The 15 Most Dangerous Dog Breeds in 2024

The Most Dangerous Dog Breeds
© Akolbe from Getty Images, Good Focused, and sparklestroke/ via Canva.com

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: December 14, 2023

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Key Points:

  • 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?

Dog breeds that have the size, power, and temperament to harm others are the most dangerous.

©Asonia/Shutterstock.com

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?

Rottweiler

Nature and nurture play a role in making some

dog breeds

more likely to attack.

©iStock.com/Ideas_Studio

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 who 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 15 Most Dangerous Dog Breeds in 2024

Cocker Spaniel fighting/playing with another dog

The most dangerous dogs are not always the ones that attack most, but those that can actually hurt other dogs and humans.

©iStock.com/likedat

Determining the most dangerous dog breeds 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

Pit bulls have the highest rate of fatal maulings

Pit bulls can be lovable animals, but they have the highest rate of fatal maulings of any other dog.

©Mary Swift/Shutterstock.com

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.

2. Rottweiler

The Rottweiler was originally bred to herd livestock and pull carts

The Rottweiler was originally bred to herd livestock and pull carts.

©iStock.com/Ideas_Studio

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 playing tug

The German Shepherd is commonly used as a police and military dog.

©lightman_pic/Shutterstock.com

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

American bulldog standing in the park

American bulldogs are highly energetic and stronger than many other dogs.

©PixieMe/Shutterstock.com

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.

5. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiffs are large, strong dogs that can become territorial

Bullmastiffs are large, strong dogs that can become territorial.

©volofin/Shutterstock.com

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

The

Siberian

husky is a strong working dog that has a powerful bite.

©iStock.com/ortlemma

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

Labrador retrievers respond to perceived threats with violence

Labrador retrievers

respond to perceived threats with violence.

©TM creations/Shutterstock.com

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.

8. Boxer

Brindle boxer standing by bush with head tilted to the side

Boxers look silly, but they are strong dogs that do not like outsiders.

©iStock.com/AprilCarlsonPhotography

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

Doberman pinschers were bred as guard dogs

Doberman pinschers were once common as guard and police dogs, and thus have a reputation of being intimidating and aggressive.

©SasaStock/Shutterstock.com

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

The Alaskan malamute are large and powerful dogs

Alaskan Malamutes are larger, stronger, and wilder than huskies

©iStock.com/Liliya Kulianionak

Next, 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.

11. Golden Retriever

Portrait of beautiful Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are beloved animals but can still be dangerous in rare cases.

©sanjagrujic/iStock via Getty Images

While Golden Retrievers are generally known for their lovable temperament and fun personality, that doesn’t mean they also can’t pose a small threat. Surprisingly, according to the study we examined, Golden Retrievers have been responsible for four fatal incidents. Yes, these lovable pups are generally harmless; however, these dogs have the potential to display aggression under certain circumstances, reminding us that even the most beloved breeds can pose a threat.

12. Australian Cattle Dog

Blue heeler dog is lying down on fallen autumn orange leaves. Portrait of australian cattle dog at nature.

Blue heelers can be dangerous if they feel threatened.

©Irina Nedikova/Shutterstock.com

The Australian Cattle Dog, perhaps best known for being the breed depicted in the lovable show Bluey, has also been linked to four fatal attacks. These dogs are highly intelligent and have a strong work ethic, making them excellent working dogs on farms. However, their territorial instincts and protective nature can lead to dangerous situations, especially when they perceive strangers as a threat. Owners of Australian Cattle Dogs should be cautious and provide proper training and socialization to mitigate potential risks.

13. Cane Corso

Woman and large, brindle colored cane corso mastiff in the forest

Cane Corso

are generally not overly aggressive but have still been responsible for deaths.

©BoJack/Shutterstock.com

The Cane Corso is a muscular and imposing breed. And while they are generally mild-tempered, the breed has been involved in three fatal incidents. Originally bred as a guard dog, the Cane Corso possesses an innate protective instinct. While they can be loyal and loving companions, their strength and territorial nature can make them dangerous if not properly managed. Responsible ownership and early socialization are crucial for minimizing the risks associated with this breed.

14. Chow Chow

Woman give plum to her dog

Chow Chows can be aggressive if provoked.

©iStock.com/Ivan Marjanovic

Chow Chows, with their distinctive lion-like manes and purple tongues, have been responsible for three deaths, according to the study. These dogs are known for their aloof and independent personalities. While they may not exhibit overt aggression, their reserved nature can lead to unpredictable reactions in certain situations. Chow Chows require diligent training and socialization to prevent potential confrontations and ensure their peaceful coexistence with humans and other pets.

15. Wolf Hybrid

Wolfdog fighting/playing with another dog

Because wolf dogs have wolf genes, they automatically have a reputation to be mean.

©Marek Rybar/Shutterstock.com

Wolf Hybrids are a cross between wolves and domestic dogs. While this is a relatively rare breed to encounter compared to others on this list, it has been linked to three fatal incidents. Their wild ancestry contributes to their unpredictable behavior, as they may exhibit more primal instincts compared to fully domesticated breeds. Owning a Wolf Hybrid, which is actually illegal in some states, requires an extensive understanding of their unique needs and challenges. These dogs should be handled with caution, and responsible ownership is paramount to prevent dangerous situations.

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

German Shepherd with tongue hanging out

A dog’s training and upbringing can overcome many challenges brought forth by its

breed

.

©Osetrik/Shutterstock.com

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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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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