While we often keep dogs as pets, it’s important to understand their history. From their wolf ancestors to the way they were bred for specific jobs, dogs are still animals regardless of how domesticated they are.
As we consider the 10 most dangerous dog breeds in 2023, remember that around 4 million people suffer from dog bites every year. That’s why we put this list together for people to evaluate the risk of owning or interacting with potentially harmful dog breeds.
The Ten Most Dangerous Dog Breeds in 2023
Nature vs nurture isn’t an argument limited to children. Are some dogs dangerous due to their nature, or is it their upbringing? While environment is always a factor, there are certain breeds predisposed to a certain viciousness.
Unfortunately, when you pair such a dog with a negligent, irresponsible owner, it can result in trauma and injury. To determine our list of the most dangerous dog breeds in 2023, we looked at information on the highest number of fatal bites. When compared to data on 2021 fatal dog attacks, we were able to determine which dog breeds continue to be considered deadly.
1. Pit Bulls
- Largest category of breed on the list
- Responsible for 2/3 of fatal bites
- 284 deaths from pit bull attacks
This probably won’t surprise anyone because pit bulls, while lovable, have a bad reputation for violence. The term “pit bull” is a catch-all that’s become commonplace. It’s an umbrella that includes numerous bulldogs and terriers instead of applying to a single breed.
Over a period of 13 years, the group was responsible for about ⅔ of all fatal dog bites in the United States, with 284 deaths.
If that number doesn’t surprise you, it may shock you to learn that only 6% of all dogs in the country fit the pit bull category. Spending generations as hunting dogs and fighting dogs, they were bred to be dangerous.
They have large bodies, strong jaws, and honed instincts. The unfortunate truth is that other animals, even human beings, don’t stand much of a chance against a pit bull.
- 45 fatal attacks from period of the study
- Protective of family but not visitors, wanted or not
- Powerful with a bad temper
Before pit bulls gained a reputation as dangerous, the rottweiler was at the top of the list of most dangerous dog breeds. These powerhouses can grow up to be 120 pounds and remain in good health.
They are large and have a temper that can break bad when a situation goes south. More specifically, they are friendly and protective of those in their own home. However, that protection does not include any guests.
During the period of the study, the rottweiler was responsible for 45 fatal attacks. They have a powerful bite and know how to use it.
3. German Shepherds
- History of deadly attacks
- 20 deaths from the study
- Aggressive and territorial
German shepherds are workers with a history in law enforcement and militaries. They are intelligent, powerful, strong, and dangerous dogs able to inflict deadly attacks.
On average, they weigh around 90 pounds and reach a height of 2 feet. They are a great asset against human threats after generations of breeding that made them an effective weapon.
German shepherds tend to be aggressive and territorial, causing 20 deaths in the aforementioned study. Additionally, they account for numerous non-fatal bites. Fortunately, they are highly trainable.
4. American Bulldog
- Powerful, muscular build
- Responsible for 15 deaths
- 3.5% of fatal dog attacks in study
Unlike British bulldogs, their American cousin is a powerful working dog. While British bulldogs were overbred and became less useful as tools, the American bulldog averages 100 pounds of packed muscle. They are thick, powerful and easily one of the most dangerous dog breeds.
Over the course of the study, they were responsible for 3.5% of all fatal dog attacks, resulting in 15 deaths. While that’s not a big number, it’s significant given that the name rarely comes up in comparison to others on this list.
Still, they have a strong bite and can pounce hard enough to knock a grown human to the ground.
- 3.2% of fatal dog attacks in the study
- Weigh up to 130 pounds
- Able to cause severe damage
People love bullmastiffs because they are alert, fearless, and devoted to their families. They are great for home protection but don’t always enjoy visitors. If you want a bullmastiff, it’s important to curb that behavior while they are young to prevent bites.
Attacks by this breed aren’t frequent, but they are large enough to inflict severe damage. On average, they weigh up to 130 pounds. They represent 14 deaths in the study, 3.2% of all fatal attacks.
Again, the numbers don’t seem that high, but how often do you see a bullmastiff in the United States?
6. Siberian Huskies
- 3% of fatal attacks
- Record of attacking adults and children
- Strong survival instincts
We love huskies because they look like wolves we can play with or keep at home. So, is it surprising that they act like wild animals at times?
Initially, people used Siberian huskies to reach the coldest areas of North America. While they don’t weigh as much as other dogs on this list, they are independent and strong. Moreover, they seek out prey to catch, which can include smaller animals as well as humans.
Generally, it’s the husky’s survival instincts that cause the biggest problems. In the study cited above, they were involved in 3% of all fatal attacks. While they have a friendly demeanor more often, they have a record of attacking children and adults who challenge them.
Unfortunately, even a husky without a history of aggression can give in to their instincts.
7. Labrador Retrievers
- 2.1% of the attacks in the study
- Large, powerful, athletic
- Friendly until they feel threatened
To this day, labrador retrievers are hunting dogs that work alongside people. Weighing up to 80 pounds, they are larger dogs that stand around 2 feet tall. When we think of labs, we tend to think of family dogs.
They also don’t make the best guard dogs because they tend to trust people. Still, these lovable friendly dogs are on a list of the most dangerous dog breeds in 2023…
They are responsible for 2.1% of the attacks in the study. Typically, people believe the dog wanted to defend its family, territory, or food. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes an attempt to correct behavior makes a dog feel backed into a corner and threatened.
While they aren’t the most aggressive dogs out they, they are big enough to knock people over and cause severe damage.
- 7 fatal attacks in study
- History of non-fatal bites
- Muscular, energetic, and protective
Boxers have a dopey look about them that gives people a sense of ease around them. However, they are working dogs with a lot of energy and a lot of muscle. Couple that with their protective nature, and you have the potential for a problem.
When the dog doesn’t trust someone or perceives them as a threat, they are capable of defending themselves. According to the study, they only caused 7 deaths. However, they have a history of non-fatal bites, too.
As with other aggressive breeds, it’s important to know how to handle and train this breed from a young age.
9. Doberman Pinscher
- Bred to attack
- Highly successful guard dogs
- Responsible for 6 deaths in study period
The Doberman is an iconic dog with a unique look. They always seem on alert with their cropped ears and stiff posture. It’s no surprise that they have a long history as guard dogs because they are highly successful in that role.
In fact, “pinscher” is a German term that refers to how they attack and bite prey. It’s another breed specifically bred for a purpose, and that is to attack. If anything surprises you about their presence on this list, it’s probably that they’re at #9.
Over the course of the study, Dobermans caused 6 deaths, not a prolific number at all. Still, they are capable and powerful.
10. Alaskan Malamutes
- Large, powerful, energetic
- Don’t always listen to owners
- Caused 4 deaths in study period
Last on our tour of the most dangerous dog breeds is the Alaskan Malamute. This breed bears a striking resemblance to the Siberian husky. However, the Malamute is much larger, weighing up to 90 pounds.
These large, powerful dogs also have a ton of energy. They love getting into trouble and bouncing around like a rubber ball. Unfortunately, part of that trouble is that they don’t always listen to their owners.
That’s something that requires a lot of training from a young age. While they were only the cause of four deaths in the study, they belong on this list of the most dangerous dog breeds because they have a powerful bite, and they are more than willing to use it.
Dog Bite Statistics
- 1 in 118,776 chance of dying from a dog bite
- Dogs are the fourth deadliest animal on the planet
- 4.5 – 4.7 million people suffer from dog bites annually
- 880,000+ victims of dog bites require medical treatment
- 26% of fatalities in study were children aged 0-2
- Average of daily ER visits from dog bits is over 900
- 30-50 deaths from dog bites in US each year
Final Thoughts on the 10 Most Dangerous Dog Breeds in 2023
Training and socialization are crucial when you own a dog, especially if you want them to be kind to your guests. Still, they have instincts, and they don’t always know how to ignore them. There are also a few other factors to consider:
- Male dogs are more likely to bite.
- Unneutered/unspayed dogs tend to be more territorial and aggressive.
- Fence aggression is a thing, and dogs want to defend their homes.
- Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
In addition to threatening behavior, these factors can lead to a dog bite. While it’s easy to look at this list of the most dangerous dog breeds and leave it that, environment and experience are factors, too.
If you want to bring a dog breed on this list into your family, it is important to take precautions. Being on this list doesn’t make a dog too dangerous to own; it just means you have to be careful and start training them early.
Every dog is different, and when you raise them in a good environment, you are more likely to have a peaceful pet and home.