Bite Statistics According to Dog Breed

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Dog biting man
Recent dog bite statistics shared by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)1 show more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the U.S. The news and social media seem to regularly report attacks, with certain breeds getting more of a bad rap than others. Our dog bite lawyers share what you need to know about dog breeds and bites.

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    Here are dog attack statistics on breeds that were responsible for a dog bite-related fatality:

    1. Pit bulls – 284 deaths
    2. Rottweiler – 45 deaths
    3. German Shepherd – 20 deaths
    4. Mixed Breeds – 17 deaths
    5. American Bulldog – 15 deaths
    6. Mastiff – 14 deaths
    7. Siberian Husky – 13 deaths

    In addition to Pitbulls, Rottweilers have obtained an unfavorable reputation over the years. Combining the figures for both dogs computes to 76% of the total fatal dog attacks. However, most breeds that made the list also have strong bite forces compared to other dogs, with the Mastiff often reported to have the strongest pounds-per-square-inch (PSI) bite.


    chart of fatal dog bites by breed

    Unfortunately, one breed that has a reputation as dogs that bite the most is the Pitbull. These dogs are often regarded as dangerous pets because of razor-sharp teeth and an incredibly strong jaw. But is this an accurate depiction? Are Pitbulls more prone to bite than other breeds?

    How Many Pitbull Attacks Are Fatal?

    According to Canine Journal2, from 2005 to 2017, Pitbulls accounted for 284 dog bite-related fatalities. This is a staggering 65% of deaths due to dog bite injuries, especially considering that there were 433 total dog bite victim fatalities between 2005 and 2017.

    Are Pitbull Attack Statistics Misleading?

    While these numbers may appear shocking, they could be telling a different story. Instead of arguing that Pitbulls bite more, it could be that they are more deadly once they strike.

    The AVMA1 shares that any dog can bite if provoked. Dogs generally bite as a reaction to defend their territory or themselves. So, while Pitbulls may not necessarily bite more, their bite may do more damage, whereas a smaller breed involved in an attack is less likely to be fatal.

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    Are There Laws to Protect Against Pitbulls?

    Pitbulls have often been the target when it comes to identifying dangerous dogs. In the past, efforts have been made, such as banning breeds to improve public safety, but there is no evidence that breed-specific legislation3 makes communities safer.

    According to AVMA and information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were an estimated 85 million dogs in the United States between 2017 and 2018. That means 38% of homes in the U.S.

    have at least one dog.

    Reports also showed 4.5 million dog bites, 19% of which resulted in an injury. Of all fatality victims, 45.9% were under 16 years old, making children the most common and at-risk victims for fatal attacks.

    There were about $854 million in insurance liability claims for dog bite-related injuries in 2020, with the average cost per claim just over $50,000. Both these numbers are up from the previous year.

    According to Canine Journal, there were an estimated 78 million dogs in the United States as of 2016. Of those, we saw 4.5 million dog bites, 19% of which resulted in an injury. Totaling $530,000,000 in insurance claims for dog bite-related injuries.

    AVMA dog bite prevention week 2021 infographic

    Statistically speaking, two dog breeds are well known for their calm temperament. Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are among the friendliest and most sociable breeds who crave human companionship and work-related partnerships.

    Even though labradors have a bite of 236 PSI, similar to that of a Pitbull, they were bred to have notably soft mouths to prevent penetrating the fowl they capture. Retrievers know that their bite is not fatal, so they rarely attempt it unless prompted by danger.

    happy family with a golden retriever

    Less Aggressive Dog Breeds

    Here are canine breeds many consider to be naturally less aggressive:

    • Golden Retriever
    • Labrador Retriever
    • Australian Shepherd
    • Border Collie
    • Irish Setter
    • Corgi
    • Poodle
    • Beagle
    • Boston Terrier
    • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel


    While any dog can bite, dog owners need to be responsible and raise their furry friends to understand appropriate behavior. Starting young is essential, and following a few simple routines will be your best bet at preventing your dog from becoming a biter:

    1. Start training when your dog is still a puppy.
    2. Teach your dog that chewing and nibbling on items is not ok.
    3. If a puppy tries to sink its teeth in, scream out in pain. This will teach the dog that its bite is dangerous to your safety.
    4. Socialize your dog with other dogs and human friends regularly.
    5. Expose your puppy to people and let him see that most humans mean him no harm.
    6. Keep your dog active and healthy by exercising regularly.
    7. Call a professional dog trainer. Get help if you need assistance dealing with unwanted behaviors.
    If you’ve been bit by a dog, you may be able to get compensation for your injuries.
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    It’s unusual for a dog to attack its owner, but it does happen every once in a while. It’s rarely unprovoked and tends to occur for several reasons, including:

    1. Instinct

    If a dog is in a heightened state from chasing a squirrel or other animal and the owner comes out to grab their collar, they may attack from instinct, not thinking about hurting their owner.

    2. Guarding Territory

    Dogs are highly territorial creatures and may take a swipe at you if you reach out to grab a guarded toy or food item. It becomes more common if a dog is already highly stimulated by company or other activities.

    3. Stress

    Stress such as guests, weather, or fireworks can cause dogs to act out of the ordinary and bite.

    4. Pain

    A dog in pain wants to protect what hurts and may lash out to be left alone.

    5. Mental Illness

    Dogs can deal with mental illness just like humans. OCD, extreme fear, or separation anxiety can get a dog out of sorts.

    Dog bites can be damaging physically, emotionally, and financially.
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    If you find that you have an aggressive dog in your neighborhood or have a friend or family member who owns one, here are some steps you can take:

    1. Talk to the owner – Since dogs are rarely aggressive with their owners, they may not realize their dog is aggressive towards others. Let them know your concerns. Keep a record of each time you talk to the owner. Try to be diplomatic and non-confrontational.
    2. Take Pictures – If you repeatedly see a loose dog that appears aggressive towards you, take pictures and write down when and where you saw the dog and what type of aggression was displayed.
    3. If all else fails, call Animal Control. You have a right to feel safe in your neighborhood, and unfortunately, some dog owners do not act responsibly with pets.

    Sometimes, things can’t be worked out, or there was no warning of an aggressive dog in the neighborhood, and an attack happens. If you get bit by a dog, get medical attention immediately and contact an attorney for dog bites.

    Attorneys for Dog Maulings and Fatal Dog Attacks

    Our dog bite lawyers are here to make sure you get compensation for any injuries you have suffered from a dog bite. Our wrongful death attorneys can also help your family if you lost a loved one due to a fatal dog attack. Contact us today for a free consultation.

    Pit bull licking man's face

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    1American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Dog Bite Prevention. Retrieved 8 March 2022.

    2Canine Journal. (2 March 2022). Dog Bite Statistics. Retrieved 8 March 2022.

    3American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). What Is Breed Specific Legislation? Retrieved 8 March 2022.

    Adam S. Kutner

    Adam S. Kutner Personal Injury Lawyer

    With more than 31 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas valley, Attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.

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