Top 5 Misunderstood Dog Breeds

The most misunderstood dog breeds include the American Pit Bull Terrier, Border Collie, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Apr 27, 2024By Tanya Taylor
top misunderstood dog breeds

As the old saying goes: “There are no bad dogs, just bad owners.” Most dogs aren’t born aggressive; they usually learn it from mistreatment or poor handling. Of course, some dogs are more confident and protective than others, and in the wrong hands, they can be problematic.

Despite their appearance, most demonized dog breeds are actually incredibly loving, loyal, and affectionate. So, without further ado, let's unravel the truth about the top five misunderstood dog breeds.

1. American Pitbull Terrier

pitbull terrier
Photo Credit: Sergio Arteaga on Unsplash

Height: 17 - 21 inches

Weight: 30 - 60 pounds

Exercise Level: High

Lifespan: 10 - 15 years

Origin: USA

The incredibly loyal and affectionate American Pitbull Terrier is one of the most misunderstood dog breeds. The muscular, powerful Pitbull has a terrible reputation and is banned or strictly regulated in many countries. There's no denying that Pitbulls can be dangerous in the wrong hands, but with the correct care and handling, they are exceptional family pets.

Pitbulls are related to Bull Terriers. Bull Terriers are a cross between Bulldogs and terriers, traditionally used for bull baiting and dog fighting. The early British settlers in the United States refined the breed into the modern Pitbull. Unfortunately, people bred these dogs for their aggressive traits toward other animals.

Pitbulls need a confident, experienced owner who will invest time into positive reward training and socializing. Aggressive training will only nurture their protective instinct and thus make them problematic. With the correct guidance, Pitbulls are fun-loving, eager to please, and love being with their families.

2. Border Collie

border collie (2)
Photo Credit: Baptist Standaert on Unsplash

Height: 18 - 22 inches

Weight: 20 - 55 pounds

Size: Medium

Exercise Level: High

Lifespan: 12 - 15 years

Origin: UK

When people talk about the Border Collie, one of the first words they usually use is “snappy.” These hounds are leaders in the world of working canines and the ultimate herding dogs, so gentle snapping is part of their herding instinct to keep livestock in line. This super athletic, agile breed comes from the English/Scottish border and is one of the smartest and most obedient members of the canine world.

A common issue with Border Collies is that they’re super intelligent and full of energy––so they can become anxious without enough mental stimulation and exercise. Collies need a focus, and you shouldn't choose one unless you have abundant time for exercise, training, and playtime. They suit active families with outdoor space and aren’t a good choice if you have small children, as a Collie may try to herd them.

3. German Shepherd

German Shepherd
Photo Credit: Anna Dudkova on Unsplash

Height: 22 - 26 inches

Weight: 50 - 90 pounds

Exercise Level: High

Lifespan: 7 - 12 years

Origin: Germany

Even the most experienced dog handlers can feel intimidated by the huge, wolf-like German Shepherd. Their size, stature, and massive protective instinct make these dogs pretty scary. In reality, German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds. They are the top choice in service, therapy, and police dogs. Most owners will tell you these loyal, attentive dogs are the ultimate canine companions.

German Shepherds have a bad reputation because they’re not great with other dogs and can be fear-aggressive and wary of strangers. They’re super sensitive and may become anxious and lash out if they sense fear. German Shepherds can be overprotective and need a confident and experienced owner.

Early socialization and consistent positive reward training are a must for this breed. With the correct guidance, German Shepherds are excellent family dogs. They’re protective, courageous, attentive, intelligent, focused, and obedient.

4. Rottweiler

Photo Credit: ARTISTIC FRAMES on Unsplash

Height: 22 - 27 inches

Weight: 80 - 130 pounds

Exercise Level: Average

Lifespan: 9 - 10 years

Origin: Germany

Rottweilers are massive, muscular dogs - related to herding and protection dogs from Ancient Rome. They are often used to intimidate as security dogs and were the devil's servants in the film, “The Omen”. It’s no wonder people fear the Rottweiler, but, in reality, they are incredibly laid-back and love relaxing with the family. Despite their fearsome reputation, Rottweilers are one of the most popular dog breeds.

The problem with Rottweilers is that they look scary. They’re super confident with a powerful gait and intense stare. They often have a docked tail, making it hard to read their body language. They can also be stubborn and strong-willed but are generally only aggressive if you treat them harshly.

Rottweilers love being with people, are easy to train, and are fantastic working and service dogs. They are slow to mature, while also needing lots of exercise and mental stimulation. Rottweilers need a calm, confident, and experienced owner to truly thrive.

5. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

staffordshire bull terrier (2)
Photo Credit: Martin Dalsgaard on Unsplash

Height: 14 - 16 inches

Weight: 24 - 30 pounds

Size: Medium

Exercise Level: High

Lifespan: 12 - 14 years

Origin: UK

Last but not least on our list of the most misunderstood dog breeds is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. This canine is one of the most distinctive British dog breeds, known as the Staffy in its native home. Like the Pitbull terrier, Staffies are a cross between Bulldogs and terriers, and traditional uses include bull baiting and dog fighting. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s fearsome reputation couldn't be further from the truth, as these dogs are incredibly loving and affectionate family pets.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is loyal and obedient by nature - but unfortunately, people still use these dogs for illegal fighting. Like any breed, they can be aggressive through mishandling, but overall, they have a sweet, attentive nature. Staffies are super affectionate, love being part of a family, are excellent with children, and are known as nanny dogs.

Tanya Taylor
By Tanya Taylor

Tanya is a trusted animal care professional and has devoted her life to animals. In her 25-year career, she’s worked with all kinds of creatures in many environments, including three years caring for small animals as a veterinary nursing assistant and five years birthing down racehorses.

She is an expert farm and dog sitter - and has spent many hours volunteering at her local pony sanctuary. Tanya is originally from Liverpool in the UK, but now she lives in Ibiza, Spain, with her cheeky red terrier Leo and three Leopard tortoise hatchlings, Ninja, Tiny, and Orwell.