Who doesn’t love dogs? Who would dare to hate those fluffy pups, especially when they stare at you with their irresistible eyes?
Even if some breeds aren’t that cute, they’re still extremely essential in our lives. Between the Labrador Retrievers serving the elderly to the German Shepherds helping the police, it’s clear that we can’t do without them.
On the downside, some improperly trained dogs can show unfortunate acts of aggression. Sadly, many innocent people, and especially children, bear the consequences of thousands of dog attack incidents each year.
That’s why I decided to shed light on this matter. I’ll present the most alarming statistics for dog attacks in addition to dog attack statistics by breed.
Table of Contents
The Top 7 Dog Breeds That Bite The Most
Before we get to the statistics, let’s take a look at the dog attack statistics by breeds. Remember, this data doesn’t necessarily condemn those breeds.
Instead, it should act as an alarm for their owners to invest more time in training.
Whenever fatal dog attacks are mentioned, Pitbulls come on top of the list.
This fact always makes me sad because Pitbulls can be extremely affectionate by nature. Things go south when owners fail to train and socialize dogs when they’re still puppies.
Unlike other breeds, Pitbulls have a high tendency of developing aggressiveness. And unfortunately, humans are to blame.
Back in time, Pitbulls were extensively used in harsh blood sports like bull-baiting, bear-baiting, and dog fights. Although these activities were banned a long time ago, the extreme behavior was already hardwired into the Pitbull’s genes.
According to the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS), American Pitbulls pass temperament tests with a percentage of 87.4%. This makes them slightly friendlier than Golden Retrievers that are rated at 85.2%!
Nevertheless, Pitbulls were reported to cause 69% of the 2019 dog fatalities. It’s quite surprising to learn that their bite force is capped at 235 PSI, which is way lower than other aggressive breeds.
Rottweilers are among the oldest herding dogs that we know of. Some breeders even believe that they can be traced back to the Roman Empire.
That said, Rottweilers hate being ignored or left without a job. They need active owners who would engage them in dozens of activities to burn their bursting energy.
When this doesn’t happen, the stress building up inside the Rottweilers will make them far more irritable than normal. And since they already have a high territorial nature, they’ll be more likely to charge at passersby and strangers.
When trained properly, Rottweilers will turn out calm and confident. They’ll courageously rise up to the occasion whenever they’re needed, but they’ll never be unnecessarily aggressive.
In terms of biting force, Rottweilers have one of the strongest jaws on this list with up to 328 PSI. In 2019, they were responsible for 8% of the dog fatalities, which place them right after Pitbulls.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Just like Pitbulls, Staffordshire Bull Terriers were initially bred for dogfighting competitions alongside other cruel blood sports. But lucky for us, they were rapidly excluded from these acts. That’s why it’s rare for them to turn aggressive as pets.
Still, just like other breeds, they’ll turn super belligerent if you fail to provide them with sufficient love and care. Despite their small sizes, the Staffordshires have extremely strong jaws. At 305 PSI, they can be even stronger than Pitbulls.
The ATTS rates the temperament of Staffordshires at 90.9%, which explains why they weren’t responsible for any of the recent fatalities.
German Shepherds are always valued for their intelligence and versatility. With the right training, they can be used in almost every activity. They can be excellent service dogs, agile police dogs, smart rescue dogs, you name it!
Because they were primarily used as guard dogs back in the 1800s, German Shepherds can be a bit aloof and suspicious toward strangers. However, they’re less likely to bite unless they were teased into a fight by humans or other dogs.
To avoid misbehavior, you should invest effort and time to train your puppies for obedience. This will give you the upper hand in case things went hectic.
GSD’s bite force is rated at 238 PSI, placing them with Pitbulls in the same damage potential. But in 2019, they were responsible for only 2% of the fatal incidents.
The Canary Mastiff, aka Dogo Canario, is another breed that turned aggressive through the shameful practice of blood sports.
However, the Canary Islands, where they were bred, didn’t ban those activities until the 1950s. That’s why they tend to engage in fights with humans and other dogs with the slightest bit of irritation.
Generally speaking, any Mastiff is well known for having huge muscle mass, and Dogo Canarios are no exception. When provoked, their biting force can reach 540 PSI.
Between 1982 and 2014, Dogo Canario reportedly attacked a total of 111 people. Not that large, but still quite alarming.
The Bullmastiff is another fearless member in the large Mastiff category. Luckily, they weren’t engaged in any sort of competitive practice.
Instead, they were heavily entrusted by gamekeepers for their amazing balance of speed, strength, and size. And with their fawn coats, they became known as Gamekeeper’s Night Dogs.
That being said, Bullmastiff doesn’t typically bite strangers. However, because of their extreme affection, they might aggressively defend their owner if any danger presented itself, no matter how insignificant.
In 2018, only 6% of the dog attacks were caused by Bullmastiffs. However, this minimal percentage shouldn’t be overlooked since their bite can have a force of 556 PSI.
Although they might reach a height of 35”, Great Danes are generally peaceful. They’ll develop strong devotion toward their families while staying gentle with young kids.
But since they were bred to hunt and handle other chores, they need owners who can dedicate lots of time for regular walks and games. Failure to satisfy these needs is a sure way to depress any breed, and especially the Great Dane.
When stressed, Danes can lock their jaws with a whopping force of 670 PSI. This is clearly capable of ripping any living being into pieces in only a matter of seconds.
Thankfully, Great Danes didn’t attack more than 37 people between 1982 and 2014.
11 Shocking Statistics for Dog Attacks
In this section, I’ll briefly state the top facts and statistics about dog attacks in recent years.
One – Dog Bites Were Measured in Millions Before the 21st Century
In an eye-opening report, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 1994 held the highest record of dog attacks. Back then, about 4.7 million people (about 1.8% of the American population) suffered a dog bite. 800,000 of those required varying degrees of medical care.
It’s worth noting that the incidence rate wasn’t always this high. In 1986, for instance, the total number of attacks was capped at 585,000.
Recently, the dog attack rate has dropped significantly. The actual rate still flicks between the years, but hospital data reveals that 12 of every 10000 people visit the ER with a dog-related injury every year.
If you do the math, you’ll find that the total yearly cases might lie anywhere between 350,000 and 400,000. This improvement is believed to be the result of the advancement in the training programs, neutering/spaying rates, and the overall veterinarian care.
Two – Canada Has a Similar Rate
The official Canadian statistics reveal that around 42 dog bites happen every hour. Although the number might seem incredibly alarming, things aren’t that bad.
If you do the math, you’ll find that this translates to about 370,000 cases per year, which is the same average rate in the US. However, it still needs to be way lower, given that Canada’s population is 8 times less than America’s.
Three – Injuries Are Riskier for Children
As you’ll see later on, the first and most important factor that can precipitate a dog attack is the victim’s physique.
Adults can fend for themselves. Even if they were mauled, the injury will probably be in a non-fatal position. With children, however, things tend to be more serious.
In a 2013 study, 537 children suffered dog-related injuries between 2003 and 2008. 68% of those were 5 years old or younger. According to hospital reports, this age group was often bitten in the face and around the neck.
The same study presents yet another horrifying fact. Around 90% of the incidents were caused by a familiar dog that lives inside or near the victim’s house.
After investigating the reasons, researchers found that 50% of the bites were preceded by intentional provoking.
Four – Dog Bites Aren’t That Fatal
As stated earlier, less than 20% of the bitten individuals need medical attention. Better yet, the number of fatalities is much lower.
To put things into perspective, we can quickly review the rates of other common fatalities. Coming right before dogs, bee stings kill 1 of every 63,000 people per year. Transportation accidents and firearms kill nearly 1 in every 8,000 people yearly.
Interestingly, 1 in every 3,400 people dies each year after choking on food! And lastly, cancer and heart disease reap the most deaths with a rate of 1 in every 7 people.
So all in all, even though dog attacks are common, they shouldn’t make you fear for your life.
Five – The Dog Gender Makes a World of Difference
Dogs bite when they detect danger that threatens them or their owners. They do that because they were programmed over the years to protect properties and watch over livestock.
Needless to say, that protective instinct is naturally higher in males. A 1999 study reported that 80% of the dogs presented to vets to treat aggression were sexually-active males.
In the same study, scientists showed that neutering is the main solution for such issues. Without neutering, dogs can be 2.5x more likely to bite humans and other animals.
Although females have a much lower likelihood of biting, spaying is still critical.
Fertile stray females will attract all sorts of aggressive males, thereby increasing their biting range. Furthermore, unmonitored reproduction will give birth to pups that carry unfavorable, hostile genes.
Six – Keeping Dogs on Chains Is a Significant Culprit
As stated earlier, most of the widely known aggressive breeds are in fact super affectionate. They turn this way mostly because of improper care, rare exercising, inadequate training, etc.
But the CDC revealed another important factor that many dog owners still do. They found that tethering dogs, especially with chains, makes them 2.8x more likely to attack strangers when provoked.
And of course, tethering is more common among owners who adopt dogs merely for guarding, image enhancement, or fighting instead of affectionate companionship. To my surprise, about 78% of the US dogs are kept for one of these reasons.
Seven – Postmen Are the Primary Victims
If there’s one thing that all dogs mutually hate, it’s got to be postmen! I sincerely feel sorry for those guys!
According to the official USPS website, more than 6,244 of their workers were bitten on duty in 2017. On the bright side, there were 500 more victims in 2016. That shows how the company is keen on anticipating potential attacks, thereby protecting their employees.
The actual reason behind this irrational aggression isn’t known. However, scientists believe it has to do with the territorial nature of some breeds in addition to their natural aloof instinct.
Familiarize your dog when he’s still a puppy to avoid that behavior. Even though the actual people will change, he won’t be as hostile toward the general concept.
Eight – It’s Getting Pricey
The homeowners’ insurance data reported a total of $675 million that was paid for bite-related liability claims in 2018. The number of registered claims went well over 17,000, with each one costing around $39,000.
It’s worth noting that claims exceeded 18,500 in 2017. However, the cost per claim was capped at $37,000 back then.
And of course, states varied considerably in the value of allocated compensations. California came first with more than $45,000 per claim in 2018. This kind of makes sense when you know that it also had the highest number of bite injuries.
Nine – Kangals Are the Fiercest Biters
With a maximum height of 35”, the Kangals have the strongest jaws of the whole canines. Adults bite with a whopping 743 PSI.
Bandogs come in second place with a force of 730 PSI. And since they don’t grow as tall as Kangals, the actual inflicted damage can be a bit lower.
The third place is reserved for Great Danes with a force of 670 PSI, as established earlier
Next, there’s the Dogue de Bordeaux. This breed is much shorter than the previous three, which is why their biting force doesn’t exceed 556 PSI.
The good news is, none of these breeds have a high tendency to develop aggression.
Ten – Fatalities Are More Prevalent Outside the US
Unfortunately, not all countries care about documenting their dog bite rates. And even if they do, these data aren’t typically shared online. That’s why we don’t have actual estimates.
However, according to WHO, mauling is more common in low- and middle-income countries. This is primarily traced to the absence of standalone animal control services.
To make matters worse, most of the dog bites in these countries end with death. This isn’t related to the mauling itself, no matter how severe. Instead, rabies accounts for most of the deaths. The WHO says that 59,000 people die from rabies each year.
Hopefully, this is expected to change soon. Rabies already has a 100% effective vaccine; it’s just a matter of improving healthcare systems and developing awareness.
Eleven – Rabid Dogs Have a Higher Tendency to Bite
As you might already know, puppies should receive the first rabies shot when they reach 14 weeks of age. A booster dose is usually given after the first birthday. Then, your dog must be re-vaccinated every one to three years.
Failure to adhere to this schedule will expose you, your dog, and even your whole neighborhood to the risk of rabies.
Although the vaccination couldn’t be simpler, treatment is almost impossible. Once the virus grasps hold of the body’s cells, the infected person/dog will die within 2 to 3 weeks.
According to the WHO, 99% of rabies infections are mediated by dogs. This is surprising to learn since all mammals, including us, are susceptible to this infection.
Extra: Signs of Rabies
Lucky for us, the recent vaccination protocols and animal control programs have saved our precious dogs from that imminent danger.
However, rabies is still considered as a major disease in wildlife. Pets can get sick after being bitten by infected raccoons, ferrets, feral cats, and pretty much every other mammal that can sneak into your backyard.
To protect yourself from the risk of mauling, it’s important to keep an eye out for the signs. Once you notice any of the following, avoid contact with the suspected dog and call for help immediately.
- Sudden affection in previously reserved dogs
- Sudden aggression in previously friendly dogs
- Insensitivity to pain
- Sensitivity to light, touch, or sound
- Excessive salivation
Factors That Increase the Possibility of Dog Bites
In an effort to pinpoint the reasons, scientists have been analyzing data in leaps and bounds. Gary Patronek, VMD, Ph.D., is among the most reputable authors in this field.
In his study, he identified some mutual factors that repeatedly occurred in dog bite fatalities during the period between 2000 and 2009.
Interestingly, at least four of the following factors were present in about 80% of the gathered cases.
- The inability of the victim to defend themself, either because of age or physical conditions
- The absence of an able-bodied person to intervene
- Unfamiliarity between the dog and the victim
- The dog owner failing to neuter/spay the dog
- Keeping the dog as a distant guard dog rather than a loved family pet
- Mismanagement of the dog’s owner, especially in the lack of obedience training
- The owner’s abuse or neglect of the dog
The Breed Is Not a Factor
Go back and check again for yourself. Dr. Patronek didn’t list the breed as a consistent potential cause.
Yes, Pitbulls, for instance, have a stark tendency to bite. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole breed is to be blamed. Instead, most of the aggressive behavior can be traced to the owner, the victim, or both.
What Can The Shelters Do?
After reviewing these statistics, I wanted to share my insight on a potential solution that can dial down the injury rates.
Whenever a dog gets enrolled in a shelter, his psychological health should be addressed just like his physical health.
Vets should invest time in trying to identify the possible hardships that faced this dog and, by extension, how the future owners can help.
The Center for Shelter Dogs is probably one of the best in this matter. They analyze every attribute of dog behavior and personality in a dedicated program called Match-Up II. As the name implies, these data are then used to send dogs to their optimal new homes.
“Every dog is considered to be an individual,” says the center on the official website. “[Each] having specific requirements and desires, regardless of breed or background.”
To end this article, I wanted to lay emphasis once more on the importance of proper training. No dog breed is evil by nature, especially Pitbulls and Rottweilers. Instead, it’s your actions as an owner that dictates the final result.
That said, if this is your first time owning a dog, it’s crucial to know that some breeds suit beginners, while others don’t.
Also, it’s always OK to hire a professional trainer if you’re not sure about the process. They’ll guarantee results that are faster, better, and more dependable.
Wishing you the best time with your fluffy pooch!