Muhammad Ramadan | July 7, 2023 | Dog bites
Dog Bite Statistics Per Breed
Any dog can bite. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 4.5 million people get bitten by dogs every year. Of these, 800,000 dog bites are serious enough to require medical attention. In other words, fewer than one in five dog bites produces bodily injury or death.
So the issue is not which dogs are likely to bite; all dogs can bite, from the smallest chihuahua to the largest malamute. The real issue is which dogs are most likely to cause an injury when they bite. Owing to their size, weight, and strength, large breeds have the highest likelihood of causing injury.
Dog Bite Risk by Breed
Several factors predict your risk of suffering a dog bite, such as:
- The dog’s personality
- Whether you are on property belonging to the dog’s owner
- The way you approach the dog
But the most significant predictors of whether the dog’s bite will injure or kill you are breed-dependent factors, such as:
- Bite strength
For example, a terrier biting at your ankles will probably not kill you. But a husky that weighs 70 pounds lunging at your upper body and neck could kill you. As a result, breed statistics, which account for the dog’s physical build, can predict which dogs can cause injury or death.
Some of the riskiest breeds include:
1. Pit Bulls
Organizations such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, dog bite victims groups, and even advocates against pit bull discrimination agree that pit bulls cause the most injuries and deaths in the U.S. But these organizations interpret the data differently.
In 2019, pit bulls were responsible for 69% of fatal attacks. And this problem is growing. Over the 20 years between 1979 and 1999, pit bulls and pit bull mixes caused 70 deaths. In 2019 alone, pit bulls caused 33 deaths.
Some explanations for these numbers include:
- Pit bulls have one of the most powerful bites
- Pit bulls are heavy enough to knock someone over during an attack, leading to neck and face injuries
- Pit bulls have a reputation for aggressiveness
- Some pit bulls have been trained specifically as guard dogs and fighting dogs
On the other hand, pit bull advocates claim that pit bulls are one of the most common breeds in the U.S. Thus, they are overrepresented in dog bite statistics simply because there are more of them than other breeds.
According to pit bull advocates, the most dangerous dog is, in fact, the malamute. Just over 200,000 of these dogs live in the U.S. but they cause dog bite injuries at over three times the rate of pit bulls.
Malamutes work as sled dogs and have a muscular build. They can weigh over 70 pounds and have the size to bite in vital areas like the neck and face.
3. Chow Chow
People who have dealt with chow chows know that they can be aggressive. These dogs are also heavy and muscular. Therefore, they can cause serious injuries with their bites. According to pit bull advocates, chow chows have roughly the same bite risk as pit bulls.
4. Other Large Dogs
Other large breeds that generally have the same bite risk as pit bulls include:
- St. Bernard
- Great Dane
- Doberman Pinscher
According to raw numbers for these breeds, the rottweiler causes the second-highest number of fatal dog bites. Again, this is likely due to its bite strength and its size, which allows it to knock over dog bite victims.
Dog Owner Negligence
Focusing on breed often misses one of the most significant factors of dog bites — dog owner negligence. Since Illinois imposes strict liability on dog owners, the victim might not need to prove negligence. But negligence can still play a role in causing attacks. Punishing negligence is an important way to help prevent the next unfortunate attack.
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