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Dog Bite Risk and Prevention: 10 Dog Breeds Implicated in Serious Bite Injuries

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Dog Bite Risk and Prevention: 10 Dog Breeds Implicated in Serious Bite Injuries

The Influence of Breed on the Risk and Prevention of Dog Bites By The American Veterinary Medical Association


The Animal Welfare Division of the American Veterinary Medical Association has compiled this peer-reviewed summary for your convenience.

A review of the scientific literature, while its primary focus is on that literature, may also include information gleaned from proprietary data, legislative and regulatory review (including market conditions), and scholarly ethical assessments (if applicable). As such, it should not be construed as official AVMA policy.

It is provided solely for informational purposes. There is no indication that the American Veterinary Medical Association endorses any specific trade names, products, commercial practices, or organizations by mentioning them here.


Introduction: What is the Dog Bite Risk?

 

The dog bite risk is an important topic in the United States. It is estimated that about 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, which is equivalent to about 44 bites per 100,000 people (Dog Bite Risk Statistics).

In addition to the physical and emotional effects of a dog bite, dogs are also responsible for many deaths each year.

The number of dog bites reported in the United States has increased by about 10% annually over the last 10 years. This increase can be attributed to an increase in both the size of dogs and the number of un-neutered or un-vaccinated pets (Dog Bite Risk Statistics).

The most dangerous breeds include Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Wolf Hybrids (Dog Bite Risk Statistics).

In this article, we will also talk about the different causes of these attacks and what can be done to reduce them.

What are the most common ways to prevent dog bites?

Dog bites are a common occurrence in the United States, with approximately 4.5 million people bitten by dogs each year.

Dog bites have caused more than $1 billion in medical costs and more than 2,500 deaths annually.

how to prevent dog bite

Dog bite prevention laws vary state to state. Some states require owners to have their dogs vaccinated against rabies while others require owners to register their dogs and keep them on a leash at all times.

Training practices can also vary depending on the dog’s temperament and training history.

Where do most dog bites happen?

You may have heard it said that most dog bites happen outside, on the streets. This statistic makes sense when you think about it when you’re outside, but what about inside? Where does your dog most frequently attack people?

In the US, there are more than 4.5 million dog bites that happen every year. This is a serious cause for concern that needs to be addressed by all methods possible. In this section, we will provide you with the most recent and relevant statistics on dog bites in the US.

The statistic that most dog bites happen outside, on the streets is true and it makes sense when you think about it – dogs are typically scared of humans when they are out in public places because they don’t know us well enough yet to trust us.

A large number of dog bites happen in public places – we can see this from the statistics provided by the CDC .

There are a few different causes for these attacks, which are as follows:

1. Dog bites due to a lack of socialization and training – dogs that haven’t been properly trained or socialized are more likely to bite when they feel threatened

2. Dog bites due to territorial disputes – when a dog feels like their territory is being invaded it is most likely that they’ll bite in self-defense

3. Dog bites linked to aggressive behavior – the person who was bitten is usually responsible for triggering the aggressive response from the attacking dog, such as a child pulling a toy away from their dog – biting is the way dogs communicate their anger, frustration, and even fear.

If your pet has bitten someone outside of the house, do not punish them – instead, limit contact with people outside of your household and get professional help.

Breeds Implicated in Serious Bite Injuries

According to a number of studies, the following breeds were found to be highly represented in biting incidents:

German Shepherd Dog, Mixed Breed, Rottweiler, Pit Bull, Jack Russell Terrier, And Others (Chow Chow, Spaniel, Collie,  Saint Bernard, And Labrador Retriever ).

The presence of pit bull-type dogs is more frequently observed when only the much smaller number of cases resulting in extremely severe injuries or fatalities is taken into consideration. This, however, may be related to the popularity of the breed in the victim’s community, reporting biases, and the dog’s treatment by its owner, among other factors (e.g., use as fighting dogs).

It is worth noting that fatal dog attacks in some parts of Canada have been attributed primarily to sled dogs and Siberian Huskies, which is likely due to the high prevalence of these breeds in the area where the attacks occurred.

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Controlled Studies are conducted in a controlled environment.

Additionally, the prevalence of specific dog breeds can fluctuate dramatically over time, frequently being influenced by distinct peaks in popularity for specific breeds.

It appears that as some large breeds gain in popularity, there is an increase in the number of bite reports reported as well.

Among other things, there was a noticeable increase in Rottweiler registrations with the American Kennel Club between 1990 and 1995, and they appear at the top of the list of ‘biting breeds’ for the first time in studies of bites resulting in hospitalization conducted in the late 1990s and the early 2000s.

Even though other fad breeds such as Dalmatians and Irish setters do not appear to exhibit similar characteristics, any estimate of breed-based risk must take into consideration the prevalence of the breed in the population at the time and location of serious biting events.

For example, researchers can compare well-documented bite cases with households that have been matched as controls.

One study used this method to discover that the German Shepherd Dog and the Chow Chow were the breeds that were disproportionately involved in bite injuries requiring medical attention in the Denver area (where pit bull types are not permitted).

Several other studies have used estimates of breed prevalence that do not directly relate to the households where the bites occurred, such as general community surveys, breed registries, licensed dogs, or animal shelter populations, to determine the prevalence of specific breeds.

When considering the prevalence of molloser dogs in the community in Rome, Italy, where mastiffs are reputed to be the most dangerous dogs, a study found that they were not disproportionately involved in biting incidents when taking their prevalence into account.

According to these prevalence referenced studies, the German Shepherd Dog and its crosses, as well as a variety of other breeds (mixed breed, Cocker spaniel, Chow Chow, Collie, Doberman, Lhasa Apso, Rottweiler, Springer Spaniel, Shih Tsu, and Poodle) are at higher risk for canine cancer.

Breeds that are aggressive

Based on behavioral assessments and owner surveys, small to medium-sized dogs such as collies, toy breeds, and spaniels were found to be more aggressive toward people than larger breeds.

The Lhasa Apso, the Springer Spaniel, and the Shih Tsu were found to be the most likely to bite in a survey of general veterinary clientele in Canada (specifically practices in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island).

In spite of the fact that small dogs are more aggressive than large dogs, their smaller size means that they are less likely to inflict serious bite injuries, except on vulnerable individuals or as part of a pack attack, which also allows dogs to seriously or permanently injure otherwise healthy older children or adults.

Interestingly, referrals for aggression problems are more closely related to the breeds that have been implicated in serious bite attacks, perhaps because owners are more likely to seek treatment for aggression in dogs that are large enough to be potentially dangerous.

More attacks on humans and other dogs are carried out by larger dogs (regardless of their breed or size).

Certain large breeds, such as large hounds and retrievers (e.g., Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers), are notably under-represented in bite statistics, despite the fact that even these breeds may have known aggressive subtypes (e.g., German Shepherds).

When it comes to German Shepherd Dogs, the results are mixed, suggesting that this breed may have a high level of variability, possibly due to regional subtypes or ownership factors.

Pit Bulls Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Owners of pit bull-type dogs are subjected to a strong breed stigma; however, controlled studies have found that this breed group is not disproportionately dangerous in their behavior.

It is particularly difficult to define the pit bull type as a “breed,” because the breed includes both pedigree breeds and informal types and appearances that cannot be reliably distinguished from one another.

It is well known that visual identification of dog breeds is not always accurate.

In addition, witnesses may be predisposed to believe that a vicious dog is of this type in the first place.

Another factor to consider is the likelihood of pit bull-type dogs being involved in severe and fatal attacks.

This is especially true in neighborhoods where young children, who are the most common victims of severe and fatal attacks are at high risk of being harmed.

Furthermore, because owners of stigmatized breeds are more likely to be involved in criminal and/or violent acts, it is possible that breed correlations are due to the behavior of the owners.

Breed Restrictions

The most serious dog bite injuries (requiring hospitalization) in the United States occur when the victim is a young child and the dog is not neutered and not unfamiliar with the victim (belonging to the family, a family friend or neighbor).

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It is therefore essential to practice responsible dog ownership and supervision in order to reduce risks of dog bites in communities.

While some study authors suggest that restricting ownership of specific breeds (e.g., pit bull type, German Shepherd Dog) may help to reduce injurie, it has not been proven that imposing a breed-specific ban will reduce the rate or severity of bite injuries in the general public.

Among the strategies that have been shown to reduce the number of dog bite incidents is the active enforcement of dog control ordinances, which may include breed-specific ordinances in some cases.

It is important for everyone, especially children, to learn how to be safe around dogs, regardless of whether or not they have a pet dog at home.

It is recommended that children be taught how to approach dogs, what to do when they see a loose dog, and how to properly treat dogs in order to make interactions between children and dogs pleasant for all parties.

The American Kennel Club’s Canine Ambassadors program — a network of volunteers across the country who advocate for purebred dogs, responsible dog ownership, and dog safety — offers some expert advice on this important topic.

 

1. Always inquire if it is okay for me to pet your dog.

When a dog has never met or lived with a child, or simply does not understand what a child is, the dog may perceive the child as being frightening. Darleen Wheelington of the South Arkansas Kennel Club is an AKC Canine Ambassador.

 

2. Begin by presenting the back of your hand to the dog for him to smell first.

When petting your dog, never reach your hand right over the dog’s muzzle or to the top of their head unless you have first presented your hand and received positive feedback from your dog.”

 

3. Don’t go running toward a dog.

“Many times, children run up to a dog with no hesitation at all, and while I am delighted to see love rather than fear in their eyes, I believe they should be taught how to approach a dog.”

 

4. Never yell or growl at a dog in any way.

It doesn’t matter whether the dog is alone, in a crate, or with a person; this is teasing the dog.’ – Kathy Davidson, AKC Canine Ambassador and member of the Iowa City Dog Obedience Club

 

5. All dogs are capable of biting because all dogs has sharp teeth.

In order to read a dog’s body language correctly, people must learn to respect the space of dogs. Dogs should also be supervised at all times when around children.

 

6. Never leave small children or dogs alone, especially when they are playing.

“Do not make the mistake of assuming a dog is’safe’ and ‘will never bite.’ It’s critical to keep an eye on the relationship because it can evolve over time.

 

7. Teach everyone in the family how to behave appropriately around the dog.

“Always supervise your child when riding or sitting on your dog, no matter how well behaved he is. Don’t pull on his ears or tail at any time. Avoid interfering with his sleep or eating — after all, would you want someone playing with your food while you’re trying to get some rest?”

 

8. ‘Stand like a tree’ when there are loose dogs around.

“In addition, it is critical that children understand when they should notify an adult if they see a loose dog or if they witness someone hurting a dog.

 

9. Service dogs are on the job and should not be interfered with.

“They must maintain their focus on their handlers, and you must always obtain permission before petting a Service Dog.

 

10. A dog is not the same as a person.

“When a dog feels threatened, cornered, or scared, it may bite. As a result, we must respect these facts and spend as much time as possible getting to know the different expressions of dogs so that we can anticipate how they are feeling.

 

 

Final Conclusion

Dog maulings can result in horrific injuries and even death, and it is only natural for those who are assisting the victims to focus on addressing the immediate causes of the incident. However, according to Duffy et al (2008)’s survey-based data, The substantial within-breed variation……suggests that it is inappropriate to make predictions about a given dog’s propensity for aggressive behavior solely on the basis of its breed.

Breed does have some predictive value in and of itself, but the impact of other factors relating to the individual animal (such as training method, male or female and neutering status), the target (for example, owner versus stranger), and context (for example, urban versus rural) prevent breed from having significant predictive value in and of itself.

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Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that the nature of a breed varies over time, across geographical boundaries, and across breed subtypes, such as those raised for conformation showing versus those raised for field trials.

Considering that breed alone does not reliably predict dog aggression and that pit bull-type dogs have not been implicated in controlled studies, it is difficult to justify targeting this breed as a basis for dog bite prevention.

Several large breeds, including the German shepherd and shepherd crosses, as well as other breeds that vary depending on location, would be implicated if they were to be targeted as a group.

Summary Tables

Table One


Studies on Serious Dog Bite Injuries in Different Breeds

​Period ​Data Source ​N Country​ ​Top Two Breeds Identified Ref​
​1971 ​US Dept. Health ​843 United States (VA)​ ​mixed breed
German Shepherd Dog
1​
​1971-1974 Hospital records​ 50​ ​South Africa German Shepherd Dog
Labrador Retriever​
​2
​1973-1976 US Dept. Health​ ​2618 ​United States (AL) German Shepherd Dog
Collie​
​3
​1979-1982 ​Health Dept. Severe attacks 16​ ​United States (SC) pit bull type
Saint Bernard
​21
1981-1983​ ​US Reservations 772​ United States​ ​mixed breed
unspecified pedigree
19​
​1982 ​Hospital Records 420​ Canada​ ​German Shepherd
mixed breed
54
1982-1989​ Hospital records​ ​146 United Kingdom​ pit bull type
Jack Russell Terrier
22​
​1987-1988 ​HASS ​487 United Kingdom​ mixed breed
German Shepherd Dog​
4​
​1979-1998 ​Fatalities ​27 United States​ pitt bull type
Rottweiler
​23
​1969-2007 ​Fatalities 5​ ​New Zealand pitt bull type
–​
55
1989​ Hospital records​ ​168 United States​ German Shepherd Dog
pit bull type​
​5
​1989 Hospital records​ 75​ ​United Kingdom ​German Shepherd Dog
mixed breed
​6
​1991 Animal control records​ ​357 United States​ German Shepherd Dog
Chow Chow​
7​
​1991+1994 ​Hospital records ​198 ​United Kingdom German Shepherd Dog
mixed breed
​8
1989-1996​ Hospital records​ 1109​ ​United States (CA) pit bull type
German shepherd
9​
1990-2007​ ​Fatalities 28​ Canada​ ​mixed breed husky
“sled dog”
​56
1995​ Patients receiving rabies post-exposure​ prophylaxis ​~8000 ​United States (PA) ​German Shepherd Dog
mixed breed
​10
1991-2000​ Hospital records​ ​654 ​Spain German Shepherd Dog
mixed breed​
​11
​1996 ​Hospital records ​1916 ​Australia German Shepherd Dog
Bull Terrier
​57
1995-1997 Animal control​ ​? ​United States pit bull type
Chow Chow​
24
​1997 Hospital records​ 385​ Canada​ ​German Shepherd Dog
Cocker Spaniel
​11
1998-2002​ ​Hospital records ​72 ​Canada ​Rottweiler
German Shepherd Dog
​58
2002​ Accident compensation claims​ ​535 New Zealand​ Mixed breed
German shepherd dog​
17​
​1991-2004 ​Hospital records ​25 ​South Africa pit bull type
German Shepherd Dog​
59​
​1994-2005 ​Hospital records ​341 Austria​ mixed breed
German Shepherd Dog
​12
​1997-2003 ​Hospital records 11​ ​United States Rottweiler
German Shepherd Dog
​15
2001-2002​ ACC claims​ ​3020 New Zealand German Shepherd Dog
pit bull type
​13
2000-2004 ​Hospital records ​593 United Kingdom​ Rottweiler
Jack Russell Terrier
28​
2001-2005​ ​Hospital records 551​ ​United States pit bull type
Rottweiler
25
​2002-2005 ​Veterinary referral ​111 ​United States (PA) Springer Spaniel
German Shepherd Dog​
14​
​2004-2005 ​Survey based on Dog Bite Line contacts ​234 ​Ireland Collie
Spanie​
29​
2001-2011​ Hospital records​ ​436 United Kingdom​ ​Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier
27​
2000-2012​ Hospital records​ ​431 Switzerland German Shepherd Dog
Rottweiller
18​
​2005-2009 ​Hospital records ​40 United States (SC)​ Pit bull type
Rottweiler
​26
​2006-2009 ​Hospital records 203​ United States (PA)​ Mixed breed
Pit bull type​
20​

Table Two
Studies of Serious Dog Bite Injury by Breed taking into Account Breed Prevalence

Period​ Data Source​ Prevalence estimate​ N​ Country​ ​Breeds Identified as Higher Risk ​Ref
1974-1975​ Animal control​ ​Licensed dogs ​? ​United States (MD) ​German Shepherd Dog and shepherd crosses
Doberman Pinscher
60
1976-1977​ US Bases​ Relative risk versus mixed breed​ 529​ United States (IL, MO) ​Collie
German Shepherd Dog
Cocker Spaniel
61​
​1982 ​Pediatric practice ​Non-biting pets of other patients ​194 United States (MO)​ ​German Shepherd Dog and shepherd crosses
mixed breed over 30lb
Poodle
​62
​1986-1987 Health Unit​ ​Licensed dogs ​318 ​Canada ​​German Shepherd Dog
mixed breed
63​
1991​ ​Plastic surgery cases ​Prevalence in community 146​ Australia​ ​​German Shepherd Dog ​50
​1991 Animal control​ ​Case controls 178​ United States (CO)​ ​​German Shepherd Dog
Chow Chow
​64​
​1990-1993 Hospital records​ Survey​ ​356 Australia​ ​​Doberman Pinscher
German Shepherd Dog
Rottweiler
​49
​1993 ​Shelter animals quarantined for biting General shelter admissions​ 170​ United States (WI)​ ​​Chow Chow
Cocker Spaniel
Lhasa Apso
65
​1996 Owner self-report (biters)​ Owner self-report (non-biters)​ ​3226 ​Canada ​Lhasa Apso
Springer Spaniel
Shih Tsu
43
2003-2004​ ​Shelter and Veterinary Hospital records Registered dogs 290​ Italy​ ​Shepherd breeds​ 32

 

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