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Scariest Dog Breeds: 20 Different Breeds That Keep Criminals Away


Last Updated: April 10, 2024 | 11 min read | 8 Comments

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Are you looking for the scariest dog breed you can find to keep your home and family safe? Some of these so-called “scary dog breeds” are actually just gentle giants. In fact, Some of the most intimidating-looking dog breeds can be the kindest, gentlest dogs you’ve ever met.


However, humans are visually-dependent creatures, and the mere sight of a scary-looking animal can set many would-be intruders on the run.

Simply having a scary-looking dog can protect your home, though other breeds can defend your home through actions as well. Some of the dog breeds below, in no particular order, can help you choose the right furry friend and protector for your home and family.


Large Rottie Dog
The Rottweiler can keep almost any intruder away.

The Rottweiler is a strong, stout breed hailing from Germany, where they were bred and trained to pull carts for marketgoers.  True to its labor-intensive history, Rottweilers are incredibly strong dogs. Rottweilers are also very intelligent. They do not cower in the face of danger and can be fiercely protective of their kin. While Rottweilers do not instantly jump into attack mode in the face of a stranger or a new situation, proper breeding is required for Rottweilers.

They can be quite rowdy when provoked and learn to be aggressive if not led and taught with a firm hand. With the right amount of love and socialization, Rottweilers can learn to be gentle with friends and family, yet fierce when the need arises.

Doberman Pinscher

Scary Looking Doberman Pinscher
Dobermans are well known as working dogs and are well known for their scary looks.

The Doberman is the quintessential work dog. They were specifically bred to protect workers as they went about their rounds. A Doberman’s sleek, muscular body and alert disposition make them perfect for professional work.

The fact that many Doberman Pinschers have a distinct squint on their face helps! They also don’t bark much, don’t dig much, and learn fast. A well-trained Doberman will be able to remain calm in the face of danger and can defend themselves and their family when needed.

They can also belong at home if their owners can handle the sheer amount of exercise Dobermans require. Dobermans are quick to action and fiercely loyal. Proper socialization from childhood is necessary for a Doberman pup to grow up well-mannered. Puppy training is also highly recommended.

American Bully

Scary Blue American Bully
American Bullies are very intimidating with their short and muscular frames.

American Bull Terriers are one of the different types of “pit bull”, a group of breeds that include bull terriers and Staffordshire English Terriers.  These days, American Bull Terriers are content at home. Pitbulls in general have the unfortunate reputation of being violent fighting dogs.

This is usually because American Bull Terriers are usually the prime choices for underground fighting pits. Without the pit-fighting upbringing, American Bull Terriers are gentle, lovable lap dogs, always eager for another hug and cuddle.

However, their disposition does not mean that they cannot protect their family. Most people who haven’t done their research on American Bull Terriers will turn tail and run, expecting a vicious predator. If needed, American Bull Terriers can protect their masters, using their stocky bodies and powerful builds to their full advantage.

Caucasian Ovcharka

Caucasian Ovcharka
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog (also known as the Russian Bear Dog) is quite an imposing pup.

The Caucasian Ovcharka, or the Caucasian Shepherd Dog, is an ancient massive breed with a thick coat of fur. As their name suggests, they were bred in the Caucasus to protect sheep from wolves and human intruders. Their heavy coat is also waterproof, which can come in handy in the cold winters of the steppe.

Aside from being physically imposing, Caucasian Ovcharka also are incredibly protective of their family and property. They could knock over a burglar or an unwanted person with ease if they wanted to. They are excellent guard dogs.

Caucasian Ovcharki has a specialized diet, so it is important to see a registered breeder or dietician to know how to properly feed your dog. Ovcharki also can be quite difficult to train when it comes to obedience since they tend to be very independent. They also have a natural disdain for strangers, which may complicate your relationship.

Great Dane

Large Great Dane Dog Outdoors
The Great Dane is an imposing dog, mostly because of its size.

Great Danes are the tallest breed of dog, standing at an average of 30-32 inches at the withers. They were bred to hunt boar, but have had the hunting attitude bred out of the line. This makes Great Danes adjust quite well to a domestic setting.

Great Danes are gentle with children and make great family pets. However, the sheer size and the powerful bark of the Great Dane can deter many criminals or alert homeowners of an intrusion.

Like many large dog breeds, Great Danes need a great deal of exercise and space. Great Danes need a great deal of social interaction and play, or else they get moody. They do not fare well in a small apartment space, as their ever-wagging tail may knock objects over. Some Great Danes also may benefit from obedience training, as an overly playful Great Dane may cause some difficulties.

German Shepherd

Scary Looking German Shepherd Dog
The German Shepherd Dog is well known as a protection dog, frequently used both in police and military work.

The German Shepherd rivals the Doberman for the position of “working dog on TV”. Intelligent, strong, and loyal, German Shepherds are often snapped up as guard dogs. Many hardened criminals know that a well-trained German Shepherd is not a dog to be trifled with.

Originally bred to protect their flocks, the sheer energy and strength that a German Shepherd possesses can turn away someone who does not wish to be met with a terrifying defender. German Shepherds need proper training, exercise, and socialization to truly be as fearsome and loyal as can be.

Puppy obedience classes are a must. They also need plenty of exercise and entertainment to avoid high-strung behavior. German Shepherds are ideal for active households with a large, fenced-in yard to play in and explore.

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois Dog in Snow Outdoors
The Belgian Mal is another well-known working breed that’s also used in police and military work.

The Belgian Malinois is quickly becoming a common guard and work dog, on top of being a favorite dog breed of military personnel. They are powerful runners with inquisitive gazes and a passion for activity. They were not specifically created as a single breed but were grouped in 1891 when dog shows started to become the rage.

Like German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois are commonly seen as guard dogs, and can easily turn away burglars through their appearance alone.  They also are quick runners and sport powerful muscles that can keep up with a fleeing intruder. To maintain their physique, Belgian Malinois require a lot of exercise and proper nutrition. They also do not fare well in enclosed spaces and may end up frustratedly running around in circles.


Giant Black Coated Newfoundland Dog
The Newfoundland dog is quite intimidating just due to its giant size.

The Newfoundland is an absolutely enormous dog breed. They were first bred as work dogs, where they pulled nets full of fish through the cold Newfoundland sea. Their thick, brown, or black shaggy coat all but doubles their size. Newfoundlands are well-known for being great swimmers, but they move and run just as well on land! Some Newfoundland mixes even inherit this trait.

Criminals and unwanted individuals who may not be familiar with dogs may think twice when encountering a Newfoundland dog. Newfies are also willing to protect their owners, often putting themselves in between their owners and a threat.

Though they look threatening, Newfoundland dogs are usually docile and gentle. They also tend to put on more weight than they need, so anyone who wants to own a Newfoundland dog will need ample yard space. Newfoundland dogs love being in the water, so a swimming pool may be in order!

Cane Corso

Large Cane Corso Dog Outdoors
The Cane Corso is well known for its imposing size and protective nature.

The Cane Corso is an Italian breed that can weigh up to 120 pounds. Cane Corsos tend to be headstrong and fierce, which makes it a difficult dog breed to handle. They are extremely wary of other people and need proper socialization to get used to a family.

They also need specialized training, puppy kindergarten, and an obedience class to be able to follow commands. A Cane Corso may try to cement their position as the pack leader, which may spell both good and bad for owners.

When fully grown, the Cane Corso can be one of the most loyal companions and the fiercest defenders of one’s home. They are extremely territorial and will tell strangers that they are not welcome in their sight.

Great Pyrenees

Giant Great Pyrenees Dog
The Great Pyrenees is well known for their protective nature, and giant size.

These dogs somewhat resemble friendly dog breeds like Golden Retrievers. However, they were bred from herding dogs and are very serious workers. Some of the heaviest Great Pyrenees dogs grow up to 115 pounds and can stand up to 32 inches at the withers.

As a guardian dog, the Great Pyrenees use their powerful bark to full effect, which can scare off an intruder or burglar. A Great Pyrenees is also a very independent dog and can scare off intruders all on its own if it feels threatened.

When not provoked, a Great Pyrenees can make a great family pet. They are very caring and can learn to be gentle with children and smaller pets. They do require a fenced-in space since they often try to explore the edges of their territory.

Dogue de Bordeaux

Large French Mastiff Dog
The Dogue de Bordeaux is known as the French Mastiff and is quite imposing.

The Dogue de Bordeaux is one of the world’s oldest breeds, originating in France. They were first bred as fighting and hunting dogs, until the French Revolution. They were then used as guard dogs for livestock. Though they look serious, they are a lively and affectionate breed that thrives in an equally active household.

Their expression may give some intruders pause. Behind their serious mask is a powerful individual that does not back down from a challenge or threat. Outside of a threat, they are quite happy to spend time with their family, even if they do drool over everything!

Tosa Inu

Japanese Tosa Inu Dog
The Tosa Inu is a breed of Japanese Mastiff, and they can be very intimidating,

The Tosa Inu is another huge breed originating from Japan. They were originally bred as fighting dogs. This breed is considered dangerous in many places, including the UK and Ireland. When unprovoked, most Tosa Inu can be a gentle, calm giant.

What makes the Tosa Inu scary is its ingrained aggression towards other animals. As such, it probably wouldn’t want to share the house with children or other pets. If trained well, they can be a lovely pet, if one that drools a lot and lunges at squirrels a bit too often.

Tibetan Mastiff

Scary Looking Tibetian Mastiff
The Tibetan Mastiff is a very large, furry dog that’s quite scary looking.

Another scary-looking dog breed is the ancient Tibetan Mastiff. This pup weighs well over 100 pounds in adulthood. They have an expressive face and fluffy coat that makes them look even larger. This breed is so ancient that its origins fall before the Common Era! They were initially used to protect campsites, villages, and monasteries.

Given their status as solitary guard dogs, Tibetan Mastiffs tend to be independent and strong-willed. They may give strangers the cold shoulder, but don’t be fooled, as they are fiercely devoted to their family. Some may not accept strangers at all and will use the full force of their bulk against them. Tibetan Mastiffs can jump up to 6 feet high, and the sight of a huge dog scaling a high fence is not something to balk at!

Presa Canario

Scary Presa Canario Dog
The Presa Canario is intimidating, and well known for its protective nature.

The Perro de Presa Canario, or the Canary Mastiff, is a dog breed that was initially bred in the Canary Islands for catching birds. The Canary Mastiff is also usually banned in areas that do not allow certain dog breeds. They have a reputation for being aggressive and are responsible for a significant number of permanent and non-permanent injuries.

A Perro de Presa Canario benefits from a lot of socialization and outings. This way, the Perro can learn what is a threat and what isn’t a threat. They also chew often when stressed or bored, which can pose a challenge to many dog owners.

English Mastiff

Massive Scary English Mastiff Dog
The English Mastiff is the original family guardian dog and is scary-looking because of its size.

Another massive dog breed, the English Mastiff is a powerful and muscular breed that can weigh up to 230 pounds in adulthood, often outweighing even their owners! They tend to be silent guards and only bark in dangerous situations.

A born guard dog, an English Mastiff is always on alert for intruders and does not need to be trained to guard. Fortunately, they try not to attack with their teeth but tend to pin down or trap an intruder in a corner. Given their sheer size, an English Mastiff would find it easy to tackle and hold down most adult intruders.


Two Scary Boxer Dogs
Boxers are protective and can look quite intimidating when they are on guard.

The Boxer is a large, often mischievous dog breed. They tend to be bright, alert bundles of energy with the tendency to play about. They require lots of walks and an active household. This is expected of a breed that used to be fighting dogs back in the day!

Boxers are also responsible for many bites due to their high level of energy. A grinning Boxer may deter some friends and foes because the combination of power and speed a Boxer possesses is dangerous indeed. As their name suggests, they also tend to stand on their hind legs and bat at people, much like a boxer! This action can frighten even friends who are not used to dogs.


Scary Looking South African Mastiff
The Boerboel originates from South Africa, where it’s regarded as an excellent guard dog.

Boerboels are another type of Mastiff that was bred in South Africa in the 1600s. They were initially meant to be guard dogs that protected farms and people from natural predators like hyenas. These dogs are fearless and stare down challenges to their authority right in the eye.

Boerboels are among the fastest and most agile Mastiffs. They can easily chase down burglars and intruders with the right training! Boerboels also sports powerful jaws, which can come in handy at the right moment.

Dogo Argentino

Large Dogo Argentino Dog
The Dogo Argentino is another highly protective dog that’s likely to scare off intruders.

The Dogo Argentino is a powerful, elegant dog bred to hunt, chase, and catch dangerous game. They are most identifiable by their short, white coats. They have a high prey drive and need lots of physical and mental stimulation. This prey drive can lead them to wander about or chase small animals, so they may not fare well with other pets in the vicinity.

Dogo Argentinos have also been used in dog fighting rings and have been banned in several countries, including Australia, Denmark, Singapore, and others. They still have the power and speed of hunting dogs, so an intruder may have to think twice about breaking into a home guarded by a Dogo Argentino.

Fila Brasileiro

Fila Brasileiro Dog Outdoors
The Fila Brasileiro is known as the Brazilian Mastiff and can be quite intimidating.

A Fila Brasileiro is another mastiff breed with a heavy muzzle and a lot of loose skin. A well-bred Fila Brasileiro is extremely protective of its owner and often learns to protect its owner all on its own. They are not easily disturbed by strange noises or a new environment and can adjust well to kids.

Not all Fila Brasileiros will like people, however. Filas that have stopped socialization too early may grow to distrust all strangers. Some Filas may end up lunging at the end of their leash if improperly socialized. But when done right, they can learn when to act and when to give a stranger a friendly lick.


Scary Looking Bullmastiff Dog
The Bullmastiff is a scary-looking dog that grows quite large in size.

Finally, the Bullmastiff is another mastiff dog that has a negative reputation. Bull Mastiffs were first recognized in 1924 and were initially bred by farmers to track and capture poachers. While most well-trained Bull Mastiffs are quite gentle and easygoing around people they recognize, they have been known to attack unfamiliar people.

The very sudden sight of an animal seemingly napping at one moment and then growling at the next can be quite off-putting! They have a tendency to flip drastically between a calm demeanor and attack mode, so proper socialization is very important.

Final Thoughts

Though these are generalizations of each breed, always remember that each dog is different. Each and every puppy and dog has its own personality, and it is up to the owner to discover and learn from trusted breeders and online resources. With the right amount of preparation, one can find a loyal protector, a loving friend, and a powerful ally in one of these dog breeds.

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