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Owning a dog can be a wonderful privilege and a huge responsibility. The many positive benefits having a canine companion brings. Unfortunately, some occurrences, like attacks, can be scary. Some breeds are more prone to biting than others, and owners must be aware of this. Canine aggression happen for a variety of reasons. Circumstances, ownership, care, and genetics all play a role. We discuss dog attacks by breed and get into the details owners need to know.
- Dog Bite And Attack Statistics By Breed
- Most Dog Bites By Breed – Most Dog Attacks By Breed
- Unprovoked Dog Attack By Breed
- What Dog Has The Strongest Bite?
- Why Dogs Attack
- Why Dogs Attack People
- 4 Dog Attack Stats
- Personal Experience With A Dog Attack
- Where The Most Dog Attacks Happen
- Do Not Fear Breeds, Be Aware Of Them
Dog Bite And Attack Statistics By Breed
There are some breeds, many larger ones, known for aggression. These breeds tend to attack more. People often develop a fear of these pups based on reputation alone. Many are misunderstood, and not every canine that is a known aggressive breed will attack.
However, it is wise to be aware of the breeds that attack the most. Let’s look at some dog attack statistics by breed. We have listed these, starting with the breeds most known for attacking.
The statistics below were compiled from a variety of sources with similar data, including www.cdc.gov, www.fataldogattacks.org, worldanimalfoundation.org, nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com, www.dogbites.org, www.aspca.org, and www.avma.org.
Pitbulls are usually the canine breed most associated with biting and attacks. The term Pitbull can apply to several breeds, including the American Pitbull Terrier, American Bully, American Bulldog, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, among others.
Pitbulls are responsible for more reported fatal attacks than any other dog. Currently, nearly 18 million Pitbull or Bully dogs are owned in the U.S. This breed is often associated with aggression as they were long raised and bred as fighting dogs.
Pitbulls often inflict more severe and complex wounds than other breeds when they attack. A study done by Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center looked at 15 years of dog bite information. Pitbulls were responsible for 22.5% of reported bites in the study. From 2013 to 2021, Pitbulls were reported as the most biting breed in 20 states. In 2022 Pitbulls were responsible for 41 attack deaths in the U.S.
According to the study, Pitbulls, mixed breeds, and dogs weighing between 66 and 100 pounds, with heavy, broad heads and short muzzles, are most likely to attack people. Other research estimates that Pitbulls were involved in approximately 3,400 attacks and killed at least 235 people in the U.S. from 2014 through 2020.
While Pitbulls have a higher bite rate and fatality rate when they attack humans than all other breeds, Pitbulls and Pitbull mixes are very often abused and illegally bred and trained for fighting and are often kept in inhumane, cruel conditions. This treatment leads to more aggression, which means a higher chance of attack. Pitbulls are also among the top breeds to fill animal shelters and rescues.
Rottweilers are another canine known for aggression. This large-bodied pup is responsible for more attacks than most other breeds excluding Pitbulls and Pitbull mixes. The two breeds together are responsible for 77 to 80% of all U.S. dog attacks on people.
Rottweilers are gorgeous, intelligent animals who make for wonderful pets when they have the appropriate socialization, care, exercise, and mental stimulation. Without this, these dogs can become quite aggressive. Research estimates that Rottweilers are responsible for about 535 attacks on humans over the last several years, causing at least 51 deaths since 2005.
3. German Shepherds
German Shepherds follow Pitbulls, Rottweilers, and mixed breeds at the top of the list for dog bites and bite-induced fatalities. This breed is energetic, intelligent, and incredibly protective nature. Since 2016, they have been considered the 3rd breed most likely to bite.
German Shepherds are estimated to have caused at least 15 deaths in the U.S. in humans since 2014. They have been reported in close to 120 attacks. German Shepherds can be quite strong, so a bite may cause damage from mild puncture wounds to severe muscle damage.
German Shepherds tend to not like strangers and, if not properly socialized, can become extremely aggressive with people they do not know. This pup is more likely to nip at strangers than many other breeds. However, they are less innately aggressive than the Rottweiler or Pitbull.
4. Presa Canario/Dogo Canario
The Presa Canario was developed to have protective instincts. That characteristic has stayed with them. This breed may cause damage and significant pain when they attack. They will attack both children and adults and are highly suspicious of both other dogs and people. The Presa is larger than the Pitbull and has a hefty load of teeth. Their large, heavy heads and powerful jaws can cause significant injury.
When Presa Canarios get provoked, it can be hard to stop them. The amount of damage they can do can be quite severe. They are considered the 4th or 5th most likely canine to attack. There is low ownership of the breed, at least in the U.S. The incidence of bites with Presas is high, meaning they are very likely to cause problems. These breeds are responsible for about 111 attacks and 18 deaths from 2014 through 2020.
Bites that are not fatal often end in severe injury and permanent disfigurement. The Presa Canrio is not a pup recommended for families or inexperienced owners. They are typically not safe to have around children or smaller animals like cats.
The tiny yet mighty Chihuahua might not immediately pop into your mind as a pup inclined to do harm. Despite their tiny size, the Chi can become quite angry. Some list this pint-sized pup as the most likely to bite.
Because of their small size and a limited amount of damage they can do, Chihuahua strikes are less often reported than other breeds like the Pitbull or Rottweiler. The truth is that Chihuahuas are one of the most reactive canine breeds around. They can become very territorial, growly, bark, nip, and snap with their teeth. Chis can not always differentiate between children and adults. In some cases, they will even go after other pets or the vet.
Because they are so small, and their bites rarely inflict a lot of damage or get reported, the Chi gets left off many aggressive animal lists. It has been found that Chihuahuas can be far more of a threat than Pitbulls, with a remarkably high chance of biting humans. While these occasions rarely proved fatal, including Chihuahuas on the list is essential.
Because so many Chihuahua issues go unreported, there is likely a substantial number more than the data reveals. A 2009 study showed that Chihuahuas were responsible for 4.2% of dog bites on children.
This breed is more likely to snap at children than, for example, the Rottweiler, which has much more intimidating statistics. There has only ever been one fatality attributed to a Chihuahua attack recorded in the United States. This happened sometime between 2005 and 2017, and the specific details of that incident are confidential. It is believed that a Chihuahua bite may have caused another potential fatality in 2018, but as no one witnessed that event, there is no way to know for sure.
6. Mixed Breed
Mixed canines account for a large number of dog attacks. From 2005 through 2019, mixed breeds have been responsible for 27 human deaths in the United States.
7. Wolf Hybrid
Wolf Hybrids are another breed more prone to biting than others. In some cases, this is due to their unique blend of wild and domestic genes. These hybrids tend to have higher hunting instincts and extraordinarily strong prey drives. From 2005 through 2019, this breed killed 19 people and was reported in at least 85 attacks.
Bulldogs, namely the American and English Bulldogs, also make the list of attack-prone breeds. Since 2014 English Bulldogs have been reported in at least 20 attacks. They have been the cause of at least one human death in that time. American Bulldogs have been reported in 16 deaths from 2005 through 2019.
9. Siberian Husky
Siberian Huskies are undeniably beautiful. They can also be very nippy. From 2014 through 2020, Huskies have caused 26 deaths of humans in the United States. They have been reported in at least 83 attacks. 13 of those deaths occurred between 2016 and 2020.
Akitas are a rare breed to find and are quite remarkable in appearance and personality. However, they can react. From 2014 through 2020, Akitas were indicated in at least 8 fatalities and 70 attacks.
The Boxer is a regal breed but does have a reputation for being a bad dog. These dogs are intelligent, highly energetic, and have a strong prey drive. Boxers have been associated with 7 human deaths and 64 reported attacks in the last ten years.
12. Chow Chow
Chow Chows are not listed as potentially dangerous dogs, but this breed can be quite dominant. They have been reported in 61 attacks and 8 deaths since 2014. Chows are defensive, do not like children, are very territorial. They may look fluffy and sweet, but the Chow is prone to attack when they feel threatened.
13. Labrador Retriever
According to some research, Labrador Retrievers are as likely to be responsible for an attack as a Pitbull. This is less due to breed-related aggression and more related to the sheer number of people that adopt Labradors. Long one of America’s most beloved breeds, the Lab can inflict considerable damage if they attack.
They often are associated with more bites on children to a higher prevalence of families owning Labs. Labradors were responsible for 3 human deaths and 56 reported attacks from 2014 through 2020.
14. Great Dane
The majestic Great Dane is a huge sweetheart but can have a hefty mouth and attack potential. The Great Dane is not considered dangerous and is known to be gentle, but their sheer size can make them seem more formidable than they are. This breed has caused 3 deaths and 37 reported attacks in almost ten years.
15. Australian Shepherds
The Australian Shepherd is less likely to react than others on our list and has a high protective instinct. The defensive drive can lead to escalation. The Aussie has been responsible for 1 death and 38 attacks from 2014 through 2020.
Dobermans are often associated with biting and attacking. Though they are not listed on dangerous breed lists, but they have a bad reputation. The Doberman was once raised as a protector for the tax man and bred to be protective. Many have retained those loyal instincts. Dobermans have been involved in 23 attacks and 8 deaths from 2014 through 2020.
Mastiffs are huge and can be quite intimidating. They are not known to be hostile, nor are they often listed as dangerous. However, inexperience, inadequate training, and fear can lead to attacks. Mastiffs have been responsible for 5 deaths and 28 reported attacks from 2014 through 2019.
18. Cane Corso
The Cane Corso is unpredictable and less common to attack than some other breeds. They are not part of the aggressive breed list. However, the Cane Corso has been reported in at least 21 attacks and 2 deaths.
19. Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamutes are not usually overtly dominant. Most of their strikes are on children and happen at home. They have been associated with at least 6 deaths and 15 attacks in the last several years.
20. Saint Bernard
The Saint Bernard is large, lovable, and good-natured but can still attack. They have been reported in at least 12 incidents and one death in the last decade or so.
21. Golden Retriever
The unforgettable Golden Retriever is a family favorite for good reason. Another highly popular pooch with kids, Goldens, are loved for their sweet nature. Due to the high number of families that own them, aggressive events can happen more often. Goldens are connected to 3 deaths and 11 attacks on humans in the United States over the last decade.
22. Lhasa Apso
This little pup may not seem like a bully, but the Lhasa Apso is famous for its nippy behavior. The Lhasa Apso has a weaker bite force but can still inflict some damage. The Lhasa Apso often acts to control or direct their owner rather than out of aggression, but when provoked, they can cause significant injury. They need training from a young age on how to behave.
23. Jack Russell Terrier
When not properly trained, this pup can get feisty. The Jack Russell Terrier is rarely an issue, but if not trained, this biting can become a problem. Jack Russell’s force rarely causes much damage, so they likely go unreported.
Most Dog Bites By Breed – Most Dog Attacks By Breed
It is hard to get exact numbers on this, as many attacks are from unknown, mixed, or misidentified breeds. Along with that, many people do not report attacks from smaller dogs or those that do not cause much damage.
One way to determine what breeds attack the most is to look at insurance information. This includes insurance claims for medical treatment related to dog attacks and information on dog liability insurance claims.
- Pitbulls are considered the breed most likely to attack, followed by mixed breeds, German, Shepherds, and Rottweilers.
- Chihuahuas are usually pretty aggressive, though most attacks go unreported due to causing little or minor damage.
- A fairly rare affliction (occurring in less than 1% of dogs) called Rage Syndrome can affect some breeds. Rage Syndrome is a sudden, unpredictable, extremely intense onset of aggression. Breeds affected include the Cocker Spaniel, Pekingese, Papillion, Bull Terriers, Lhasa Apso, English Springer Spaniels, Doberman Pinscher, St Bernards, German Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and more.
Unprovoked Dog Attack By Breed
While some breeds, like Pitbulls, can be more prone to aggression or biting, the truth is an unprovoked dog attack can happen in any breed or mixed canine. According to the ASPCA, 70% of dog bites come from unneutered males.
Specifically, the American Pitbull Terrier is said to be one of the most dangerous breeds in America and worldwide. They are usually the breed most associated with unprovoked aggression and biting. Pitbulls and Rottweilers are responsible for 77% of all dog bites.
Please remember that most attacks result from situation and training, not breeding alone. Judging a breed based on statistics can be extremely easy. Plenty of dangerous dogs are loving and safe pets but must have proper training and care.
What Dog Has The Strongest Bite?
Bite force plays a role in attack severity but is not the only factor. The Kangal has the strongest force of 743 PSI, whereas Pitbulls only have a bite force of 240 PSI.
Learn more about what dog bites the most and more dog bite statistics by breed in our dog bite statistics article, where we review some other breed’s bite forces.
Why Dogs Attack
Canines attack for a variety of reasons. They can attack people and other dogs, cats, and smaller pets. While no one wants to picture the lovable, fluffy family pet as a vicious attack dog, sometimes even the most well-behaved dog can be mean.
Most often, a dog will react because they feel threatened. Biting is a way to protect themselves, puppies, or belongings like toys, treats, and food. When the attack is targeted toward another dog, it is often fueled by a territory issue, jealousy, or a lack of training and socialization. Sometimes, this can be related to gender, frustration, or even fear. In some cases, these attacks are triggered by aggression.
The drive to attack is an innate canine instinct, present in all breeds, even those fluffy pint-sized fluff balls that many of us love. Bigger dogs tend to be more associated with biting and attacking because they are stronger, but some smaller breeds can be quite aggressive.
Why Dogs Attack People
Dogs can turn on and attack their owners, human family members, and strangers. Many times, this is triggered by fear. Attacks can also result from aggression between dogs in the same house.
Pain and illness can also trigger an aggressive reaction from dogs. The frustration and discomfort of the pain can cause even the most well-behaved dogs to lash out at their owners or strangers.
4 Dog Attack Stats
While it is hard to think about, some canine attacks can cause extreme damage or even be fatal to the person or other animal they attack.
- According to the World Animal Foundation, one in 112,400 dog attacks is fatal.
- Between 30 and 50 people are killed every year by reported dog attacks. The CDC reports an average of 33 fatal dog attacks every year.
- In the United States, children ages 5 through 9 have a much higher risk than anyone else and have the highest incidence of dog bite injuries.
- Since 2016, more than 65 breeds have been involved in fatal attacks, according to PitBullinfo.org, including purebred and mixed breeds.
Personal Experience With A Dog Attack
My son was attacked by a Chow Chow when we were walking home from school. He was 7 years old at the time and very much liked dogs. This was an animal that lived on the same block as us, and we would walk by it and the owner regularly. We often said hello and petted the pup, with permission and supervision from the owner.
On his walk home from school, the Chow was outside with his owner, as he was most days. We walked by and stopped to chat, my son asked to pet the dog, and the owner said it was ok. When the Chow got over to my son, he bit his hand as my son reached out to pet him.
It was a bite that punctured the skin and bruised quite a lot. We went for medical treatment and had to report the incident. After speaking to the owners, they made the heartbreaking choice to put the animal down. A day prior, the Chow was overly aggressive with the mail carrier and had been exhibiting some odd behaviors. After speaking with their vet, they decided that was the best choice. The owners did not want to risk the Chow biting another child, especially since my son was familiar with him and, prior to that, had no issue.
Where The Most Dog Attacks Happen
According to research done by the United States Postal Service, aggressive dog attacks happen more frequently in California, Texas, and New York, but attacks occur all over the country. In 2019, there were 5803 canine attacks reported against postal workers. The top 10 states where they occur are:
- New York
- North Carolina
The leading states for dog fatalities are:
- North Carolina
Do Not Fear Breeds, Be Aware Of Them
If you plan to adopt a dog, research aggressive breeds first. It is wise to spend time with the animal first and look for aggressive behaviors. Ensure you take all the suitable precautions and invest in proper behavior training and socialization. Spay and neuter your puppy, which helps deter and prevent aggressive behavior. If you adopt a dangerous breed, check with your insurance carrier about pet liability insurance. Some homeowners’ policies also cover aggressive dogs. It is also important to know when it is time to rehome an aggressive dog if it is best for everyone’s safety.
The statistics provided here are meant to inform, not scare. Nor are they intended to discourage ownership of any canine breed. While the majority of accident claims and attack reports are against Pitbulls, this breed is highly misrepresented and stereotyped. They are not innately aggressive, nor will every Pitbull or Bully breed attack. Most will not. Sadly, this breed is highly abused and abandoned, meaning there are many more stray Pitbulls, which leads to a higher chance of attack.
I currently have a 12-year-old Pitbull mix Daisy, who is the sweetest, laziest pup I have ever met. I adopted Daisy from a shelter at about 8 to 10 weeks old. She has never bitten or attempted to bite anyone, even when another dog charged her. In fact, she tends to shy away from other dogs that are aggressive. She barks loudly but has never bitten, snapped, or even mouthed at anyone. How a pup is raised and cared for profoundly impacts whether or not they will attack.
Any canine can attack, regardless of breed. Even popular family pets, like Golden Retrievers and Labradors, can cause fatal injuries. Smaller breeds are often aggressive and prone to biting. Responsible dog owners need to work on socialization, proper care, medical vaccinations, a high-quality diet, and training with their pups from day one. If you have a dog known to be aggressive, you may want to consider a muzzle when around other people, stressful situations, or known biting triggers. You can try an online training course, private training, doggie boot camp, or a training collar. For some dogs, a shock collar is a useful training tool, but always use these with caution. Always have any animal that suddenly acts aggressively seen by the vet to rule out injury or illness.Tagged With: Aggression