That depends on whom you ask. Studies and surveys have conflicting conclusions. Some state that aggressiveness is mainly based on an individual dog’s personality, while others claim certain breeds bite more than others. Don’t assume a particular dog is or isn’t dangerous because of its breed. If you interact with a dog you don’t know, assume it may bite. Like your mother told you, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
It’s estimated about five million Americans are bit by dogs annually. Most of these dogs are family pets, while most victims are kids living with them. According to DogsBite.org:
- Almost 27,000 people had reconstructive surgery because of dog bites in 2018
- Nearly 1,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for nonfatal dog bite-related injuries daily
- Children from birth to two years old were 26% of all dog bite fatality victims from 2005 to 2020
- Homeowner’s insurers paid $882 million in liability claims due to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2021
Study Finds Breed Not Predictive of Personality or Behavior
A new study claims almost none of the behaviors we associate with particular dog breeds (whether that’s friendly and loving or violent and vicious) are due to genetics. Environment accounts for much more than breed does, according to Science.
Researchers used their database, Darwin’s Ark, which seeks out genetic information about dogs and information from owners. They have genetic data on about 2,000 dogs (including 128 breeds and mixed-breed dogs) as well as answers from an extensive questionnaire by owners of about 16,000 dogs. Researchers found most behaviors did not have a strong genetic connection.
Personalities varied widely within the same breed. Labrador retrievers could be loving or indifferent. Some German shepherds were easy to train, while others were too headstrong to take direction. Only nine percent of personality differences between dog breeds appeared to be from genetics. Pitbulls were found not to be more aggressive than other dogs.
Another Study Finds Some Breeds are More Dangerous Than Others
- 15 years of facial trauma cases of 240 patients treated at the University of Virginia Health System and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio
- Studies published from 1970 to 2019 discussing dog breeds to calculate the relative risk of biting from a particular breed
They concluded that the dog breed with the most attacks was unknown because the victims didn’t know their breed. The following five are Pitbull, mixed breed, German shepherd, Terrier, and Rottweiler. The breeds least likely to bite someone are Dalmatian, Pointer, Great Dane, Pekingese, and Spitz. Apart from breed, dogs with short, broad heads weighing from 66 to 100 pounds were the most likely to bite.
The Most Dangerous Breeds According to 2019 Study
These are the breeds most likely to bite people:
- Pitbull: These dogs are considered hybrids, not a breed. It’s believed these dogs originated by breeding bulldogs and terriers. They need assertive owners and training, or the dog may want to be the leader of the household pack. A dangerous Pitbull may be one the owner hasn’t trained well enough and doesn’t know boundaries with people. Without any extra fat, a muscular Pitbull can easily reach 60 pounds. They should be 18 to 24 inches tall at their shoulders
- German shepherd: German shepherds are large, agile, intelligent, and muscular. They are considered be loyal, confident, and courageous. They can be highly territorial and protective of their owners. They may attack others who are seen as a threat. German shepherds are commonly used as police and guard dogs. They can have split personalities, being friendly and loving to owners then violent and dangerous to others
- Terrier: This isn’t a breed, but a group of breeds. They are small to medium-sized dogs who can become aggressive. Bull and American Staffordshire terriers may be confused with Pitbulls. They were originally bred to hunt and protect property
- Rottweiler: These dogs are like German shepherds in that they can be very loving to family members but impatient and aggressive to others, especially small children. Males can be 24 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder. They can be big (up to 90 pounds), powerful, muscular dogs
How strong is their bite? The measure of force, pounds per square inch (PSI), for a person is about 170. Rottweilers come in at nearly twice that, at 328 PSI, German shepherds 238 PSI, and the Pitbull 235 PSI. How strong is a Doberman’s bite? 245 PSI
Get Advice and Help From Houston Attorneys You Can Trust
In Houston, Texas, and the surrounding area, contact Schechter, Shaffer & Harris LLP for the legal guidance you need with no up-front costs if you or a loved one suffered a severe dog bite. With more than 45 years of experience representing accident victims, our team can represent your interests through these difficult times and help you receive the compensation you need and deserve.