5 Dog Breeds With Bad Reputations

When choosing a pet, don’t automatically avoid dog breeds with “bad reputations.” These dogs often become cherished family members.

A bad reputation is a hard thing to shake — especially if you’re a dog.

Certain breeds of dogs have characteristics that give potential owners pause due to infamous behavioral problems. With careful training and patience, though, those problems can be eradicated and you can have peace of mind concerning your choice of pet.

However unfairly these dog breeds with bad reputations may be portrayed in the social collective consciousness, educating yourself about the documented behaviors of certain breeds can save you a lot of heartache and possibly prevent a bad household situation, especially if children are involved.


Here are some breeds that may be worth researching before bringing them into your home.

1. Neopolitan Mastiff

Neopolitan mastiff
Neopolitan Mastiffs, despite their intimidating size, can be loving and protective of family. By: Dave Baker/Petful

The sheer size of these dogs is intimidating. At 165 pounds or more, their heads can reach above a dining room table. Neopolitan Mastiffs are often reputed to be very protective and very strong.

When the person doesn’t act as the clear leader in the relationship, the dog will take over the leadership role. They can become aggressive toward other animals unless they are trained to behave with good manners.

With good leadership, these are very loving and sweet, though quite slobbery, dogs.

Early socialization is necessary, as with all dogs. Daily exercise will keep them in a more relaxed mood, although they will never lose their guarding instinct.

2. Pit Bull

Pit bulls are often used in illegal dog fighting, which adds to their reputation as dangerous dogs. By: Kristine Lacoste/Petful

This breed has often been in the news as having bitten and even killed human beings.

It is a breed many people fear for their ferociousness. The name “pit bull” can actually apply to the American Staffordshire Terrier as well as the American Staffordshire bull terrier.


The American Pit Bull Terrier is also among the breed called pit bulls. Used often for dog fighting, this breed doesn’t fare well in the minds of potential owners.

The American pit bull is the result of breeding the Old English terrier and the English Bulldog.

Because this breed is strong and tenacious, they have been misused as tools of intimidation. Such irresponsible behavior, coupled with ignorance, has turned the American pit bull into a pariah in the dog world. With intelligent training and treatment, pit bulls are no worse in their behavior than any other breed.

3. German Shepherd

German Shepherds need a strong leader of an owner who can balance discipline with love. By: Magnus Bråth

The German Shepherd is also subject to rumors of ill-repute.

As with the pit bull, these dogs are often used to elicit fear and intimidation. Responsible dog people are aware that German Shepherds need to be directed by someone with a strong personality. They won’t follow someone who cannot lead.

GSDs are energetic and need to run that energy off by playing and romping.

Anyone considering a German Shepherd as a companion must learn about them, about their needs and about their intelligence. They make great guide dogs for the blind.

They also have been used extensively in police work and in border patrol activities. In addition, they are very protective of the people in their family. Choosing a German Shepherd can be one of the best choices an energetic person can make.

4. Rottweiler

Rottweilers can be fun family dogs, just like any other breed. By: M&Co

To live with a Rottweiler, you have to know all about them; there are no ifs, ands or buts about it.

They are strong-willed dogs who will run roughshod over anyone who doesn’t take the time to learn to work with them. Moreover, they are strong in body.

A Rottweiler’s massive jaws can clamp onto an object and, unless the Rottweiler is taught the command “Drop it,” it is extremely difficult to retrive the object from his mouth.

Watch this Rottweiler show his silly side in the snow:

When Rottweilers are trained to behave well, they fit into any family perfectly. They become shadows, following their favorite person everywhere.

This makes them also great protectors. Rottweilers truly love people, but when it comes to other animals, they can be aggressive; they are extremely territorial.


Boomer, meaning “full-grown kangaroo,” is a great male dog name for dogs who are tough or outgoing.


When raised with discipline and love, Rottweilers are dogs to love, and they will love you back.

5. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman pinschers are a loving and protective breed. By: Tina Li

A sleek, regal-looking breed with a broad chest, the doberman has been much misunderstood. Portrayed in films as teeth-baring, saliva-dripping, man-eating monsters, many people fear Dobermans — but they could not be more wrong.

Although this is a large breed, the dogs love being petted and “babied.” While they need a strong hand to control and guide them, Dobermans are intelligent and will aim to please.

Show them you are a calm leader in the house, and they will follow and protect you anywhere and from anyone.

Jet Perreault

View posts by Jet Perreault
Jet Perreault, a professional dog groomer of 18 years, graduated from Michigan State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. She has spent time on the dog show circuit, working groomer trade shows, and managing grooming salons and pet shops.

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1 Comment

  1. Milly
    September 25, 2014

    The bad rep that follows American Pitbull Terriers is so heart breaking to me! I have a seven month old pit bull and lab mix (primarily pit) who is the light of my life. He is loving, clever, loyal, intelligent, playful, friendly, lazy, and SO incredibly affectionate. He sleeps on my bed every night and can often be found cuddling up right against me. He’s a sneaky little guy (and by little I mean h-u-g-e) who loves to chew up everything, play chasing games, and give tons of kisses. I run an infant care out of my home and he has always been very gentle with the babies. He has strong protective instincts so I have been careful to monitor him closely and ensure that he is only protective when a situation calls for it (he is extra protective of the babies if unfamiliar adults are present). Its funny though because he would make a terrible guard dog due to his very friendly nature. He’s a ham… A giant, cuddly ham. I’m so glad that I was educated about American Pitbull Terriers because I’m now going to be a pit-mama for life! xo


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