Dangerous Breeds?

Recent events of dog mauling have brought to public attention the issue of "dangerous dogs.There is a great deal of fear and misperception among the public regarding specific breeds of dogs that are thought to be inherently aggressive. However, no one breed is inherently vicious or untrainable and many of the breeds and their breed mixes can make wonderful pets, as many of our alumni, volunteers and staff can attest to! These breeds do tend to share some of the same traits however, which includes great intelligence, strength, and a tendency to aggression towards other animals (i.e. dogs, cats, rodents, etc.). If you decide to adopt a dog from one of these breeds, or a mix, you should be prepared to show extra commitment to responsible pet ownership, which includes obedience training, TONS of socialization, and management if your dog displays aggressive traits. Moreover, for those breeds such as pit bulls and akitas that have a genetic predisposition toward animal aggression, dog parks are absolutely to be avoided!

Below we have provided some basic descriptions on some of the more infamous breeds found predominantly in Los Angeles area shelters, along with additional website links for more information on each breed. Please research the breeds you wish to adopt carefully. As we've said, many can make wonderful pets with committed, responsible owners, and education and training are the keys to a successful pet-owner relationship.


picture courtesy of AKCAkitas are the largest of the Japanese breeds and were originally bred for dog fighting and eventually as bear hunting dogs. Akita's can be quite aloof and undemonstrative, and training them can be quite a challenge! They have been known to make excellent assistance and companion dogs and are very intelligent. Males tend to be dog aggressive by nature. These are beautiful, strong-willed dogs that are best homed with experienced dog owners, or owners willing to go the distance to obedience train them and keep them out of inter-dog aggression situations. Akitas are known for being unusually tolerant and patient with children, but are very reserved with strangers and a well-fenced yard is a must. If you think an Akita, or Akita mix, is the right breed for you, here are some websites where you can read more about them:



Jindos have become very popular in Los Angeles in recent years. They originate from Island of Jindo off the coast of Korea. Jindos tend to be very protective of their owners and aloof with strangers. They were bred originally to be hunting dogs and can be dog aggressive, as well as aggressive to other animals such as cats, etc. They are extremely loyal and affectionate toward their owners, and are highly intelligent. Jindos have incredible hunting ability, and the South Korean military uses this breed to learn to recognize thousands of military personnel on a base by their scent and to instantly detect unauthorized personnel. If you think a Jindo or Jindo mix is the right breed for you, here is a website where you can read more information on this breed:

Pit Bull

picture courtesy of AKCPit Bull is in fact a term that is popularly used to include several breeds, including the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier and the American Bulldog.

  • American Pit Bull Terrier/American Staffordshire Terrier - These dogs were originally bred for bull baiting and dog fighting, and as a result are predisposed to be aggressive to other animals. They are a strong breed, and require experienced dog owners or owners willing to put in the time and commitment to train them. American Staffordshire Terriers are direct descendents of the American Pit Bull Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier is recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club, while the American Pit Bull Terrier is recognized by the United Kennel Club. Some pure bred dogs are dual registered with both registries under each breed name.
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier - This breed was also developed for dog fighting and for hunting rats. These are extremely powerful dogs with a strong instinct for animal aggression; yet they are also known for being incredibly friendly, loving and loyal to their human owners and strangers. They are known for their tenacious and intelligent nature, and their exuberant affection toward people.
  • Bull Terrier - Instantly recognizable as the Budweiser "Spuds McKenzie" dog of beer commercial fame, this dog was originally developed for dog fighting. This breed is known for having an extremely low tendency to bite or snap, and is wonderful with people.
  • American Bulldog - This breed tends to be larger than the American Pit Bull Terrier/American Staffordshire Terrier, and they generally are white with color patches.

While the Pit Bull breeds have become the nemesis of urban newscasts, they once were a highly popular and much-loved breed in America. They were used extensively in posters and artwork during the World Wars to represent the U.S., and as the mascots for companies such as the Buster Brown Shoe Company and RCA. Petey, the loveable dog from the Our Gang television series, was an American Pit Bull Terrier, and an American Pit Bull Terrier named Stubby was one of the most decorated war dogs from World War I. Famous owners include Laura Ingalls Wilder of the Little House on the Prairie series of books, President Theodore Roosevelt, and Helen Keller.

Today, these dogs are found working as police/armed services dogs, search and rescue dogs, therapy animals, and as competitors in various dog sports such as agility, obedience, and Schutzhund. The primary traits of all of these various pit bull breeds is a tenacious, courageous nature, coupled with an extreme love of people, and a real tendency for interdog aggression. They can make wonderful pets, but require owners willing to put in the time commitment to properly socialize and train them, and to keep them out of situations where there dog aggressive nature will come in to play (in other words, always keep your pit bull or pit bull mix ON LEASH and absolutely no dog parks!) If you think one of the Pit Bull breeds or a mix of these breeds is the dog for you, here are some websites where you can read more information:



picture courtesy of AKCThe Rottweiler was developed in Germany as a cattle, guard dog and boar hunter. Rottweilers are known for excelling at obedience, and can make wonderful family dogs. They do however require time and training and an unsocialized, untrained rottweiler can grow into an unsociable, unruly, and unhappy animal. These are powerful, confident, self-assured dogs who instinctively will protect their home and family. They tend to be aloof with strangers. If you think a Rottweiler or Rottweiler mix is the right breed for you, here are some websites you can use to read more about them:



picture courtesy of AKCShar-Peis were bred in China as fighting, herding and hunting dogs. They can be animal aggressive due to their fighting dog heritage. They are known for being very loyal to their owners, and are intelligent but strong-willed. They can be very easy-going and calm, but require an owner willing to set boundaries and take the time to train them because of their more dominant tendencies. If you think a Shar-Pei or Shar-Pei mix is the right breed for you, here are some websites you can use to read more about them:



There are several breeds of mastiffs that can be found in Los Angeles: Mastiff, Bull Mastiff, French Mastiff (Dogue du Bordeaux), and the Neopolitan Mastiff, among others. These breeds were all bred for the purposes of guarding, hunting and dog fighting. They tend to be quite intelligent, but very independent and stubborn and very protective of their human owners. These are dogs for very experience dog owners and can be animal aggressive and wary of human strangers. If you think a Mastiff or Mastiff mix is the right breed for you, here are some websites you can use to read more about them:


German Shepherd Dog

picture courtesy of AKCGerman Shepherds were originally bred to be sheep herders in their native Germany. Indiscriminate, mass-breeding of the German Shepherd Dog has led to many unstable examples of the breed today who exhibit undesirable traits such as nervousness, skittishness, and dog aggression. They can also be extremely loyal and responsive to their owners, and many lovers of the German Shepherd Dog claim it is their intense love and bonding to their people that makes them so well loved. They are known for their extreme intelligence and faithfulness to their owners, and this is why they are eagerly sought after by trainers to become police dogs, assistance dogs, guide dogs and herding dogs. If you think a German Shepherd Dog or German Shepherd Dog mix is the right breed for you, here are some websites you can use to read more about them:


Doberman Pinscher

This breed was developed in Germany as a guard dog and they can be obedient, intelligent and easy to train dogs. They are a breed where training is a must and if you are not willing to put the time in to train them, choose a different breed or breed mix. Dobermans make devoted, fearless and alert companions. If you think a Doberman or Doberman mix is the right breed for you, here are some websites you can use to read more about them:


Chow Chow

picture courtesy of AKCChow Chows originate from China were they were bred for hunting, herding, pulling and guarding. Chow Chows tend to be possessive of their owners and indifferent to strangers. They also require frequent grooming due to their thick coat. Chows can be very self-willed and obstinate, and they require an owner willing to develop a strong relationship with them through training and socialization. If you think a Chow Chow or Chow Chow mix is the right breed for you, here are some websites where you can read more about them:


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