Most Dangerous Dog Breeds: No Such List

Most Dangerous Dog Breeds: No Such List

The 10 Most Dangerous Dog Breeds Based on Biting and Fatality Statistics

that is the name of the above blog post - which has gone viral....I will provide a link (at the bottom of this story), but I don't want to encourage or perpetuate  this nonsense.

The post begins:

"We wish we could say that all dog breeds were safe.  We wish we could say that every time a dog attacks a human, another dog, or another animal wasn’t said dog’s fault.  But remember folks, dogs are animals first and foremost just like we humans are.  And some animal species are inherently more dangerous than other species.  It’s just the way it is.  We’re not posting this article to discourage you from buying these dog breeds.  We just want to make you aware of the statistics out there.  The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association conducted a twenty year study on the most dangerous dog breeds, and here are the top 10 most dangerous dog breeds based on the amount of fatalities they have caused.  *We should also note that NONE of these breeds are really all that dangerous and don’t be afraid to purchase any of them."

I have several comments:

A study of dog breeds involved in fatal attacks over two decades (1979-1998) published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Sacks et al.) in 2000 revealed that approximately 50 percent (out of 238 attacks) were caused by pit-bull-type dogs and Rottweilers. However, 29 other breeds or mixes were responsible for at least one fatal attack. These included Cocker Spaniels, West Highland White Terriers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Boxers, and other breeds with a reputation as friendly family pets. Moreover, a recent study, which surveyed veterinary-behavior-referral centers (in St. Louis; Toronto, Canada; and Sydney, Australia), found that Jack Russell Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers were the breeds most commonly seen at referral for aggression problems.

The distribution of dog breeds implicated in both fatal and nonfatal incidents suggests that breed alone is not  predictive of the risk or likelihood of occurrence of aggressive behavior and that dogs and owners must be looked at individually. Also, more popular dogs more often implicated; there are merely more of them.

The AVMA (and no other reputable organization that I know of) has ever come out with a 'Top-10" list of most dangerous breeds.

The Centers for Disease Control did once tracked the breed thought to be involved in fatal dogs - long ago they stopped doing so because so often the breed was misidentified. Besides the breed (or mix) involved is irrelevant. What matters is why a dog attack occurred in the first place. The CDC does keep tabs on the suggested causes for fatal dog attacks (breed is not suggested as one).

Regarding dog bites in general (unlike fatal dog attacks. which number about 12 to 24 annually) - no one even knows how often dog bites occur, let alone the breed involved.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 4.7 million complaints of dog bites are registered annually across the country, but some numbers from other sources are higher while others are lower. Approximately 800,000 bite victims per year are treated at doctors' offices, and close to 6,000 more require hospitalization. Many bites (no knows how many) do happen within homes, but because there is no serious injury - they don't get reported.

Some insurance companies do keep their own numbers (state by state) of the breed involved in a bite or alleged breed, but as mentioned, but one problem is that the breed is often misidentified. And obviously they only know about bites where an insurance carrier may be involved.

Bottom line there is no current top ten list of 'bad breeds,' or 'breed most likely to bite.' It doesn't exist. The data used for this bogus blog story is dated, and by admission of the source cited in the piece the data use for this piece only offers a snapshot at best and is not accurate. And if it were accurate, does it say more about generally who may own these "dangerous" dogs than the dogs themselves?

Note: I have not re-published the list of most dangerous dogs listed in this blog post, just because there is no need. As a reporter, I still feel compelled to offer the source:  That questionable blog post.


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  • I was bitten by a neighbor's dog - a breed I couldn't identify but it was not on the "top ten." The dog's owner swore it was a good dog and had never bitten anyone before.
    Anything can trigger a bite and I think owners do know if their dog is aggressive enough to bite. I have two dogs - one extremely docile border collie and one rather snippy Chihuahua. I don't let most people near the Chihuahua.

  • In reply to Margaret Goss:

    thanks for your comment Margaret - when I visit your house, I'll greet your Chihuahua if I am wearing boots....

    Seriously, the original post I based my story on offer little fact, and what there is - is dated. However, it's a way to get attention for a blog - people like this stuff. I don't. It doesn't benefit dogs, or education about how to prevent dog bites, regardless of breed or mix.

  • fb_avatar

    Thanks so much for your article. I do in fact have a Pit Bull-type dog and have done a lot of research to confirm or deny the bully breed allegations as my dog is the sweetest (albeit clumsiest) dog I've ever had. I'm glad there are still people who look deeply at "statistical analysis" and how numbers were gathered, not just the tl;dr. Thanks so much!

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