The 3 Most Aggressive Dog Breeds May Surprise You

A lot of Care2 readers already know that some bigger dogs, like Pit Bulls, are misunderstood and unfairly labeled as aggressive breeds. So what are the most aggressive dog breeds? I came across a study published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science a few years ago, and the answer surprised me.

The most aggressive breed, the study found, was the Dachshund. The researchers discovered that that one in five have bit or attempted to bite a stranger, and one in twelve have lashed out at their owners. Chihuahuas were in second place, and Jack Russells were the third most aggressive breed. Up to 30 percent of these smaller breeds have bit or attempted to bite unfamiliar dogs.

Surprised? One of the study’s researchers thinks that bigger dogs were thought to be more aggressive because past research looked at bite statistics—but most bites are not reported. Bigger dogs have bigger bites, which makes it more likely that those–not Dachshund bites—are the ones being medically treated and therefore reported. This study, however, surveyed 6,000 dog owners instead.

The least aggressive breeds included Basset Hounds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Siberian Huskies, and Greyhounds. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers scored about average to below average in the study.

Image credit: fionamcallisterphotography via Flickr

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Christine J.
Christine J.3 months ago

It's something to think about, that the stats are skewed when you consider only bite severity. Yes, a bite from a larger dog is more likely to kill or maim than one from a smaller dog. That doesn't mean that larger dogs are more vicious. Having said that, we must be realistic and realize that if a small dog attacks you, you may end up with some stitches. If a large dog seriously attacks you, you may end up dead.

Jacqui K.
Jacqui K.5 months ago

I think I'd like to read the study before I comment on this but I don't believe in BSL, each dog should be judged individually not on it's breed.

Igor Panteleyev
Past Member about a year ago

Another apic pile of rubbish...there is no aggressive dogs but stupid and aggressive "owners"

Jennifer M.
Jennifer M.about a year ago

I could agree with this. I own all three breeds. They are aggressive, skittish, territorial dogs. They take a great deal of socialization and care to coax it out of them. Then they are beautifully loyal and loving. But, all dogs could bite. It is not breed specific. They could all have a freak accident.

Roger Hawcroft
Roger Hawcroftabout a year ago

continued from below

In fact that was very rarely the case but people are easily led and nasty talk seems to be favoured by gossips and the ignorant.

Extremism is never a good thing and very rarely based on fact. That you should wish on me that I be savaged by a pit bull one day, says much more about you than it does about me and, in my opinion, is extremely and undeservedly abusive.

Read more:

Roger Hawcroft
Roger Hawcroftabout a year ago

continued from below

... nor those who love that breed and are responsible owners.

You may choose to believe that ownership has nothing to do with whether a dog has a tendency to aggression. After 50+ years of training dogs, most of which have belonged to others, I know that suiting dog to owner and vice versa is an essential for ensuring a safe and productive experience for both dog and handler. One of the best dogs I ever knew was a German Shepherd called Fritz who had bitten his owner to the extent that the man had over 50 stitches to his wounds. Fortunately for Fritz, when given the choice, the owner chose to surrender the dog for training as a police dog rather than have it put down. Several prospective handlers tried to "master" Fritz but with no success. The kennel-maids then asked me if I would take him. I later worked that dog at a major public event where he was surrounded by the general public, adults and children, noise, hustle and bustle and lots of strange sights, sounds and smells. He behaved perfectly as he always did after I'd trained him. At that time, where I lived, there was the same feeling about German Shepherds that you have about pit bulls - though in their ignorance, most people referred to them as Alsatians - which is a breed that has never existed. Whenever someone was bitten, it would be reported that a German Shepherd had been responsible. In fact that was very rarely the case but people are easily led and nasty talk seems to be f

Roger Hawcroft
Roger Hawcroftabout a year ago

continued from below:
Alexia, I have no wish to:
In neither case, however do I see that as a reason to condemn all pit bulls or all Volkswagens. That some pit bulls have attacked people and some Volkswagens have had petrol tanks explode does not meant that all of them will behave in the same way.

I acknowledge that the breeding history of pit bulls is unfortunate and that there are still owners who keep them for the wrong reasons and who are not appropriate people to own such an animal, indeed probably not any animal at all. However, prejudiced rants are not the way to deal with that. Awareness, education and rational argument - together with the work of responsible owners and breeders, is what will change things - not knee-jerk reactions or abuse.

I have worked with the toughest of dogs and trained them in obedience and attack work for the police. I have seen others use extreme teasing to make them aggressive and rubber hoses to control them when they were. I have been castigated and abused, even physically assaulted for stepping in to stop such behaviour. In comparison with that, your attack on me is insignificant.

Your hysterical outbursts do neither you nor your cause any benefit. That you don't like pit bulls and believe that they are a threat is obvious. However, that is your opinion & whilst I can understand where it comes from, I don't accept that such is a reason to denigrate all individuals of a particular breed nor those who love that breed

Roger Hawcroft
Roger Hawcroftabout a year ago

Alexia, I have no wish to:

" write a million paragraphs spouting your undying love for a true BORN VICIOUS animal all you want, you can throw a hissy about my post on my post as well as you have done with others posts"

I have never written any such thing, nor have I thrown "a hissy" about your post or anyone elses. If there has been any "hissy" throwing I would suggest that it is by you. Please refer to what you've just written for the evidence.

Contrary to what you allege of me, throughout my contributions to this thread I have adopted a moderate tone and offered sound and sensible argument based on research studies, wide reading and over 50 years of experience working with dogs of many breeds, ages, dispositions and temperament.

I am well aware that a large dog that has been bred to have an exceptionally strong bite and to hold on, is more likely to do severed damage if it attacks someone than is a small dog with a small mouth and weak bite. I have never argued otherwise. That is not the point.

What I have argued against is the misguided and incorrect assertions by some in these columns that every example of a particular breed is a vicious animal simply waiting for the opportunity to rip out someone's throat. It is simply not the case. As I have said, I have no particular love of pit bulls and would not choose to own one myself. I have no particular love of Volkswagens, either and would not choose to own one fo those. In neither case, however do I se

Josh C.
Joshua Clarkabout a year ago

Alexia wow I just had to create an account just so I could reply to you... you are without a doubt the SPITTING image of what happens to people who turn into news zombies and let the news create this mass fear inside your head where you act like a pit bull could come up any second and just rip your precious little throat out... holy cow they did a number on you!. Since you want to say damn the statistics then let me just say ALL dog breeds can be aggressive, everything from chihuahuas and poodles all the way up the line to pits, rots and dobermans... I hear over 3-5 reports EVERY day on the news of more stories about people who have killed and murdered somebody than I ever have animal attacks, but are you so paranoid about people to? People who kill for fun and some who are just "born bad". Do you share the same pathetic opinion about people? The news has brainwashed you so bad you are like a muppet and the news is controlling everything you say about this breed. What you need to do is get a good hold of that news hand that's stuck up you, pull REAL hard and have a clear honest RATIONAL thought and stop talking out of your rear. Ignorance is overflowing with your post it's so pathetic.

Alexia Calias
Alexia Caliasabout a year ago

Roger H you can write a million paragraphs spouting your undying love for a true BORN VICIOUS animal all you want, you can throw a hissy about my post on my post as well as you have done with others posts but you are blind & one day out of nowhere you or someone you love will see & feel just how wrong you are.
A dachshund may be a biter, but they will NEVER eat your throat out while trying desperately to unclentch their jaws. At the end of the day statistics be damed, I will take a dachshunds worst over a pittbulls least. Dachshunds won't kill you, sometimes a blink is all that's needed for a pit to take your life.
Save the "its the owners, how they were raised " line of BS that is proven every day to be WRONG.