The practice of dog fighting has been happening for centuries, and even today, there are many countries around the world where this barbaric practice is still permitted and sanctioned under the law.
In the United States, the “sport” of dog fighting can be traced back to the mid-18th century, when dog fights would attract thousands of spectators for the purpose of gambling and entertainment.
The practice was so accepted in the early to mid-19th century, that the rules and results of dog fights across the country were actually published in major print publications.
It was not until the year 1867, when a man named Henry Bergh, the founder of the animal rights group ASPCA, banned dog fighting in all of its forms and held violators of the law personally responsible.
Even though the awful blood sport of dog fighting has been illegal for decades, today certain dog breeds are still bred, conditioned and trained for these unlawful fights.
These matches continue to take place in the barns of rural areas and the basements of cities—fights to the death that some people inexplicably still find entertaining.
In this article, we will highlight and describe some of the dog breeds that are considered top-of-the-line in terms of fighting.
These breeds, whether still active in fighting today or the champs of yesteryear when the practice was legal, all possess genetic traits and attributes that make them very formidable when matched up against other dogs.
What Dog Breeds Are Seen as the Best Fighters?
While most all dogs can be trainable and lovable given the right owner, there are some breeds that might make you cross the street if you saw them coming your way.
So, without further ado, here are some of the toughest fighters in the doggie kingdom.
The largest and most impressively stoic dog on our list, the Kangal is a Turkish dog breed, originating from the province Sivas in that country.
Although originally a breed owned solely by the rich landowners in Turkey as a status symbol, the Kangal’s loyalty and protective nature was quickly noticed by the villagers.
As a result, these farmers and shepherds began breeding and training the dogs to protect prized livestock from the natural predators in the region, particularly wolves.
The sheer size of the Kangal makes it a very impressive fighting breed.
The behemoth dogs can grow to a whopping 33 inches in height and they can weigh up to150 pounds.
Instinctively protective, the Kangal has a very muscular build and a bite force that measures nearly 750 pounds per square inch—a bite force that is literally unmatched among domesticated canines.
When trained to do so, the Kangal is one of the most fearless and successful of all the fighting dog breeds.
However, the dog also has a softer side.
They are very protective by nature—making them great guard dogs—but they are also very loyal and gentle with children.
The American Pit Bull Terrier (AKA Pit Bull)
In the United States, the American Pit Bull Terrier, also known as the Pit Bull, is perhaps most well-known as a fighting dog.
Some experts even consider them the very best fighters, thanks largely to their muscular build, powerful locking jaws and instinctive predatory behavior.
Pit bulls can stand between 16 and 20 inches high and weigh anywhere from 35 to 90 pounds.
Like the Kangal, the Pit Bull is very protective and courageous, but the breed can also be very loving and playful, always trying to please its owner.
What makes the Pit Bull such an accomplished fighter, according to experts, is its enormously high prey drive—its absolute need to pursue and subdue.
Its origins can be traced back to the 1800s in the United Kingdom—England, Scotland and Ireland—where it came about due to the cross breeding of bulldogs and a variety of Terrier breeds.
While the majority of Pit Bulls in America are very kind and loyal, when trained as a fighting dog, its skills in that arena are par-excellent.
The Cane Corso
The next dog on our list, the Cane Corso, is of Italian descent.
It was bred in that country as a guardian and hunter, although many today think of them merely as good-hearted companions.
The Cane Corso is known for its colossal size, imposing look and powerful jaws, all of which make it a very gifted fighter.
The broad head and square jaw of the Cane Corso, coupled with its powerful bite force, makes it one of the most daunting breeds to hail from Western Europe.
The Cane Corso is fearless both in the fighting ring and when guarding livestock. Its height can range from 23 to 30 inches, and most males weigh over 100 pounds.
The dog is very self-assured and extremely territorial. It is always alert and typically reserved, but it can become very ferocious, very fast when it perceives a threat.
As its name suggests, the Rottweiler breed originated in Germany, where it was primarily bred as a military dog.
The breed boasts a remarkable size and a squared-off jaw, along with plenty of stamina in its tank.
Rottweilers are black and brown (or black and rust) in coloring and both the males and females of the breed tend to weigh over 100 pounds at full adulthood.
The dog is extremely agile for its size and has tremendous bite power.
To say that the Rottweiler personifies nobility would be an understatement.
As a fighting dog, it is very poised and exceedingly imposing—and it certainly never backs down from a challenge.
However, the dog can also be very gentle in the right hands, and because of its protective nature it makes a very fine pet.
The Presa Canario (AKA Perro de Presa Canario)
Although tremendously rare compared to some of the other breeds on this list, the Presa Canario is highly sought after by those who profit from the sport of dog fighting.
It is a Spanish breed—a type of Mastiff—that is primarily found on the island regions of Gran Canaria and Tenerife.
For centuries, the dog has been bred as a herder and guard dog, but it was also the first choice in 19th-century Spain for dog fighting—an activity that, while now outlawed, still continues today, both in Europe and the United States.
The Presa Canario stands between 23 and 25 inches at the withers and can weigh upwards of 130 pounds.
It possesses a very strong and well-developed body, a wide square head, powerful shoulders and a more than impressive bite force.
The dog is known to be loyal, relentless, unafraid and eager to please.
As a working dog, it does not make the best pet, but if you need a dog to protect your home or farm from predators, the Presa Canario is a great choice.
The Tosa Inu
Originating from Japan, the Tosa Inu is well-known in fighting circles.
Originally, this breed was not exceedingly large, but due to cross-breeding in America it is now one of the most sizable and feared dogs to trot into the ring.
Depending on its country of origin, the Tosa Inu can stand between 22 and 31 inches tall, and weigh anywhere from 80 to 180 pounds.
These height and weight disparities highlight just how much the dog has evolved over the centuries.
The Tosa Inu, which is sometimes referred to as the Japanese Mastiff, is not a very hearty dog, with a life expectancy of just 9-11 years.
However, what it lacks in heartiness it more than makes up for in fierceness.
Without proper socialization and training, the breed can be very antagonistic to both humans and other dogs.
Owners take advantage of these traits when training the Tosa Inu to fight.
The Doberman Pinscher
Before Pit Bulls and Rottweilers became common pets, the German-bred Doberman Pinscher was infamous for its imposing size and unwelcoming demeanor.
These dogs are very regal in appearance, with a slim, muscular build and squared-off jaw.
Their coloring, much like the German Rottweiler, is black and rust, and their gait is very speedy, making them the fastest breed on our list.
The Doberman Pinscher has long been a loyal and obedient pet in households throughout the country.
However, those same aim-to-please qualities make them easy targets for the fighting world.
This breed always seems to be on high alert, and because it was bred as a guard dog, it can be very intimidating in the wrong hands.
The American Bulldog
Last but not least, the American Bulldog has been a mainstay in our doggie culture for decades.
Its squat, muscular build and squared off jaw has made it a favorite for pet owners whose main concern is protection and security.
The breed can vary in size, standing between 20 and 30 inches in height and weighing anywhere from 60-120 pounds.
Depending on its environment, care and genetic makeup, the dog can live between 10 and 16 years.
The large imposing head of the American Bulldog, along with its powerful jaws, has enabled it to be very successful in canine combat.
Deep down, however, the breed is actually very affectionate and gentle, able to get along great with other dogs and its owners once properly socialized.