There’s no point in sugar-coating the topic; dog bites are a serious problem. It’s irresponsible to lay blame without having the facts. It’s just as foolish to ignore the problem and pretend that the poor dog had terrible owners. Sometimes the loved family pet inflicts bite injuries.
A few breeds have risen consistently to the top for causing severe dog bite injury that requires medical attention.Breed-specific legislation has been proven that doesn’t provide the right solution and might even create a false sense of security.
Top 10 Dogs Most Likely to Bite
It’s hard to envision our beloved pet dogs as potentially vicious animals that can inflict serious physical harm and even death. But as responsible pet owners, we must face the fact that it can happen.
Bite statistics confirm that some dogs bite more frequently, though big dogs bear the burden because their bite causes much more damage.
People who get bitten by little dogs are less likely to report the incident. However, larger breed dogs and mixed breeds can inflict severe physical damage by sheer force of PSI (pounds by square inch or newtons).
- Pit bulls (a class of dogs like the American Bully, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bulldog, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier and any mixed breeds from the lineage of these dogs) are known as the most aggressive, with 64% of bites. It does not distinguish the breeds listed under the pity umbrella in dog bite attacks. PSI of 241.
- Rottweilers have an immensely potent bite at 1,180 and 1,460 newtons of force or 328 PSI.
- German Shepherds have a bite force of over 1060 newtons and a tendency to bite smaller dogs. PSI of 238.
- Doberman Pinschers were in demand a few decades ago, and the last death caused by Dobby happened in 2011. PSI of 228 (though some suggest 600PSI)
- Bull Mastiff, this 130-pound powerhouse dog, injured a young girl and killed a boy trying to save her. PSI of 556.
- Husky dogs are working dogs, and Siberian Huskies killed 15 people in the USA from 1979 to 1998s. PSI of 320.
- Malamutes don’t like other smaller animals and have five fatalities on their record. PSI of 328.
- Wolf Hybrids caused 14 deaths and constitute any mixed breed with one wolf parent. These dog mixes are illegal in many states. PSI of 406.
- Boxers are hunting dog descendants and have powerful jaws. The last recorded fatality happened in 2013. PSI of 230. (Just spent a month hand-feeding a boxer and didn’t think they could bite through pre-moistened kibble.)
- Great Danes weigh 200 pounds, and in 2003, one of these gentle giants killed a 2-year-old. PSI of 238.
Interestingly enough, the pit bull group PSI is on the lower spectrum and similar to the PSI of a Labrador Retriever at 230 PSI. Further study on why some dogs bite is needed.
The Most Crucial Dog Bite Statistics
Dog Statistics at a glance:
- 1000 people need emergency treatment for dog bite injuries daily
- On average, 12,480 American end up in the hospital from dog attacks
- Statistically, with recorded proof, other dog breeds are prone to cause fatal injuries
- 2% of all dogs in America bite
- The vast majority of bites are not reported
Dog Bite Statistics in the U.S.
Note: many people call several purebred dog breeds pit bulls. The Rottweiler, German Shepherd, and mixed dogs rank in the top five. (source)
More than 90 Million Households in the US Own a Dog (The Washington Post, HSUS, AVMA)
Stats can be conflicting since there are no sure ways to substantiate the actual numbers. Several resources tabulate these figures for pet ownership. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) finds 90 million dogs in America.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says 77 million. The shortfall for the AVMA count could be that puppy mills that also produce massive quantities of dogs that might never make it into a family or are registered.
Dog Attack Stats in the US Reveals, Annually Dog Bites Almost 4.5 Million People (Canine Journal)
No self-respecting dog owner believes their dog is capable of biting. Yet, 4.5 million dogs are likely to bite. The vast majority of bites are underreported, but over 800,000 bites need medical treatment. Using 2019 population figures, 1 out of 73 are victims of dog bites.
The Fourth Deadliest Creature on Earth Are Dogs (Statista)
Our beloved canine friends make the top three in the most dangerous animal on the world list. Part of that is the sheer number of dogs in the world statistics show there are between 700 million to 1 billion dogs (pet and unowned).
In underdeveloped nations, 30,000 people die yearly from rabies transmitted by dogs. Sadly, rabies is 100% preventable through vaccines.
Among 4.5 Million Bite Victims, Half Are Children (Canine Journal)
It’s difficult to throw your best friend under the bus, but denying that man’s best friend wasn’t a public health issue would be irresponsible.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) continually seeks to provide a better understanding of bite statistics. In the USA, 4.5 million bites happen to innocent victims without provocation.
Hospitals treat 885,000 patients who seek medical care from bites, 370,000 of those need emergency attention, and 16 deaths occur. Children are more vulnerable and receive 70% of all bite-related deaths. Dog bites are mostly preventable through education.
The Incidence of Dying From a Dog Bite is 1 in 112,400 (Canine Journal)
Dog bites are a horrific experience. No doubt, victims don’t care to know why dogs bite. Victims and families of fatality victims deserve our compassion. However, there is also no reason to harbor unnecessary fears and suspicion: Odds of dying from dog bite injuries or pitbull attacks is 1 in 112,400.
People are more likely to die or suffer severe injuries in a car accident. If you want to compare dog bite deaths, here are some interesting comparisons:
- People dying in a storm 1 in 66,335
- Hornet, wasp, bee stings 1 in 63,225
- Shootings 1 in 6905 (in 2020, 45,222 gun deaths, including suicides)
- Choking 1 in 3461
80% of Dog Bites in Children Are Either on the Head or Neck (Injury Lawyers).
Although the CDC has seen a decrease in dog-related hospital visits, children are still a prominent target of dog bites, and 82% were familiar with the children. The leading sites were the face, head, and neck regions, and 27% of patients received inpatient care.
The CDC found that dog breed behavior, dog owners, parents, and children influenced these situations, and preventive education and training were key factors. Children under 10 years had the highest incidents of risk.
70% of Dog Bites Are from Unneutered (Male) Dogs (ASPCAPro)
Ever watch a nature show? Males constantly fight for supremacy. It’s part of nature. However, it’s not acceptable for dogs who live among us.
Unneutered dogs are 2.6 times more likely to bite people and other dogs. That means 70% of biting dogs are male. Further, restrained dogs (chained or tethered) bite 2.8 times more.
Approximately 78% of “Breed-Specific Dogs Are Kept for Safety, Status, Brawling, and Breeding ( ASPCAPro)
Breed-specific bans exist in America. Many states are working to remove these unfair restrictions on responsible dog owners and don’t protect the public from irresponsible owners with large dogs.
As many as 78% of people with regulated dogs don’t bring them into the family. Instead, these dogs are mistreated as chattel, neglected, abused, and involved in fatal dog attacks.
For many of these owners, it’s about supporting the outlaw image. They also have no qualms about chaining these dogs to develop aggression. Statistics from NCRC suggest that 70.4% of dog bite deaths were not family dogs.
Top Five US States For Fatal Dog Bite Statistics (Injury Lawyers)
Statistics are always interesting when you see just a snapshot of the information. These numbers don’t speak about population density vs. dog bites; they list the number of incidents recorded, which leaves out any real context of how or why.
- California = 48
- Texas = 47
- Florida = 31
- North Carolina = 22
- Ohio = 21
California’s population density is 252.74 (per mile²), while Texas is at 110 and Florida is 405.45. So depending on which state is your home state, you might be more or less susceptible to dog bites.
In 2019, Dogs Attacked 5803 Postal Employees (MKP Law Group)
Letter carriers receive training to prevent dog bite attacks but still become bite victims that require emergency care. In 2019, around 5803 letter carriers received dog bites. The numbers are falling, but Houston and Los Angeles still rank at the top with the most incidents annually.
In 2018, There Were 38 Dog Bite Fatalities in the U.S. (National Canine Research Council)
Heartbreaking news for families. The NCRC classified 38 of 41 cases as DBRF (dog-bite-related fatality) in dog bite fatalities. Only 13% of a dog’s pedigree was traceable to a specific breed. Sadly, 39.5% of the DBRF were children. Criminal charges were filed against 10.5%.
Almost 81% of Dog Bite Injuries Don’t Need Medical Care (Woof Dog)
Anyone who’s ever experienced a bite in play or aggression knows that dogs have strong teeth. We must not forget their ancestry. Most dog bites don’t have tragic consequences and are often treated without hospital stays or any minor medical intervention.
In 2005, More Than 28,000 People Underwent Reconstructive Surgery After a Dog Bite Incident (Injury Lawyers)
Make no mistake; dog bites are serious. Regardless of how much we value our dogs, they have the power to harm people.
Insurance companies and hospitals monitor these incidents closely, and in 2017, insurance liability claims totaled 700 million for dog-related accidents and injuries. That is a 33% share of insurance claims.
Of that significant number, 28,000 underwent reconstructive surgery; average claims rose by more than 90%. Hospital treatment for dog bites averaged around $18,000 between 2003 and 2017.
Anyone who’s ever played with a dog knows that accidental contact with a dog’s teeth is painful when it’s deliberate and on sensitive tissue like the face and neck–horrific.
Police Dogs Were Responsible for 243 Bites in Indianapolis from 2017-2019 (Indy Star)
The IndyStar investigated IMPD dog bites and found that many of the bite recipients were unarmed or not in breach of any high crime activity. Out of 243 victims, more than half were black, and 28% of the population.
Before we blame these invaluable police dogs, it’s the handlers that release these working K-9s more frequently on blacks than whites. At the time of the investigation, 25 officers handling K-9s were white, and only one was black. Racism, seriously, needs to end!
The Dog Bite Rate Increased to 300% During Covid-19 Pandemic (NCBI)
Covid-19 was difficult for everyone. We spent more time together as families and often experienced lockdowns that stressed everyone, including the dogs. Emergency rooms experienced a 300% increase per 1000 visits during this painful event.
Not only did people spend more time at home, but people also made a mad rush to adopt dogs and cats.
Dog Attack Breed Statistics in the U.S.
Among 46 Dog Attack Fatalities in 2019, 33 Were Caused by Pit Bulls (Forbes, Animals 24-7)
Pit Bulls (which constitute more than one breed) caused 33 out of 46 fatal attacks in 2019. The chart below lists the top 10 dogs responsible for deadly attacks between 2005 and 2017.
Sadly new evidence suggests that a large percentage of pit bull owners have a criminal history. Surprisingly, America’s favorite dog, the Labrador Retriever, also makes this list.
Other dogs that track on the dogs involved in fatal dog attacks list are the Doberman Pinscher, Husky, Mastiff/Bullmastiff, mixed breeds, and Boxer.
Higher medical costs and insurance settlements resulted in a massive 90% increase in the average cost per claim between 2003 to 2017, according to Forbes.
With increasing medical costs and higher settlements due to dog attacks, the average cost per claim has risen 90 percent between 2003 and 2017.
From 2010-2021, There Were 430 Fatal Dog Bites, Among Which Pitbulls Are Responsible for 185, and Another 41 Were Pitbull Mixes Which Account for 60% (Injury Lawyers)
These numbers make it difficult to defend aggressive dog breeds even when pitty advocates try so hard to save them and claim that irresponsible pet owners are to blame.
Unmistakably, training and education are key elements. Also, these numbers don’t tell how the incidents occurred and what triggered these incidents. Not that it matters to innocent victims.
Breed legislation is a turbulent topic. Each side of the debate brings valuable content to try and help resolve the ongoing issue. What remains a fact is that the Pitty keeps making the list of dogs responsible for 185 of the 430 fatal dog bites (2010 to 2021).
Pitty breeds make up five registered breeds, and for once, it would be nice to see actual figures separating which of these terrier bulldog breeds causes the most damage.
Based on percentages, 60% were either full-blooded or mixed pitty breeds, 7% had a Rottweiler lineage, and 4% were of a German Shepherd pedigree.
The Rottweiler and German Shepherd Were Responsible for the Remaining 7% and 4% (Injury Lawyers)
Understanding the dog breed you choose and its requirements is a huge responsibility. When you fail, the dog fails. Some dogs are content lounging on the couch; others need to be kept busy.
Rottweilers (though not as common now as a few decades ago) are one of the ancient breeds and need socialization and training to work around their ingrained need to herd and protect.
German Shepherds are synonymous with loyalty and will protect their families at all costs. They are the ideal working dog and need mental and physical stimulation.
Most articles that list dogs responsible for aggressive behavior and have a history of being part of the fatal dog attacks club include Rottweillers and German Shepherds, so much so that dog-bite dogs included 7% of Rottweiller and 4% were regal German Shepherds.
From 2010-2021, Rottweiler Caused a Total of 26 Deaths (Injury Lawyers)
Rottweillers are powerful dogs with a bite PSI of 328 combined with their body weight and propensity to protect caused 26 fatalities. These 80 to 135 lbs affectionate lap dogs have the potential to kill.
Although Pitbulls and Rottweiler Make up Only 6% of Dogs in the US, They’re Responsible for 77% of All Dog Bites (NCBI)
It may seem that Pitbulls and Rottweilers are on trial, but the figures don’t lie.
- 77% of fatal bites come from Pittys and Rotties
- Pittys will bite 2.5 times more likely in multiple anatomical locations (hands and feet)
- Pittys will attack strangers at 31% more likely
- Pittys can attack 48% more likely without cause
- Pitty victims are more likely to die and have increased injuries and hospital costs than other breeds
Further, dog bites are preventable, according to many sources like the CDC.
Comparing Stats From 2005-2010, and 2011-2017, Deaths Due to Pitbull Bites Increased from 58% to 71%. Whereas the Rottweiler Attack Death Toll Decreased From 14% to 7% (Dog Bite)
These numbers don’t discuss how Rottweiler and the Bulldog Terrier’s popularity affects these percentages. Many kind souls took on pit bull ownership to save a breed under constant attack. But dog ownership is a serious responsibility.
Pittys also became a spokes idol for criminal gangs. Somewhere in between lies the actual story.
Between 2005 and 2017, pittys are responsible for 284 deaths, a 22% increase. Rotties, which are #2 on the list of fatal dog bites, decreased during the same period.
From 2005-2017, 54% of Fatal Attacks Were Caused by Family Dogs (Dog Bite)
The more you look into bite fatalities, the harder it becomes to argue for the dog group under the pit bull umbrella. Either people are horrible at training their dogs and neglect this crucial, or there is some underlying temperament within the dog that makes them unsuitable as pets.
Out of 232 deaths, pittys are responsible for 64%, representing an increase. Out of that number (284), 149 were family or friends. A larger number were children.
According to Dog Breed Bite Statistics, in 80% of Dog Bite Cases, the Breed Couldn’t Be Determined (National Canine Research Council)
The NCRC conducted many investigations into DBRFs (dog-bite-related fatalities and found that only 18% could verify a specific breed.
25% of Fatal Dog Bites Are Inflicted by Chained Dogs (Fatal Dog Attacks)
Chained dogs cause more dog bite attacks. Since 2003, chained dogs have accounted for the killing of more than 450 Americans. Children are especially vulnerable to dog attacks. PETA outlines the events for many recorded chained dog attacks.
The Kangal Dog Breed Has the Strongest Bite Force of 743 PSI (Inside Dogs World)
The Turkish Kangal Shepherd has an astonishing 743 PSI bite force. The British Bandog follows it at 730 PSI, the Italian Cane Corso at 700 PSI, and the French Dogue de Bordeaux at 556 PSI. A human bite force is only 120 to 140 PSI. Pitbull PSI is 235.
Pit Bull Attack Statistics
Pitbulls Are Responsible for 63% of Ocular Injuries (NCBI)
Ocular injuries involve the eyes. Consistent data points to pit bulls leading the numbers in deaths and ocular injuries. It only makes sense that children involved in dogs were 4.2 times more likely to suffer from ocular injury, and pittys have a 25% share. Injuries include orbital fractures and ruptured globes.
The Tendency of Pitbulls Attacking a Stranger Is 31% Higher Than Any Other Dog Breed (NCBI)
Hundreds of organizations want to understand what makes some dogs bite while others within the same breed don’t. Stereotyping seldom provides accurate results. One of the challenges could lie in grouping all the pit bull terrier groups into one figure.
Studies on cases of aggression prove again that bull terriers consistently act aggressively toward strangers and have a recurrence of 31%. However, pitty advocates want to prove the general public wrong and produce heartwarming versions of how lovable these dogs can be.
In 2018, Pit Bulls Were Responsible for 26 Deaths (Forbes)
Many Pitty rescue missions believe in saving pittys. However, Pittys are on the list for being responsible for the most dog attack deaths in 2018, with 26 out of 36 deaths. Pit bulls only represent 7% of the dog population.
Pitty defenders blame the owners and argue that statistics only tell half the story.
From 2005-2017, Pitbulls Killed 284 Americans (Canine Journal)
Americans need to decide how to handle the pitbull problem. Anyone with compassion for animals might easily fly to the defense of these dogs (the writer), but when pit bulls account for 284 deaths out of 433, that number speaks loudly. Victims deserve a voice in this debate too.
Pit Bulls Pass the Temperament Rating with 86.7% (Woof Dog)
Training experts devised temperament rating systems, and Pittys continue to surprise everyone with a passing rate of 86.7%. That makes them more likable than Chihuahuas, Border Collies, and Beagles.
The caveat is that this test rating doesn’t predict a true context, and many anti-pitbull groups say it doesn’t work.
Global Dog Attack Statistics
Globally, Tens of Millions of Dog Bites Occur Annually (WHO)
Universal numbers to calculate global dog bite numbers are challenging to obtain. In impoverished countries, dog bite injuries don’t receive any liability claims. Most don’t receive medical treatment.
Children are vulnerable to attacks, but U.S. numbers say adults receive more frequent bites. Dog bites are a socio-economic problem and account for 76-94% of animal bites.
There Are Approximately 1-2 Deaths in Canada Due to Dog Bites Yearly (ResearchGate, Chicobandido, Faunalytics)
Data published by the Canadian Veterinary Journal, following dog bite stats from 1990 to 2007, revealed 28 deaths from dog bite injuries. The report didn’t list any particular breed responsible.
A set of 2010 numbers concluded a decline of 28.2% over 2005, and the number of pit bulls fell by 92% since 2002 ( Toronto banned them in 2005)
According to Australian Dog Stats, Almost 13000 People Need Medical Care After Dog Bite Annually (news.com.au)
Stats found that children under five have a significant risk and suffer from injuries to their face and neck. The NSW government banned these fighting breeds:
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
- Japanese Tosa
In 2020, canine bite statistics suggested that 75% of attacks come from other breeds.
Between 2015–2018, Dog Bite-Related Hospital Visits Increased by 5% in the U.K. (Royal College of Surgeons)
Brits love their K-9 companions, and the Royal College found there was 7693 dog bite-related hospital admission yearly. The total number between 2015-2018 is 23,078 admissions.
Education about how to cope with dog bites might have increased these figures.
In 2020, People Between Age of 50-59 Became the Most Common Victims of Dog Bites in the U.K. (Statista)
Hospitals reported 1433 admissions of dog bite claims for this demographic. The group, ten years their junior, became the second largest segment with 1181 victims. Children aged nine and younger had 1178 admissions, while 80 and older had 443 hospital admissions.
Rabies-Related Dog Bite Statistics
99% of Rabies Cases Occur Due to Dogs (WHO)
Rabies is a preventable but incurable disease that affects every continent except Antarctica. The rabies vaccine invented by Louis Pasteur has saved millions of lives. However, according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control), rabies is still a problem in Asia and Africa, where 95% of rabies deaths occur. Most victims are children.
The post-bite vaccine prevents millions of deaths.
Almost 59,000 People Die Annually Because of Rabies (WHO)
Rabies has been eradicated in the USA, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, and some Latin American countries. India has the highest incidents of rabies death, with 59.9% and 35% in Asia. To date, over 21,476 people died in Africa, 1800+ in Central Asia, and over 200 in the Middle East. Rabies is preventable.
Rabies Is Eradicated in 70% of the Regions Where Dogs Are Vaccinated (CDC)
With successful vaccination programs, rabies is entirely preventable and prevents fatalities. Dogs must receive vaccines for rabies on an ongoing basis, which is mandatory in most countries.
In the US, Only 2% of People Die from Rabies Annually (Injury Lawyers)
Due to strict regulations and preventive measures, “the U.S. has been free of dog rabies since 2007” (source). It’s definitely a little sigh of relief after learning all the shocking details of dog bites.
Dog Bite Fatalities by Gender and Age
Of 430 Fatalities Between 2010-2021, 32% Were Infants From 0-4 Years (Injury Lawyers)
Wow, surely no one can defend this. Yes, it’s possible to blame the owners, but when a dog becomes violent towards children under four years, it’s a problem.
13% Were Adults Above 75 years (Injury Lawyers)
Seniors also become a demographic in this nightmare. Seniors often suffer from decreased mobility and become vulnerable and unable to defend themselves.
10% Were Children from 5-9 Years Old (Injury Lawyers)
Another 10% of fatalities were children 5-9 years; again, as already pointed out, children are easy targets and are at eye level with a dog’s bite.
5.5% of Adults Were 60-64 Years Old (Injury Lawyers)
Although many people within this age bracket are healthy and fit, they’re not a match for aggressive dogs. Numbers suggest that this is another vulnerable age group. Bull terriers are 48% more likely to attack.
5% Were Between the Age of 50-54 Years Old (Injury Lawyers)
Since a dog bite happens every 75 seconds, people aged 50-54 years are also an easy target in dog bite cases. In the USA, 9500 victims are hospitalized, and 60% are pit bull attack injuries.
Dog Bite Claims Statistics
In 2019, Home-Owner Insurance Companies Paid $797 Million in Dog-Related Injuries Claims, Including Dog Bites (III)
The insurance industry paid out hefty liability claims in 2021. A total of $881 million dollars, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), went to settle an increase in claims over 2020 and 2019.
The average cost per claim decreased by 1.1% to $49,025.
The Average Cost Per Claim Is $44,760 (III)
Finally, some better news. Americans adopted more dogs, yet dog bite injury claims dropped by 4.6% (2020) from 17,800 to 16,990 (Triple-I and State Farm). The cost of claims, however, increased by 7.1% due to medical costs and settlement awards. An average increase of 12% up to $50,245 from $44,760 in 2019.
In 2019, There Were 2396 Claims in California Alone (ZIPPA)
California has the most dog bite claims but is not the state with the largest dog owner population (Arkansas #1). Interestingly enough, there are 150,000 dogs in San Francisco and only 120,000 children.
Murder and Manslaughter Conviction of 2002 in California (CNN)
Justice came for Presa Canarios owners in 2001 when they were found guilty of manslaughter after their dogs killed their neighbor. The owners had ignored many warning that their dogs were dangerous. Presa Canarios are a Spanish mastiff-like breed.
Which Dog Breed Bites the Most?
Pit bulls cause more dog bite injuries and hurt more people than any other dog.
Which Dog Breed Has Killed the Most Humans?
Pit bulls are responsible for more deaths than any other breed, and their overall population is only 6.5%.
What Happens to Dogs When They Bite Humans?
It might depend on where you live and the events leading up to the dog bite injuries. Stray dogs are often euthanized and tested for rabies. In other cases, criminal charges and lawsuits might decide the outcome.
Are Pit Bulls More Dangerous?
Although they score high on temperament tests, Pittys often live in less-than-desirable situations. Many are chained and sometimes trained for the fighting ring.
How to Handle an Aggressive Dog?
Aggressive dogs sometimes need professional intervention and behavior modification. Working with any dog takes time and energy.
How to Cure an Aggressive Dog?
Some dogs respond to training, but often you’ll need professional help. You’ll have to invest considerable time.
Dog bite injuries are a grave problem. Not all dog bites are predictable, though; with proper training and education, fatal dog attacks are preventable. Dog bite injuries and dog bite victims are serious.
Owning any kind of pet takes a considerable commitment. Dogs are not disposable. They rely on us to teach us acceptable behavior. If you don’t have the time, try fostering or volunteering.