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According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States every year, and 900,000 of those bites become infected. The U.S. population is approximately 325.8 million people as of 2017. That means a dog bites 1 out of every 72 people.
These are scary statistics. But scary becomes a lot less so when you’re armed with the right information. From the top breeds to be wary of, to accounting for your own behavior around animals, to why dogs actually bite in the first place, we’re giving you an arsenal of information in this article so you can bite back in the dog bite debate.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
Before we start profiling dogs or analyzing your behavior around them, let’s talk about the question everyone should first be asking: why does a dog bite?
- Dogs bite as a reaction to a stressful situation.
- They may be scared or threatened.
- To protect themselves, their puppies, or their owners.
- They’re not feeling well or if they’re startled.
- They may nip or bite during play (which is why rough play should be avoided to ensure you don’t overly excite your animal).
Keep these triggers in mind anytime you’re around a canine. Your awareness of their mental state will help you recognize a potential bite situation more quickly.
Dog Bite Statistics
- Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year
- Dogs that bite the most:
- In 2016, there were an estimated 78 million dogs in the U.S.
- 80% of dog bites cause no injury at all or only minor injuries that do not require medial attention
- Dog bites sustained by children have been decreasing in the past decade
- In 2016, there were 41 U.S. dog bite-related fatalities, which means 0.00000053% of dogs caused fatalities
- Pit bulls contributed to 22 of these deaths
- Labradors contributed to 3 deaths
- Rottweilers, American Bulldogs, Belgian Malinois, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds and mixed-breeds each contributed to 2 deaths
- 31% of deaths were infants ages 3 to 6 days
- 42% (13) of deaths were children ages 9 and younger
- 58% (18) of deaths were adults ages 30 and older
- “Pit bulls”* and Rottweilers accounted for 76% of fatal attacks from 2005 to 2016 (*pit bull is not technically a dog breed; breeds that are commonly referred to as pit bulls in the U.S. are American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and American Bully)
- 30+ breeds of dogs and mixes are incorrectly identified as “pit bulls” in dog bite incidents, attributing the pit bull with an unfair and overstated number of incidents
- You have a 1 in 112,400 chance of dying from a dog bite or strike
- You are at more risk of dying from:
- Cataclysmic storm: 1 in 66,335
- Contact with hornets, wasps and bees: 1 in 63,225
- Air and space transport incidents: 1 in 9,821
- Firearm discharge: 1 in 6,905
- Choking from inhalation and ingestion of food: 1 in 3,461
- Heart disease and cancer: 1 in 7
- You are at more risk of dying from:
- Most dog bites involve dogs who are not spayed or neutered
- Fatal Dog Attacks states that 25% of fatal attacks were inflicted by chained dogs of many different breeds
- The insurance industry paid more than $530 million in dog bite related claims in 2014
The video below discusses more dog bite statistics.
Be Mindful of “Breeds”, But Not Fearful
You’ve likely heard of the Pit Bull, touted as the type most responsible for dog bites. But you can dismantle much of your fear of them with our Pit Bull Facts article. Unfortunately, claims against Pit Bulls account for the majority of reported fatal attacks in the United States (again, many of these are misreported due to a lack of understanding of dog breeds and types). While there’s no denying that one should be more vigilant around a large dog than say, a Beagle, there’s also no denying that an animal is part product of its environment. Remember that any dog can bite, no matter how well-trained it may be. Many popular family dogs have caused fatalities including Labradors and German Shepherds. So it is always a good idea to be a responsible dog owner and make sure pets are supervised at all times with others.
What Breeds Have the Strongest Bite?
Below are the top 10 dogs with the strongest bite in terms of PSI (pound per square inch or pound-force per square inch), as reported by PetComments.com. This list is not indicative of any specific animal and should only be viewed as a scientific study. We certainly recognize that there are many well behaved and sweet dogs of these breeds, especially when paired with responsible owners.
- Kangal: 743 PSI
- Doberman: 600 PSI
- English Mastiff: 556 PSI
- Rottweiler: 328 PSI
- African Wild Dog: 317 PSI
- American Bull Dog: 305 PSI
- German Shepherd: 238 PSI
- American Pitbull: 235 PSI
- Dutch Shepherd: 224 PSI
- Malinois: 195 PSI
How to Protect Yourself Against the Risk of Dog Bites
Dog liability insurance is a special policy that you can get to insure yourself in case you have what a landlord or other important person in your life might consider a “dangerous dog breed.” If you have one of these dogs, you most certainly know it as some people are probably a little scared of your pup. It is unlikely that they need to be, but better safe than sorry in case a situation ever were to arise where your dog bit someone. Why? Because with liability insurance you would merely file a claim and it would cover the cost of the situation. In many cases, we have heard of dogs’ lives being saved by the ability to cover these sorts of incidents by proactively seeking insurance rather than reacting after a bad situation occurs. Better safe than sorry, right?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, one-third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claims (in dollars) result from dog bites or dog-related injuries, and the average cost is more than $37,000.
If you are interested in protecting yourself with dog liability insurance, visit our partner at InsureMyCanine.com to learn more and get a free quote.
Decreasing Your Chances of a Dog Bite Attack
While we’re not absolving the canine completely of its own responsibility in a dog-bite situation, there are always two sides to a story — even a bad one. When it comes to your side, there are more than two things that you can do to decrease your chances of an attack.
Things to Consider Before Getting a Dog
There are a few key things to consider before bringing a new dog into your home, especially if you already have other animals or children. Below are a few factors that, if considered, can help decrease your chances of an unwarranted attack before an animal ever walks through your front door.
- Dogs with a history of aggression are not appropriate for a home with children. Period.
- Before choosing a dog, research and consult with a professional (a trusted vet or dog trainer would be an excellent resource) to find the best breed for your needs.
- Proper socialization and training for your pup is key.
- Spend time with your prospective pet before adopting to ascertain aggressive tendencies.
- Spay or neuter your animal to reduce aggressive tendencies before bringing them home.
How to Prevent a Dog Bite
Just like people, there are always good pets that snap. Even though the dog never displayed any aggressive attitudes, even though you didn’t provoke him to attack, there are still those unaccountable instances that no one can explain or rationalize. However, more often than not, this isn’t the case. That’s why, when dealing with any dog, you should maintain confident, but cautious body-language. Below are a few things you can do to make sure your attitude doesn’t trigger an attack.
- Don’t approach an unfamiliar animal.
- Do not run from a dog, panic or make loud noises.
- If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, remain motionless. Do not run or scream. Avoid direct eye contact.
- Don’t disturb a dog while they’re eating, sleeping, or taking care of their puppies.
- Allow a dog to sniff and smell you before you attempt to pet it. Afterward scratch the animal under the chin, not on the head.
- Report strays or dogs displaying strange behavior to your local animal control.
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and remain motionless. Be sure to cover your ears and neck with your hands and arms. Avoid eye contact and remain calm.
- Don’t encourage your dog to play aggressively.
Dog Bite Statistics Infographic
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