Dog Bite Stats by Breed: Which Dogs Are Most Likely to Bite?

An Aggressive Dog

Written by Aaron R. Winston
Last Updated: March 10, 2024 2:38pm CDT

An Aggressive Dog

Dogs have been man’s best friend since ancient humans first domesticated the wolf. Since then, people have bred dogs to make unique dog breeds to serve various roles in our ever-progressing society.

This process is known as selective breeding and has allowed us in our modern-day society to create numerous types of dog breeds with traits that did not exist for history’s first dog owners. Selective breeding is what has made dogs into good family pets.

Like with any creation, each new breed of dog has its areas of strengths and areas of weaknesses. Two categories regularly discussed are health and behavior, with health being the primary issue for most dog owners, as most breeds are highly sociable and non-violent towards humans.

However, that is not always the case, as statistics show that some dog breeds exhibit aggressive behavior at much higher rates than others. That dangerous behavior is most evident in their inclination to bite humans.

Dog bites are fortunately less common than they could be, as the choice of the most popular dog breeds make good family dogs and are trained not to harm anyone. Many of the top popular dog breeds are inclined to be caretakers and befriend humans rather than attack.

Additionally, the government takes a proactive approach by having laws and programs that encourage reducing aggressive behavior, like subsidized vet visits where owners can neuter their dogs. Dog bite statistics show these programs to be effective, as according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the LA Public Health Department, neutered male dogs are significantly less likely to bite by as much as 150-300%.

Still, the risk of dangerous dog breeds that are more likely to bite humans is an unfortunate reality and not a mere stereotype. Statistics have proven that different breeds bite more and cause more dog bite-related fatalities than others.

So with that being said, the question is: which dog breeds are most likely to bite someone, and what dogs are considered the most “aggressive dog breeds”?

Which Dog Breeds Bite the Most?

Statistics show that Pit Bulls are the type of dog breed that bite humans the most, with Rottweilers and German Shepherds being the second and third most likely to bite.

However, the breed alone is not the only factor that can directly impact how likely a dog is to bite someone. Factors like training and abuse can lead to significantly higher rates of dog bite injuries.

Tracking the correlation between dog bites and dog breeds was initially started as a way to discourage ownership of certain breeds viewed as “dangerous dog breeds” by many.

The most recent incarnation of this controversial approach was the anti-Pit Bull campaign started after the media drew attention to the prevalence of Pit Bulls in dog fighting arenas and as pets of drug dealers.

Those who advocate for Pit Bulls as a safe breed of dog say they can be trained to be docile like other dogs.

However, the statistics surrounding Pit Bulls and other dangerous dog bite attacks show that certain dog breeds are more likely to use physical violence and bite when feeling threatened.

The most recent studies confirmed that Pit Bull attacks are at the top of the list, both in non-fatal and fatal attacks, including maiming. (Maiming refers to permanent damage caused to a limb on the body.)

A Pit Bull

Dog Bite Statistics: 1982 – 2021

The dog bite statistics in the US and Canada from September 1982 to December 2021 are broken down as follows in the most recent biting dog breeds report:

Top Biting Dog Breeds:

  1. Pit Bulls: American Pit Bull Terriers accounted for 7,772 attacks throughout that timeframe. Of these attacks, 5,331 resulted in maiming, with 3,616 adult and 2,783 child victims, 561 of which were fatal dog attacks.
  2. Rottweilers: Rottweilers accounted for 666 attacks throughout that timeframe. Of these attacks, 402 resulted in maiming, with 210 adult and 349 child victims, 110 of whom died.
  3. German Shepherds: German Shepherds accounted for 229 attacks throughout that timeframe. Of these attacks, 166 resulted in maiming, with 104 adult and 103 child dog bite victims, 20 of whom died.

Other dog breeds that bite the most: Doberman Pinschers, American Bulldogs, Bull Mastiffs, Siberian Husky, Presa Canarios, Akitas, Chihuahuas, Labrador Retrievers, Chow Chows, Boxers, Jack Russells, Cocker Spaniels, Wolf dogs, Collies, pit bull-type dogs, and even Golden Retrievers were also listed, though in much smaller numbers.

Therefore, the top 3 three most dangerous dog breeds, each responsible for the most amount of fatal dog bite attacks, are American Pit Bull Terrier, Rottweiler, and German Shepherd.

That does not definitively mean these breeds are dangerous dogs, unsuitable as family pets, or should be demonized for the statistics. This data only illustrates that some breeds are more likely to bite when they feel frightened instead of retreating, as some breeds will prefer.

Pit Bull Bite Attacks Per Year (Line Chart)

Pit Bull Bite Attacks Per Year infographic

Large Dog Breeds Face More Stigma and Fear of Biting

Large dogs tend to face more stigma and fear from humans due to their imposing size and the history of some large dog breeds being trained as military attack and guard dogs.

However, with proper socialization and being raised in a nurturing environment, many large same breeds are likely to be more docile than smaller dogs. So it is incorrect to say that the large St. Bernard is dangerous due to its size and should be lumped in with German Shepherds as “dangerous.”

Still, the fact remains that dog bites are a serious issue and can lead to severe and life-threatening injuries. Depending on what breed bit you and how many times, you might find that a trip to the emergency room should be in your immediate future.

The question here is, what do you need to do after being bitten by a dog?

What Treatment Do You Need After a Dog Bite?

At a minimum, you will always need to clean the wound to check for broken skin after a dog bite. However, the severity of a dog bite and, therefore, the required treatment level will vary depending on the type of dog, where it bit you, and the attack’s duration.

Some dogs are small enough that the force of their bite will barely break the skin, whereas others are large enough to severely puncture your skin and damage your body.

The dog’s breed does not account for all the risks associated with dog bites, as there are dangers that will follow the attack itself. That means you should visit a doctor anytime the bite breaks the skin, regardless of the breed. For immediate treatment, you should do the following:

Immediate Self Care Steps for Broken Skin After a Dog Bite:

  1. Clean the Wound: Use warm tap water to wash the wound and use mild soap to clean it. The cleaning process should last 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Stem the Bleeding: You must stop the bleeding if the dog’s bite breaks the skin. While you are not liable to bleed out, some bites can lead to excessive bleeding. Use a clean cloth to soak up the blood and keep pressure on the wound.
  3. Apply Antibiotic Cream: If you have antibiotic cream, apply it to the wound to minimize the risk of infection.
  4. Wrap the Wound: Once the wound is clean and bleeding has slowed, wrap it in a sterile bandage or gauze. Keep it covered until you can get a doctor to look at the injury.

Some people are inclined to perform these steps and leave it at that, but you should visit a doctor as soon as the injury’s immediate issues are resolved.

Dog bites are susceptible to various potential health issues that could exacerbate the original injury. Without a doctor’s examination, you might be the victim of one of these conditions. Have a friend or relative drive you immediately to the nearest emergency room or urgent care. The wound might impair your ability to control a vehicle, making driving yourself risky.

Once you get to the clinic or the emergency department of the hospital, the doctor can examine the wound and will likely re-clean it and apply antibiotics. Antibiotics are essential because dog bites can introduce bacteria into the wound.

While most pet owners regularly take their dogs to the veterinarian, some do not. Also, the offending dog could be a stray, which is more likely to have eaten things or entered environments that turn them into bacterial carriers.

Treating a Dog Bite

If a dog bite becomes infected, you risk getting one of the following conditions:

In addition to bacterial infection, you will need to know when your last tetanus shot was. Tetanus immunizations are effective for ten years, but dogs eat things off the floor, groom themselves, and enter dirty areas.

This dirt could transfer from their teeth to your wound, putting them at risk of tetanus.

The bite penetrating the skin makes it possible for tetanus infections to overpower immunizations six years or older. Your doctor might require a tetanus booster if your last tetanus shot occurred more than five years ago.

Finally, the one risk associated with animal bites that should concern everyone is rabies. Rabies is one of the few diseases that can cross the species barrier and transfer from dogs to humans once we are bitten. When a rabid dog bites humans, they have 24 hours to get the first dose of the vaccine.

If you get bitten by a dog with rabies and fail to get the first dose in time, your chances of recovery become almost 0%, with only rare outliers recovering from other treatments.

While states legally require pet owners to immunize their dog against rabies, not everyone does. Additionally, stray dogs are more likely to get rabies since they are more likely to have never been vaccinated for anything and will often have more exposure to rabid animals like raccoons.

Seemingly minor dog bite injuries can quickly have severe implications if left untreated, which is why immediate medical attention is crucial.

Going to the doctor does more than just to only ensure your safety. The visit will also help strengthen a liability claim against and sue the owner whose dog perpetuated the dog bite attack you suffered.

Can You Sue Someone for a Dog Bite?

Yes, you can sue someone for a dog bite. Typically, by filing a lawsuit against the dog owner whose dog bit you. The process varies by state, but most dog bite incidents involve cases where the victim seeks injuries and damages from the dog owner by filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Most states enforce a dog owner’s liability. Meaning a dog owner is legally responsible for their dog’s actions. Although, some states enforce stricter laws that make a dog bite incident a criminal offense, which falls upon the owner for being responsible for preventing it.

In most states, however, dog owners may not be held legally responsible for dog bites in circumstances where they could not have prevented them.

The primary examples of this are when a victim provoked the dog or trespassed on private property when the bite occurred.

Because the victim’s actions caused the dog to bite them, the liability will often lie solely with the victim since the dog was defending itself and, ostensibly, its owner.

Other states are stricter about dog liability issues and offer fewer defenses to the dog’s owner when their pet bites someone else.

Some states have “strict-liability” dog bite laws that place responsibility for the bites on the owner in all circumstances. Still, there are exceptions in the strict-liability dog bite statutes for extenuating circumstances, such as provocation and trespassing.

What State Has the Most Strict-Liability Dog Bite Laws?

Currently, only Kentucky has strict-liability dog bite laws with no exceptions in the statutes, which makes it so that the dog owner is always liable for their dog biting or hurting someone. The statute does not limit it to dog bites, and trespassing and provocation are not exemptions for pet owners.

There is another particular legal statute called the one-bite rule that some states have, which acts as leniency to the owner’s liability for their dog’s biting and aggressive behavior.

What is the One-Bite Law?

The one-bite law holds the owner legally responsible for situations where they could have deduced their dog would bite someone.

However, in cases where the owner could not have predicted the dog’s first bite attempt, the owner is not liable and is not expected to pay for the injuries and damages of the dog bite victim.

The one-bite rule does not mean dog owners get one free bite and are only responsible for the second bite onwards. The circumstance of the dog attack has to be a legitimate surprise and not easily preventable for the owner to be free from the liability of the injuries the dog bite victim is suing them.

Suing Over a Dog Bite

What Are the One-Bite Law States?

The states that have one-bite laws for dogs include:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • District of Columbia
  • Kansas
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming

What Type of Claim is a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

Dog bite lawsuits are personal injury liability claims. However, if the dog bite incident involved fatalities, the suit will be filed as a wrongful death claim by the victim of the fatal dog attack’s family.

Regardless of each state’s specific dog bite statutes that may exist, victims of dog attacks retain the right to seek financial compensation from the dog’s owner.

The best place to start for the dog bite victim is to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer to find one to hire and represent them.

A dog bite attorney can help them by filing a claim and ultimately recovering money for their injuries, pain and suffering, and other financial losses due to the incident.

Dog Bite Claims Are Personal Injury Lawsuits

However, your power to seek legal justice does not extend to the future of the dog that bit you. You do not get to choose whether or not the dog attacked you should be euthanized.

While animal control and the animal shelter might eventually make this happen to the dog that attacked you, you can’t request euthanasia as part of your lawsuit. The judgment of whether the dog needs to be euthanized is an unfortunate and separate matter that does not pertain to your dog bite claim

Like any personal injury lawsuit, suing for a dog bite injury is a long process that you bring because you will always suffer a financial loss. Getting the proper medical attention, you need to recover after a dog bite is never low cost.

So just because you have a good dog bite case and sue the dog owner for your injuries does not mean you can expect your dog bite attorney to have a settlement check in your hand in less than a year after the dog bite attack.

There are many stages to liability claims, and depending on the circumstances, it can be more challenging to prove than your average car accident lawsuit. With that being said, there can be options made available to plaintiffs during dog bite injury lawsuits.

Closing Statements on Dogs That Bite the Most and Dog Bite Lawsuits

Dog bites are serious, and depending on the breed that bites you, the more likely it could be a fatal attack. Dog bite statistics show that Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers are at the top of the list of dogs that bite the most list.

So it is not totally random, which can help you in your ability to have a viable dog bite claim and sue a dog owner for their pet attacking you.

A Civil Claims Lawyer

We at Express Legal Funding realize that dog bite liability claims are no different than other types of injury claims in that they take time, and the cost of medical treatment and lost wages can leave you low on cash.

That is especially the case now with the average cost of living increasing, making matters worse and where we, as a pre-settlement funding company, can come in to help you.

Legal Funding for Dog Bite Cases

We can offer legal funding to plaintiffs who are suing for money in civil lawsuits. In the case of dog bite lawsuits, the injured dog bite victim or their families (if it were a fatal dog bite attack) are the plaintiffs.

How legal funding works in most states is that the clients who apply for legal funding upon approval can get cash funds now in the form of a non-recourse cash advance. It’s not a loan, which makes it risk-free.

The money is advanced in exchange for the right to receive a portion of the client’s potential case proceeds. We only get repaid if there is settlement or trial award money.

So if you get approved pre-settlement funding for your dog bite lawsuit and take your claim to trial but unfortunately lose, the non-recourse funding is yours to keep. The repayment never comes from your own pocket.

(It is important to note that the money we can provide to injured and damaged plaintiffs in Missouri is a recourse loan and, therefore, not risk-free advances on case proceeds.

Pre-settlement loans in states like Missouri are loans and must, technically by law, be repaid. Express Legal Funding-Missouri, LLC is licensed to give these loans in MO.)

If you have a dog bite lawsuit and need access to financial help now, we encourage you to visit our website to learn more about pre-settlement funding and call us anytime for a free consultation to apply.

About the Author

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Aaron Winston is the Strategy Director of Express Legal Funding. As "The Legal Funding Expert," Aaron has more than ten years of experience in the consumer finance industry. Most of which was as a consultant to a top financial advisory firm, managing 400+ million USD in client wealth. He is recognized as an expert author and researcher across multiple SEO industries.
Aaron Winston earned his title "The Legal Funding Expert" through authoritative articles and blog posts about legal funding. He specializes in expert content writing for pre-settlement funding and law firm blogs.
Each month, tens of thousands of web visitors read his articles and posts. Aaron's thoroughly researched guides are among the most-read lawsuit funding articles over the past year.
As Strategy Director of Express Legal Funding, Aaron has devoted thousands of hours to advocating for the consumer. His "it factor" is that he is a tireless and inventive thought leader who has made great strides by conveying his legal knowledge and diverse expertise to the public. More clients and lawyers understand the facts about pre-settlement funding because of Aaron's legal and financial service SEO mastery.
Aaron Winston is the author of A Word For The Wise. A Warning For The Stupid. Canons of Conduct, which is a book in poetry format. It consists of 35 unique canons. The book was published in 2023.
He keeps an academic approach to business that improves the consumer's well-being. In early 2022, Aaron gained the Search Engine Optimization and the Google Ads LinkedIn skills assessment badges. He placed in the top 5% of those who took the SEO skills test assessment.
Aaron's company slogans and lawsuit funding company name are registered trademarks of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He has gained positive notoriety via interviews and case studies, which are a byproduct of his successes. Aaron R. Winston was featured in a interview (2021) and a company growth case study (2022).
In 2023, Aaron and Express Legal Funding received accolades in a leading SEO author case study performed by the leading professionals at WordLift. The in-depth data presented in the pre-settlement funding SEO case study demonstrate why Aaron Winston maintains a high-author E-E-A-T. His original writing and helpful content continue to achieve unprecedented success and stand in their own class.

Aaron was born in Lubbock, TX, where he spent the first eight years of his life. Aaron attended Akiba Academy of Dallas, TX.

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