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Beware of Vicious Dog

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Mailmen and Amazon drivers, beware!

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

Dogs Are Dumb, right? You're wrong on this one.

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 especially if said owner has been treating the dog with anything other than the utmost respect, though this isn't always the case.

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.

Oftentimes they can launch on squirrels, if spotted. A Cute Kitten might also be a favored target of a Vicious Dog, especially when Cat/Dog Dichotomy comes into play.

Not a savage wolf, though given his Super-Persistent Predator temperament, he may as well be.

May be an Angry Guard Dog, a Bully Bulldog or a Psycho Poodle, 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 Mister Muffykins are usually a puppy or small dog version of this, given their tendencies to get on everyone's nerves. Of course, like the aforementioned dogs, they can attack people, among other things.

The Evil Counterpart of the Big Friendly Dog. Very likely to be a Right-Hand Attack Dog if it's owned by the villains.

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

Even if the Cats Are Mean, they can still be horrified by these kinds of dogs.

The Werewolves Are Dogs-kind of werewolves are prone to behaving like this.

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. See No Animals Allowed when an establishment just bans animals entirely, with these dogs not helping discourage such policies.


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    Comic Strips 
  • Parodied in The Far Side, where a shifty individual peers from behind a tree at an approaching salesman with the gate bearing the sign "Beware of Doug."
  • A Running Gag of this in the Garfield comics that gets Played With frequently will have Garfield encountering a Beware of Dog sign. The dogs referred to by the signs run the gamut from the typical cat chasing Angry Guard Dog to ones who simply philosophize Garfield to death to some who play the Vicious part terrifyingly straight.

    Fan Works 
  • Agreement and Disputation: Watson leaves Baker Street early in the morning due to being the closest doctor to the scene of a carriage accident. When Holmes asks how they found him without a signboard, Watson answers that he treated the policeman currently on duty after an alley dog attacked him.
  • Witching Hour: Gaz owns a pack of hunting hounds that would make Ramsay Bolton green with envy, as she claims that they're trained to devour human flesh on command. However, even they're no match for Zim, who is able to effortlessly slaughter them as part of his larger plan to frame Gaz for witchcraft.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • The 2006 horror movie The Breed 2006 has the protagonists being stalked by a group of dogs that embody this trope.
  • Larger than Life: In the junkyard, a snarling rottweiler runs at Jack. Vera the elephant scares it off by trumpeting.
  • In The Little Stranger, the female lead's Big Friendly Dog Gyp unexpectedly mauling a child is the first indication that the house harbors some evil spirits.
  • Max, the Tibetan Mastiff in the 1993 film Man's Best Friend, is this due to being genetically enhanced.
  • Mermaid Down: Under the Beyer Psychiatric Facility for Women, Dr. Beyer keeps a violently aggressive dog to which he occasionally feeds patients, including Lynn.
  • The 2015 horror film Night of the Wild is about dogs in a peaceful town being affected by a strange green meteor that makes them Brainwashed and Crazy. Led by a wolf-like dog, they all start turning on their human owners, and it's hinted in the Downer Ending that the meteor has affected other towns and dogs too.
  • The 1977 film The Pack is about a group of dogs that behaves this way.
  • "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.
  • Chopper, Milo Pressman's dog in Stand by Me, has this reputation. Subverted.
  • The poodle in There's Something About Mary. Played for Laughs.
  • White Dog is about a dog trained to attack and kill black people on sight. Despite steps being taken to remove the dog's viciousness, it only results in the dog turning on white people instead.

  • In Diana Wynne Jones's Castle in the Air, Jamal's dog is like this.
    Jamal: I believe in free will. If my dog wishes to hate everyone in the world but myself, it is free to do so.
  • Stephen King's Cujo, by virtue of rabies. Before getting infected, he was a Big Friendly Dog.
  • In The Little Stranger, female lead Caroline's Big Friendly Dog Gyp mauls a child, indicating that something evil is indeed residing in the family's mansion and manipulating everyone within.
  • Farmer Maggot's dogs Wolf, Fang and Grip in The Lord of the Rings.
  • In Men at Arms, Angua (a werewolf) and Gaspode (a Talking Animal) encounter the Dogs' Guild, a pack of angry dogs led by Big Fido, a vicious poodle. He likes to think of dogs as Savage Wolves who need to rise up against humanity; Angua, who has actually met wolves, comments on how wrong he is about them.
  • Wolvogs, the genetically engineered dogs of Oryx and Crake, will rip you to shreds without hesitation.
  • Snot Stew has Butch, who lives in a fenced-off portion of the backyard. While Kikki and Toby's mother warns them that he'd love to "gobble up a juicy kitten", Toby repeatedly mocks him by entering his enclosure, then slipping through the fence and mocking him for not being able to follow.
  • Survivor Dogs:
    • The first arc has the Fierce Dogs, a pack of Doberman pinschers always eager to fight someone or kill something (though there are some exceptions like Storm and Arrow).
    • The first arc also has Terror, a huge mastiff/pit bull mix who rants about being a servant to the Fear Dog and treats his packmates badly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Barney Miller: In "Dog Days", the detectives of the 12th Precinct bust a dogfighting ring and arrest one of the owners, a Mr. Lasorda. Mr. Lasorda's fighting dog somehow follows its owner to the 12th. Yemana locks himself in the cage with Mr. Lasorda to hide. Later, when an unknowing Levitt casually walks the dog back into the squad room, all the detectives are held hostage. Barney pulls his gun and nearly shoots the dog before Mr. Lasorda finally calls him off.
  • The "overly aggressive to the owner's detriment" sort of dog is a constant feature Victoria Stillwell's dog-training program It's Me or the Dog.
  • In the original Law & Order, a vicious dog was actually brought into the courtroom when it was responsible for a person's death, to compel the owners into admitting they knew the dog was dangerous and kept it negligently. It worked, but the judge was not pleased with McCoy for having it brought in in the first place.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: the female slaver warg is a mad beast that looks like a cross between a hyena and a pug, with crazed bulging eyes. This warg is far more out of control and rabid than previously-seen Warg species, hurling itself into combat with no thought for its own safety.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Mr. Whipple's guard dogs in the episode "Mr. Whipple".
  • Subverted in Person of Interest. In "The Contingency", a neo-Nazi gang have taken Reese, Fusco and Leon prisoner, and are threatening them with a barking dog that their leader boasts is military-trained. However Reese points out that a military dog is trained not to bark, meaning it's anxious and doesn't respect its owner. He's quickly able to get control by knowing the correct commands (in Dutch) used to train it. The dog goes on to become their Team Pet.
  • Remington Steele plays with this in a season one episode when Laura and Murphy break into a suspect's house. Murphy, having seen the "Beware Dog" sign, is paranoid until he sees the old, lazy Bassett hound lying on an armchair.
  • 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.
  • Voyagers!, "Voyagers of the Titanic": A time jump lands Bogg, Olivia, and Jeff in Louis Pasteur's office, where the rabid dog he keeps to help his rabies experiments has gotten loose. Olivia backs it into a corner, against Bogg's advice, and it gets past her and bites Jeff's hand.
  • 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.

  • Popular parody: Picture of a firearm. "Forget the dog, beware of the owner."
  • Another popular parody: "Beware of dog. The cat's a little shady, too."

    Video Games 
  • 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 Big Top level in CarnEvil has undead feral poodles wearing clown collars.
  • 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 Runaway Dogs from EarthBound (1994) will attack anyone who stands in 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.
  • Fallout featured a sidequest in which a man would try to enter his home, but a mutt standing in front of the door would run him off repeatedly. There were two ways to get the dog to move: feed it, or interact with it while wearing a leather jacket. Dogmeat would then join your party, continuing to be vicious to your enemies. The latter method of recruiting him is a Shout-Out to Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior in which the titular, leather jacket-wearing character is accompanied by a Blue Heeler.
  • Fallout 4 has feral mongrels that behave a bit like a wolf pack, coming at you many at a time. Same goes for the raiders' dogs and the super mutants' mutant hounds, which send bone-chilling howls down your spine once they notice you to alert the super mutants of your presence.
  • 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...
  • Angry dogs are among the obstacles you must run away from in INSIDE (2016). 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. You end up torn to bits if you are too slow. They come either solo or in groups of three.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Wrex comments that if Tuchanka has a temper, its name is Kalros, The Mother of All Thresher-Maws.
  • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: In the Teal Mask DLC, Okidogi of the Loyal Three turns out to be a greedy marauder who attacked Ogerpon in search of treasure and got a well-earned beating for it, rather than a heroic Pokémon who nobly perished in combat.
  • A ferocious dog occasionally stays by the road in the Taiwanese video game RichMan, and mauls anyone stop at his spot. Luckily, the player can let their character ride a scooter or car to run over it.
  • Undertale plays vigorously with this trope, mostly subverting it. While several guard dogs do in fact attack you on sight, and humorously worded signs forewarn about a few of these encounters, not all of these dogs are particularly ill-tempered, the ones who are only really act this way around unfamiliar humans, and in every case you can literally Pet the Dog and befriend it. The sign next to the Lesser Dog's house parodies the classic warning: "aware of dog, pls pet dog."

    Western Animation 
  • The first episode of Boo Boom! The Long Way Home a pack of really mean street dogs attack the protagonists, forcing Boldsteed, Christopher, and Aurelia to fight them off.
  • Fluffy Gardens: George the Mean Yellow Dog earned this title because, besides being a bright yellow dog, he's very ill-tempered and generally rude to everyone with the occasional Pet the Dog moment.
  • In Fraidy Cat, NO dog is kind to Fraidy. Nearly every single dog Fraidy encountered was either rude or psychotic. The only one who was even close to being nice was Meaney the junkyard dog.
  • The Hair Bear Bunch arrive at the home of a scientist, Prof. Nielson Rockabilt, seeking astronauts for a voyage to Mars. The bears encounter a vicious guard dog at the gate, so the professor just tells the bears to bark at him. Hair does, and the dog runs off like Scooby-Doo.
  • While looking for a suitable canine dance partner, Bill Dauterive of King of the Hill is talked into adopting a muzzled Rottweiler by the two snickering attendants at the pound. Then he takes it home and undoes the muzzle... suffice to say, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Earl from Rocko's Modern Life. The only one who's not afraid of Earl is Bev. Though Earl's temperament is somewhat justified, as he was used for horrific experiments and Escaped from the Lab.
  • We Bare Bears had (of all breeds) an unusually aggressive French Bulldog in one episode that Chloe and Ice Bear had to go through to retrieve the former's sweater.


Video Example(s):


Bill Nye - Forests

In a land without trees, there's no wooden fences to keep vicious dogs away from mauling people!

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