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Spinoff: What Breed was the Most Aggressive Dog You've Ever Met?

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  • The most aggressive dogs I've known are those owned by individuals who don't know how to train them or who train them to do aggressive things. I have dogs that are viewed as "mean/aggressive" by a lot of the general public but it is just a stereotype. One of them is an American Bulldog and the other is a Pitbull mix (third is a terrier). I've owned all kinds of dogs (small and large) and volunteered at a couple shelters & rescues. I can't say that the aggression can really be determined by a single breed. I've seen everything from a chihuahua to a lab get aggressive just as much as I've seen them be passive and gentle. As a kid I was bit in the face by a german shephard but a lot that I've come across are great and loving dogs.

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    • My aunt and uncle's Airedales when I was little. The first two bit people. They would hold you hostage in your car until my uncle came out and put them in the dog run. I was terrified of them. Then the following ones they got were actually very friendly, so I don't know if they switched breeders or what. I still don't care much for Airedales when I see them out on walks.

      I am shocked at all the Golden retriever stories! I have many, many friends who are serious breeders/showers, and many others who do exclusively Golden rescue, and only one has ever had an aggressive dog. She had to have him put down - her vet believed the poor animal had some sort of brain damage. He would randomly lash out and attack people. He's the only Golden I've ever heard of who was aggressive.
      I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry

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      • Now that I think about it... there were two dogs at the kennel I worked at who killed one of the small dogs that snuck over to the large breed dog side. I don't remember what breed they were (tall skinny medium to long hair... not a "popular" breed) but they were jerks. Never aggressive to people but we usually had to put them out on their own because they'd team up on the other dogs.

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        • Originally posted by rockonxox View Post
          The most aggressive dogs I've known are those owned by individuals who don't know how to train them or who train them to do aggressive things. I have dogs that are viewed as "mean/aggressive" by a lot of the general public but it is just a stereotype. One of them is an American Bulldog and the other is a Pitbull mix (third is a terrier). I've owned all kinds of dogs (small and large) and volunteered at a couple shelters & rescues. I can't say that the aggression can really be determined by a single breed. I've seen everything from a chihuahua to a lab get aggressive just as much as I've seen them be passive and gentle. As a kid I was bit in the face by a german shephard but a lot that I've come across are great and loving dogs.
          I have to say that a lot of the breeds mentioned on this thread are my favorite breeds, so I guess in a way it makes it difficult to read. I agree with you 110%. I took a basic obedience class with a GSD that was totally unsuited for his owners and showed aggression to his handlers, other people, and other dogs. He was way too much dog for them. I have, however, taken obedience classes with lots of GSDs, and while some of them had a strong prey drive or were protective, all of the others I've known were amazing dogs - but they were in a different type of home, and were probably more carefully bred as well. Not every dog is a good representative of its breed or what can be done with dogs of that breed in the right home. I do think that part of temperament is inborn, but there is variation within each litter and vast variation within each breed. I hate to read statements like, "Every X breed I've ever known has been crazy." That may very well be true, but dogs from many breeds mentioned on this thread are therapy dogs, show in conformation classes as unaltered dogs and are handled by judges, become obedience and agility champions, and everything else. I hate to see dog breeds being called out as all aggressive when they are all different. All of this speaks to me a little bit as, "Let's get rid of all of these aggressive dog breeds" - and the list is long!
          ETA: I've known breeds besides the GSD who have been too much for their owners and aggressive, as well. I knew a couple of Labs that I didn't really trust. I've known many that were wonderful dogs. The same is true of most breeds that I can think of, and I think it exists across breeds. I would also always remember that the brain tumor thing that people speak of is real. I had a friend that had her older dog absolutely go after her totally unprovoked. The dog had never had issues like that before. I am talking about real aggression here - not a snap but repeated, hard bites. A necropsy was done and he had a brain tumor. It was a sad situation and a reminder that any dog can bite. However, a lot of breeds have been bred to be working animals, so aggression is a part of their temperament. Breeding for stable temperaments, socialization, training, exercise, and good management of the dog's natural drives seem to me to be the difference between owning a safe dog and an unsafe dog.

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          • Original Poster

            The only dog that has ever bitten me happened when I was a toddler. It was a female Sheltie. It was unprovoked from what I understand, and she bit me on the head.

            We had a husky mix when I was a kid that was good with my family (he did try to bite me one time when I accidentally startled him) but strangers, not so much. We didn't really let him near visitors because of this. But oddly enough, we had to kennel him once for a week and he did fine, was cooperative and gave them no trouble. I guess he was just really territorial of our house and yard to everyone but my family. He also had this strange hatred for this one family friend of ours, he absolutely hated her, and it's not like this lady was ever mean to him...this lady is a HUGE dog lover!
            *Wendy* 4.17.73 - 12.20.05

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            • Whoa... That Bouvier had some cojones! One of my uncles has one, and I would not want to be someone trying to break into his house.

              For me at the clinic, it's not so much a breed thing, but you can tell which dogs will cause trouble (fear biting) by the look on their face and their body language. Sucks to be them, and every single breed has those guys. Most recently a Bernese mountain dog bit one of the techs, he bit through a muzzle that was a bit loose and broke skin. She was putting him on the surgery table and he was sedated.

              Some dogs also seem to have lost their marbles and just want to eat everyone. We have a Golden that needs to go in a room, we throw the appropriate sized muzzle to the owner so he can put it on and the vet can enter the room. This dog is not kidding. We once boarded a Dane, only one kennel attendant was brave enough to take him out, he had to be fed with giant pincers. Relatives came to visit the dog (owners on a trip for a month), and he bit the aunt. His boarding privileges were removed, he was just dangerous and the kennel was definitely not a good environment for him - imagine a huge Dane charging the door every time someone passes by.

              Rotties, I find they're usually ok when the owner is there, but they will definitely set their limits by warning very clearly when they've had enough/don't touch this/don't do this. Alone they're usually more nervous, but generally manageable.

              The worst GSD that I've ever seen was a guard dog import from eastern Europe, was wearing a basket muzzle any time he was out of the house, trusted no one but his owner, and was a total sweetheart with her at home. Sad that he was "created and trained" with that purpose, and he was never happy outside the house, I felt bad for him but every time you made eye contact with him (obviously not on purpose!) he went nuts. And on the other hand we have an import from Colorado that was "supposed" to be fully trained - didn't know how to sit at her first visit... And she is absolutely the mushiest, sweetest thing.

              Really any breed can be aggressive, the little ones get away with freaking everything "cause they're cute and small", excuse me but that behavior in a 75lbs dog would be plain psychotic! They're easier to manage but it doesn't mean they're happy - if every hand that came to reach you was a threat, imagine the stress! Of course anything that can fit parts of you in it's mouth is more seriously taken and can cause damage, but I wish they were all held to the same standards. Crazy 5 pounders are hard to restrain without breaking them!!

              And don't get me started on cats. One once bit me through the thick leather restrained gloves to the point that I got an infection and nerve damage (still can't bend that index as well as the other one). He truly tought that we would kill him and intended to survive...

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              • The most dog aggressive dog I've encountered was a pitbull who nearly killed my poodle schnauzer mix. There was something terribly off with that dog as she was like none of the dozen plus other pits we've fostered in our house for months apiece.
                I don't have much experience with dogs being human aggressive, (and truly aggressive, not just fear biting, resource guarding etc), but there are a few breeds that make me wary based on my own past experiences with them. Pekingese, rat terriers, and cockers (but with the cockers it's handling their ears that makes me careful, and that's because so many I've met in rescue have been neglected with ear care and have become defensive because of the pain... So it's totally understandable!). We've had some awesome rotties but currently have a 'sanctuary' rottie who isn't adoptable because she isn't trustworthy enough with people for us to be comfortable placing her. So we'll have her for as long as we can here, but won't 'pass her on' to someone else. Still, I'd call her abused and distrustful, with the potential to snap... Not plain 'aggressive' as an inherent trait (if the distinction matters).

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                • Worst was a chocolate lab, 15 years later and I still am wary when handling one. I've handled alot of snippy chihuahuas and nearly had my nose pierced by a chinese crested. But I don't consider those "real dogs" and usually laugh at their attempts to sink their teeth into me.

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                  • I just want to say here that my chi thinks she is tough and yaps but even the most clueless grocery guy has been able to pet her snarling self without injury....

                    I scold and discipline her and she is miles better all the time too... but she has that yappy little dog persona that we're always fighting...
                    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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                    • I worked as a groomer for a couple of years before my allergies had me sick nonstop.

                      As a whole, most of the "toy" and "small breeds" have a very large percentage of BAD temperaments. Chihuahuas were first, Shihtzus second.

                      For "real dogs", it's kind of a tossup...

                      Rotweilers. I had a relatively small number who came in regularly, but ony one of them had anything resenbling a good temperament. I had two Rotties who were downright scary- one owuld be standing there getting groomed and go from quiet to lunging at your face. The other was snappish for EVERYTHING.

                      The other breed would be Labs. I think an awful lot of it is that lazy people who can't handle much dog tend to get them because they have a good "family dog" reputation. Some were very good dogs. But a huge percentage of of them have zero manners instilled and NO respect for humans at all.

                      The ones that almost NEVER scared me? Pit bulls. I had to refuse ONE in my time grooming and I am in a very "pit bull rich" area....

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                      • Dachshund. There are two I know that top my list. I used to work at a vet, too, so Ive been around a lot of dogs.

                        As for larger dogs, there was also a Golden Retriever that I knew that was dog and human aggressive. It was like a switch would flip. He would be fine, and something would make him snap. He was a huge unaltered male.

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                        • I just have to say that I believe many of the small breeds like chis and also cats are getting a bad rap. Certain breeds, like chis, can be notoriously difficult during vet procedures and/or grooming. That doesn't mean they have a bad temperament. I have 2 chis and one rat/chi cross. The one that is the worst with vetting and nail trimming is my tiniest. Yet she is my sweetest with kids and strangers. She gets so excited to see new people that she gets asthma type response. I have worked with her ad nauseum to no avail. She hates her nails trimmed and is very scared at the vets. My one that is the most sketchy with strangers totally shuts down at the vet so, oddly, is easier for them to handle. The chi/rat cross doesn't care about having her nails done...strange, because she was totally feral up until I rescued her at 10 months old. Personally I don't think it is particularly fair to judge a dog's entire temperament based on a groomer's or vet tech's interpretation. My vet says it is very common for chis and other small breeds to be great little pets but be difficult at the vet's.
                          Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,
                          friendship without envy or beauty without vanity?
                          Ode to the Horse. ~ Ronald Duncan

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                          • English Bull Terrier....he belonged to a customer and she was terrified of him. The mailman refused to deliver their mail and the dog scared off every service tech they ever had, me included. Oh yeah and they had kids and "the dog would never harm the children"....yeah right.

                            Not so scary but vicious: Toy Poodle and Chihuahua...been actually bitten or attacked by more of them than any other breed.
                            "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."

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                            • Working at a vet clinic has given me great insight. For example, if I ever wanted to breed dogs (which is highly unlikely) I would be very keen on making sure they had great temperaments. I think it is crucial/vitally important my dog doesn't act like an a** at the vet's. Vets/tech/handlers do not wish to hold a nasty dog anymore than someone wants to encounter one on the street. In my humble opinion, if your dog needs a muzzle at the vet's--it shouldn't be a breeding animal.
                              I LOVE my Chickens!

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                              • We refered to small dogs as razor blades because of their propensity to be nasty little biters. I really didn't mind them so much because they were so easily managed. Nasty cats I never minded at all because I like them. Honestly I do. So in my years at the vets I handled alot of them.
                                Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark.--Adam Stanley

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                                • I think breeding for a good, stable temperament has fallen by the wayside for most. The backyard/puppy millers obviously don't even consider it; the show breeders tend to overlook it in favor of appearance; the performance/sports people tend to overlook it in favor of good performance.
                                  Some of the working dog breeders still breed for it- protection dogs with unstable temperaments are downright dangerous, and people who actually work with their herding dog or hunting dog plus live with the animal aren't going to overlook bad temperament just because the dog can perform.

                                  Defining a good, stable temperament is a bit difficult, but it's a dog who is, well, in the middle. Not too reactive, not too sluggish. Not too nervy, not too quiet. Doesn't overreact to stimuli. Can think rather than spaz out or shut down. Shrugs off the bad experiences and learns from the good ones. I think this is mostly genetic.

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                                  • The temperament discussion can be a long one... Why breed for something that's important when you can pump out cash breeding a specific magical color/coat/unhealthy back lenght/brachycephalic face? Doesn't need to be functional and live long does it? Liver shunts make Yorkie puppies that much smaller... *closing endless vent trap*

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                                    • Originally posted by wendy View Post
                                      I think breeding for a good, stable temperament has fallen by the wayside for most.
                                      I agree with this. And our society has changed so much that breeding a "working" dog is probably less appropriate than breeding for a "pet" dog.

                                      The backyard/puppy millers obviously don't even consider it; the show breeders tend to overlook it in favor of appearance; the performance/sports people tend to overlook it in favor of good performance.
                                      Some of the working dog breeders still breed for it- protection dogs with unstable temperaments are downright dangerous, and people who actually work with their herding dog or hunting dog plus live with the animal aren't going to overlook bad temperament just because the dog can perform.
                                      I agree with this too

                                      Defining a good, stable temperament is a bit difficult, but it's a dog who is, well, in the middle. Not too reactive, not too sluggish. Not too nervy, not too quiet. Doesn't overreact to stimuli. Can think rather than spaz out or shut down. Shrugs off the bad experiences and learns from the good ones. I think this is mostly genetic.
                                      I've said this for years. The first thing I look at when choosing a puppy are the dogs around that puppy. I just got my first Papillon and I carefully watched the breeders dogs interact with me and with each other. I especially watched the intact boys out together. They would mark over each other and sometimes over the girls but there was zero aggression. It was more like a pee party and when they were done, they raced off together to play. Many of these dogs were Ch. and most had been bred so it wasn't lack of knowledge of what to do with the dangly bits. It was just their breeding and temperament. ALL of her dogs were like this, no posturing at all, just really nice dogs.

                                      I think I do disagree with your comment that show breeders only breed for looks. I think what happens sometimes is that the dog who wins has a little extra spark and when you multiply that by a few generations, that spark turns into something else.

                                      Nature would choose for a sharp/shy dog as dogs who are fearful do not approach scary things and thus stay away from trouble. Then if they are cornered or feel threatened, they put on an impressive display and will bite. That keeps them safe. Aggression is the norm for many wild animals if you think about it. However, breeders should probably breed away from that and many breeders don't recognize the subtle signs of aggression as many dogs are fine (or appear fine) in a closed, home environ.

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                                      • The first thing that should ever be considered when breeding is temperment. As Wendy stated often overlooked. As Megalon stated very important. However often temperment is not considered in favor of other considerations. This is a shame because I was raised to believe to bring forth the best genes of the breed to send to the future generations.
                                        Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark.--Adam Stanley

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                                        • I don't consider all dogs who have bitten aggressive, nor do I think biting someone is necessary for a dog to be labeled aggressive.

                                          The one time I was bitten (in the face), I completely blame the owner. The dog was reserved and touchy, but not at all aggressive.
                                          My dog has also bitten someone (quite hard, actually. Shed had multiple puncture wounds), and he's one of the least aggressive dogs I know. Shortly after getting my very insecure, fearful, unsocialized dog, another dog attacked him, and the owner grabbed my dog from behind to break up the fight. My dog, thinking he was getting attacked from behind, turned around and bit the person's arm. He Immediately let go and was so shocked and submissive. He didn't intentionally choose to bite a person, he thought he was defending himself from a dog.

                                          The aggressive dog I posted about before never seriously bit anyone, but not from lack of trying. He was not scared or protective, he was just nasty. He would go out of his way to attack someone, or would stare you straight in the eye, daring you to make him do anything he didn't want to.
                                          .

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