Dog bites are more common than you might imagine. In fact, Americans are four times more likely to sustain a dog bite than a workplace injury. According to the Center for Disease Control, there approximately 4.7 million dog bites in the United States, with 800,000 requiring medical attention.
Keep in mind that this statistic only counts reported insistences. The real number is likely much higher. Of hundreds of thousands of injuries, there are approximately three dozen deaths per year, with pit bulls being the primary culprit.
This is not to say all pit bulls, or any of the breeds listed here, are inherently dangerous. Violence and aggression are attributed to factors beyond a dog’s genetic makeup. An abusive or neglectful owner may directly or indirectly create an environment that makes these dogs more aggressive.
Still, some breeds merit more caution than others solely due to their capacity to cause harm. Let’s take a look at the most dangerous dog breeds in the United States and why they are potential liabilities.
American Pit Bull Terrier
The term “pit bull” refers to several different types of dogs. That includes the American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and American Pit Bull Terrier. Historically, these breeds come from bull-baiting dogs, which attempt to hold down bulls and bears with their firm jaw strength.
Far and away, the most reported dog bites and fatalities come from pit bulls. According to DogsBite.org, 72 percent of fatal dog attacks came from pit bulls, which represents 26 of the 36 deaths. Pit bulls represent a disproportionate number of attackers considering that they make up seven percent of the canine population.
Pit bulls are known for attacking their target and shaking their heads violently back and forth. This shaking can cause severe injuries and, in the worst cases, death. There are times when a pit bull can’t be persuaded to let go.
This disposition towards violence corresponds with pit bull breeding habits. Humans have historically bred pit bulls for their fighting ability, culling individuals that showed gentleness or affection. While this genetic predisposition makes them more likely than most dogs to attack, proper socialization and humane upbringing can mitigate these behaviors.
The pit bull is the most dangerous dog due in a large part to the amount of damage it can do and how fast. This breed’s strength and tenacity mean that even the rare attack can have atypically severe consequences. It is worth noting that pit bulls are “consistently ranked as one of the least aggressive dogs,” which is not true of the next dog on our list.
Chihuahuas fall in the classification of a toy dog. The average chihuahua is seven to 12 inches long and weighs 3.3 to 6.6 pounds. While the breed is unlikely to be involved in a fatal attack due to its size, it did contribute to one death in 2018.
According to researchers, the chihuahua is the most likely breed to bite veterinarians. The breed is particularly liable to bite during grooming and kennel visits, too.
Chihuahuas are known for being one of the most aggressive breeds. While their willingness to bark and bite may be a defense mechanism, they are also prone to attacking other dogs. Some people attribute this behavior to “small dog syndrome” as a way for this small breed to protect itself from potential predators.
A number of breeds on this list fall under the “small dog syndrome” classification. That includes the Jack Russell terrier and potentially the Chow Chow. Other small dog breeds that show above-average signs of aggression include the Dachshund, Poodle, Beagle, Lhasa Apso, and Pomeranian.
Jack Russell Terriers
The Jack Russell terrier is an energetic breed that has had a hunting heritage for centuries. The first Jack Russell terrier was bred in 1795 with the purpose of chasing foxes from the ground while maintaining a high stamina level. One of the characteristics that made them ideal for this role is the tempered aggression necessary to pursue foxes.
It is worth noting that hunters discouraged Jack Russell terriers from killing or harming the prey—otherwise, it would “spoil” the chase. As a result, this breed is not known for drawing blood. Furthermore, there were no Jack Russell attack fatalities in 2018 in the United States.
People are still liable to be on the wrong end of a bite, though. These dogs have a powerful jaw with straight teeth that come down in the shape of a scissor. According to the British publication Independent, some researchers have found the Jack Russell terrier to be the most likely to attack humans.
The German Shepherd shares some similarities with the pit bull. When they are well-behaved, these dogs are docile, friendly, and nonaggressive. However, if there is an attack, they can cause catastrophic damage.
As ascertained by press accounts between 1982 and 2014, German Shepherds were the third most deadly breed, killing 113 people. This rate falls behind only the pit bull (3,397) and rottweiler (535). Only one person died as the result of a German Shepherd attack in 2018.
Part of the reason this breed is so dangerous is its size and strength. These dogs have a bite force of 238 pounds per square inch, which is the eighth strongest among all dog breeds, including the pit bull. As a point of reference, the average human has a bite strength of 162 psi.
The average adult Chow Chow is 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 40 and 70 pounds. Despite a small to medium build, Chow Chows pack a forceful bite. Their jaw strength measures at 220 psi, and the breed has comparable aggression to chihuahuas.
Despite their fluffy and benign appearance, Chow Chows are particularly territorial. While they are known for being loyal to their owners, the breed is less than friendly to strangers.
Summing It Up
Here is the bottom line: all dogs warrant caution. While pit bulls and German Shepherds may have a bad rep as aggressive dogs, it is because when they do attack, they can cause significant injury. On the other hand, plenty of small dogs, such as Chihuahuas, Jack Russell terriers, and Chow Chows, are more likely to bite, though unable to cause fatal harm. If you have been injured due to a dog bite, contact one of our dog bite lawyers today for a free consultation.