Beware of Vicious Dog
Nice doggy...good doggy...

Sign found on a Roman house, proving that this trope is Older Than Feudalism

This is where a dog is really, really mean to anyone and everyone, anything and everything, whether rabid, genetically tampered with, or trained from birth to be that way. If the dog has an owner, then sometimes even the owner can get on the dog's wrong side from time to time.

This type of dog is not a Hellhound, but is a rather normal and standard dog aside from his viciousness. He CAN be kicked, but 9 times out of 10 Failure Is the Only Option where that is concerned. Indeed, kicking him successfully will often make you look reasonable.

NOT a savage wolf, though given his temperament, he may as well be.

May be an Angry Guard Dog or a Bully Bulldog, although those types usually guard homes or properties. The Vicious Dog, on the other hand, is mean regardless of his size or breed and regardless of whether he's a pet/guard dog or not.

The Evil Counterpart of the Big, Friendly Dog.

If a Big, Friendly Dog or a dog that's normally a Gentle Giant gets infected with rabies or is genetically tampered with, chances are very good that he'll become this. In which case, BE VERY AFRAID.

The trope takes its name from the frequent signs on the front of homeowners' gates, usually reading simply "Beware Of Dog," that warn visitors about the potential badness of the resident pooch. Incidentally, if you put up one of these signs, be warned - this will not reduce your risk of getting sued if the dog attacks someone. In fact, it weakens your legal defense, since the sign proves you know the dog is dangerous.


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    FilmóLive Action 
  • The poodle in There's Something About Mary. Played for Laughs.
  • "The Beast," the giant Mastiff dog in The Sandlot, who terrorizes the land next door to the titular sandlot where the kids play baseball, to the point that he's become something of a legend and the kids have to take great care not to knock their baseballs over the fence to where he is; getting back a Babe Ruth-signed ball drives the second half of the movie. Subverted—he turns out to be a Gentle Giant once the kids get to know him.
  • The sled-dog Demon in Snow Dogs behaves this way due to a sore tooth.
  • The blind girl's dog in The Beyond usually wouldn't be so vicious, but since they're in a possessed hotel, it influences the dog to attack his owner.
  • Max, the Tibetan Mastiff in the 1993 film Man's Best Friend, is this due to being genetically enhanced.
  • The 1977 film The Pack is about a group of dogs that behaves this way.
  • The 2006 horror movie The Breed has the protagonists being stalked by a group of dogs that embody this trope.
  • Chopper, Milo Pressman's dog in Stand by Me, has this reputation. Subverted.


    Live Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: Mr. Whipple's guard dogs in the episode "Mr. Whipple".
  • WKRP in Cincinnati: As a Running Gag Les had a bandage somewhere on his person in every episode. (This stemmed from actor Richard Saunders having a cut on pilot taping day.) Eventually we learn that he has a vicious dog at home.
  • Seen sometimes on Victoria Stillwell's dog-training program It's Me or the Dog.
  • Averted on the Animal Planet series Too Cute; whenever breeds that are popularly considered "dangerous" are featured, the narrator is quick to emphasize that with proper training, they make wonderful pets.

  • Popular parody: Picture of a firearm. "Forget the dog, beware of the owner."

    Video Games 
  • Shadow's dog Interceptor in Final Fantasy VI, only being obedient to Shadow himself and nice to Relm on their first meeting.
    Shadow: Leave us. The dog eats strangers...
  • The Runaway Dogs from Earthbound will attack anyone who stands on their way, even defenseless children. On the other hand, once you've gotten enough levels, you can boot them all you want as revenge and put them down in one shot at that.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Wrex comments that if Tuchanka has a temper, its name is Kalros, The Mother of All Thresher-Maws.
  • A vicious dog guarding a farmyard threatens the two boys in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. They get past him by alternately distracting and then rushing through the yard.
  • The Feral Hounds introduced by poachers into the ecosystem of an alien game planet in Carnivores Triassic fit this role, both for viciously attacking the player hunter and for slowly killing off some of the native fauna.
  • The Big Top level in CarnEvil has undead feral poodles wearing clown collars.
  • Angry dogs are among the obstacles you must run away from in Inside. If you see or hear one, run the hell away, because they are fast, persistent, and want you dead. And since the player character is a defenseless little boy, you have no choice but to run away and avoid them.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Real Life example: this news report. (It's where the trope image comes from.)
  • Truth in Television where dogs who are trained and bred to fight are concerned. Rottweilers in particular have gotten a bad reputation for being vicious because of this.