Dog Bite Statistics: By Breed, Injury, and Fatalities
Updated October 5th, 2017
Dogs are one of the most popular pets in the United States, second only to cats. It is estimated that between 37 percent and 47 percent of all American households have a dog, accounting for approximately 70 to 80 million dogs are owned in the U.S. alone. Approximately 10 percent of dogs are surrendered to shelters or given away is due to behavioral issues, including aggressiveness.
How many people are bitten by dogs every year?
In the United States, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Nearly one in five people who are bitten by a dog have to seek medical treatment. This means that roughly 800,000 people in the United States seek medical treatment for dog bites and more than half of those are children. Senior citizens are second, just under children, as the most common victims of dog bites.
Children and Dog Bites
The majority of dog bite victims are children. A child is far more likely than an adult to be severely injured by a dog bite. In the majority of dog bite cases involving children, the child was interacting with a dog they knew. Children are often the more frequent victims because they may not know the dog’s body language or experience being around animals. Dog bite injuries are the second most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms among children. Elderly individuals are the 2nd most likely to be bitten by a dog.
Where Do Most Dog Bites Happen?
In 2016 there were 31 recorded fatalities related to dog bites.
- 45% (14) were family dogs
- 55% (17) non-family dogs
- 6% (2) of all deadly attacks resulted in meaningful criminal charges
- 61% (19) of all fatalities involved more than one dog
- 26% (8) involved a pack attack of 4 or more dogs
- 42% (13) of the victims who were killed were children (9 years old or younger)
- 58% (18) were adults (20 years old to 49 years old)
- California led all states in fatal attacks in 2016 incurring 6 deaths
More than 87 percent of child fatalities from dog bites happened while the child was with the dog unsupervised or the child wandered into the dog’s location (while unsupervised).
What Dog Breeds Are The Most Deadly?
The dog breeds that were involved in the 31 dog bite fatalities in 2016 included Australian shepherd, blue heeler, bull mastiffs,
cane corso, Catahoula leopard dog, German shepherd, hound, keeshond mix, mastiff, red heeler, pit bulls, and Rottweilers.Three were of an unknown breed.
- 22 (71%) – Pit bull
- 3 (10%)- Labrador
- 2 (6%) – American Bulldog
- 2 (6%) – Belgian Malinois
- 2 (6%) – Doberman Pinscher
- 2 (6%) – German Shepherd
- 2 (6%) – Mixed-breed
- 2 (6%) – Rottweiler
- 3 (9%) – Unreleased data
The CDC does collect data regarding non-fatal dog bites, but since many dog bites go unreported, particularly those involving small breeds or bites that were not severe enough to seek medical attention, it is impossible to arrive at a true figure of how many dog bites actually occur.
Are All Dogs are Capable of Biting?
While some dogs have the ability to inflict more harm than others, any dog is capable of biting. The spikes in fatal bites in specific breeds are not indicative of one breed being more aggressive than another, rather it reflects the popularity of the breed. In the 1990s Rottweiler bites spikes due to the breed’s popularity and in the 1970s it was Doberman pinschers. Many small breeds including dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and poodles inflict many bites to humans each year. Any dog should be treated as having a potential to bite.
People, especially children, should be taught the proper way to approach a dog. Children should also be actively supervised while around dogs or even in the proximity of dogs. Education for both children and adults in dog behavior and dog body language as well as responsible dog care can go a long way in preventing many dog bites. Until people stop giving human qualities to dogs and expecting them to act and react as humans do to various situations, until they learn the language of dogs, dog bites will continue.
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