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According to a study from the Center For Disease Control (CDC)1, approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, and 800,000 of those bites result in medical care. The U.S. population is approximately 325.7 million people as of 2017. That means a dog bites 1 out of every 69 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.
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.
- Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year3
- Dogs that bite the most:2
- The 10 most aggressive dogs are (in order of more to less aggressive):3
- Bearded Collie
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Chinese Shar-Pei
- Standard Schnauzer
- Chow Chow
- A 15-year study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association identified multiple factors to a fatal dog-bite attack, none having to do with breed. This includes:3
- No able-bodied person being present to intervene
- The victim having no familiar relationship with the dog
- The dog owner:
- failing to neuter/spay the dog
- keeping dog as resident dog rather than family pet
- prior mismanagement of the dog
- abuse or neglect of the dog
- A victim’s compromised ability, whether based on age or physical condition, to manage their interactions with the dog
- In 2019, there were an estimated 90 million dogs in the U.S.3
- From 2005 to December 2018, there were 469 reported deaths from dogs in the U.S.3
- 35 of those were in 2018
- 21 of those were identified as pit bulls or pit bull mixes
- 35 of those were in 2018
- 25% of fatal attacks are by chained dogs of various breeds3
- 81% of dog bites cause no injury at all or only minor injuries that do not require medial attention4
- Children aged 5 to 9 years old are at the highest risk of injury3
- In dog attacks involving children 4-years-old and younger, 47% were from the family dog in their home3
- Men are treated for dog bite injuries more often than women3
- You have a 1 in 112,400 chance of dying from a dog bite or strike5
- 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 neutered6
- Fatal Dog Attacks states that 25% of fatal attacks were inflicted by chained dogs of many different breeds7
- The insurance industry paid more than $530 million in dog bite related claims in 20148
- 6,244 U.S. Postal Service employees suffered from dog bites in 20179
- Over 30 breeds and dog-types were associated with dog bite-related fatalities10
- 80% of dog bites happen at home3
- 77% of biting dogs belong to the victim’s family or friend3
Video: Dog Bite Statistics
The video below discusses more dog bite statistics.
What Breeds Have The Strongest Bite?
Below are the top 12 dogs with the strongest bite in terms of PSI (pound per square inch or pound-force per square inch), as reported by PetComments.com11. 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
- American Bandogge: 731 PSI
- Cane Corso: 700 PSI
- Dogue De Bordeaux: 556 PSI
- Tosa Inu: 556 PSI
- English Mastiff: 556 PSI
- Dogo Canario: 540 PSI
- Dogo Argentino: 500 PSI
- Wolfdog: 406 PSI
- Leonberger: 399 PSI
- Akita Inu: 350-400 PSI
- Rottweiler: 328 PSI
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 $37,000.8
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.
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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.
Have you had an issue with dog bites before?
Sources:  CDC,  Puppy Lover News,  Max Law SC,  National Canine Research Council,  National Safety Council,  The Humane Society,  Fatal Dog Attacks,  Insurance Information Institute,  USPS,  AVMA,  Pet Comments
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