When it comes to dogs, sometimes looks can be deceiving. You may have a cute, cuddly little ball of fluff ready to tear off a finger. On the opposite end, you may have a giant, gnarly-looking beast that would curl up in your lap if they could. Sometimes, however, things are precisely as they seem.
We have compiled a list of the top 20 dog breeds that could make you shake in your boots. Some of these fierce faces live up to their expressions, and some are just big teddy bears. Let’s find out a little more about these roughnecks.
The Top 20 Tough-Looking Dog Breeds
This hefty breed is both stocky and solid. While they may look like they will rip off one or two of your limbs, unless you’re a threat, you’re safe. These sweethearts are typically very calm and even-keeled. They will even get along swimmingly with strangers and other animals. You may have one who is more aggressive than usual, but that isn’t an overall breed trait.
These husky dogs have a reputation for being highly aggressive. While it’s true that they are often wary of new people and will defend if necessary, they typically don’t act on impulse. When it comes to their families, they’re loyal and gentle. They may be selective about who they trust, but that makes them excellent guard dogs. You won’t have to worry about protection with these guys around.
3. Doberman Pinscher
Dobermans look like they mean business—and they probably do. They are intensely protective dogs, feeling out every newcomer or new situation with suspicion. They are smart as a whip and won’t let anything get passed them. While they may not attack you without reason, they will have their eye on you if they don’t know your intent.
4. German Shepherd
This is another pick on the list that has quite a fierce character. They didn’t get a role of being police dogs for no reason. They are incredibly intelligent and impressively strong. Ready to act at a moment’s notice, they use their skills in various ways. This breed knows they can’t reap rewards from laying idly by. Shepherds are usually aloof, but they do make fantastic companions, work, and service animals.
5. Caucasian Mastiff
These dogs are bred for dangerous work. They were purposefully made to ward off large predators like wolves and even bears. Some of these massive beasts can weigh up to 200 pounds or more. That is an absolutely stunning size. While they may make extraordinary guard dogs, you must have a firm hand. They’re much bigger than you, and they know it. Respectful training is needed to establish a hierarchy.
6. Rhodesian Ridgeback
These dogs are extremely hard workers, but they are also stubborn. They can be tough to train because they have a mind of their own. However, if you can successfully teach them, they are amazing companion animals. Even though they have hunting dog roots, they may also be good with other animals if you raise them together.
7. Dogo Argentino
These canines look tough, and for a good reason. They were another breed used as fighting dogs throughout history. Because of that, they have potentially innate aggression with other dogs. They will need to be well-socialized with other animals early on. However, when it comes to people, this breed is amiable, loyal, and fun-loving.
8. Cane Corso
This impressive lug is very unapproachable looking, especially when they have their ears cropped. While they aren’t generally mean for no reason, they are somewhat indifferent toward outsiders. They have no opinion of you or care much about you either way. They don’t bother judging you until you do something to cross a line. Then, they won’t hesitate to protect whomever they feel you’re threatening.
9. American Bully
You may look at this dog and wonder how many steroids they take regularly. They look like they could give Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for his money. While this dog may seem intimidating, they are one of the friendliest bully breeds. They tend to adore strangers, children, and even other pets. These dogs may be beastly, but their bark is much bigger than its bite.
10. Tosa Inu
Tosa Inus have been given quite the bad name, as they were once used as fighting dogs. They have been referred to as vicious, killing machines. However, the actual nature of this dog is anything but. They are very tranquil and laid back, not acting out unless absolutely necessary. While humans can foul things up in no time at all, the true essence of this dog is that of good nature and balance.
11. Fila Brasileiro
In the 18th century, this enormous beast wasn’t one you’d want to run into if you were a fugitive on the loose. These dogs would collect up slaves who had escaped and return them to their masters unscathed. While they may have taken their duties very seriously, these dogs are incredibly docile and gentle with their owners. On the contrary, they have a strong dislike for strangers and don’t trust easily.
12. American Pit Bull Terrier
These guys have gotten a nasty reputation in recent years. When people see a Pit Bull, they probably immediately worry. They are muscular and broad, complicating that fear even further. However, they also have a giant wrinkly smile and big blocky heads that give off a very friendly glow. While Pit Bulls are reported commonly for biting, this is mostly due to abuse, inadequate training, and lack of proper socialization. They are more often very friendly toward people and very doting with children.
13. Saarloos Wolfdog
If you didn’t know any better, you might think you are coming face to face with a coyote or wolf. While they do have wolf origins, they only share some characteristics with their wild cousins. They are typically shy, standoffish, and timid. They do have a strong pack mentality, but they may be slightly nervous as a general rule.
14. Great Dane
Great Danes, while massive, are actually quite docile and slow. When they are puppies, they may be hilariously clumsy. They may not catch on to how big they are, but they aren’t typically aggressive. Being such a large breed, they will be threatening when you’re one on one. Some of them may be standoffish with strangers, but it generally doesn’t go beyond that. These dogs are truly gentle giants.
15. Neapolitan Mastiff
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, these dogs may look familiar. While JK Rowling expresses in her books that Fang is a Great Dane or “boarhound,” in the movies, he is portrayed by a Neapolitan Mastiff. They are thunderously large and may not take kindly to other dogs. They seem like they may be slow-paced or relaxed, but are always on guard, keeping a watchful eye on things.
Related to German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois, the Groenendael is a sight to see. With their long lion-like mane and their wolf-shaped face, they can make you question their intentions with just one look. It’s probably for the best, too. This dog means business. While they are generally very loyal companion animals, they are serious by nature, and it will do you no favors to cross one.
17. Kugsha Amerindian Malamute
Wolf-like Kugshas are an enigma all on their own. They’re incredibly independent dogs. However, they are also very attached to their pack. They can easily develop separation anxiety and bad behavioral tendencies if you leave them alone often. They also can’t be left alone with small children, as their prey drive may take over. Yikes!
18. Alaskan Noble Companion Dog
These dogs look candidly like the traditional black wolf. Running into one of these beauties face to face may be a breathtaking experience, and not so much in a good way. But you can relax, as this breed in progress is quite passive and non-aggressive. That’s just a perk since they are so gorgeous. They may develop into quite a popular breed one day.
Akitas aren’t typically stranger-friendly. But more so than not liking outsiders much, they tend to not like other dogs, especially if they are the same sex. That probably stems from the fact that they have alpha mentalities and don’t take well to power threats. They also remember behavior, so if one encounters abuse or neglect, they are likely to carry those memories with them and not trust future owners.
20. Great Pyrenees
These dogs are humungous, so that can be off-putting. That should be the only thing that scares you about these dogs, though, as they are very laid back and mild. They are protectors by design and will devote themselves to their families, being especially partial to children. If you are a person with good intentions, they will be the same.
That’s Enough Tough Stuff
You can see the brilliance of each of these breeds shining through. While they may look tough, they still need all the love you can give. Each of these dogs will be fabulous companions for the right families. If you are looking for brawny exteriors that radiate with rugged handsomeness, selecting a dog on this list will serve that purpose well.