Say the word “pit bull,” and the reaction from the general public is often, well, generally not so great. Visions of burly, teeth-bearing, straight-up scary dogs come to mind even though pit bulls—and other “aggressive” breeds, for that matter—can be sweet and loving. Still, the bad rap keeps on being propagated. Sure, they can be aggressive, but so can that friendly golden retriever down the block if he’s so trained to be.
According to Forbes, renters are least likely to rent to the families who own the following breeds:
- Pit bulls and Staffordshire terriers
- Doberman pinschers
- German shepherds
- Great danes
- Presa canaries
- Alaskan malamutes
- Siberian huskies
And insurance companies? They likely won’t cover the first four breeds, which, contrary to popular belief, may make good family dogs thanks to their fiercely loyal, protective, and loving personalities.
1. Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers
The main reason pit bulls and Staffordshire terriers are associated with aggression? That’s what they’ve traditionally been trained—and in many cases, encouraged—to do.
According to the ASPCA, pit bulls are a descendent of English bull-baiting dogs, which were bred to “bite and hold bulls, bears and other large animals around the face and head.”
No small task. When large animal-baiting was outlawed more than 200 years ago, people bred the English bull-baiting dog with a smaller, more energetic and agile terrier to produce the ultimate athletic dog perfect for fighting other dogs.
Unfortunately, some people still own pit bulls to fight other dogs, but that doesn’t mean the entire breed should be viewed as a “bad” breed. Like humans, dogs’ personalities are a combination of nature and nurture. If raised and treated well by educated owners, a pit bull is no more dangerous than any other breed.
2. Doberman Pinschers
Doberman pinschers are widely recognized as guard dogs, which is where their aggression comes into play—in protective situations.
According to the DPCA, dobermans were originally created as loyal companions, bred to protect their owners on the police force and in the military field.
Again, every dog should be treated individually, but love and respect breeds love and respect. Like the pit bull (and every other breed, for that matter), dobermans are fully capable of being fantastic family dogs.
Are rottweilers good family dogs? They can be, as long as your rottweiler is trained right.
According to the AKC, Rottweilers date all the way back to Roman times, where they were used to herd livestock. They’re still good in a herding role, but given their natural territorial tendencies and strong obedience, they’re now used as guard dogs and police dogs.
As long as your Rottweiler is loved, socialized, and understands that you’re the parent and not him, he may make for a kind and loving family pet. (And apparently, they make for a pretty great laugh.)
4. German Shepherds
And can German shepherds be good family dogs? You guessed it! Yes, indeed.
Like the pit bull, doberman and rottweiler, German shepherds are intelligent, incredibly loyal protective dogs who are often used to guard and protect because of said qualities.
Again, each dog should be treated as an individual—aggression can be sparked by a number of factors, but it’s on a dog-by-dog basis.
According to the Animal Humane Society, dog aggression can be attributed to a number of things, including genetic predisposition (i.e., being bred for militant purposes, such as the dogs listed in this post) and learned aggression (i.e., bad pet parents who reward aggressive behavior).
The bottom line? The traits that make people think a certain breed of dog is dangerous are the same traits that could make them quality family dogs: Their unwavering loyalty, incredible intelligence, and protective nature.
If treated right and with respect, each and every one of these lovable breeds could be the perfect choice for a family. No matter what, it’s important to find a dog who’s a good fit for you and your family. So do your research, give your dog love and training, and find a friend who’ll be your perfect match.
If you have a mixed-breed dog, we recommend trying a dog DNA test (this one is our favorite) to get more insight into your dog’s heritage.