Dogs are chiefly known as man’s best friend, but, unfortunately, there are a few breeds that were developed to be fighting dogs. Dog fighting was a popular sport at one time—a cruel animal blood sport—and those participating wanted to develop a dog that was “the ultimate fighting machine.” Most of these dogs were large in size, brave, and “game”—meaning the dog would be excited to get in the ring and fight, even if that meant to their own death. At the same time, handlers wanted the dog to be loving with humans.
We tend to think of most fighting dog breeds as being something conjured up in America, but that assumption is incorrect. Dogfighting in its heyday took place chiefly in the United Kingdom. It was only in 1835 when the Cruelty to Animals Act was signed into law that the “baiting” of animals was outlawed. It should be understood that this legislation actually made the practice even more popular.
Today, dogfighting is illegal in most countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States. Americans for the most part view dogfighting in a negative light as we see the practice as unethical, so it has definitely fallen out of popularity here. As dogs around the world become more members of the family than merely a pet, humans, in general, discourage the process.
Unfortunately, many “fighting dog breeds” have garnered a bad reputation. After years of breeding certain dogs to be ready and willing to fight, a misconception exists that these breeds may turn on their owners or other animals. However, when a loving pet parent takes on one of these “fighting dog breeds” as a member of the family, these breeds are actually some of the most protective and loving of them all.
So, what dog breeds are classically known as fighting breeds? Readers probably initially think of pit bulls, Staffordshire terriers, and bulldog breeds. However, one might be surprised to find that there are many breeds that were once used in the unethical practice of dogfighting.
1. The Akita Inu
The Akita Inu is a “spitz” breed dog. They are often confused with the American Akita. Both dog breeds have origins in Japan. Akita Inus are independent dogs that are physically very strong. They tend to be aloof around strangers, slow to trust someone new. However, with their family, the Akita Inu is very loving when in the presence of family. They tend to be protective of the family and family property as well.
It’s important to understand that the Akita Inu is not for the novice dog owner. This dog will need socialization and training from a young age. In fact, knowing how to socialize a dog early will help your Akita Inu to accept strangers as well as new situations.
2. The American Pit Bull Terrier
The pit bull, or American Pit Bull Terrier, has perhaps one of the most undeserved reputations of all fighting dog breeds. The pit bull is actually a very affectionate dog and, when properly socialized, extremely protective of younger family members. In fact, the pit bull has often been nicknamed the “nanny dog” as they were trusted to keep a watch over babies and small children .
The pit bull is still misused as pit fighting dogs in illegal fighting rings. There are still those who will take these great dogs and encourage them to fight. The pit bull is an extremely tenacious dog, and, in the wrong hands, an owner can encourage those traits making the pit a fighting dog.
Pit bulls are extremely protective of their family and their “territory” (i.e., the family property). When pet parents raise a pit bull from a puppy, experienced owners can encourage the affectionate side of the pit. Like the Akita Inu, pits are not for first-time pet parents. They need consistent, positive reinforcement dog training as early as can be provided.
It’s also important to note that pit bulls are often found in pounds and could be classified as rescue dogs. Those who have the time to put into working with a rescue pit find a great reward in the companionship this dog can provide. Anecdotal evidence also shows that the pit often takes on unlikely charges for their care—some pits have taken on abandoned kittens while others have developed “unlikely” relationships with other types of animals, even piglets!
3. The American Staffordshire Terrier
Many confuse the American Staffordshire Terrier with pit bull terriers. The Staffordshire is shorter than the pit while most other features are much alike.
It is important to understand that male Staffordshire terriers tend to be aggressive toward other male dogs. However, by utilizing early socialization, you can help to prevent this negative attribute from becoming a bad habit.
Most Staffordshire owners do not have multiple dogs because of the propensity of males to fight. However, if one raises two puppies together, they will likely be friends for life.
It should also be noted that the American Staffordshire Terrier tends to dislike cats. Again, however, if pet parents raise a Staffordshire with other animals, the dog will accept them as a part of their “pack.”
4. The Bully Kutta
The Bully Kutta is also called the Pakistani Mastiff or the Indian Mastiff dog. The breed is large and strong. The Bully Kutta was not originally bred as a fighting dog breed; they were a working dog that offered protection for families and property when not working alongside their human handlers.
The Bully Kutta is definitely not one for novice owners. The breed will need lots of consistent training with positive reinforcement for desired behavior.
5. The Caucasian Shepherd Dog
This breed was developed to protect flocks of sheep as well as guard property. The Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are able to protect sheep against other dogs, wildcats, wolves, and bears.
Popularly known as Russian prison dogs, Caucasian Shepherds have a reputation for being fierce as well as possessing natural aggression that is difficult to train out of the breed. This is definitely not a breed that novice owners should consider.
6. The Dogo Argentino
The Dogo Argentino was developed in Argentina for the purpose of big-game hunting. The animals the Dogo Argentino was trained to hunt included wild boars. (Keep in mind that some pit bulls today are utilized to assist hunters in hunting nuisance wild hogs.)
The Dogo Argentino ended up becoming a breed dogfighters loved due to his fierce and unforgiving nature when engaged in fighting. Some countries actually have a ban on this breed, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Israel, Ukraine, Singapore, and Iceland.
The Dogo Argentino is a breed that is very strong and will “take over” if you allow it. This breed is definitely not one for novice owners or those who aren’t able to take the time to provide consistent behavioral training. Of course, positive reinforcement is a must as these dogs never respond well to punishment when training.
7. The Dogue de Bordeaux
Readers may recognize the Dogue de Bordeaux from Tom Hanks’ movie Turner and Hooch. The Dogue de Bordeaux originated in Rome with mastiffs used in battle. However, the breed is most closely related to the country of France. In fact, in some areas, the breed is referred to as a French Mastiff. The breed is considered a “large-to-giant” breed that requires consistent training.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is actually a very affectionate breed when properly socialized. Typically, the breed is very calm unless provoked.
8. The Bullmastiff
The Bullmastiff or English Mastiff is a giant dog breed that is actually quite easygoing and sweet. The Bullmastiff was developed to assist gamekeepers in England in catching poachers. The Bullmastiff would silently sneak up on poachers and then alert gamekeepers to potential poachers in the area. They would actually knock down the poacher and hold him until the gamekeeper could get to the scene.
The Bullmastiff is a dog that rarely barks and is usually reserved. They are very territorial and protective. They are excellent with children. Although the Bullmastiff can be taught to attack on command, they rarely if ever show aggression toward humans.
9. The Fila Brasileiro
This mastiff-type dog is much like the Bullmastiff in personality. He is a large breed dog originating in Brazil, and he will subdue would-be intruders on one’s property and hold the perpetrator until his owner can intervene.
10. The Japanese Tosa
The Japanese Tosa is one of the original Japanese fighting breed dogs that have a somewhat unwarranted negative reputation. In fact, the breed has been banned in places such as the United Kingdom, Norway, Turkey, New Zealand, and Denmark.
Australia has also banned the breed within the borders of its country, and many insurance companies will not insure a property where a Tosa is kept.
11. The Neapolitan Mastiff
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a giant breed dog that is actually quite protective of its family and its “territory.” This breed is actually quite gentle, only occasionally displaying aggression toward other dogs of the same sex. Of course, if the dogs are raised together, the Neapolitan typically never shows aggression as the other dog is a member of its “pack.”
The Neapolitan Mastiff is also good with other household pets, provided they are raised together. Like other “fighting breeds,” the Neapolitan Mastiff requires a leader as a handler who will train him from an early age with consistency and positive reinforcement.
12. The Shar-Pei
Most people recognize the Shar-Pei for its adorable wrinkly coat and diminutive ears. The Shar-Pei is typically a one-person dog that has little tolerance for strangers. With proper training and socialization, the Shar-Pei is a delightful, protective pet. However, those adults who rescue Shar-Peis may take extra training and positive reinforcement in order to un-learn some bad habits, such as aggression.
13. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier IS a different breed from the American Staffordshire Terrier although they have chiefly the same physical characteristics. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier originated in England, and it is known as one of England’s most favored pets.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is an affectionate dog, but, he will require consistent training as young as handlers can begin. Handlers MUST be both consistent and use positive reinforcement rather than punishment when training.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is not intended for novice owners or those who do not have much time to devote to training.
14. The Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan Mastiff is not only an extra large dog breed but can grow a bushy coat that actually appears rather intimidating itself! The Tibetan Mastiff is a Chinese dog that was utilized by shepherds to protect livestock and to fight off wolves and bears that might attack the shepherds themselves.
Like other “fighting” dog breeds, the Tibetan Mastiff will need a consistent trainer who provides positive reinforcement. This breed is one of the more intelligent breeds that commands a handler’s respect in order to foster a good relationship.
1. What dogs are bred for dogfighting?
Many dogs were once bred for dogfighting, including the Staffordshire Terrier, the Bullmastiff, and the American Pit Bull Terrier.
2. What is the most vicious fighting dog?
The Pit Bull is said to be a most vicious fighting dog.
3. What dog can beat a wolf?
The Caucasian Shepherd as well as the Irish Wolfhound are said to be able to beat a wolf. The Tibetan Mastiff was developed to protect livestock from wolves as well.
4. What dog can beat a German shepherd?
A pit bull is said to be able to beat a German Shepherd in a dog fight.