation has improved in recent years, but their size and strength still makes them potentially dangerous. The last reported case of a death caused by a Doberman in the United States happened in 2011 when an elderly woman was killed by her pet.
3. German Shepherd
The bite of a German Shepherd has a force of over 1,060 newtons, and some studies show that German Shepherds have a tendency to bite and attack smaller dogs. Last year, a 35-year old woman was attacked in her home by her husband’s German Shepherd and died two days later. German Shepherds are commonly used as police dogs today.
Between the years of 1993 and 1996, Rottweilers were responsible for half of all deaths caused by dog bites in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The breed’s astounding strength makes it all the more dangerous: Rottweilers have been responsible for two deaths in the United States so far this year. A Rottweiler has an extremely powerful bite: 1,180–1,460 newtons.
1. Pit Bull
Pit bulls are by far the most dangerous and aggressive breed of dog there is. Pit bulls were responsible for 22 deaths so far in the United States this year. They require extensive and proper training to prevent aggressive outbursts. Many countries around the world have even banned this extremely aggressive breed of dog.
A study released in 1991 found that 94% of the attacks on children by pit bulls were unprovoked. This percentage is significantly higher than that of other breeds, which average 43%. A five-year review of dog attack victims, between 2001 and 2005, conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia determined that pit bulls were implicated in more than half of the bites wherein the attacking breed was identified. Of the 269 incidents where breed was noted, 137 of those were attacks by Pit Bulls.