Some dog breeds get persistently stereotyped as dangerous, aggressive, and threatening. Because of those stereotypes, many cities now ban specific dog breeds across the United States. (That’s despite the fact that scientists say any dog can become aggressive, regardless of breed.) On top of that, Snopes reports that bans don’t seem to prevent attacks, nor do they reduce the frequency or severity of dog bites. But fair or not, numerous states and cities have enacted breed-specific legislation.
Below, check out the most commonly banned dog breeds in the United States, according to legislation tracking by Dogsbite.org. (Just note that many experts don’t agree with the group’s claim that breed bans effectively prevent bites and attacks.)
17. Shar pei
Banned or restricted by cities in: Mississippi and Utah
The shar pei hasn’t been as widely banned as many other dog breeds. However, several cities restrict residents from owning these compact dogs. While the AKC characterizes the breed as “steadfastly devoted to loved ones, but standoffish and lordly toward strangers,” veterinarian Ann Huntington argued that “gentle shar peis are the exception, not the rule” and that “shar peis often have serious personality problems.”
That may explain why legislation targets the breed. The Nest reports that the breed can display territorial and standoffish behavior. Of course, you shouldn’t mistake an aloof personality for an aggressive one. However, owners who don’t properly train their dogs can end up with a dog with temperament problems. The Nest explains, “In the wrong hands, like any breed, the Shar Pei has the potential to become dangerous.”
16. Rhodesian ridgeback
Banned or restricted by cities in: Michigan and Wisconsin
Rhodesian ridgebacks have been characterized as dangerous both in the United States and abroad. But if you read the AKC’s profile of the “even-tempered” breed, you might wonder why. Your Purebred Puppy reports that these dogs “have an independent mind of their own.” The publication also characterizes the breed as “very trainable in the right hands.” However, “they can be willful or dominant (they want to be the boss). You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.”
Nonetheless, occasional headlines about a bite or an attack by a Rhodesian ridgeback put many proponents of breed-specific legislation on the alert. Some cities ban the breed. And even in cities that haven’t considered a ban, some insurance companies and landlords restrict the breed. Similarly, landlords and homeowners’ associations may not let you move into a property if you own one of these dogs.
15. Alaskan malamute
Banned or restricted by cities in: Iowa, Louisiana, and Michigan
The Alaskan malamute has gained a reputation as an athletic and affectionate family pet in some circles, but it’s known as a dangerous breed in others. Some cities across the United States ban or restrict ownership of the breed. That may be because not every dog owner is prepared to meet the demands of this highly active dog. As the Alaskan Malamute Club of Victoria explains, “The more an animal is trained, the more his intelligence is developed. This can work to both good and bad results with the Malamute.”
Dogtime reports that, like other dogs with a strong prey drive, Alaskan malamutes “have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by — cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars — can trigger that instinct.” Attacks and bites by these dogs are rare. However, they scare people who are concerned about what happens when a child runs by (even if most malamutes will just want to join in the fun).