Dogs have lived alongside man for thousands of years since the first wolves were domesticated. There is little doubt this relationship has been hugely beneficial to both, leading to dogs being commonly referred to as “man’s best friend”. But over recent years there there have been a steady stream of stories in the media cataloging what appears to be an increasing trend of horrific attacks. Based on one UK survey (Hospital Episode Statistics) dog attacks resulting in hospitalisation are up over 300% in 20 years.
Whilst there is nearly always a reason for a dog attacking, these incidents show that certain dog breeds are capable of being deadly. This is recognised by the fact many of these breeds are banned in countries throughout the world.
The breeds listed below are those which have been involved in numerous incidents. I haven’t just taken the statistics for which breed has been responsible for the most hospital admissions; this list based on the potential and temperament of various dog breeds. There a three ingredients to a fatal dog attack; size and power of the dog, aggression and not to be overlooked a reason – usually lack of training and maltreatment…
10. Cane Corso
This large breed of Italian mastiff is a descendent of the dogs Roman soldiers used in wars. It has a sleek muscular body weighing up to 50kg (110lbs). The business end of the Cane Corso is its large, intimidating head with powerful jaws. One look would tell most people that this is a dog that could inflict a good deal of damage. The Cane Corso generally has a good temperament but is protective and suspicious of strangers. Therefore training and early socialisation are essential.
This dog is restricted in several US states and European countries.
I imagine the name itself here is enough to start alarm bells ringing! Often referred to as wolfdogs these dogs are at least half wolf and as such may be virtually indistinguishable from a pure wolf.
Behaviour varies according to the dog / wolf content. Wolf-like traits make the animal less likely to attack protectively but they retain a strong prey drive making them a real risk around other small pets, and potentially young children.
The cross-breeding also has implications on how aggressive the hybrid will be. Crossing with a dog with a protective nature, e.g. a German Shepherd can breed out the wolf’s shy retiring nature, making a less predictable more dangerous dog.
Weighing in at up to 55Kg (120lbs), with power and intelligence of a wolf – in the wrong setting these dogs have the potential to be dangerous.
8. Neapolitan Mastiff
On size alone this massive mutt has the ability to intimidate. Reaching up to 90kg (200lbs) that more than an adult human. It was a Neapolitan Mastiff that played the part of “Fang”, Hagrid , the half-giant’s dog in the Harry Potter films. The large mastiff-type head is complemented with an equally large body in which the musculature is barely hidden by thickly folded skin.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is thought to be the direct descendant of the ancient Roman Molossus used for both war and the bloodthirsty arena. In essence this dog was bred to be a capable killer making it a popular guard dog and defender. That said, these are generally calm and loyal dogs but correct training and socialization is essential. As is a firm owner – these dogs have and can kill.
7. Fila Brasileiro
Also known as the Brazilian Mastiff this is another very large powerful dog. Weighing up to 75kg (170lbs) the Fila Brasileiro was bred as a hunting dog trained to restrain but not kill its prey. During the days of slavery the Fila was allegedly used to return fugitive slaves, unharmed, to their masters. More recently it has become a popular guard dog.
What separates the Fila from other big mastiff type dogs is its temperament and potential for aggression. The dog is banned the UK, Norway, Israel and Denmark to mention a few along with being restricted in many more. It is often said that the Fila Brasileiro can be highly aggressive towards strangers if not correctly trained. Given the name Ojeriza, this behaviour may be desired by some owners but can make this a particularly dangerous breed.
6. Dogo Argentino
Although a little smaller than the mastiffs and the Dogo Argentino makes up for it in power. This agile and muscular dog was bred as a big game hunter’s companion able to bring down wild boar and pumas. The Dogo originated from the Cordoba Fighting Dog which was crossed with Great Dane amongst other breeds. The resulting dog is 60kg (130lbs) of lean muscle recognisable with its short white coat.
It is said that the aggressive traits have been largely bred out of the Dogo Argentino and it can even be a good family dog. However, the potential is there for this dog to attack with lethal consequences and as a result it is banned in many countries including the UK and Australia. The fact that it is a breed preferred by dog fighters further cements its reputation as a dog to be feared.
The Rottweiler is a medium to large sized dog with a stocky powerful body. It used to be known as the butcher’s dog but that was due to it working with livestock and pulling the carts to market rather than anything more sinister. I remember a few years back when this was definitely the scariest dog around. Alongside some of the more exotic, bigger breeds the Rottweiler seems to have lost some of its edge. The fact remains though, that Rottweilers are capable killers and the statistics reflect this. As a more common breed the numbers are bound to reflect badly on the Rottweiler, and they do. In the US it has consistently been the second most frequent dog to attack causing death or serious injury.
4. Caucasian Ovcharka
This enormous dog goes by several names including the Caucasian Shepherd Dog. It was bred to defend sheep flocks on the edges of the Soviet Union from thieves and, well, anything! A big dog can weigh anything up to 90kg (200lbs) with huge paws and equally intimidating set of jaws. Their thick fur hides a powerful muscular frame. Virtually fearless and able to exhibit ferocious behavior these dogs have long been a favourite for hunting bears. This is also the breed of dog used to patrol the border between East and West Germany during the Cold War.
Accompanying this size and power is a strong will and a loyalty which will see the dog attack practically anything when it feels its owner is under threat. Still favoured amongst dog fighters in Russia this dog is banned in some countries and restricted in others.
3. Tosa Inu
This huge Japanese dog was bred as a fighting dog. It varies in size but the biggest Tosas weigh in at a massive 100kg (220lbs) justifying the nickname of the “Sumo mastiff”. Over the years the breed has been crossed with mastiffs, Great Danes, Bulldogs, St Bernards and Bull Terriers. It tends to be significantly smaller in Japan but has been bred for size in the West.
The danger posed from this dog comes from its size, strength and fighting credentials. Usually a very calm breed, good training and an experienced owner is essential for the Tosa. Without this the potential for this dog to do damage is unlimited and fatal attacks have occurred. For this reason the Tosa Inu is banned in a whole list of countries.
2. Presa Canario
The Perro de Presa Canario or Canary Dog is one of the most intimidating looking dogs you will find. Its enormous, square head is almost as wide as it is long. It has the body to match too; big boned and muscular the Presa Canario can weigh around 60kg (130lbs). Bred as a fighting dog they retain a good degree of this aggression making them only suitable for experienced dog owners. If not shown absolute authority the Presa Canario can be an extremely dangerous dog. It is also said they gain aggression in numbers as they are pack dogs. This is certainly borne out by a number of fatal attacks most notably that of a San Francisco woman who was torn apart by a pair of these dogs owned by her neighbour.
The Presa Canario is banned in many countries.
1. Pit Bull
Barely a week goes by without a story of an horrific attack involving a Pit Bull does not feature in the news somewhere. Is the Pit Bull actually the most dangerous dog in the world, possibly not. However, in the face of overwhelming statistical evidence it it difficult to argue that this dog is not the most likely to attack you. Studies have consistently showed that Pit Bulls have been responsible for nearly a half of all recorded attacks including many fatalities.
It is worth pointing out that Pit Bull is an umbrella name referring to any number of dogs with particular physical characteristics. Even the experts can disagree as to what constitutes a Pit Bull but in general the dog is very stocky, muscular with a squarish head and powerful jaws. Despite being the smallest dog on the list, weighing less than 40kg (95lbs) the Pit Bull makes up in power, agility and ferocity. These dogs were bred for the pit (fighting) and more recently to look intimidating.
Of course much of the dogs reputation is the result of irresponsible owners. The worse the reputation the worse the owner and so it goes on. Perhaps another point in defence of the Pit Bull is many of the animals involved in attacks are crosses with other breed such as boxers.
At the end of the day this is the most notorious dog on the planet at present and is banned in too many countries to list. On that basis I’m giving it the top spot.