While the majority of dogs are loving and devoted, any of them can bite. Mostly, their behavior is down to how they have been raised and trained; some studies, however, have shown that some breeds are linked to a higher incidence of attacks on people than others. Here, then, are the 20 types of dogs you need to keep your guard around.
Boxer dogs are very protective of their families – and so if they’re not trained to accept strangers, they can mistake a newcomer as a threat and become aggressively defensive. Their attack strategy, moreover, is to use their massively powerful jaws to clamp down and then hold tight. And in 2010 one 11-year-old Scottish girl found this out to her cost: after she was bitten by a boxer, it took a couple of men five minutes to pry apart the dog’s jaws.
19. Doberman Pinschers
Doberman Pinschers have been widely used as guard dogs because they are easily trained to defend and attack. This, of course, may be why reports of them biting are high and why in the 1970s they were considered the most dangerous dogs in the world. But these canines can be friendly house pets as well, if made ready for it. Indeed, reports of Doberman Pinschers biting have dramatically decreased – possibly due to increased use of them as trained companions.
18. Labrador retrievers
The fact that many Labradors are used as assistance and therapy dogs speaks volumes about the breed’s temperament. But in 2016 pet insurance company Animal Friends nevertheless reported that most personal injury claims by British postal staff come from Labrador retriever bites. Meanwhile, in the U.S. and Canada Labradors were reportedly the culprits in 56 attacks, including three deaths, from 1982 to 2014.
18. Great Danes
Great Dane owners will likely argue that their pets are “gentle giants.” But, on some occasions, these dogs can display violent tendencies – and the results are often disastrous. In 2011, for example, one Great Dane bit the nose off a postal worker, and the man needed reconstructive surgery to save his face.
17. German shepherds
German shepherds were originally herding dogs, and it’s this instinct that may make them more prone to bite than other breeds. Indeed, they tend to lightly nip and drag children, which can cause accidental bites when dogs are pulled away. And German shepherds are also protective of their humans, so improper socializing can lead to aggression towards strangers.
16. Siberian huskies
Siberian huskies are genetically very close to wolves, and their wild streak gives them a high prey drive. This then naturally requires that they have consistent obedience training to keep them under control. What’s more, without proper exercise they can become destructive – and that may mean biting. In fact, from 1979 to 1998 huskies were responsible for a minimum of 15 deaths.
15. Australian cattle dogs
As herding canines, Australian cattle dogs are used to keeping livestock in line – and this may include nipping and biting at the heels of their charges in order to do so. Unfortunately, this behavior also extends to humans if Australian cattle dogs are not trained properly: an experience that is especially traumatic for children.
14. Chow chows
Don’t be fooled by the teddy bear appearance of the Chinese chow chow: they may look adorable, but they’re fiercely territorial. And if they’re not socialized well, they have no tolerance for strangers. Worse still, their teeth intersect like scissors, making their bites deceptively deadly: eight people have in fact perished from chow chow attacks in recent decades.
12. Alaskan malamutes
Alaskan malamutes were bred as sled dogs for hauling heavy objects over snow. It’s perhaps no wonder, then, that like huskies they’re assertive; indeed, if they’re not shown who the alpha is in a household they will assume the role themselves. And an alpha dog can be a dangerous and violent one.
As hunting dogs, both Japanese and American akitas have dominant personalities. And if they’re not trained to recognize boundaries, these independent breeds will assume the whole neighborhood is theirs and act accordingly. As pups, moreover, they nip and bite a lot during play and so need to be trained out of the habit before adulthood. Those who aren’t brought to heel, though, can be fearsome: indeed, akita attacks have led to at least eight deaths in the past 34 years.
Chihuahuas may be tiny, but they do both have deceptively aggressive natures and surprisingly high bite statistics. Since 1982, in fact, the dogs have maimed at least 40 people and led to the deaths of eight others. Their tendency to bite is often the result of the strong bonds they develop with their human owners, making them overprotective and quick to snap at perceived threats.
9. Caucasian ovcharkas
Otherwise known as the Caucasian shepherd dog, the Caucasian ovcharka is a big breed that has its origins defending sheep from wolves and even bears. This makes these dogs very protective of those under their charge – overly protective, in fact, if they’re not trained from birth. Dogs of this size and power with bad training, moreover, can be deadly.
8. Jack Russell terriers
They may be small, but Jack Russell terriers have been used in fox hunting since the early 19th century. And the breed’s bite is definitely worse than its bark: according to police records, 2015 saw 71 attacks attributed to Jack Russells just from the U.K city of Liverpool alone. Two of these, meanwhile, were fatal.
According to the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science, researchers have found that dachshunds are prone to biting. In fact, it was discovered that one in five of these “sausage dogs,” whose elongated bodies were bred to hunt badgers and other burrowing animals, have snapped at strangers – at least, of those studied. They are just as likely to attack other dogs as well, and their stubborn attitudes make them difficult for owners to train.
Boerboels are South African mastiffs often used to guard farms and properties from intruders and, incredibly, they have the attack power to fight off predators as large as lions. Of course, this obviously can also make them a danger to humans if they are not trained to obey commands or recognize that not all humans represent a threat.
5. Cane corsos
The Cane corso, also known as the Italian mastiff, was bred for hunting boar and other large prey. Not surprisingly, then, dogs of that breed are big, powerful and, like many a canine, dangerous when improperly trained. Indeed, according to studies, the dogs were responsible for 21 attacks between 1982 and 2014. Over half of these attacks, moreover, resulted in fatalities.
4. Presa Canarios
As another breed of dog used to fight off large predators, the Presa Canario is only recommended for experienced owners. Furthermore, in the past 34 years dogs of this breed have been implicated in at least 115 recorded attacks, 18 of which resulted in human deaths. Unfortunately, since the animals are capable of high aggression when trained for it, they are widely used as fighting dogs. As such, they are now banned in several countries.
3. Japanese mastiffs
Japanese mastiffs originate from the east as fighting dogs. And unlike other canines, who normally warn with barks and growls to back off, these dogs have been bred to attack silently. As a result, owning Japanese mastiffs is often banned or controlled in many countries as they pose a high danger to the public. Indeed, they have very specific training needs from firm, but fair, owners to avoid triggering any aggressive behavior.
Rottweilers were once used to pull meat wagons in Germany, and this strength is a good part of the reason why they are dangerous. Indeed, rottweilers were responsible for three of the 38 U.S. dog-bite fatalities in 2012, with their sheer brute force making a bite from them much deadlier than one from a smaller, less powerful dog. However, violence in rottweilers is usually a sign of bad upbringings.
1. Pit bulls
Alhough many are loving family pets, pit bulls definitely have the potential to do serious damage. In fact, the breed has been held responsible for 61 percent of U.S. deaths from dog bites in 2012. Genetically powerful fighting dogs with crushing bites, pit bulls are banned in some countries and have a reputation for causing severe injuries and fatalities. Some of this is because their warning behavior is hard to interpret, but they are also often unfairly used by irresponsible owners as “status dogs” and trained for violence.
Even though these breeds have earned a bit of a bad rap over the years, it’s a well-known fact that a dog’s temperament can be determined by their training. And if you’re looking for a dog that’s going to be quick to learn both how to behave and some cool tricks, then these are the world’s top 20 cleverest canines.
The Intelligence of Dogs by Dr. Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia was first published in 1994, and it is still considered the most authoritative source for ranking the cleverness of the world’s dog breeds. Put simply, Dr. Coren classified these 20 types of canine as the smartest on the planet because they proved to comprehend and interpret instructions faster than all the others. So, do you think your favorite breed made the list?
20. Cocker Spaniel
Dr. Coren identified three areas of canine cleverness in The Intelligence of Dogs: “adaptive,” “instinctive” and “working and obedience intelligence.” It was this latter category in which the dogs were ranked. The friendly Cocker Spaniel, then, was labeled an “excellent working dog.”
19. Brittany Spaniel
There were 131 dog breeds ranked by Dr. Coren in total, and all those from 26 to 11 were known as outstanding working dogs. The Brittany Spaniel is, of course, one of these, and this lively breed was first seen in the north of France.
18. Standard Schnauzer
Standard Schnauzers are renowned for their protective natures, and for this reason they have recently been utilized to sniff out explosives. It’s little surprise, then, that they would rank so highly in Dr. Coren’s poll. The English Cocker Spaniel and Flat-Coated Retriever also ranked in 18th position.
17. German Shorthaired Pointer
One of the metrics by which a dog breed’s intelligence was ranked was by its ability to comprehend new instructions after only an average of ten repetitions. The powerful German Shorthaired Pointer can evidently achieve this, and it is also regarded as energetic and overexcitable.
16. Collie Dog
The other consideration for excellent working dogs’ cleverness was that they would follow an initial instruction at least 85 percent of the time. Collie dogs were first reared for herding in the 1800s, so they should be used to following commands by now. The Keeshond tied at 16th place too.
The Groenendael is part of the Belgian Sheepdog breed, which was first recognized in 1901. As you may have guessed, this means the Groenendael is excellent at herding and is a diligent companion. Interestingly, the Schipperke was thought to be as intelligent as the Groenendael.
The Tervuren is also often seen as part of the Belgian Sheepdog family, though sometimes it is considered a distinct breed. In addition to being a herding dog, the Tervuren is often used in search and rescue operations.
13. English Springer Spaniel
The English Springer Spaniel became a unique breed in 1902, and it was traditionally a good hunting ally. Perhaps it is for this reason that an English Springer Spaniel will tend to bond strongly to one specific human.
12. Miniature Schnauzer
The American Kennel Club website describes the Miniature Schnauzer in three simple words: “friendly, smart, obedient.” All those attributes are perfectly in line with Dr. Coren’s ranking of them as the 12th smartest dog breed in the world.
11. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
It’s thought that the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is so open to being taught new commands because it wants nothing more than to make its humans happy. It’s no wonder that the Queen of England loves them.
10. Australian Cattle Dog
The dog breeds ranked from numbers ten to one in Dr. Coren’s list are known as the “brightest dogs.” The Australian Cattle Dog is the first of these, and this could be because it has a history of being a working dog with freedom of thought.
As these dogs are smarter than the previous tier of canines, the brightest dogs should be able to comprehend new instructions with less than five repetitions. The Rottweiler, then, is unsurprisingly ranked highly, as it is used in many protection and police work roles.
The brightest dogs should also follow an initial instruction almost always – no less than 95 percent of the time, according to Dr. Coren. And, indeed, the Papillon is renowned for picking up new skills easily in addition to being a loving companion.
7. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is the American Kennel Club’s most popular breed of dog, and it is described as being “friendly and outgoing.” It’s also celebrated as being an excellent guide dog, and its good nature even makes it ideal for animal therapy.
6. Shetland Sheepdog
The Shetland Sheepdog is a bit like a small Collie, in that it was bred as a herding dog. It has a high level of energy and excitability, and it can learn and obey commands incredibly fast.
5. Doberman Pinscher
The American Kennel Club’s description of the Doberman Pinscher as “alert, fearless, loyal, and highly trainable” should give you a good idea of why it is ranked so highly on this list. It’s also a powerfully built dog that is fast and can keep going for a long time.
4. Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever may be slightly less popular than the Labrador, but it is similarly suitable to work with the blind and in hunting. The American Kennel Club also notes that it is “friendly,” “intelligent,” and “devoted.”
3. German Shepherd
The American Kennel Club calls the German Shepherd “a true dog lover’s dog,” and it is indeed the second most popular dog in the U.S. The German Shepherd’s intelligence and obedience makes it excellent at all kinds of work, from performing to law enforcement.
It might just be the hair, but the Poodle almost seems to be the supermodel of the dog world, looking down its perfectly proportioned nose at all the other dog breeds. Nevertheless, it is naturally extremely clever and exceedingly susceptible to training.
1. Border Collie
Taking the number one spot on Dr. Coren’s list is the Border Collie. The American Kennel Club notes that these dogs are “remarkably smart workaholics,” though they are also affectionate and extremely athletic.