Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
There are approximately half a billion pet dogs in the world, which is equivalent to one dog for every 16 people. Breeds range from the tiny Chihuahuas to the massive Mastiffs and giant Great Danes. They are members of the family and companions, and they can even provide medical assistance and life-saving rescues. But, as domesticated as dogs have become, dog bites do still occur.
Some bites can be fairly innocuous and leave very little or no damage, but others can be fatal, with approximately 50 people a year killed by dog bites in the U.S. and nearly 5 million people suffering dog bites each year.
The 10 Dog Bite Statistics By Breed
The exact number of dog attacks by breed can be difficult to determine because not all dog bites are registered and specific details relating to dog bite incidents are not necessarily published. However, certain breeds are more likely to be involved in dog bite incidents. The 10 breeds most commonly involved in reported dog bite incidents are:
1. Pit Bulls
Pit Bull bites account for more than two-thirds of dog bite fatalities, and this number has given them a bad reputation over the years. However, in some respects, the figures are somewhat unfair. The Pit Bull is not a specific breed but is a type of dog that includes several breeds: the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bulldog, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and American Bully are some of these breeds.
Most of the breeds that are included in the Pit Bull class were bred for bull-baiting or dog fighting, and while these two activities are largely illegal, the breeds are still renowned for being fierce and they can be aggressive. Pit Bull breeds also have some of the strongest bite force of any breed of dog, with as much as 240 pounds per square inch of bite force.
When it comes to bite force, the Rottweiler leaves the Pitbull behind, however, with a bite force of 330 PSI. Rottweilers can make excellent family pets and companion animals. They are also regularly trained as police dogs and to work with the armed forces. But, they have extensively been used as guard dogs and attack dogs, so they have a fearsome reputation that has seen them become popular for underground fighting rings and protection.
3. German Shepherds
The German Shepherd is another breed of dog that has been used by police and armed forces, as well as being deployed as guard dogs and attack dogs. However, the German Shepherd was originally bred as a herding dog to herd sheep. The breed is still a highly capable working dog and has become one of the most popular breeds of pet dogs, although its popularity did see a decline following World War II.
4. Presa Canarios
The Presa Canario is a Mastiff breed that was originally used for herding cattle but became popular as a guarding dog. The breed tends to be docile and loving with family but does have very strong guarding instincts. Early socialization and training help alleviate this guarding instinct, but Presa Canario bites are powerful and the dog’s natural instinct to guard pack members means that the Presa Canario does feature high on the list of dogs that are likely to bite. And, like all Mastiff breeds, it has a formidable bite force of more than 500 PSI.
5. Wolf-Dog Hybrids
Wolf-Dog Hybrids are illegal in most states and some countries around the world. They are directly descended from wolves with one of its parents being a wolf. This can lead to the Wolf-Dog Hybrid having wild tendencies.
The Wolf-Dog Hybrid can be difficult to train and highly independent, and if it perceives a threat, it can put its 400 pounds per square inch of bite force to use. These dogs are not really meant as pets and owners should look elsewhere unless they have the experience, facilities, and right to own this kind of animal.
6. Siberian Huskies
Siberian Huskies have become very popular as pets, thanks to the fact they look like wild wolves and they have some comical, intriguing characteristics. They are very intelligent but they tend to be highly independent. They tend to wander, which can make owning one difficult. Although the Siberian Husky is a playful dog that will form a bond with its owners, figures show that it is prone to biting, and the beautiful breed is not recommended for inexperienced owners and novices.
Akitas were bred in Japan as hunting dogs. They accompanied Samurais and hunted bears while also fighting for and guarding their Samurai handlers. This large breed dog is very loyal and will fiercely protect its owners, which means that, unless it has extensive socialization and training, it can turn aggressive if it sees something that it perceives to be a threat.
Their guarding nature means that they tend to be wary of strangers and are not always accepting of other animals. If you want to keep Akitas with other animals, you should introduce them gradually at a young age. Socialization will help make Akitas more trusting and tolerant of strangers.
The inclusion of Boxers may be something of a surprise. This is a playful and amiable breed that will usually get along with anybody that is up for a game. But, this playfulness can become boisterous which, in turn, can become over-exuberance and over-stimulation. These, in turn, can lead to reactive behavior and this may include biting. They are also strong and some Boxers can be quite independent and stubborn.
9. Chow Chows
The Chow Chow originates from China and it has a coat that attracts a lot of people to ruffle it. However, this is not the best approach when seeing a Chow Chow for the first time. The breed is known to be wary of strangers and they can be aggressive with other dogs if not socialized from a young age. Chow Chows are prone to putting on a lot of weight, having been originally fed on grains when they were first bred.
10. Mixed Breeds
Mixed breeds are the most common of all dog “breeds”. Mutts can combine two or many more breeds, which can include some of the breeds listed above. It isn’t surprising that mutts feature in the list of breeds that most commonly bite because the majority of dogs are mutts.
Quick Facts About Dog Bites
1. 4.5 Million Americans Are Bitten By Dogs Every Year
More than 65 million U.S. households own at least one dog, making them the most popular pet in the country. And it is estimated that approximately 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year. Dogs of any size and breed can bite, and bites can range from warning nips and playful puppy bites to serious bites that can even lead to fatality.
2. Approximately 20% Of Bites Require Medical Attention
20% of all bites in the U.S. end up with the victim requiring medical attention. Some bites may only require assessment and cleaning, but others can require surgical procedures. Children are the most likely to require serious medical treatment after being bitten, although adults may also end up in hospital.
3. Dogs Are the Third Most Deadly Animal in the World
(World Animal Foundation)
While we do think of dogs as being our closest allies in the animal kingdom, they are responsible for the third most deaths of any animal, excluding humans. Mosquitos kill approximately a million people every year, putting them way out ahead. Snakes are known to kill approximately 100,000 people, with dogs being responsible for 30,000 deaths. Behind dogs are freshwater snails that kill 20,000 and Assassin Bugs that kill 12,000. Lions only kill 250 people each year.
4. Approximately Half of Dog Bite Injuries to Adults Are to the Hands and Wrists
When it comes to the types of injuries most often suffered in dog attacks, adult victims are most likely to suffer injuries to the hands and wrists. This may be indicative of the fact that bites occur when people attempt to stroke strange dogs but is also likely a result of victims putting their hands and arms up to protect their faces and bodies.
5. More Than a Billion Dollars a Year Is Claimed from Homeowners Insurance for Dog Bites
If a person is bitten by a dog, it is often down to the liability aspect of homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to cover financial liability. In 2022, more than $1.1 billion was paid out by homeowners’ insurance policies for dog bites. This works out at just under $65,000 average claim size for the nearly 18,000 claims and represents a more than 100% increase since 2013 when the total claims represented less than $500 million. This only includes claims through homeowners’ insurance and there may be claims through workers’ insurance and other claims that are not included.
6. Florida Has the Highest Number of Dog Bite Claims
Dog bites can occur in any part of the country, but Florida is the state with the highest number of dog bite incidents at nearly 2,000 claims in 2022. The state also has the highest average incident claim at nearly $79,000. Claims in Florida totaled more than $150 million in 2022 alone. The second-highest number of incidents occurred in Florida, followed by Texas.
7. 85% Of Dog Bite Fatalities Are by Dogs the Victim Did Not Know
The vast majority of dog bite incidents are by dogs that the victim did not know, rather than by their own dogs. However, this may be skewed by the fact that owners may be less reluctant to report a dog bite from one of their own pet dogs.
8. Approximately Half of Dog Bite Victims Are Children
Unfortunately, around half of all dog bite victims are children under 12 years old. People aged 70 or over account for around 10% of bites with the remainder being adults aged between 12 and 70.
9. ¾ Of Dog Bite Incidents Are by Unaltered Male Dogs
Any breed and even type of dog can bite, if circumstances demand it. However, approximately three-quarters of all reported bites are by unneutered male dogs, which are those that have not been neutered. There are many advantages to having dogs neutered, including longer life expectancy, and this is another good reason to consider having the operation done as soon as possible.
10. 96% Of Dog Bite Fatalities Involved Dogs That Were Kept as Pets
(National Canine Research Council)
Although most dog bites involve dogs that the victims did not know, virtually all of the dogs involved in such incidents were kept as pets by somebody. This suggests that the dogs are either poorly controlled or have escaped from their home before the attack.
Protect Yourself Against Dog Bites
Whether a dog is on a leash or being walked by its owner, it may pose a threat, and if you’re worried about dog attacks, for example, because there has been an increase in attacks in your area, there are certain steps you can take to help minimize the risk.
1. Carry Protection
To protect yourself from a dog attack, you can carry protection like a whistle or deterrent spray. A whistle can startle a dog and stop it in its tracks, while deterrent spray overwhelms the dog’s senses and stops them from attacking. If you believe a dog is about to attack, you can pick up something like a large stick to use as a defense.
2. Avoid Eye Contact
If you believe a dog is likely to attack it is instinct to want to keep an eye on it, but staring directly at the dog can be seen as an aggressive act by the dog. Turn to the side but keep the dog in your peripheral vision. You can still see movement, but the dog won’t see it as a challenge.
3. Close Your Mouth
When dogs are being aggressive, they bare their teeth and snarl. If you open your mouth, the dog may see it as you snarling and being threatening. Therefore, close your mouth and make sure your teeth aren’t showing.
4. Use Firm Commands
Most dog attacks involve dogs that are kept as pets, and many pets know some basic commands. Try firmly stating some common commands like stop or even sit. If the dog does understand and responds, it may be enough to diffuse the situation.
5. Don’t Run
As frightening as a dog attack can be, you should avoid running away. The dog will likely give chase and your feet and legs will be in the line of attack. Avoid running away so you don’t seem like prey.
6. Protect Your Face
With smaller breeds, you should lift your knee to protect your torso from attack but with larger dogs or if you are in a prone position, an attacking dog will likely concentrate its attack on your face. Lift your arms and cross them in front of your face.
7. Roll into a Ball
If you are on the ground, curl tightly into a ball and avoid moving as much as possible. This may be enough to end a dog’s aggression and it can also protect areas like the face and head from attack.
8. Avoid Encounters
If you do know that stray dogs or aggressive dogs are common in certain areas, try to avoid them. While you shouldn’t have to alter your daily routine because of the potential threat of a dog attack, it is better to take a different route and avoid the dogs than to be attacked in the first place. You should also consider reporting any known attacks to authorities so they can do something to stop future incidents.
9. Don’t Approach Strange Dogs
Most dog attacks involve dogs that do not know the victim, and most adults that are bitten are bitten around the hand and wrist. Do not approach strange dogs and certainly never approach a dog that is off its leash with no owner around.
Dog bites do occur, and while we tend to think of types like Pit Bulls and breeds like Rottweilers as being the main instigators, almost any breed of dog can bite if it is provoked, feels threatened, or in a host of other situations. An estimated 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. every year with 20% requiring hospital attention, which can range from cleaning and dressing the wound to stitches and other surgical procedures.
Dog bites are especially dangerous for small children, but they can happen to people of all ages and both men and women can be bitten.
- Top 10 Dog Breeds Most Likely to Bite Humans
- Top 25 Dog Breeds With the Strongest Bite Force (Ranked By PSI)