Did you know that 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States? About 800,000 of these bites are bad enough that the victims seek medical attention, and anywhere from 20-40 dog bites result in fatalities each year. What is astonishing is that almost 80% of these fatal dog attacks occur from two dog breeds alone! These are the Pit Bull Terrier and the Rottweiler. The Pit Bull is at the top of the list by far though, with over 60% of fatal attacks attributed to this breed. Many of these attacks however, are from dogs who are not properly trained and restrained, or are abused and neglected by irresponsible owners. It is also important to note that any dog could be considered dangerous under the right circumstances.
Below are the 5 most dangerous dogs in the United States. These are in order based off the number of fatalities attributed to each.
#5. Alaskan Malamute. The Alaskan Malamute is descended from an old breed. Its ancestors were dogs living with the Mahlemuits Indian tribe in Alaska. Bred originally as sled dogs, they are now kept more often as pets. They must be given a lot of attention and have proper discipline. If not, they can develop bad behaviors which could prove dangerous.
#4. Husky. Huskies are another very old breed of dog and distantly related to Alaskan Malamutes. Being used as sled dogs as well, they have high energy which must be channeled into productivity. Aggressive tendencies can come out, especially if they are not properly trained and disciplined. Smothering them with love and attention is a must for these dogs!
#3. German Shepherd.German Shepherds, another high-energy dog, come in third and are known for their intelligence. They have an amazing ability to learn and can be trained quite readily. They are very loyal and obedient, but should be trained from an early age to insure these qualities. Jobs which German Shepherds are often used for include police dogs and guard dogs. And don’t forget what wonderful companion pets they can be!
#2. Rottweiler. Even though Rottweilers are the second most dangerous dog, they are a well-loved dog breed by many. Being one of the oldest herding dogs, they have a strong instinct to hunt. If they are socialized and trained well from a young age, they make fantastic guard dogs and are fiercely loyal to their families.
#1. American Pit Bull Terrier. Pit Bull Terriers top the list as the most dangerous domestic dog. In fact, they are completely banned in some areas. Pit Bulls have a reputation of being aggressive dogs. Most likely being descended from Bulldogs and hunting terriers which are now extinct, they possess a strong instinct to hunt and protect. One of the reasons these dogs are dangerous is because they have a strong bite and a tendency to not let go of their victim. These dogs have specifically been bred to be fighting dogs, which is thought to be part of the reason they have such an inborn tendency to be aggressive. It is illegal to fight dogs in the United States, but there are still people doing it. Even though Pit Bulls are considered dangerous, many people successfully raise well-behaved and loving pets, and truly believe their behavior is a reflection of the owners discipline techniques.
Other potentially dangerous dogs include Wolf-dog Hybrids, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows, Presa Canarios, Boxers, and Dalmatians. Wolf-dog Hybrids are actually responsible for more fatalities than Alaskan Malamutes but aren’t included in the list because they aren’t true domestic dogs. Strict regulations regarding owning and breeding wolf-dog hybrids exist in many areas. The Presa Canario is another dog which was bred specifically to participate in dog fights and bans have previously been placed on this breed.
Precautions should always be taken when you come across any dog you are unfamiliar with.
Some suggestions for interacting with dogs you don’t know:
- Never approach a strange dog. In fact, walk the other direction! But don’t run, as this could attract their attention.
- Don’t try to pet any dog that is tied up, behind a fence, or in a car.
- Even if a dog seems friendly, never pet them without first letting them sniff you and determine you aren’t a threat.
- Avoid eye contact with a dog. Some dogs may think you are challenging them.
- Never yell at a dog you don’t know. Any type of discipline could trigger acts of aggression.
- If you ARE attacked by a dog, don’t move. If you run, their fighting and hunting instincts kick in and they will chase you with even more aggression. If you are knocked down, try to curl up in a ball and call for help.
- Report any dog you find who appears menacing or threatening, even if they haven’t actually attacked you.
Whether a dog appears to be a stray or with someone, don’t approach them until you know it is safe! Another thing to keep in mind is that many attacks happen in people’s homes or on their property. If you know that a friend or relative owns a potentially dangerous dog breed, use caution when visiting them, especially if you are bringing a child. Ask that they restrain or remove their dog from the area you will be visiting.
Dangerous Dog Laws
Laws are in place in many areas to strictly regulate dogs and owners or to even ban some dangerous dog breeds altogether. These laws address both dangerous dogs as well as the owners who often facilitate their dogs behavior. According to the ASPCA a dangerous dog is any dog who injures another animal or person without being provoked or having good reason. The ASPCA really favors reckless owner laws, where the owners take primary responsibility for any dangerous behavior on their dogs part. They also believe that some situations warrant aggressive behavior. These cases would include a dog protecting himself or his/her family from a threat from other animals or people. A few laws that really help to keep bad behavior in check if enforced include:
- Universal leash laws
- Spaying and neutering (to reduce aggressiveness and reduce stray populations)
- Owners held legally responsible
- Progressive levels of violation for owners
More Interesting Dog Bite Facts from the American Humane Association
- Most fatal dog attacks (92%) occur from male dogs.
- 94% of these male dogs are not neutered.
- 67% of dog bites occur on or near a victim’s personal property.
- Most people personally know the dog who bit them.
- 58% of deaths occur on the owners property by unrestrained dogs.
- 25% of fatalities are attributed to chained dogs.
- Over 25 dog breeds have been involved in fatal attacks in the United States.