Top 8 Scariest Dog Breeds

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  • Some dog breeds are considered "scary" because of their intimidating appearance and/or barking.
  • These animals are often trained for guard duty, as their powerful appearance often deters intruders and predators.
  • Unfortunately, this has given them a reputation as aggressive or dangerous personalities.
  • In fact, with proper training, most of these breeds make loyal and docile pets (like any dog).

Dogs have evolved alongside us to perform many types of jobs over generations, but guard dogs were among the first and most important. The scariest-looking dogs are the most effective at intimidating would-be intruders. Having the scariest-looking dog can prevent conflict before it happens, and there are plenty of big and wild dogs that fit the bill. Whether they are scary because of their strongest bite or simply because they bark loudly, these are the dogs you want to keep around. Some were originally bred from wild breeds for use as war dogs, while others were developed due to the need for strong workhorses on farms.

We should clarify that just because a dog breed looks scary doesn't mean it's inherently more dangerous than any other. In fact, dogs bred for guarding duties often need to be bred for dogs that look the most dangerous but are gentle with the household or livestock they are assigned to protect.

Like any other type of dog, these breeds require early and frequent socialization, tailored training, and enough exercise and mental stimulation to discourage aggressive and problematic behavior. With proper training and care, they can make excellent, well-behaved pets.

Here are the 8 scariest dogs by breed, along with information on what makes them valuable companions, as well as their ability to repel intruders.

1. The Scariest Dog in Pop Culture: The German Shepherd

scariest dog
German Shepherds will stand their ground and make great watchdogs or guardians no matter the situation.


You can at least partially blame Hollywood's portrayal of German Shepherds in movies and TV. The heroic Rin Tin Tin was arguably the world's most famous German Shepherd and the first big animal movie star, but German Shepherds are more likely to be portrayed as ferocious and barely restrained beasts – and German Shepherds are trained to Attacking police officers as part of their training is a metaphor that's both for laughs and to create a sense of danger. While it is true that these dogs are often employed by the military and police, this is due to their general abilities as working dogs rather than their reputation as some of the scariest dogs around. Because while the German Shepherd's large build and bark can deter intruders, these dogs are intelligent, quick to train, and fiercely loyal to human families.

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If you want to get rid of more misconceptions about German Shepherds, you can do so here.

2. The breed with the strongest bite: Kangal

kangal lying on grass among flowers
Kangaroos are great companions and need a lot of activity to stay happy and healthy.

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The national dog of Turkey, the Kangal is another dog whose professional breeding as a herding worker has also earned it a solid reputation as both a defense against intruders and one of the strongest breeds in existence. In their native country, Kangals are often bred as outdoor dogs, but their gentle dispositions actually make them the preferred family pets. Kangals are loving and gentle at home and also tend to adapt well to long periods of time alone. But their reputation as one of the most aggressive breeds can be traced to the strength of their bite. Due to their large size and the design of their skulls, these dogs possess a bite force of over 700 pounds per square inch. That's only one-fifth the bite strength of an alligator, but it's still enough to make the kangaroo one of the strongest breeds.

They may be scary looking dogs, but after getting to know them here, you'll love Kangal.

3. The Wildest and Most Unpredictable Dog: The Wolfhound

scariest dog
Wolfdogs are strong, highly intelligent and independent animals.

© gloverk/

Many dogs have a reputation for being the most dangerous or intimidating because of their history as working dogs to the benefit of strong, burly canines, but the feral unpredictability of wolfdogs may actually be earned. These fearsome dogs are not a breed per se, but the result of a co-breeding of dogs and wolves. The most dangerous are those with a particularly high proportion of wolf blood, but the large genetic differences between the two subspecies can produce somewhat unpredictable results even after several generations of breeding. But these dogs actually tend to be shy around people, preferring to hide rather than let out the most dangerous barks.

If you're looking for a dog of wolf ancestry but are worried about the dangers that wolf dogs pose, you should check out properly domesticated Saarloos and Czechoslovakian wolfdogs here and here.

4. Most Restricted Dog in America: American Bulldog

scariest dog
Pit Bulls may be the most feared dogs in America. They have been associated with dog fighting, assaulting people, and acting as watchdogs for drug dealers.


The Pit Bull gets its name from the fact that it was originally used in blood sports that could take the form of pit bulls or dogfights. Due to its reputation as one of the most aggressive and powerful breeds, nearly a thousand cities across the United States have passed legislation to ban or restrict the breed. But as public awareness of the real risks of owning pit bulls grows, many of the restrictions are being reconsidered. They may have the strongest bite force of any breed, but they have not been proven to be more dangerous than other breeds. That said, their history as pit dogs means they don't always get along well with other dogs in the house.

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As with any breed, Pit Bulls need proper exercise and socialization to do well, which you can learn more about here.

5. Strongest Breed: Rottweiler

Rottweiler sticking out tongue standing in field
Rottweilers were originally bred for herding and pulling carts.


Rottweilers have the strongest bite of any breed, but they are also one of the strongest in general. This is by design. Rottweilers are often used as butchers' companions, handling everything from herding livestock to slaughtering, setting down any large bulls that might pose a danger, and pulling heavy carts full of meat to market. This no doubt explains the breed's massive neck, strong frame and powerful bite. Properly trained Rottweilers can be loyal, playful, and friendly companions—but their large, powerful builds mean they can also be clumsy at times. As typical working dogs, they are happiest when they have a task to perform.

Learn more about what makes Rottweilers such efficient working dogs here.

6. Fastest Guard Dog: Doberman Pinscher

scariest dog
Once common as guard and police dogs, Doberman Pinschers have a reputation for being intimidating and aggressive, especially towards strangers.


With proper training, Doberman Pinschers can be one of the most loyal companions around—but that's no surprise when you consider that they were bred with the express purpose of being guard dogs. More specifically, they were bred to protect game such as elk and deer on country estates from poachers. Their reputation as the scariest-looking dogs is partly due to the very close bond they form with their human companions and is otherwise cold to strangers or acquaintances alike. But if their reputation isn't enough to deter intruders, the fact that they can run at close to 35 mph should do the job just fine. They're also known for being one of the smartest breeds around, which means they can learn various commands with considerable ease.

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Training a Doberman is necessary but not difficult. Learn some important tips here.

7. Largest dog in the American Kennel Club: Great Dane

scariest dog
Great Dane purebred laying in autumn field. Despite their large size, Danes are very friendly and sociable.


The Great Dane easily ranks among the largest dog breeds on Earth, with one member earning the honor of being the tallest dog in the world. Freddie stood an unbelievable seven-and-a-half feet tall when he stood upright, but he was actually a large, tame giant. This is actually standard for this breed. While they may have large bodies and a terrifying deep howl, these dogs require only moderate exercise and are very gentle with both humans and other pets. Originally bred to be a hunting dog, the average Great Dane will happily nap through the afternoon. But they can have a tendency to be bossy at times, so it's crucial to establish a training routine with clear boundaries from an early age.

If you're considering bringing a majestic Great Dane into your life, you can find all the basics right here.

8. Most aggressive dog: Cane Corso

scariest dog
Originally bred as hunting dogs, the Cane Corso looks like a large breed from the outside, but is very soft and affectionate with humans and other canines.

© Sbolotova/

The Cane Corso dates back to ancient Greek times, and it's often seen as one of the most aggressive dog breeds in history. While they were indeed once bred to be war dogs, these Italian mastiffs have matured with age. In fact, Cane Corsi is known for being especially aware of the feelings of his companions. They were bred for various tasks on farms, but they are now likely to be used as therapy or emotional support animals. As far as his family is concerned, Cane Corso is overly loyal. This means that proper training may be needed to keep them from becoming too territorial.

You can learn more about this ancient breed here.

The Scariest Dog Breeds Summary

While some dog breeds may seem more intimidating than others, dog behavior often depends on the animal's training and socialization. Here is a summary of the dog breeds most often considered the scariest:

rank dog breed as. . and be known
1 german shepherd The scariest dogs in pop culture
2 Kangal Strongest bite of any breed
3 wolf dog The Wildest and Unpredictable Breed
4 american bulldog America's Most Restricted Dogs
5 Rottweiler strongest breed
6 doberman pinscher fastest guard dog
7 great dane american kennel club largest dog
8 sugar cane The scariest dog with the biggest heart


Ready to learn more? Check out these great resources next!

Best Big Dog Breeds – Discover the best Big Dog Breeds in the dog world.

What Are Pit Bulls Bred For? Are they fighting dogs? – Learn more about one of America's most controversial dog breeds

Top Dog Breeds That Look Like Wolves – Find out which breeds most resemble their wild counterparts.

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about the author

Emily is an editor and content marketing specialist for five years. She grew up in rural Pennsylvania, where you can regularly encounter anything from elk to black bears to otters. Over the years, she has raised livestock, small animals, dogs, cats, and birds, and this is where she learns most of her knowledge about animals of all kinds, and what makes her a pet groomer and pet store manager. She now has three rescue cats and two high-need Pomeranian mixes to shoulder her love and attention.

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