One scenario a pet owner dreads is if their pooch suddenly lashes out and bites someone.
A bite can come outside the home or if you have people visiting, and it can become a liability for you if it’s a serious bite. Many insurance companies won’t insure your home if you have certain dog breeds, or they may exclude liability coverage for dog bite claims if you do.
The total cost of dog bite insurance claims in the U.S. jumped 28% in 2022 to $1.3 billion from the year prior, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
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To help pet owners and would-be dog parents pick dogs that are less likely to bite, the American Temperament Test Society has published a list of the 10 most aggressive dog breeds.
The temperament test
The ATTS test “focuses on and measures different aspects of temperament such as stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness as well as the dog’s instinct for protectiveness towards its handler and/or self-preservation in the face of a threat.”
Note: The test is not a predictor of actual aggression such as biting or attacking. And behavior issues can often be headed off at the pass with owners who know how to handle their specific breed and by socializing their pup at an early age.
Dogs were rated on the percentage of them that fail the test. Breeds with the lowest scores were the most likely to show signs of aggression, panic or extreme shyness.
Here are the top 10 most aggressive dog breeds based on the test:
1. Chihuahua — This is the smallest dog breed, but they can be temperamental and are not known to be very good around children. Score: 68.8% (temperament pass rate)
2. Basenji — This breed has a very high prey instinct, and owners should watch their dog especially around children as the breed doesn’t particularly like being grabbed and they are skittish if someone sneaks up behind them. Score: 69.4%
3. Dachshund — The dachshund can sometimes have an attitude where they try to make up for their small size, which can result in behavioral problems. Score: 70.6%
4. Chow Chow — These dogs often have dominant personalities and can display assertive tendencies. They are not recommended for first-time dog owners. Score: 71.7%
5. Doberman Pinscher — These dogs are intelligent and are often used as police and guard dogs. They are very protective of their masters and family. Owners with strong leadership can raise dogs that get along with children. Score: 80.1%
6. Dalmatian — This breed should be socialized early, and they are good with kids. However, if they are not given enough attention and exercise, it can lead to behavioral problems. Score: 83.6%
7. Rottweiler — These massive and strong dogs are very loyal and protective of their owners and their home turn. Like Dobermans, they are used in police work. While they are usually good around children, due to their size and because they don’t know their own strength, you may want to keep them away from infants and toddlers. Score: 85%
8. German shepherd — These dogs are great guard dogs and are very protective of their masters and family. They are often used in police work. Score: 85.6%
9. Siberian husky — Huskies can be territorial and do not always get along well with other dogs, but they are good family dogs for children. They are also highly energetic and need to be exercised regularly. Score: 86.7%
10. American pit bull terrier — Focus on giving these dogs a lot of exercise, take them to obedience classes and socialize them early and they are usually great family dogs. That said, if you are uncertain about a pit bull’s pedigree, check their background before you choose it as a family pet. Score: 87.6%
The final word
To reduce the chances of biting incidents or aggressive behavior, the ATTS recommends that you:
- Understand what kinds of things may trigger your dog’s aggression.
- Keep your dog secured at home if it gets over-excited when visitors come.
- Start training and socializing your dog at an early age.