Dog Bite Statistics: By Breed, Demographics and Location | Updated for 2018
Maulings, attacks and bites from dogs can cause significant injury and death. While dogs are universally referred to as man’s best friend, we recognize the danger involved in dog attacks. We also understand that the truth can sometimes be biased or otherwise distorted.
How dangerous are certain dogs? Who is most likely to be bitten? Which breeds bite most often?
This list of dog bite statistics (updated with data for 2018) is a comprehensive attempt to answer these questions and more with data, facts, and studies, presented without subtext or a political agenda.
Dog Bite Resources
- Injury and Hospitalization Data
- Dog Bite Statistics by Breed
- Definition of Vicious Dogs
- Who is Most Likely to Be Bitten?
- Breed Specific Legislation
- Bite Force by Breed
- Which Breeds are Most Aggressive?
General Dog Bite Statistics
- There are more than 90 million dogs living in over 50 million households in the United States.
- Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur every year – the vast majority of them are minor and require no medical attention.
- However, from 2001 to 2016, the CDC estimates that there were 5,473,893 patients treated in Emergency Departments for injuries resulting from dog bites.
- According to the data, 91,244 of these patients were hospitalized as a result of a dog bite or attack.
- From 2001 to 2016, there was a 139 percent increase in hospitalizations due to dog bites.
Dog Bite Injuries and Hospitalizations by Year: 2001 – 2016
|Year||Injuries||Age-Adjusted Rate||Hospitalizations||Age-Adjusted Rate|
Dog Bite Fatalities in the U.S.
- From 2005 – December of 2018, there were a reported 469 people killed by dogs in the United States.
U.S. Dog Bite-Related Fatalities: 2005 – 2016
|Year||Dog Bite Related Deaths|
*2018 data is current through December 1st.
- There was an 82 percent increase in fatal dog attacks from the 1980s to 2012.
- 55.6 percent of all dog bite fatalities occur in children less than 10 years old.
- In 2017, there were 25 fatalities due to dog attacks – up from 18 in 2016.
- On average, 2 people in the U.S. die from rabies each year.
- 25 percent of fatal attacks are inflicted by chained dogs of various breeds.
Dog Bite Statistics by Breed
- Breed-based statistics are notoriously hard to come by. However, according to one of the largest compilations of media reports – pitbulls and Rottweilers are responsible for significant portion of serious injury and death in dog attacks. The editors of ANIMALS 24-7 collected 5,460 dog attacks that resulted in sigificant injury or death where the breed was clearly identified by animal control officers or others with related experience. Below is a table of the 30 breeds indicated in the most attacks.
Dog Bite Statistics by Breed 1982 – 2014 | Top 30
|Breed of Dog||Number of Attacks|
|Bullmastiff (Presa Canario)||111|
|German shepherd mix||45|
|Pit bull boxer mix||35|
|Pit mix unknown||22|
|Cane Corso/Italian Mastiff||21|
|Australian blue heeler||13|
|German shepherd/Lab mix||11|
What is the Definition of a Vicious Dog?
- In dogs, the term dangerous or vicious dog typically refers to a dog whose actions or behavior put the public at risk for injury or death. The legal definitions vary by state and states may have different classifications for both dangerous and vicious. For example, in South Carolina, a vicious dog is defined as any dog who evidences an abnormal inclination to attack persons or animals without provocations.
- Currently, 39 states have adopted dangerous dog legislation, 18 of which require dangerous dogs to be euthanized.
Who is Most Often Attacked by Dogs?
- Men are treated for dog bite injuries slightly more often than women. From 2001 to 2016, 2,882,597 men were treated for dog bites (for an age-adjusted rate of 121.25 per 100,000) compared to 2,590,307 women (for a rate of 107.75).
- Young children are most likely to be seriously injured in a dog bite, with three-year-olds and four-year-olds treated for dog bite injuries at the highest rate( 248.11 per 100,000 and 251.35 per 100,000 respectively).
Dog Bite Injury Rate by Age: 2001 – 2016
- When grouped by age, it’s clear that children are at the highest risk of injury, with children aged 5 – 9 having the highest combined rate of injury, followed by children 0 – 4 then 10 – 14.
Emergency Department Visits for Dog Bite Injuries by Age Group: 2001-2016
|Age Group in Years||Injuries||Rate (per 100k)|
- White, Non-Hispanic Americans are most often attacked by dogs, followed by African Americans, then Hispanic Americans.
|Race/Ethnicity||Dog Bite Injuries|
- Mail carriers in Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago are the most likely to get attacked by a dog. In 2017, 6244 USPS employees we bit by dogs on the job.
How Dangerous Are Dog Bites?
- The vast majority of dog bites are minor or cause no injuries. Of the 4.5 million dog bites recorded annually:
• 81 percent showed slight or no injury
• 18.99 percent were treated for injuries and released
• 0.01 percent displayed serious injuries resulting in hospitalization.
- According to the CDC, 1.8 percent of all dog bites treated in emergency departments result in hospitalization.
- Dog bite fatalities account for 0.0005778 percent of total dog bites.
- According to hospital admissions, of people hospitalized for dog bites,
• 43 percent required treatment for skin and tissue infection;
• 22 percent had wounds of the legs or arms;
• 10.5 percent had wounds of the head, neck, or torso;
• 24.5 percent had other serious issues, such as bone fractures to blood poisoning.
- In 2015, 28,000 people had to get reconstructive surgery due to dog bite injuries.
- You have a 1 in 112,400 chance of dying from a dog bite or strike. You are more at risk of dying from a gunshot (1 in 6,905), choking on food (1 in 3,461), and getting stung by a bee or wasp (1 in 63,225).
Dog Bites and Children
- 51 percent of all dog bite victims are children age 12 or younger.
- The rate of dog bite for children is highest between the ages of 5-9.
- Getting bitten by a dog is the 5th most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms caused by activities common among children, such as playing sports, playing with animals, etc.
- 80 percent of severe dog bites in children involve the head and neck.
- Young children have difficulty discriminating dog body language and look mainly at the face of the dog to make their decisions.
- In dog attacks involving children 4 years and younger, 47 percent of the attacks were attributed to the family dog in their own home.
- In children under 10, 77 percent of all injuries occur to the face.
- Children 12 years and younger are 3 times more likely to be hospitalized for an object stuck in an ear, eye, or nose than for a dog bite.
Most Dog Bites Occur in Familiar Locations
- 80 percent of dog bites happen at home.
- More than half of dog bite attacks occur on the dog owner’s property.
- The Family Pet: 77% of biting dogs belong to the victim’s family or friend.
- Between 2006 and 2010, 77% of all animal bites reported in California were attributed to domestic dogs.
- According to a European study, all bites to children from unfamiliar dogs outside the home could have been prevented by simply leashing the dog.
- In the same study, 69% of dog attacks on children occurred in the dog’s own home – and there was no adult present for any of the attacks.
Dog Bites and Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL)
- Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is a highly contentious policy that aims to target specific breeds considered dangerous or aggressive, in the hopes of curbing dog bites, dog attacks, and other aggressive behavior.
- More than 900 cities currently have some form of breed-specific legislation.
- 27 states enforce breed-specific legislation. 18 states have no breed-specific laws, and 5 states have prohibited breed-specific laws – although there may be local laws enforced because they have been grandfathered.
- There is no national database in the United States for officially keeping track of dog bite reports. The CDC stopped collecting breed data in dog-bite fatalities in 1998 due to the difficulty of accurately identifying a dog’s breed, even for professionals.
- Recent studies indicate that workers at shelters misidentified dogs’ breeds 50 to 87 percent of the time.
- Breed-specific laws have been opposed by numerous organizations, including the CDC, the AVMA, the American Bar Association, the Humane Society of the United States, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Why Do Dogs Attack Humans?
- A 15-year study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association identified multiple factors to a fatal dog-bite attack – none having to do with breed. This includes:
• No able-bodied person being present to intervene
• The victim having no familiar relationship with the dog
• The dog owner failing to neuter/spay the dog
• A victim’s compromised ability, whether based on age or physical condition, to manage their interactions with the dog
• The owner keeping dog as resident dog rather than family pet
• The owner’s prior mismanagement of the dog
• The owner’s abuse or neglect of the dog
- Four or more of these factors were present in 75.5 percent of the cases examined in the study.
What Dog Has the Strongest Bite?
- When measured by pounds per square inch (PSI), the Kangal has the highest bite force at 743 PSI, followed by the Doberman Pinscher at 600 PSI. For reference, the average human has a bite force is 150-200 PSI.
Dog Bite Force by Breed
|Dog Breed||Bite Force (PSI)|
|African Wild Dog||317|
Chart: The 12 Dog Breeds with the Strongest Bites
What Are the Most Aggressive Dogs?
- Currently, the only method of measuring aggression comes from a universally recognized temperament test database from the American Temperament Test Society. According to their studies, the Bearded Collie is the most aggressive dog breed. Other notables include the Dachshund, Chihuahua, Sharpei, Schnauzer, Bulldog, and Chow Chow.
|Breed Name||Tested||Passed||Failed||Pass Rate|
|DACHSHUND (STANDARD SMOOTH)||49||34||15||69.40%|
|KERRY BLUE TERRIER||49||36||13||73.50%|
|FOX TERRIER, SMOOTH||58||45||13||77.60%|
|OLD ENGLISH SHEEPDOG||49||38||11||77.60%|
|PORTUGUESE WATER DOG||163||127||36||77.90%|
|DOGUE DE BORDEAUX||100||78||22||78.00%|
|DACHSHUND (MINIATURE SMOOTH)||41||32||9||78.00%|
|GERMAN SHORTHAIRED POINTER||137||107||30||78.10%|
|PEMBROKE WELSH CORGI||216||172||44||79.60%|
|AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG||201||160||41||79.60%|
|CARDIGAN WELSH CORGI||77||62||15||80.50%|
|GREATER SWISS MOUNTAIN DOG||262||217||45||82.80%|
|ENGLISH SPRINGER SPANIEL||162||138||24||85.20%|
|GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG||3383||2885||498||85.30%|
|BOUVIER DES FLANDERS||925||790||135||85.40%|
|AMERICAN STAFFORDSHIRE TERRIER||743||635||108||85.50%|
|JACK RUSSELL TERRIER||69||59||10||85.50%|
|CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL||62||53||9||85.50%|
|BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG||194||168||26||86.60%|
|MANCHESTER TERRIER (STD)||62||54||8||87.10%|
|AMERICAN PIT BULL TERRIER||931||814||117||87.40%|
|CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER||123||108||15||87.80%|
|WEST HIGHLAND WHITE TERRIER||68||61||7||89.70%|
|STAFFORDSHIRE BULL TERRIER||143||130||13||90.90%|
|ENGLISH COCKER SPANIEL||75||70||5||93.30%|
|BLACK RUSSIAN TERRIER||164||154||10||93.90%|
How Many Dogs Are Euthanized Each Year for Biting?
- Each year, approximately 670,000 dogs in shelters are euthanized.
Dog Bites and Animal Abuse
- According to the Humane Society of the United States, data on animal abuse cases show that there is a correlation between domestic violence and animal abuse.
- In one survey, 71 percent of domestic violence victims reported that their abuser also targeted pets.
- In one study of child abuse, researchers found that pet abuse had occurred in 88 percent of the families under supervision for physical abuse of their children.
How Dangerous Are Pitbulls?
- Of the 35 fatal dog attacks in 2018, 21 were identified as pit bulls or pit bull mixes.
- More than 30 breeds of dogs and mixes are incorrectly identified as pit bulls in dog bite incidents, attributing the pit bull with an unfair and overstated number of incidents.
- Pit bulls are not a breed, but rather a loosely defined and general category – requirements which can vary depending on the source. Generally, any blocky-headed dog or mix of breed that between 35 to 100 pounds can fall into this category – a broad qualification that 30 individual dog breeds may fall into.
- State Farm Insurance, the largest insurance company in the United States, does not discriminate against pit bull breeds when determining insurance policies and settlements.
- 86.8 percent of American Pit Bull Terriers have passed their temperament tests – higher than Collies, Golden Retrievers, and Beagles.
- 22 percent of shelters euthanize pit bull breeds, regardless of their general temperament.
- You are 200 times more likely to die from taking aspirin than from a fatal pit bull attack.
How Much Compensation Do Insurance Companies Provide for Dog Bites?
- Dog bites and other dog-related injuries cost homeowners insurance liability companies more than $686 million in 2017, with the average claim costing $37,051.
- Private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid pay 81 percent of medical treatment costs for dog attack victims who are hospitalized and 75 percent of medical treatment costs for those who are not.
- Homeowners insurers paid out over $686 million in liability claims in 2017.
- According to State Farm, California had the highest number of dog-bite-injury claims in 2017.
- In 2017, the number of dog bite claims nationwide increased by 2.2 percent, up 18,522 from 18,123.
- The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 90 percent since 2003.
- Average claims by state: [Map]
- California had the largest number of claims with 2,228, followed by Florida with 1,245, and Pennsylvania with 1,002.
- Colorado had the highest cost per claim, $49,092 followed by with Georgia and New Mexico, with $48,096 and $47,111 respectively.
- Every year, approximately 750,000 victims receive medical attention for their dog bites – but only 16,000 receive money from homeowners insurance and renters insurance companies.