Fighting Dog Breeds

Fighting dog breeds

The expression “fighting dog” is a generic term for all dog breeds classed as dangerous. Some experts are of the opinion that the term “fighting dog” is discriminatory per se. No dog was born a fighting dog, but is made into one by humans. In principle, you could therefore “train” a Dachshund to be a fighting dog. However, the consequences of being bitten by a Dachshund would of course be less severe than being bitten by a fighting dog with a very strong jaw.

Like the Staffordshire, the Rottweiler is by nature considered to be fundamentally friendly and peaceful. In the hands of an experienced dog owner, a Rottweiler is generally relaxed rather than deliberately aggressive. However, the Rottweiler has fallen into disrepute due to attacks on humans and sometimes on children.

The Rottweiler was very popular amongst the 19th century nobility. Its role originally consisted of herding and guarding cattle. The Rottweiler now doesn't occupy this role, but has been well-known and recognised as a police and military dog since 1910.

Power packets with the soul of a daisy

Similarly to humans with a muscular appearance, these canine power packets can be very meek and sensitive on the inside – if they are supported in this behaviour. This is to some extent comparable with raising children. If parents transmit the message to their son that he is a coward simply because he shows a tender and sensitive side and only reinforce his tough characteristics, the child's behaviour will unfortunately be less influenced by his meek nature. This too is not the child's responsibility, just as it is not with the dog primed to be a fighting dog.

Dogs are always anxious to behave in a manner in fitting with their pack. Wolves are excluded from their pack if they don't adapt to the code of behaviour and act too loutishly. The same applies to dogs with their pack, which can be a family with a child. Animal shelters pay great attention to potential new owners being able to meet the requirements that keeping a fighting dog entails. After all, it should be guaranteed that the dog behaves in an exemplary manner to avoid it attacking humans or animals – and that the dog finds such a wonderful new home with its new owner that it can stay there for a long time rather than having to return to the animal shelter.

Livestock guarding dogs vs. fighting dogs

With the term “livestock guarding dog” compared to “fighting dog”, we understand dogs with a strong protective instinct and territorial behaviour. The Turkish Kangal is a livestock guarding dog, which was originally intended to protect large herds of sheep from wolves. If it can no longer fulfil this purpose, it has to possibly find an outlet to indulge its guard dog instinct in another way. It regards “its” people as pack members and defends them as soon as it senses danger. However, if the Kangal receives consistent training, has the opportunity to do physical exercise and activity and is reared in a species-appropriate manner, it can be a harmless and loving family dog.

There are two categories of fighting dogs. “Listed dogs” under category 1 are classed as “most probably dangerous”, whilst category 2 dogs are “likely dangerous”. Increased dog taxes are due for both category 1 and 2 dogs. A potential owner must also have a certificate of good conduct issued by the police if they wish to take a fighting dog from an animal shelter into their home. They also have to produce a certificate of competence upon successfully completing a course. In turn, the dog must carry out and pass a personality test. It can also take an on-going test in order to be allowed not to wear a muzzle.

There can be several motives for owning a fighting dog. It is very likely that owners who take a fighting dog from an animal shelter into their home do so out of love for animals. However, an increasing number of fighting dogs are procured illegally from dubious sources on the Internet. In these cases, the motives of the owners are probably different.

There is no agreement amongst researchers, experts and dog owners as to which dog breed is the most dangerous in the world. However, some breeds are prohibited in many countries due to frequent attacks on humans and may neither be bred nor sold.

Amongst others, the following breeds are considered very dangerous: the American Bulldog is prohibited in Denmark, Singapore and some other countries. This breed originally comes from the southern part of the US and was deployed for catching wild boars.

The breed is considered extremely pain-resistant.

The term “Bandog” was used in the Middle Ages as a name for large dogs that guarded private property at night. Nowadays, “Bandog” is a cross between the American Pitbull Terrier and other Mastiff sub-species. The Bandog is prohibited in all the countries in which the breeds deployed for Bandog breeding are also banned.

The Mastino Napoletano, also known as the Neapolitan Mastiff, used to be deployed in bloody gladiator battles in Italy's Colosseum and was kept as a fighting dog by Roman legions. Nowadays, the breed is mainly still deployed there to guard private houses. The Mastino is not allowed to be kept in homes in Singapore, amongst other countries. In Romania, however, it can be kept under the premise that the owner can show a special certificate guaranteeing the dog's mental health. Dogs of this breed are banned in Bermuda, Ukraine, Belarus and Singapore.

American Bulldog Breed

Stronger than a wolf but meek like a lamb – depending on training

The Wolfhound is a mix of the German Shepherd, the Carpathian Wolf and the Saarloos Wolfhound. This breed's behaviour is considered unpredictable. Depending on the situation – and its training – these dogs can behave like well-trained pets or wild beasts. Unfortunately there are numerous cases of them attacking humans, especially small children.

In Norway, it is not permitted to keep a Wolfhound for this reason.

The Boerboel, meaning “farm dog”, comes from South Africa and was bred from native dogs and guard dogs. They are excellent watchdogs, love children and are in principle not classed as aggressive. Nevertheless, the breed is prohibited in Denmark due to grave incidents.

The Dogo Argentino, also known as the Argentinean Mastiff, originates from the Cordoba Fighting Dog and a range of other fighting dogs like the Great Dane. This breed was predominantly deployed for big-game hunting involving giraffes and pumas. It is forbidden to keep the Dogo Argentino in at least ten countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Portugal.

The Dogo Canario or Canarian Mastiff comes from the Canary Islands, as the name suggests. In 2001, someone was attacked by a dog of this breed and died in the hallway of their home. The owners of the dog were convicted of murder and sentenced to jail. The breed is prohibited in New Zealand and Australia.

Fighting dogs and livestock guardian dogs are very popular on the black market.

Animal shelters report that livestock guardian dogs Kangals partly take the place of fighting dogs.

Neapolitan Mastiff
Neapolitan Mastiff

Good training is everything

A local dog school can support you with training a fighting dog. Experts there know how to handle these potentially dangerous dog breeds and show you in a professional manner how to interact with them.

How do you have to train a Pitbull Terrier, for instance, so that it can make full use of its innate assets as a watch and guard dog and even as a family dog?

First of all, be aware that fighting dogs have an extraordinary amount of strength and endurance and wish to lead a life that suits them. Hence, they need a great deal of exercise on long walks and intensive activity. This prevents aggressive behaviour, which could otherwise result from being under-challenged.

Amongst other things, it's very beneficial to train dogs outdoors and off their lead. This strengthens the connection between you and possibilities to keep it under control. This automatically has a positive effect when your dog is on its lead, because you can exert greater influence if you regularly work with it off its lead.

Should you have no experience whatsoever with dogs, a fighting dog may possibly demand too much of you, so you would be better off starting with another dog breed – e.g. a Labrador or Golden Retriever – or a hybrid from an animal shelter. A dog owner without any experience could run into the danger of being verbally too severe with the dog if it doesn't understand a command and consequently doesn't obey. In contrast, very experienced dog owners understand how to activate the most loving aspects of a fighting dog's character through appropriate training.

In any case, it's particularly important to establish a healthy connection between the (fighting) dog and owner. This involves getting the dog used to different environmental stimuli as well as fellow dogs, other animals and humans at an early stage. An animal with a stable psyche will generally not pose a danger to its environment! This particularly applies to fighting dogs due to their characteristics.

The magic words for training a fighting dog are “loving” and “consistency”. Ideally you should take the dog into your home when it is still a puppy. The earlier you take responsibility for its training, the better the chances of your dog maintaining a loving and friendly nature. Definitely avoid punishments, drills and being heavy-handed, because “training” based on such sanctions triggers permanent angst for your dog – which can strongly encourage aggressive behaviour.

Fighting dogs too need plenty of love, though this doesn't mean that you should spoil and cosset them. Loving training should instead involve clear rules, precise commands and consistency, since this is the only way for your dog to feel safe and secure with you. This in turn is the best prerequisite to fully encourage a gentle, friendly disposition – and to allow your dog to live a happy and peaceful life at your side.

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