A dog is a man’s best friend. However, just like us, dogs can become aggressive if not treated properly. According to research, more than 4 million dog bites occur in the US every year. And before these dog bite statistics make you condemn a breed for being vicious or judge an owner for raising a beast, ask yourself one simple question: “Why do dogs bite?”
A dog won’t bite you for no reason. Several triggers may spark this behavior. Namely, dogs usually bite if they are in danger, scared, or stressed. What makes a dog bite, facts reveal, is usually the need to protect their puppies, owners, or themselves. It’s their way of protecting their loved ones.
If you want to know more about which dog breeds are more aggressive than others or how to stop a dog from biting, keep reading.
But first, let’s take a look at some of the essential dog bite statistics.
The Top 10 Eye-Opening Dog Bite Statistics
- Around 4.7 million people get bitten by dogs every year.
- People have a 1 in 112,400 chance of dying from a dog bite or attack.
- Over 70% of all dog bites happen because the dog isn’t neutered.
- There were 36 dog bite-related fatalities in the US in 2018.
- It’s estimated that 81% of dog bite injuries don’t need medical attention.
- Pit Bulls have a temperament passing rate of 86.7%.
- According to dog bite statistics by breed, Pit Bulls were responsible for 26 fatalities in 2018.
- Mixed breeds had the second-highest death rate, causing 3 deaths in 2018.
- On average, there are 1–2 deaths caused by dog bite-related injuries in Canada every year.
- Rabies isn’t a problem in areas where 70% of dogs are vaccinated.
Keep reading to discover more about why dogs bite and what you can do if you find yourself in this situation. You’ll also find out more about the most aggressive dog breeds and what their owners can do about it.
Dog Bite Statistics for the US
1. There were 76,811,305 dogs in the US in 2018.
These dogs were divided among 48,255,413 pet-owning households, meaning that 38.4% of the overall households in the US had a pet dog. Moreover, this means that every household had, on average, 1.6 dogs. This number suggests a higher incidence of bites. The American Veterinary Medical Association provides dog bite statistics showing that the animals bite mainly because of their personal history and behavior. Dogs that were abused or maltreated in animal shelters may be traumatized, which causes them to attack.
2. Dogs bite around 4.7 million people every year.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) regularly studies dog bites and attacks in America. They reveal that only 800,000 of all dog bites need medical attention. As the CDC dog bite statistics report, as of 2017, the US population has exceeded 325.7 million, which means that dogs bite one in every 69 people.
3. There’s a 1 in 112,400 chance of dying from a dog bite or attack.
If these numbers don’t seem low enough, let’s put things into perspective. You really have no reason to fear a dog bite. Statistics from 2019 show that you actually have more chances of dying in a cataclysmic storm (one in 66,335), from a bee, wasp, or hornet sting (63,225), in transportation incidents (one in 9,821), and from firearm discharges (one in 6,905).
And if that didn’t calm you down, we have more surprising statistics coming your way. If you’re still afraid of a dog bite, take a look at the statistics for 2020. Namely, you are much more likely to die from choking on food or heart disease and cancer (one in 3,461 and one in seven, respectively), than from a dog bite!
4. Over 70% of all dog bites occur because the dog is not neutered.
This number was much higher in 2006 when 97% of dog bites happened because people were unaware that neutering reduces aggression in male dogs. According to the United States dog bite statistics, an unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than a neutered one. Heredity, sex, and reproductive status of a dog are just a few essential factors in determining whether the dog will be aggressive or not.
5. It’s estimated that 78% of dogs are kept for guarding, fighting, breeding, or image enhancement.
Unfortunately, many people keep dogs only for safety reasons, breeding, and sale. The CDC dog bite statistics from 2018 have revealed that chained and tethered dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite or attack. A lot of dogs live in unsuitable conditions. They are bred in inhumane puppy mills, where they are often neglected and abused.
6. Dogs attacked 6,244 postal employees in 2017.
This number was lower by 500 compared to 2016. Still, you should place your dog in another room if a mail carrier is bringing the package to your door. The non-fatal dog bite statistics by breed reveal that those bites aren’t connected to any breed in particular and that Houston, Los Angeles, St Louis, Cleveland, and San Diego had the highest number of such incidents.
7. There were 38 dog bite-related fatalities in the US in 2018.
(National Canine Research Council)
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were 38 dog bite-related fatalities in the US for 2018. In retrospect, there were 976 Unintentional Pedestrian Fatalities, 1,738 Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, and 3,710 Unintentional Fatalities from Drowning.
8. Homeowners’ insurers paid $675 million in dog bite and dog injury-related liability claims in 2018.
The homeowners’ insurance data reveals that the number of dog bite liability claims decreased by 6.6% in just one year — from 18,522 in 2017 to 17,297 in 2018. Conversely, the dog bite insurance statistics show that the cost per claim increased by 5.3% in just one year. Namely, in 2018, it was $39,017, while in 2017, it was $37,051.
9. It’s estimated that 81% of the dog bite injuries don’t require medical care.
In the vast majority of cases, dog bites cause only minor injuries or no injuries at all. Moreover, most of the injuries are so small that there’s no need for medical attention.
Dog Bite Statistics by Breed
10. Pit bulls killed 284 people in the US between 2005–2017.
Since the mid-90s, the CDC has been studying various dog breeds, their temperament, and situations that urge them to attack. They concluded that Pit Bulls were involved in most of the accidents and injuries. The Pit Bull is arguably one of the most aggressive dogs there is, and the breed is responsible for close to 300 deaths. Although it’s important to note that this is due to them being a popular breed that is specifically trained by the owners to be aggressive rather than the breed itself having an aggressive temperament.
11. Dog bite statistics by breed show that Pit Bulls were responsible for 26 fatalities in 2018.
As we have mentioned, there were 36 dog-related deaths in the US in 2018. Pit Bulls are responsible for 72% of them, even though they make up for only 7% of the dog population in the US. However, Pit Bulls are not the type of dogs that would bite anyone for no reason at all. Regardless of the dog breed, the bite statistics reveal that it’s the vicious owners who are the most responsible for their dogs’ aggression, as many of them have criminal records.
12. Pit Bulls have an 86.7% temperament passing rate.
People see Pit Bulls as the world’s most vicious dogs because some owners use them for fights. However, their temperament passing rate is higher than the Chihuahua, Border Collie, or Beagle. They don’t even have the strongest dog bite. When it comes to their dog bite PSI, statistics reveal that Pit bulls have one of the weakest bite forces of all breeds — only 235 pounds per square inch (PSI).
13. The breed of the dog could not be identified as one of the factors in 80% of the cases of dog bites.
(National Canine Research Council)
In fact, breeds are used primarily for media coverage, but not necessarily as a confirmed fact. In only just over 18% of the cases was it possible to make a valid determination if the dog was of any particular breed.
14. Kangal is the breed with the strongest dog bite force of 743 PSI.
Bandog Dog has the second strongest bite force (730 PSI), followed by the Cane Corso (700 PSI), and Dogue de Bordeaux (556 PSI). For comparison, the Rottweiler has a bite force of a mere 328 PSI, while an average human has a bite force of 150–200 PSI.
Global Dog Attack Statistics
15. Tens of millions of dog bites occur around the world every year.
Unfortunately, there are no global estimates of dog bite incidence, but one thing is sure — children are at a higher risk of being bitten than adults. In the middle- and low-income countries, dog bites account for 76–94% of overall animal bites.
16. On average, 42 dog bites occur in Canada every hour.
Dog bite statistics for Ontario also reveal that dogs bite 5,000 people in Ontario every year. Additionally, the statistics also show that Huskies and Rottweilers were most commonly involved in these attacks.
17. On average, there are 1–2 deaths caused by dog bite-related injuries in Canada every year.
The Canadian Veterinary Journal has recently published the dog bite statistics for Canada for the period from 1990–2007. The data reveals that, during this time, there were only 28 fatalities caused by dog bite injuries. The research didn’t specify if Pit Bulls were responsible for these attacks, but Toronto had banned the breed in 2005. The 2010 data showed that there were 28.2% fewer dog bites compared to 2005, and the number of Pit Bull bites has declined by 92% since 2002.
18. Australian dog attack statistics by breed reveal that 13,000 people need medical care for dog-related injuries every year.
Children younger than five are at the highest risk. They’re often bitten on the neck or face. These attacks are the most common with fighting breeds — the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino — Argentinian fighting dog, and the Fila Brasileiro — Brazillian fighting dog, which are all banned by the NSW government. However, statistics on dog attacks by breed from 2018 show that the other breeds are responsible for 75% of attacks.
19. There has been a 5% increase in dog bite-related hospital visits in the UK between 2015–2018.
(Royal College of Surgeons)
The research also shows that there are approximately 7,693 hospital admissions every year, which totaled to 23,078 admissions between 2015–2018. One of the possible reasons for this increase in hospital admissions is that people may have become more aware that medical professionals should check their injuries, as per dog bite statistics for the UK.
20. People between 50–59 were the most commonly attacked age group in the UK from 2017–2018.
There were 1,308 hospital admissions for people of this age group who were attacked or bitten by a dog. People aged 40–49 were the second-most attacked age group with 1,107 hospital admissions, and 1,046 hospital admissions for children aged nine and younger. However, there were only 380 hospital admissions for those aged 80 and older.
Getting Rabies From a Dog Attack: Facts and Figures
21. Dogs are responsible for 99% of the rabies cases.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that almost always has fatal consequences. Antarctica is the only continent that’s rabies-free, while 95% of rabies-related deaths occur in Asia and Africa. The most common victims are children between the ages of five and 14. Luckily, more than 29 million people around the world received a post-bite vaccination that prevented millions of fatalities.
22. Dog bite fatality statistics show that every year, 59,000 people around the world die from rabies.
Dog-related rabies was reported in only eight Latin American countries and the Caribbean in the period between 2013 and 2016. Approximately 59.9% of the global deaths caused by rabies occur in India, and 35% in Asia. Moreover, there are 21,476 rabies-related deaths in Africa, 1,875 in Central Asia, and 229 in the Middle East every year. However, dog bite facts and statistics show that the disease has been eliminated from the USA, Canada, Westen Europe, Japan, and some Latin American countries, while Australia and some Pacific islands have always been rabies-free.
23. Rabies isn’t a problem in areas where 70% of dogs are vaccinated.
Research has proven that rabies can be successfully controlled to avoid fatalities. However, rabies control efforts have to be sustained even after the sufficient level of dog vaccination is reached.
24. Which breed of dog bites the most?
According to the latest findings, we don’t know which breed bites the most. However, Pit Bulls are high on the list, followed by mixed breeds, the German Shepherd Dog, Terriers, and the Rottweiler. Moreover, the breeds that are the least likely to attack or bite are the Dalmatian, Pointer, Great Dane, Pekingese, and Spitz.
25. What dog has killed the most humans?
When it comes to dog attacks by breed, the Pit Bull is responsible for the highest number of them in the US. Pit bulls have killed 248 people over 13 years, and the Rottweiler comes in second place with 45 recorded fatalities for the same period. The German shepherd is also responsible for inflicting 20 fatal injuries, and even some breeds that aren’t considered to be aggressive have killed people. For example, the Labrador Retriever is responsible for nine deaths.
26. Should you put a dog down if it bites?
In some cases, it’s possible to put down a dog that has bitten someone, but those cases are sporadic. Usually, only dogs with a history of aggression and biting are put down, though it’s important to note that with proper training and attention aggression can be reversed. However, every city, county, country, and state may have their own rules when it comes to handling dogs that bit someone.
27. Are Pit bulls statistically more dangerous?
Pit bulls can be dangerous, just like any other dog breed. It all depends on their history, upbringing, and temperament. Even though this breed has a very bad reputation, statistically, it’s calmer than the Chihuahua, since it has an 87.6% temperament passing rate.
28. How do you handle a dog that bites?
As we have mentioned at the beginning of this article — dogs bite for a reason. They may bite to defend themselves, their territory, a member of their pack, or their puppies. Dogs that are startled, injured, ill, molested, and abused may also bite. There are several solutions to this problem, and they include training and socializing, i.e., letting the dog interact with people, children, and other dogs. Taking care of the dog’s health and regularly vaccinating it may also help.
29. Are dogs playing or fighting?
Dog play could seem very aggressive to humans, but there are ways to differentiate between playing and fighting. If the dog is acting silly, has an open-mouthed grin, performs the play bow, growls, falls voluntarily, and comes back for more — it’s just playing.
However, as the dog bite statistics reveal, if the dog’s body is stiff, its hairs are raised, and it has a closed mouth and curled lip, the dog is ready for a fight. Additionally, low growls, quick and efficient moves, and flat pinned ears are also signs that there might be a fight. Recognizing these signs is crucial for stopping a fight before it happens. However, if your dog gets into a fight, don’t try to separate them by grabbing their collars, or you may get bitten. Instead, try to distract the dogs with a loud noise.
30. Can an aggressive dog be cured?
Aggression in dogs can be cured, but you will need lots of patience, time, consistency, and probably some help from a professional who will determine the cause of the behavior and make a plan for managing it. Moreover, your veterinarian could run some tests to see whether there’s a medical problem. The important thing is to avoid punishment since it may backfire and shower your pup with love.
The Bottom Line
The image of an angry, growling dog ready to attack is more than scary. However, we hope that this list of dog bite statistics has shown you that dog bites aren’t that common, and the reasons that may lead to a dog attack make this image much less frightening. There are indeed some breeds that are more aggressive than others, but it’s not the dog that bites, it’s their history and behavior. You have to be aware that, while a dog might be aggressive, that’s no reason to be afraid of an entire breed.