The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and various independent studies report annually on dog attacks and dog bites in the United States. Here are some alarming statistics you should know about dogs and their bites.
Dog Bite Statistics in the U.S.
1. Household Statistics.
According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 68% of households in the United States have pets. About 38.4% of households (over 48 million) have dogs. In those households, there are over 90 million dogs. Most are well cared for and make wonderful pets. Some are all bark and no bite. But many dogs are aggressive and can cause serious injury or death when they attack and bite.
2. Dog Bite Statistics.
- There are tens of millions of dog bites around the world every year.
- There are almost 5 million dog bites in the U.S. every year.
- One in every 69 people will be bitten by a dog.
- Dogs that are chained or tethered are 2.8 times more likely to bite or attack.
- The breeds of dogs most likely to bite are:
- Pit Bulls
- Mixed breeds
- German Shepherds
- The breeds of dogs least likely to bite are:
- Great Danes
3. Non-Fatal Dog Attacks.
- Dogs attacked more than 6,000 postal workers every year.
- There is not one particular breed of dog more than others that attacks postal workers
- The most non-fatal attacks occur in:
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- St Louis
4. Fatal Dog Attacks.
According to DogBite.org, dogs killed 471 people in the United States between 2005 and 2018. Pit Bulls were responsible for 248 of those deaths, even though they represent only 7% of the dog population.
In 2018 alone, there were 36 fatal dog-bite attacks in the U.S.
- Pit Bulls were responsible for 26 of them
- Mixed breeds were responsible for 3 of the fatalities
- 42% of the victims were children under 6 years old
- 52% of the victims were adults over 28 years old
A person has a 1 in 112,400 chance of dying from a dog bite or attack. Statistically, you stand less of a chance of dying from a dog-bite attack than you do from:
- Cataclysmic storm (1 chance in 66,335)
- Bee sting (1 chance in 63,225)
- Transportation accident (1 chance in 9,821)
- Firearm discharge (1 chance in 6,905)
- Choking on food (1 chance in 3,461)
- Heart disease and cancer (1 chance in 7)
5. Pit Bull Statistics.
The Pit Bull breed has a reputation for being a vicious dog. However, this is mostly because owners typically train them to fight. Normally, the Pit Bull generally has a calmer temperament than the:
- Border Collie
6. Dog Bite Severity
According to the CDC, more than 80% of dog bites (about 800,000) do not require medical attention. Most dog bites do not puncture the skin.
The most commonly used Dog Bite Scale used by animal behaviorists offers six levels or categories of severity of dog bite when diagnosing aggression. These are summarized here:
- Level 1 Bite. This is the least severe bite. Level 1 represents aggressive behavior but no direct contact between the dog’s teeth and the person’s skin. Typically, this is a dog that is not trying to bite but, rather, just scare someone away.
- Level 2 Bite. In a level 2 bite, there is contact between the dog’s teeth and the person’s skin but the skin is not punctured. This dog may be slightly more aggressive and is demonstrating that it does not want you in its area.
- Level 3 Bite. A level 3 bite will leave 1 to 4 tooth punctures in the skin from a single bite, with none of the punctures deeper than half the depth of the dog’s canine teeth. This dog presents a real threat to people and other animals. Most dogs that demonstrate aggression qualify at this level.
- Level 4 Bite. These bites result in 1 to 4 punctures from a single bite with at least one of the punctures reaching deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. A dog making this bite will likely shake its head from side to side while biting and may leave deep bruises around the bitten area. This level of bite demonstrates a dog that should not be around people or other animals until evaluated by a professional.
- Level 5 Bite. Dogs at level 5 have left multiple level 4 bites and/or have engaged in more than one attack. Level 5 dogs are not safe to be with people or other animals. At this level, many animal behavior specialists will recommend euthanasia because the dog would either pose a serious danger to people or other animals or would have to remain in solitary confinement.
- Level 6 Bite. A level 6 bite results in a fatality of a person or animal.
The dogs that can inflict the most damage with their bite include:
- Kangal (strongest bite force of 743 PSI)
- Bandog Dog (bite force 730 PSI)
- Cane Corso (bite force 700 PSI)
- Dogue de Bordeaux (556 PSI)
- Rottweiler (bite force 328 PSI)
- Average human (bite force 150–200 PSI)
Of all animal breeds, Pit Bulls have one of the weakest bite forces (235 PSI).
7. Prevention Statistics.
A dog that is not neutered is 2.6 times more likely to bite than a dog that is neutered. Neutering reduces aggression in male dogs. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), in 2006, 97% of dog bites were the result of dogs not being neutered. This number is now down to 70%.
8. Insurance Statistics.
In 2018, homeowners insurance paid $675 million for dog bite-related liability claims. The number of claims filed in 2018 was 17,297—down 6.6% from the 18,522 claims filed in 2017. However, in the same year, the cost per claim increased 5.3%, from $37,051 per claim in 2017 to $39,017 in 2018.
9. Common Types of Dog Bite Injuries.
Although most dog bites do not result in significant injuries, many dog bites do. Here are some of the common injuries that victims of dog attacks suffer:
- Broken or punctured skin
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Face injuries
- Nerve Damage
- Tissue damage
- Trauma / emotional effects