There is no universal reason for adding a dog to the family.
Some people want a kid-friendly pet while others need a constant companion to help stave off loneliness.
Many pet owners love nothing more than a vigorous bout of exercise with Fido, while others simply want a lapdog or a pup content to stay inside an apartment for long periods.
One of the most common reasons people get dogs, though, is for protection. Beyond this, many pet owners appreciate a dog that looks fearsome enough to scare away unwanted guests or strangers.
If you need a protection dog for more than basic guard dog duties, you’ll need a very specific breed that is specifically trained to use their jaws, teeth, and neck muscles to restrain any assailant until reinforcements arrive.
If, on the other hand, you simply want a dog that looks fierce and keeps intruders at bay, you have wider options at your disposal.
I. Top 15 Scary Dog Breeds
- American Bully
- Tibetan Mastiff
- Cane Corso
- Tosa Inu
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Caucasian Ovcharka
- Belgian Malinois
- Great Pyrenees
- Fila Brasileiro
- German Shepherd
- Great Dane
1) American Bully
The American Bully is a fierce and intimidating breed characterized by short and stocky frames that resemble bullets of muscle.
Formally known as the American Bull Terrier, this is one of the many types of pitbull, including bull terriers and Staffordshire English terriers. While this breed has a poor reputation due to their popularity in underground dog fighting pits, they are deceptively sweet and loving.
This dog is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, though. Despite that lovable temperament, the fact these dogs are so widely misunderstood means most strangers will run a mile if they encounter an American Bully, making them great protective dogs.
2) Tibetan Mastiff
It’s claimed the Tibetan mastiff is powerful enough to slaughter a tiger, and when you check out the appearance of this towering breed, it’s not hard to believe.
Standing 26 inches tall and weighing up to 150 pounds, these dogs have abundant, furry coats.
These smart dogs can be hard to handle, so they are best avoided by inexperienced owners.
Although these dogs are highly protective, they are intelligent and they also show restraint before attacking, so they are not like a loaded weapon waiting to go off. If you feel capable of asserting your authority over this dog, the Tibetan mastiff makes for a rewarding if challenging pet. You won’t have any concerns about your house being burglarized with him inside either!
The Kangal was originally breed to protect sheep. Standing on very tall front legs, this dog looks more imposing and intimidating than the average canine.
Although the Kangal has a strong protective streak, he will guard his master rather than outright attacking the threat. In this sense, they can be considered more of a guardian dog than a guard dog.
These dogs have the strongest bites in the canine world, rated at 743 PSI (pounds per square inch). Nobody wants to mess with a Kangal or they are highly likely to come off worst.
4) Cane Corso
An Italian breed, the Cane Corso can weigh over 120 pounds. Strong and stubborn in equal measures, these dogs are not easy to handle and should not be on your shortlist if you’re inexperienced with dogs.
This breeds call for early socialization as they are naturally wary of strangers. They’ll need to be eased into family life from a young age.
Beyond this initial socialization, Cane Corsi also require specialized training and obedience classes to enable them to follow commands. Fail to take care of this and you could be in for a rocky ride. Left unchecked, the Cane Corso may attempt to strengthen his position as pack leader, something you want to avoid.
5) Tosa Inu
This colossal breed comes from Japan. First bred as fighting dogs, many countries including the UK consider this dog to be dangerous.
If unprovoked, Tosa Inus are gentle giants. The problem arises because of this dog’s ingrained aggression and hostility toward other animals. This renders the breed unsuitable for multi-pet households, and they don’t make kid-friendly pets either. They are nevertheless one of the scariest breeds out there.
One of the classic fierce breeds, the rottweiler originates from Germany. Here they were bred to pull carts. This heritage means the dog remains exceptionally strong.
Smart dogs, the rottweiler will not stand down from danger. Protective of owners, the rottie will need proper training to stop him from immediately entering attack mode when threatened.
If provoked, these dogs can be fairly aggressive. They need to be led firmly, and you’ll also need to properly socialize rottweilers.
7) Rhodesian Ridgeback
Originating from South Africa, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a dog to bring into your home lightly. They are reputed to be capable of scaring away lions in their natural habitat.
This breed remains only semi-domesticated. They are intensely wary of strangers and require lots of positive reinforcement to prevent them becoming oversensitive and reacting poorly.
While we can’t in any conscience recommend this breed as pet for most families, there’s no debate that this is one of the scariest dog breeds you’ll find.
The Doberman pinscher is a working dog that was bred to protect workers making their rounds.
Sleek and muscular, these dogs are highly alert and ideal candidates for watch dog or guard dog duties.
If any unwanted guests arrive, the fearsome sight of a Doberman should be enough to send them on their way. If engaged, these dogs can fight with enormous power.
Friendly and not known for barking too much, these dogs can make a great family pet, assuming they are well-trained. Just be prepared to give these dogs plenty of intense exercise to keep them happy and healthy.
9) Caucasian Ovcharka
The Caucasian Ovcharka is also known as the Caucasian Shepherd Dog.
This ancient breed is huge and has a thick, wolf-like coat of hair. This hair is also waterproof.
In addition to the imposing appearance, these dogs are also very loyal and protective of their families. They make superb guard dogs and should be more than capable of dealing with all reasonable threats.
You’ll need to speak with the breeder about diet as these dogs need specialized food.
You may run into difficulties when you’re training these dogs. They have a rigid independent streak that may need breaking down. Standoffish with strangers, you need to properly socialize these dogs from a young age.
Overall, this scary breed is not one for novices.
10) Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois is becoming increasingly popular as both a working dog and a guard dog. They are also prized by police and military for their power and energy.
This dog didn’t start out as a single breed, but in 1891 with the emergence of dog shows, they were grouped together as such.
Powerful runners, you’ll need to ensure you give the Belgian Malinois plenty of vigorous exercise daily. They also need space to stretch out in, so they’re not ideal apartment dogs. They dislike enclosed spaces and becoming easily frustrated, often exhibiting destructive behaviors.
Much like the German shepherd below, the appearance of the Belgian Malinois is enough to send most intruders scuttling away. As long as you have the space to accommodate and the commitment to exercise and nutrition, these scary dogs also make wonderful pets.
11) Great Pyrenees
Superficially resembling the much gentler golden retriever, the Great Pyrenees is a serious working dog bred for herding.
The heaviest dogs of this breed can weigh 120 pounds, and they stand fully 32 inches high.
This dog takes full advantage of its authoritative bark when presses into scaring off an intruder. Intensely independent, these dogs are quite capable of seeing off threats unaided and untrained if they feel threatened.
As long as they are not provoked, this breed can be a great addition to the family. The caring nature of the breed comes to the fore, and when properly trained and socialized, they can be strongly protective of other pets and small children.
If you have a yard, you’ll need to ensure that it’s securely fenced. These dogs will tirelessly explore the boundaries of their territory and are prone to pulling a Houdini act.
Boerboels are a type of the mastiff breed first bred as guard dogs, protecting people on farms from predators like hyenas.
Fearless, the Boerboel will stand down any challenge, however frightening, and they are also astoundingly fast. If engaged, they will easily chase down any intruder. Their jaws are remarkably powerful and add to that intimidating appearance. Like many of the dogs on our shortlist today, the Boerboel is not suitable for inexperienced pet parents.
13) Fila Brasileiro
The Fila Brasileiro is a mastiff breed with folds of loose skin and a thick, heavy muzzle.
Even without training, this dog will learn how to protect his owner. They are loyal and exceptionally protective.
Kid-friendly dogs, the Fila Brasileiro copes well with strange noises and doesn’t spook easily.
That said, the key to a happy life with your Fila Brasileiro is training and socialization. Stop this too early and your dog could grow to dislike and distrust all strangers.
The Akita might not be the world’s biggest dog – most weigh under 100 pounds – but their posture and oversized head and shoulders gives them a menacing appearance.
These dogs are strongly and instinctually driven to protect their families. Indeed, this was among the primary purposes for the breed being first developed. Their core role was to protect Japanese nobility and to hunt large game like boar.
Not only fierce but also sometimes confrontational, the Akita still makes for a loving family pet. You’ll need to train them properly, and this is not always straightforward. As such, they don’t make a smooth fir for first-time owners. With consistent and firm training married to early and regular socialization, though, you should get no trouble from your Akita.
This breed sheds copiously, so you should be prepared for regular grooming and lots of hair around the house. The Akita doesn’t work well if anyone in your house has allergies or sensitivities.
15) German Shepherd
The German shepherd is a large and lovable dog nudging 100 pounds. Their expansive fur makes them look even bigger than this, though, and they are also quite wolf-like in appearance.
Historically used by the police and military, these dogs have been largely dislodged from that role by the Belgian Malinois above.
Intelligent, fearless, and remarkably powerful, German shepherds also make loving family pets. They get on well with children and have strong protective instincts.
The German shepherd works well as a guard dog and is a scary breed with a soft side. It’s no surprise these dogs are favored pets the world over.
Well, we hope today’s guide to the scariest dog breeds has given you some inspiration.
Whenever you are thinking of bringing a dog home, it’s vital to research the issue fully. This is doubly important if you’re looking at some of the more intimidating breeds. Don’t buy a dog purely on the strength of its appearance without taking full account of exercise requirements, training, and temperament.
Not all scary dogs make a smart choice for first-time pet owners either. If you’re new to pet parenting, we would suggest easing in with a more beginner-friendly furball.
Before you head off, bookmark BarkVA and be sure to pop back soon. We update our content daily with everything you need to know to give your dog the best possible life. We’ll see you soon!