Dog Bite Statistics Per Breed
David Muñoz | October 20, 2023 | Personal Injury
Dogs are one of the most popular pets in America, with about 48 million households owning at least one dog. But sometimes, these dogs aren’t treated with the love and attention they deserve. When this happens, dogs can turn aggressive, and people can get bitten.
You may have heard that some dog breeds are more prone to biting than others. Read on to discover the truth about dog bite statistics per breed and learn how to prevent dog bites.
Overall Dog Bite Statistics
The first thing you need to know about dog bites is that your odds of dying from a dog attack is 1 in 53,843. You’re more likely to die from sunstroke, choking on food, or being electrocuted, and you’re far more likely to die in a car crash. Your odds of dying from a dog bite are almost the same as your chances of dying from a bee sting.
That being said, each year, about 4.5 million Americans get bitten by dogs. About 20 percent of those bites require medical attention, and about half of these bite victims are children.
One study showed that there are several preventable factors that contribute to most dog bite incidents. Almost 84 percent of dog bites involve a dog that didn’t know the person they bit. More than 68 percent of bites happen when the victim wasn’t interacting appropriately with the dog. And 70 percent of dogs that bite haven’t had regular positive interactions with humans.
Fatal Bites By Breed
The first thing to note when examining which breeds tend to cause the most fatal bites is that breed is not a reliable predictor of whether a dog will bite. Any dog can bite you if put in the wrong circumstances, and not all pit bulls or rottweilers will bite. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the breeds that are correlated with fatal bites.
A study by the American Veterinary Medical Association conducted between 1979 and 1998 showed that:
- Pit bulls caused about 66 percent of fatal bites, although they only cause 22.5 percent of all reported bites across breeds.
- Rottweilers caused about 39 percent of fatal bites
- German shepherds caused about 17 percent of fatal bites
- Husky-type dogs caused about 15 percent of fatal bites
- Malamutes caused about 12 percent of fatal bites
You may note that this study is over two decades old. Unfortunately, this is still one of the most frequently cited studies today. Newer studies have recognized that breed is not a reliable predictor of aggression and that there are several more reliable ways to predict which dogs are likely to bite.
What Makes These Breeds Dangerous
One of the primary things that makes the breeds we’ve discussed above dangerous isn’t their temperament – it’s their size.
Small dog bites tend to be much less dangerous than bites from larger breeds, and many of the breeds we mentioned have incredibly strong jaws. This means that they tend to cause more fatal bites than smaller or weaker breeds. Bites from large dogs are also more likely to be reported than bites from smaller dogs, since small dog bites tend not to be serious enough to need medical attention.
In the case of pit bulls, this breed is often used in dog fighting rings and the puppy mills that supply them. A dog that has been abused in these circumstances can be more likely to be aggressive and to resort to biting if it feels threatened. This has led to a misconception that pit bulls are naturally more aggressive, when they are, in fact, abused more often than any other breed.
How to Avoid a Dog Bite
As a general rule, you should be careful when approaching a dog you don’t know. If the dog is with a person, always ask if you can pet the dog first, and respect their boundaries if they say no. If they do give you permission, let the dog smell you first, and never get in the face of an unfamiliar dog.
If you have children around a strange dog, teach them the same boundaries you follow. Children, especially those who have their own dogs at home, may be more likely to get in a dog’s face, pull on their ears or tail, or poke them. This can cause a dog stress and may lead to a bite.
It’s also a good idea to learn how to read dog body language. A dog that has its tail between its legs or its ears back may be afraid and more likely to become aggressive. Also watch out for tension in their body, a stiff tail, “shark eyes”, and panting, as all of these things can indicate a dog is stressed.
If you notice a dog becoming stressed around you or your child, back away from them right away and don’t continue trying to pet them.
Get Representation After a Dog Bite
Dogs are man’s best friend, but when they’re mistreated or provoked, they can be dangerous. There’s a misconception that certain breeds tend to be more aggressive, but the truth is that a dog’s background has a much bigger impact on whether they’ll bite than their breed. Big dog bites do tend to be more dangerous purely because of their size and strength.
If you’ve suffered a dog bite, the attorneys at Mission Personal Injury Lawyers can help. Schedule a free consultation with us to discuss the details of your case.
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