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Which Breeds Are Aggressive (or Peaceful) With Other Dogs

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books



Your dog's attitude toward other dogs  might match his attitude toward people... or it might be different.

Two dogs looking at each other

Are these dogs safe with each other? If your answer is, "I'm not sure..." and one of these is yours, get him out of there quick. Dogs should never be allowed to interact with each other unless you're certain they're safe.

For example...

  • Bullmastiffs have a high risk of aggression toward both people and other dogs.
  • Basset Hounds have a low risk of aggression toward both people and other dogs.
  • Rat Terriers are often friendly toward people, but aggressive toward other dogs. (Quite a few terriers are like this.)

A dog's attitude toward other dogs is based on:

  1. The genes  he inherited from his parents.
  2. Any good (or bad) experiences  he has had with other dogs.

    If a dog was previously attacked by another dog, it's understandable that he might now have a fearful or aggressive ("I'll get them before they get me...") attitude.

  3. How effectively you correct  him if he shows aggression toward another dog.
  4. How effectively you handle the situation  when you're out with your dog and another dog approaches the two of you.

    Do you know how to act like the leader so that your dog trusts YOU to handle the situation? Or does your dog think HE'S the leader, so HE must handle the situation, usually by threatening the other dog?

Two dogs on tight leashes, sniffing noses

Here's how dog fights start... Allow two dogs to sniff noses and lock eyes, while holding them back with tight leashes. Novice dog owners make this mistake over and over again. These two are Pit Bulls, but could be any breed.

If you need help handling any of the above issues, it's all covered in my Respect Training books.

Which breeds are pugnacious (or peaceful) with other dogs?

TINY DOGS

Nearly all tiny breeds are fine with the pets in their own family, but somewhat pugnacious toward other dogs they don't know.

Black Toy Poodle

Toy Poodles are usually fine with everyone.

This is mostly a survival mechanism as the tiny dog tries to pre-empt an attack by convincing a larger dog not to mess with him. (The problem is, the little guy often calls attention to himself when the other dog hadn't even noticed him!)

In my experience, the most peaceful tiny breeds are Toy Poodles, Maltese, and Japanese Chin.

SMALL DOGS

In this size catory, there are lots of terrier breeds, and terriers are typically bold/pushy/aggressive toward other dogs.

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier.

The most fickle small breed in his attitude toward other dogs is the Jack Russell Terrier. JRTs can go from 0 ("I love my doggy friends!") to 100 ("Kill this one!") in the blink of an eye. I don't generally recommend keeping two JRTs together; at the very least, never leave them alone together, especially with food or toys present.

The most peaceful small breeds are the Mini Poodle, English Toy Spaniel, Cavalier King Charles, Shih Tzu, Italian Greyhound, Pug, Pekingese, and the Bichon Frise & his cousins (Havanese, Lowchen, Coton de Tulear).

MIDSIZED DOGS

English Cocker Spaniel

Spaniels are lovely dogs, usually pleasant with everyone, including other dogs and cats. This is an English Cocker. Note that they need exercise and coat care. And they shed a lot.

In this size range, we see contentiousness from the terriers, along with the German Pinscher.

The most peaceful midsized breeds are the various spaniels, Sheltie, Beagle, Lagotto Romagnolo, and Whippet... except that the Whippet, with his strong chasing instincts, can be a threat to other dogs who are very small.

MEDIUM-SIZE DOGS

Again, most likely to be quarrelsome with other dogs are the terriers, plus the Standard Schnauzer, Australian Cattle Dog, and Chow.

The most peaceful medium-size breeds are the various spaniels, Brittany, Basset Hound, Keeshond, and Vizsla.

Basset Hounds

Basset Hounds are usually good-natured with everyone, human and dog alike. But they do shed a lot and have a houndy odor. And they need enough exercise to prevent obesity.

LARGE DOGS AND GIANT DOGS

Most large and giant breeds are assertive with other dogs, which can progress to combativeness, especially toward other dogs of the same sex, or toward smaller dogs who trigger the larger dog's prey instincts.

If you already have another dog, be cautious bringing home one of the following large/giant breeds. In fact, I don't recommend it unless you have experience with these breeds and your other dog is at least medium size with a really mellow temperament. Say, an opposite-sex Golden Retriever:

Akita Greater Swiss Mtn Dog
Alaskan Malamute Great Pyrenees
American Bulldog Komondor
Anatolian Shepherd Kuvasz
Bullmastiff Leonberger
Cane Corso Old English Mastiff
Catahoula Leopard Neapolitan Mastiff
Dogo Argentino Newfoundland
Dogue de Bordeaux Rhodesian Ridgeback
Fila Brasileiro Rottweiler
Giant Schnauzer St Bernard
Great Dane Tibetan Mastiff
Rough Collies

Rough Collies are typically peaceful and polite with other dogs.

The most peaceful large/giant breeds are the Rough & Smooth Collie, four retrievers (Golden, Labrador, Flat-Coat, Curly-Coat), the English and Irish Setter, English Pointer, and Bernese Mountain Dog.

Some large/giant breeds belong to the family of dogs called sighthounds , which are hunting dogs. Sighthounds are usually fine with similar-sized dogs. However, with smaller dogs (and cats), the powerful prey instincts of large sighthounds can pose a real threat. The Afghan Hound, Borzoi, Greyhound, Ibizan Hound, Irish Wolfhound, Saluki, and Scottish Deerhound are sighthounds.


Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.


To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.