20 Scary Dog Breeds: Intimidate Any Intruder With These Impressive-Looking Canines!

Scary dog breeds

Lots of people are scared of dogs. And whilst we at BarkingTalk (of course!) love them, we can understand that some breeds are pretty scary. Whether it’s their size, color, build, or because films have taught us that these dogs are dangerous, some breeds are just natural intruder-repellers. But is it always justified? Are these dogs really that bad? Or are they just loveable pups with particularly sharp teeth? These are 20 of our favorite scary dog breeds to protect your home and family.

What Makes a Dog Scary?

There are a few different factors that make people wary of specific scary dogs. One or a combination of any of the following will be enough to make an intruder think twice.

Size

Of course, this is one of the main reasons why people are frightened of dogs. Most people see large breeds walking down the street and give them a wide berth, so imagine hopping over a fence and being greeted by an enormous guard dog. You’d probably hop back over just as quickly!

Build

Features such as broad shoulders, square heads, pointy ears, and muscled bodies are generally all things that the scariest dog breeds have. We’ve been taught that stocky dogs (that often have a fighting dog history which is where we get the idea from) are naturally aggressive and therefore scary. Lots of these dogs are misunderstood and actually really gentle!

Bark

Barking is something that alarms a lot of people. It’s also a great way for dogs to warn intruders off. German Shepherds, for example, make great guard dogs because they have a really low and rough bark which makes them very intimidating dogs. Find out if dogs ever get tired of barking!

Color

It’s not exactly fair, but some dog colors are naturally more intimidating than others. I blame children’s cartoons where the scary dogs are always black, emerging from the shadows with bright red eyes. But yes, there is some research to suggest that we humans find dark-colored dogs more intimidating than others. Many people, for example, think a black Pitbull is particularly scary!

General Aura

If you think about a Golden Retriever running around a dog park, fear isn’t exactly the emotion that comes to mind. They’re just so happy, funny, and playful that it’s hard to be intimidated by them. A dog that’s a little shy, reserved, or unpredictable will naturally make you warier.

15 Scariest Dog Breeds

Rottweiler

Scary dog breeds (Rottweiler)
A Rottweiler will make any intruder think twice!

Rottweilers were first bred in Germany to herd cattle to market and were later used to pull butcher carts. This gives you some indication of just how strong these iconic dogs are. They’re often used in police and military forces because their big bodies and intelligent minds make them the perfect working companion.

Although rather intimidating-looking, Rottweilers are actually great family pets. They’re exceptionally loyal, fun-loving, and protective of kids and adults alike. They generally have quite a calm demeanor and are very alert. 

They can be a bit aloof with strangers (although not aggressive) and don’t trust everyone. Rottweilers don’t always jump into or go looking for a fight but will happily protect the ones they love. The combination of these attributes makes them really popular guard dogs.

They’re not ideal pets for first-time dog owners though. Their large, muscular bodies and naturally protective nature can make them a bit of a challenge. It’s really important you socialize your Rottweiler from an early age and consistently train them to channel their protective instincts into good behavior. If not trained well, they can become overly protective and that often translates into aggression.

Doberman Pinscher

Dobermans are full of energy and happy to chase after potential threats!

Like the Rottweiler, the Doberman Pinscher is a large, black breed that many think of as the quintessential guard dog. Quite unfairly, Hollywood and children’s cartoons often portray Dobermans as the dog of the baddie (the one from the shadows with the red eyes) but they’re actually loving and loyal pups – and definitely have a bit of a goofy side.

They have sleek, muscular bodies and are very athletic. Any potential Doberman Pinscher owner will have to keep up with this breed’s exercise needs. They have bundles of energy and require lots of entertainment and exercise to put it to good use.

The reason why Dobermans are considered one the scariest dog breeds (apart from the spiked collars owners often get them) is that they are really confident dogs when faced with a threat. They’re happy to defend themselves and their families if they need to and are great at chasing off intruders.

Obedience training is a must with this breed if you want a sweet, loyal, loving, and protective family pet. They’ll benefit from socialization classes too and need plenty of entertainment. As with other energetic dogs, owners sometimes forget that their brains, as well as their bodies, need to be exercised. Plenty of games, puzzles, and exciting new things to do will help them stay calm and happy!

Have a look at our blog to find out all the differences between a Doberman and a Rottweiler?

American Pit Bull Terrier

American Pitbull Terrier - a very scary dog!
Pitbulls are a really popular pup. Are they fierce or friendly?

American Pit Bull Terriers, in fact, Pit Bulls in general, have gotten a really bad name for themselves based on the fact that they were originally bred as fighting dogs. As their name suggests, they were used as bull bait and trained to fight with other dogs. 

Despite their history, many of these dogs are incredibly loyal, loving, and are even great with children. It’s crucial, however, to do a lot of research when adopting an American Pit Bull Terrier. They’re a favorite dog breed for underground dogfighting and are therefore often unethically bred. It’s important to find a responsible breeder who cares about breeding out aggression and improving the future welfare of this breed.

Even if your American Pit Bull is a loving, caring, and soppy cuddle-giver behind closed doors, they’re still considered one of the most (if not the most) intimidating dog breeds in the world. They have very muscular bodies, broad shoulders, powerful legs, and a protective personality that is sure to make any intruder or potential threat think twice. 

If you can’t decide between a Pit Bull and a German Shepherd, why not get a German Shepherd Pit Bull mix? They can also look pretty fierce!

Great Dane

Great Dane is one of the scariest dogs
Gentle giants (but with a bark to scare off anyone!)

This is an easily recognizable, giant, protection dog. Despite their size, they’re actually loveable and sweet family companions – but of course, most intruders don’t know that! 

Really big Great Danes can weigh up to 200 pounds and stand almost 3 feet tall! That’s really enough to deter anyone. They were first bred to hunt and guard and could even manage to hold down boars and large prey!

But these dogs also have a really powerful bark which sounds like an aggressive warning. They come in all sorts of colors (including black) and have large features.

Even though these dogs are sweet gentle giants, they still require proper training. The sheer size of them can make them a hazard to themselves (and around small children and other animals) and it’s crucial that they learn obedience to minimize risk. They respond well to occasional treats and cute toys as rewards!

Although a great family pet, this breed suffers from a lot of health conditions and a Great Dane’s life span is relatively short compared to other dog breeds. It’s really important they have regular checkups to catch any health concerns early on.

German Shepherd

One of the scariest dogs in the world, the German Shepherd
Germans Shepherds are hard-working dogs often used by police forces

German Shepherds are notorious police and army dogs – which is why many think they have a naturally aggressive temperament. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! German Shepherds are actually used as working dogs because of their high intelligence which makes them easy to train in a number of different situations. Not because they’re violent fighting dogs.

A German Shepherd can grow to weigh as much as 100 pounds but they’re usually a little lighter. They have long hair (which actually comes in 15 colors, not just black and tan) and this often helps them to look bigger. They have large, wolfish ears and a long muzzle which adds to their intimidating look.

German Shepherds are wonderful family members – according to the American Kennel Club they’re actually the third most common dog breed in America. They have high exercise needs and a lot of energy which owners should be aware of. 

They also shed a lot, so are not considered a hypoallergenic dog breed. If you’re thinking about adopting a German Shepherd, you can be sure that you’ll be getting a loyal dog that’s fun-loving, affectionate, intelligent and that will have no problem protecting you!

Great Pyrenees

Scary dog breeds - Great Pyrenees
These large, muscular dogs are very protective!

The Great Pyrenees is a large guard dog originally bred to protect sheep from predators such as wolves in the snowy mountains. This dog has a strong, muscular body that makes them one of the best protection dogs around. Males can even grow to be 115 pounds!

Many say that this working dog somewhat resembles a Golden Retriever because of its light-colored coat and soft facial features. But make no mistake, the Great Pyrenees is a fierce guardian dog that’s not afraid to use its strong bark to deter intruders and potential threats.

Although they can be considered one of the most intimidating dog breeds based on their size and bark, these pups are actually very gentle and loving. When trained well, they can get on with children and other animals and have a very calm temperament. They, like the German Shepherd, shed a lot, so are not a good choice for allergy sufferers.

These big dogs often love to chew. You might want to get them an indestructible dog toy to keep them entertained!

Cane Corso

Mean looking dogs - Cane Corso
Cane Corso are protective and make great guard dogs

Cane Corsos are definitely one of the scariest dogs in the world and certainly not one you’d want to meet down a dark alley. This Italian breed is a great guard dog because they’re so wary of strangers.

But these big, muscly guard dogs are not a breed to be taken on lightly. They can be very headstrong, territorial, assertive, and hard to train for novice owners. They require persistent obedience classes (as they can be prone to asserting their dominance) and socialization from a young age. 

Even with that, they’re unlikely to trust many outside of their family. These scary dogs are very energetic and need a good amount of space to run around in. They’re not well suited to apartment living.

Cane Corsos are a big dog breed and can weigh up to 120 pounds and stand at 28 inches tall. They’re accepted by the AKC in 7 different colors (including black) and have a large, boxy head and broad shoulders. These black and gray dogs aren’t the right pet for everyone but if well trained by experienced owners they can make good family protectors.

Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Shepherd Dog definitely makes it onto the list for the top scary dog breeds
Those eyes are enough to stare anyone down!

These dogs are enormous (they can be 30 inches tall and weigh up to 170 pounds)! Just like the Great Pyrenees, their long, fluffy coats help them to look even bigger and more intimidating. Caucasian Shepherd Dogs were originally bred to guard livestock and property and are fierce mountain dogs. They can easily take on any intruder or large animal.

As well as being fiercely confident, these dogs can be quite bold and stubborn. They have very independent personalities and can be difficult to train – so definitely not a guard dog for novice owners. These pups need regular obedience training and lots of socialization to prevent them from being overly aggressive. 

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is not a particularly energetic pup but does need a good walk a day. It’s best if they’re kept on the leash and have a fenced-in area to enjoy.

Tibetan Mastiff

A big Tibetan Mastiff - possibly the scariest dog breed
These independent, fluffy dogs are happy to protect you and your home!

The Tibetan Mastiff is a very large, scary-looking dog breed. They’re an ancient breed and were first bred to protect villages and monasteries from large animals and humans. These dogs can weigh over 100 pounds but their thick, warm coats make them look even larger. 

This Mastiff breed was bred to live a solitary life and therefore can be a pretty independent mountain dog. They’re strong-willed dogs that are naturally wary of strangers. They are, however, very loyal and loving towards their owners and fiercely protective of the ones they love.

The sheer size of the Tibetan Mastiff makes them one of the scariest dog breeds around but they can actually be very mellow and calm with their family. Despite their big, muscular bodies these dogs are agile on their paws and much quicker than you’d expect. This Mastiff breed is really one of the best guard dogs you could get.

Perro de Presa Canario

One of the scariest large dog breeds - Perro de Presa Canario
The Perro de Presa Canario is a devoted dog (to the right owner)

These dogs were originally bred in the Canary Islands and are sometimes referred to as Canary Mastiffs. They were first used to hunt and catch birds but nowadays are often solitary guard dogs. These pups have a reputation for being dangerous dogs and are actually banned in some areas.

Perros de Presa Canario, however, can be faithful and devoted dogs that love their owners. They’re generally wary of strangers and have a bit of a reputation for being aggressive when they feel threatened. It’s really important that these dogs get proper training and a lot of socialization so that they learn from a young age what is a threat and what’s not. They’re not specifically energetic and won’t need a lot of your time playing fetch. 

Perros de Presa Canarios are by no means an easy dog to have as a pet and are not a good choice for first-time owners. They are, however, excellent guard dogs and are sure to keep any intruder away!

English Mastiff

English Mastiffs are one of the scariest looking dog breeds
These pups are experts at pinning down intruders!

This is one of the largest dog breeds on earth and their huge bodies are enough to deter most intruders. They can be 36 inches tall and almost 200 pounds! In fact, some English mastiffs weigh more than their owners!

These pups are very skilled guard dogs and are always on the lookout for potential threats. They’re not naturally aggressive but are more than happy to stand up for themselves and protect their beloved family if they need to. Rather than biting, most Mastiffs tend to use their huge bodies to pin down intruders. A Mastiff isn’t a naturally suspicious guard dog and it can make a great family pet.

Even though these pups are one of the most laid back on this list of intimidating dog breeds, they still need a lot of training and socialization. Their size may be an issue and they can cause serious injury without intending to.

Boerboel Mastiff

The BoerBoel is a loyal and powerful South African guard dog

This Mastiff breed was first bred in South Africa as the ideal protection dog for livestock (they were often expected to protect their flock from hyenas and leopards). For a Mastiff, the Boerboel is very athletic and can easily chase off intruders or other threats. They also have a pretty powerful bark and bite which comes in useful!

These large dogs can be 27 inches tall and weigh up to 180 pounds. They’re muscly, fearless, and very confident. They don’t mind approaching a threat and standing up for themselves (or their families) and rarely lose their calm. They’re one of the most confident dogs on the list.

They come in 7 standard colors and are very attractive and powerful dogs. They can be difficult pups for inexperienced owners to control but with specialized training, socialization, and the correct input from you, they can be wonderful family dogs.

Fila Brasileiro

Some think these are the most dangerous dogs
This big breed is a powerful protector of its beloved family!

This is another really large working breed that’s a popular guard dog around the world – especially in its native Brazil. This huge dog is particularly intimidating because of its big muzzle and powerful body. They are a very protective dog breed and won’t hesitate to defend their owner from a potential threat. They’re exceptionally loyal and adore their family.

Fila Brasileiros adjust well to new conditions and, when trained correctly, can get on well with children. Their size can be an issue, though, and children should always be supervised around these big dogs.

This breed needs a lot of fenced-in space to run around in and explore. They don’t do well in apartments and need plenty of activities to engage their brains. Like the Canary Mastiff, these protection dogs are banned in some countries because they’re considered aggressive. An experienced, large dog lover, however, who is willing to put in the extra effort and socialize these dogs well, will have a great companion and fierce protector.

Dogo Argentino

They are scary but great companion dogs
These dogs are described as lovey-dovey by the the AKC – what do you think?!

The confident Dogo Argentino is (in my opinion) the scariest looking breed on the list. Much more than the German Shepherd, Cane Corso, or the Tibetan Mastiff. But these incredibly strong, white, and intimidating pups are actually very loveable, fun, and happy dogs that are very eager to please their owners.

Their large heads, muscles, and muzzles give them a very aggressive appearance, but with the right owner, they can be extremely sweet-natured. In fact, the AKC describes them as lovey-dovey! 

These dogs were originally bred in Argentina from local fighting dogs (which is where they get their muscles from) but over time, these affectionate canines were used to hunt large animals. Because they’re working dogs, these pups need a lot of regular and fun exercise. They’ll be happy to go on adventurous walks or play in the backyard.

This breed is ideal for those wanting a loving family member that’s scary-looking enough to deter any unwanted intruders. They need an experienced owner who can really bring out their best side and handle other people’s reactions towards them. They make wonderful pets but are frightening to those who don’t know that!

Tosa Inu

Tosa Inus are one of the most intimidating dogs!
A breed of Japanese Mastiff, Tosa Inus are definitely intimidating!

This breed is considered a dangerous dog in a few countries (including the UK) but that doesn’t have to be the case. Tosa Inus have a very high prey drive which is why they’ve made a bit of a name for themselves – and it certainly isn’t recommended that you adopt one of these pups if you have smaller pets or children. They can also be very reserved around strangers.

Even though these dogs were first bred as fighting dogs in Japan, if they’re well trained, well supervised, and well-cared-for, Tosa Inus can be gentle dogs that are protective of their families. They’re territorial and don’t mind being aggressive if they feel threatened. These dogs are very alert and make excellent watchdogs. 

Tosa Inus have medium energy levels and will be happy with just a good walk a day. They’re intelligent and need quite a lot of mental stimulation as well as a good amount of space to roam in.

So, there you have it. 15 intimidating breeds that are sure to scare anyone away from your family or off your property. These protection dogs are a mix of friendly and fierce and some are not suited to all dog lovers. Have we missed any? Which other dog breeds would you add?