All dogs are capable of biting a person, especially if the dog was not adequately socialized as a puppy and has instead learned to fear and mistrust people. However, because certain types of dog have been bred over hundreds of years for specific tasks like fighting or hunting, these breeds may have more “bite” to their nature – and thus be more likely to resort to attacking if they feel threatened.
Because homeowners’ insurance typically covers dog bite claims, insurance companies keep track of the breeds most likely to bite and of the severity of the injuries they cause. Although the number of bites by various dog breeds differs each year, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), certain patterns can be established over time.
Here are the dog breeds that consistently make the “worst offenders” list:
Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers
When many people think of dog bites, they think of pit bulls. Although the breed is not one of the most popular, the sheer number of pit bull bites each year consistently lands the breed – and its close cousin, the Staffordshire terrier – on the “most dangerous” list. Because they are often bred as fighting dogs, pit bulls must be socialized carefully as puppies in order to live comfortably with people.
According to DogsBite.org, Rottweilers alone account for 12 percent of all dog bite-related deaths in the United States – the second deadliest record after the pit bull. Because adult Rottweilers have significant strength in addition to potentially aggressive natures, most veterinarians recommend that Rottweiler owners work with a professional trainer to socialize and train puppies.
German shepherds have long been bred and used as working dogs. First raised to protect livestock, they have more recently taken on an increased role as police and military dogs. The alertness, aggression, high energy and protective instincts that make them good work dogs, however, also make them more likely to bite people – especially people they don’t know well.
Statistically speaking, Dobermans are more likely to bite other dogs than to bite people. When they do attack a human, however, their strength, ferocity and fearlessness make them a formidable risk. Their loyalty to their owners can quickly turn to aggression if they mistake a stranger’s approach for an attack.
Wolf-dog hybrids are, by nature, less domesticated or “tame” than their fully dog counterparts. Like many mixed breeds, their behavior can be difficult to predict. Currently, about 300,000 wolf-dog hybrids are kept as pets in the United States, according to Dog Notebook.
Not all dog breeds that are popular at any given moment are as naturally aggressive as hunting or working dogs. However, according to the AVMA, the number of dog bites by certain breeds spikes when the breed experiences a sudden surge in popularity. For instance, the number of Dalmatian bites rose sharply after the release of each of Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” films – in part because families with small children did not realize that the Dalmatian, while a loyal working dog, does not generally possess the patience to tolerate children.
Before bringing any dog into your home, make sure its temperament suits your family, your lifestyle and the amount of work you want to devote to raising a dog. If the breed doesn’t fit well with your family, don’t adopt one, no matter how “popular” it is.
If you are bitten by a dog, regardless of its breed, bringing a dog bite claim may allow you to access any available homeowners’ insurance coverage and other available resources to pay for treatment of your injuries, property damage and emotional distress.
At Marasco & Nesselbush, our experienced Rhode Island premises liability lawyers can help you navigate a dog bite claim with the goal of securing the compensation you need to recover from your injury. Contact Rhode Island’s Trusted Personal Injury Attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP to discuss your legal rights and options. We provide free case reviews to victims with potential dog bite liability claims. Call us at 855-801-6262 or fill out a contact form to set up a free legal consultation. We have four offices located in Providence, Wakefield, Warwick, and Woonsocket to easily serve you.