Top 10 Dangerous Dogs Statistics
This list of the top 10 most dangerous dog breeds is bound to evoke passion among dog lovers. It's true any dog can become aggressive. Dog aggression is often due to no socialization and fear or frustration. Any dog can be aggressive, although obviously larger dogs are more likely to inflict damage. It's difficult to give an accurate list of the most "aggressive" breeds as the CDC stopped including breed in their reports after 1998. They found that people should focus on behavioral and environmental factors that can make any dog aggressive, regardless of whether they're a pit bull or a Chihuahua.
1. Pit Bulls
It probably is no surprise from the constant media hype that pit bulls are involved in the most DBRFs in the CDC's most aggressive dog breeds study covering 1979 through 1998. These dogs have been widely exploited by the dog fighting industry and unscrupulous backyard breeders. The report says that 66 deaths were from "pit bull-type" dogs which could actually mean many other breeds and mixes. Several research studies have found it's difficult for even animal behavior professionals, animal control officers and veterinarians to correctly identify pit bulls.
Rottweilers come in second to pit bulls on the most dangerous dog breeds list. According to the CDC study, this breed was involved in 39 dog bite fatalities. Due to their powerful, well-muscled frame, the Rottweiler can inflict a lot of damage if they bite, but a well-socialized and trained Rottie can actually make a great family pet. Like any of the large, strong guarding breeds, they need an owner dedicated to training and socializing them.
3. German Shepherds
This breed is widely used in police work due to their intelligence and athleticism. According to the CDC, 17 fatal German Shepherd bites were reported although 10 DBRFs were from mixed breed dogs that may have German Shepherd in them. Note these numbers do not include deaths that occurred with police or military dogs in the line of duty. German Shepherds are loving dogs that will guard their humans if they feel they are threatened. They can be territorial of their home as well which often results in aggression if not managed.
The CDC reported 15 dog bite fatalities for Siberian Huskies. There were also six DBRFs for mixed breed "husky-type" dogs. It's possible that these mixed breeds may include similar-looking breeds like Alaskan Malamutes, wolf-hybrids or even German Shepherd Dogs or Shepherd mixes. Siberian Huskies can be very independent-minded dogs and training is a must with them.
5. Alaskan Malamutes
The CDC reported 12 dog bite fatalities attributed to Alaskan Malamutes. There are 3 listed deaths for suspected Malamute mixes which might have Malamute or not as their are several breeds with a similar "look." While the Alaskan Malamute can be an independent dog like fellow sled-dogs Siberian Huskies, their size, strength and stamina can make them a handful for an inexperienced owner who fails to train and socialize them when they're young.
6. Doberman Pinschers
Before pit bulls came to the forefront, public perception regarded Dobermans as the most dangerous breed, statistics aside. Their breed image got a positive boost from the popular Doberman Gang movies in the 1970s. The CDC attributed nine dog bite fatalities to Dobermans. Like German Shepherds, Dobermans are prized for their keen intelligence by police and military personnel. They can be wary and aggressive with strangers which makes socialization and training a must for any Doberman owner.
7. Chow Chows
The CDC reported eight dog bite fatalities from 1979 to 1998. There were three reported DBRFs from suspected Chow Chow mixes. While many people have the perception that Chows do not give warnings before they bite, the truth is they can be very stoic and their body language can be hard to read by inexperienced dog owners and strangers. This breed does best with owners who can read them well and prevent bites before they happen.
8. Great Danes
Today's Great Dane is widely regarded as a calm and somewhat clownish giant, but the breed was originally developed as a dog of war. The CDC reported seven dog bite fatalities for the Great Dane. If not properly trained and socialized as a puppy, they can be difficult to handle once they're fully grown. Their size and strength, coupled with a dog unfamiliar with people, can lead to bites if an owner is not responsible for managing their Great Dane.
9. Saint Bernard
The St. Bernard was listed as being involved in seven DBRFs. One St. Bernard mix was listed as well. This might surprise people who picture the St. Bernard as the loving, faithful dog with the barrel on their collar who saves travelers stranded in snow storms in the mountains. St. Bernards can get quite large when fully grown, weighing up to 200 pounds. An owner that isn't careful can find themselves with a very powerful dog that can be dangerous if their behavior becomes aggressive.
10. Wolf-Dog Hybrid
The CDC report only lists nine purebred dogs on their list and the wolf-dog hybrid has the highest number of DBRFs among the list of crossbreeds. 14 wolf-dog hybrids were involved in a fatal dog bite incident between 1979 and 1998. Wolf-dog hybrids are illegal to own in some states and highly restricted in others as they can be very difficult to contain properly and may have less domesticated behaviors than a regular dog. They can also have a tendency to be more fearful and can become aggressive by resource guarding and territoriality.
The Problem With Breed Bite Statistics
Dog bite researchers want the public to understand that statistics like this are deeply unreliable. An epidemiologist working with the CDC stated, "no centralized reporting system for dog bites exists and incidents are typically relayed to a number of entities, such as the police, veterinarians, animal control, and emergency rooms, making meaningful analysis nearly impossible. " Dog bites are not always reported, especially if it's a bite to a family member. Many highly popular breeds also cannot be accurately counted. This makes calculating the "risk" of being bitten difficult without knowing the percentage of the breed in the U.S.
Why Are Some Dogs Dangerous?
An exhaustive study of DBRFs was published in 2013. This review of 256 cases does not mention breed because only 17.6% of the dogs were accurately identified. The authors stress that the factors that make up "the most dangerous dogs in the world" are all preventable and not breed-based:
- 87.1% of the dogs were not supervised by an adult
- 85.2% of the dogs were strangers to the victim
- 84.4% of the dogs were not fixed
- 76.2% of the dogs were not treated as family pets and had little positive human interaction
- 37.5% of the dogs received no socialization or training
- 21.1% of the dogs were abused or neglected
How Can We Deal With Aggressive Dogs?
Dog-bite fatalities are a horrible situation, especially because it's so preventable. It's clear from the research that more training, socialization and better care for dogs will result in less need for determining the world's deadliest dog breeds. Dogs are man's best friend and it's our responsibility to make them feel the world is safe and manage them properly. Likewise community dog bite prevention programs can teach dog owners and non-dog owners alike how to recognize when a dog is giving a warning and understanding their body language to avoid aggressive dog behavior.