An Analysis of Dog Attacks: Statistics, High Risk Breeds, and Practical Tips

An in-depth analysis of dog attacks, covering statistics, high risk breeds, with practical advice to avoid being bit, and what to do if you are bitten.

An Analysis of Dog Attacks: Statistics, High Risk Breeds, and Practical Tips
Never approach a dog without the owners permission.

Last year 800 thousand people in the US had to go to hospital because there were attacked by a dog, and millions more are bitten by dogs annually, with children making up half of these victims. Dog attacks are a serious issue that nobody really wants to talk about, but it's crucial to approach this topic with a balanced perspective while acknowledging that the blame cannot be placed solely on the dog or the owner, unless we properly understand the context of the attack.

Even the most beloved family pet can cause harm under certain circumstances, but some breeds have been consistently associated with severe dog bite injuries requiring medical attention, and in this article we take a closer look at the statistics. In the United States, nearly 4.5 million people fall victim to dog bites annually, with children making up half of these victims.

You will notice that many of the statistics quoted are from 2019, this is because statistics for the years 2020-2022 are still being analyzed.

Analyzing Fatalities Over Time

In 2019, 48 dog bite-related fatalities occurred in the United States. Despite being regulated in Military Housing areas and over 900 cities, pit bulls contributed to 69% (33) of these deaths, despite only making up about 8% of the total U.S. dog population. During the 15-year period of 2005 to 2019, dogs killed 521 Americans. Two dog breeds, pit bulls (346) and rottweilers (51), contributed to 76% (397) of these deaths. Thirty five different dog breeds were involved in the remaining fatal dog maulings, the top ten of which we have listed below, and this data highlights the disproportionate involvement of certain breeds in attacks.

Identifying High-Risk Breeds

Bite statistics confirm that some dogs bite more frequently, with larger dogs often bear the brunt of the blame because their bites can cause more damage. People bitten by smaller dogs are less likely to report the incident, but larger breeds and mixed breeds can inflict severe physical damage due to strength of their bite.

These are the top ten breeds that have been identified as having a higher propensity to bite, and due to their size, strength, and temperament, all of these breeds require responsible ownership, proper socialization, and training to ensure they are safe around humans and other animals.

  1. Pit Bulls: This class of dogs includes the American Bully, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bulldog, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and any mixed breeds of these dogs. They are known for their aggression, with 64% of bites attributed to them.
  2. Rottweilers: Known for their potent bite force of 328 PSI, Rottweilers are a powerful breed that require careful handling and training.
  3. German Shepherds: With a bite force of over 238 PSI, German Shepherds are particularly known for attacking smaller dogs.
  4. Doberman Pinschers: Once topping the list, the last death caused by a Doberman happened in 2011. They have a bite PSI of 228.
  5. Bull Mastiffs: This 130-pound powerhouse dog has a PSI of 556, and they have been involved in fatal attacks on children.
  6. Huskies: As working dogs, Siberian Huskies have been involved in fatal attacks, they are strong too with a bite PSI of 320.
  7. Malamutes: Known for their dislike of smaller animals, Malamutes have a PSI of 328 and have been involved in fatal attacks.
  8. Wolf Hybrids: These are any mix with one wolf parent. These dog mixes are illegal in many states, and some have a bite PSI of 406.
  9. Boxers: Descendants of hunting dogs, hyperactive, excitable, and high energy dogs, with powerful 230 PSI jaws.
  10. Great Danes: Despite their gentle nature they have been involved in fatal attacks, as well as being large dogs they have a bite PSI of 238.

Who Do Dogs Attack The Most?

Annual data from 2019 shows that 27% of dog bite fatality victims were children ages 9-years and younger, and 67% were adults, ages 19-years and older. Of the children killed by dogs, 77% were ages 0-2 years old and 69% were male victims. Among adults 19-years and older, 66% were female victims. These statistics indicate that young children and adult women are particularly vulnerable to fatal dog attacks, emphasizing the need for prevention strategies to protect them.

Where Were The Dogs When They Attacked?

In 2019, 42% of fatal dog attacks occurred off the dog owner's property. Pit bulls were involved in 75% of off-property attacks, and 95% of off-property attacks involved multiple dogs. Rescued dogs inflicted 8% of dog bite-related deaths, and 75% of these dogs were vetted by an animal group prior to adoption. These figures suggest that dog bites often occur in unexpected circumstances, such as off the owner's property or involving dogs that have been rehomed.

In 2019, 19% of attacks resulting in human death involved a victim new to a household. Children ages 0-4 years accounted for 67% of these deaths, and these statistics underscore the importance of careful introductions and supervision when a new dog is brought into a household, especially when young children are present. Never, ever, leave a young child alone with your dog.

Criminal Charges Rarely Follow Dog Attacks

Following a fatal dog attack, there is little chance that the police will criminal charges against the owner, in 2019, only 21% of fatal dog attacks resulted in criminal charges. These charges range from misdemeanours to felonies, depending on the severity of the attack and the circumstances surrounding it. For instance, if an owner knowingly kept a dangerous dog without taking necessary precautions, they will probably face serious charges. In a notable case, three adults were charged with a felony after a family pit bull killed a child, highlighting the gravity of the consequences when dog owners fail to control their pets.

The filing of criminal charges often depends on the specific laws and regulations in the area where the attack occurred, some jurisdictions have stringent laws regarding dangerous dogs and hold owners accountable for their pets' actions. In most cases, charges may will be filed unless there is evidence of negligence or misconduct on the part of the dog owner, underscoring the serious legal implications of dog attacks and the importance of responsible dog ownership.

Spotting a Dog About to Bite

Recognizing the signs that a dog is about to bite can be crucial, and dogs often display certain behaviors before they bite. These can include intense staring, growling, showing their teeth, or a stiff body posture, their ears may be pinned back against their head, and the fur on their back might stand up. They might also exhibit avoidance behaviors such as turning their head away, trying to make themselves appear smaller, or attempting to move away from the situation. It's important to respect these signals and give the dog space.

Never approach a strange dog without the owners permission, and never bother a dog when it is eating.

What to Do if a Dog is Trying to Bite You

If a dog is showing signs of aggression and appears ready to bite, there are several steps you can take. First, remain calm and avoid making sudden movements or loud noises, do not make direct eye contact with the dog, and if possible, place an object like a bag or a jacket between you and the dog. Back away slowly, but do not turn your back or run, as this may trigger the dog's chase instinct. If the dog does attack, use your jacket, purse, or anything else as a shield if you can.

What to Do After a Dog Has Bitten You

After a dog bite, it's important to seek medical attention immediately, even if the wound seems minor. Dog bites can lead to serious infections, and it's crucial to have a medical professional clean and assess the wound. If possible, gather information about the dog that bit you, such as the owner's contact information and the dog's vaccination history, and report the bite to local animal control or another responsible authority, providing them with as much information as possible about the incident. If the bite was unprovoked, it might indicate a problem that needs to be addressed by the authorities.

Dog attacks are a serious issue that require understanding and proactive measures to prevent. Recognizing the breeds with a higher propensity to bite, to understanding the signs of an impending attack, and knowing how to respond during and after an incident, can all play a part in reducing these incidents. It's crucial to remember that safety, and feeling safe, should always be the priority.

Stay informed, stay sharp, and most importantly, stay safe out there.