Dangerous dogs ::

Learn about the most dangerous breeds of dogs, which are comprised of pit bull terriers, the fighting breed derivatives and ancestors of pit bull terriers, rottweilers and wolf hybrids.

pit bull dangerous dog pit bull dangerous dog pit bull dangerous dog rottweiler dangerous dog
Pit bull terrier Pit bull terrier Pit bull terrier Rottweiler

Which breeds are they?

Pictured are the two most deadly dog breeds in America: pit bull terriers and rottweilers. Research from DogsBite.org shows that during the 9-year period from 2005 to 2013, these two breeds accounted for 74% of the total recorded fatal attacks.1 By compiling U.S. and Canadian press accounts between 1982 and 2013, a report by Animal People shows that pit bulls (275) and rottweilers (85) and their mixes contributed to 67% of the total recorded fatal attacks (539).2

It is important to point out that fatal dog attacks committed by pit bulls and their mixes more than doubles the attacks inflicted by rottweilers. It is well documented by experts3 and humane groups4 that pit bulls pose a substantial danger due to their selective breeding for dogfighting. Unlike other dog breeds, pit bulls frequently fail to communicate intention prior to an attack (surprise attacks); possess a lethal bite style (hold and shake) and a ruinous manner of attack (gameness).

Fighting dog breeds

Though much less common than pit bulls, other fighting breeds pose a significant threat to public safety as well. Aurora, Colorado, for instance, currently bans pit bulls and formerly banned5 the following fighting breeds: dogo argentino, presa canario,6 cane corso, tosa inu, fila brasileiro and presa mallorquin. Each of these breeds is either a pit bull derivative or was derived from ancestors similar to pit bull ancestors. Countries, such as Spain and New Zealand, regulate these breeds.

Dogo Argentino dangerous dog Presa Canario dangerous dog Cane Corso dangerous dog Tosa Inu dangerous dog
Dogo argentino Presa canario Cane corso Tosa inu

Wolf hybrids (canid hybrid)

Many U.S. states regulate the breeding and ownership of wolf hybrids, a canid hybrid resulting from the mating of a wolf and a dog. This crossbreed also has a deadly track record. According to the same report by Animal People, wolf hybrids accounted for 19 deaths between 1982 and 2013. The death count may much be higher too; owners of wolf hybrids often mislabel their dogs as a husky or malamute-mix to evade detection, as was attempted after the death of Kyle Holland.

Wolf hybrid canid hybrid Wolf hybrid canid hybrid Wolf hybrid canid hybrid Wolf hybrid canid hybrid
Wolf hybrid Wolf hybrid Wolf hybrid Wolf hybrid

Dangerous scenarios

One of the most dangerous scenarios involving high-risk dog breeds is often unaddressed in media stories after serious and fatal dog attacks. The scenario entails bringing a child into the home of a friend or relative who owns a pit bull or rottweiler. The reverse scenario -- one of these dog breeds temporarily staying at the child's home -- is just as dangerous. Three factors are at stake in these cases: 1.) High-risk dog breed 2.) "new" or "temporary" situations and 3.) children.

DogsBite.org cannot underscore the volume of serious dog attacks, some of which are fatal, that occur when a child is visiting or temporarily living at the home of a pit bull or rottweiler owner (See: Ryan Maxwell, Jordyn Arndt and Dallas Walters). Under no circumstances should a person agree to take care of a friend or relative's known dangerous dog breed if there are children in the home or may be visiting the home either. (See: Colton Smith, Vanessa Husmann and Quillan Cottrell).

The risk to the child is too great.

  • Staying Safe - Learn about the most dangerous situations.
  • Victim Funds - Learn about survivors of serious dog attacks.
  • Say No Firmly - Learn to say no to owners of dangerous dog breeds.

Reporting a dangerous dog

Many people are unaware that one does not have to wait for a "bite" to report a threatening (menacing), loose or stray dog. Many attacks occur due to this lack of understanding. Always report problem dogs to your city or county animal control or sheriff's department. If that dog ends up biting and seriously hurting a person, but there is no documented paper trail behind it, authorities will have their hands tied and the victim may have no recourse for medical expenses.

If the dog owner lives on a rental property, it is beneficial to send a certified letter asking the landlord to ensure that proper containment infrastructure is installed and that the dog is declared on the renter's insurance policy. This act normally places the landlord into the "liability equation" and motivates him to take care of the situation. Cell phone photographs and video of the dog's behavior can be sent as supporting evidence to show that an attack situation is imminent.

When reporting a dog bite -- defined as a "breaking of the skin" -- anticipate its owner to plead with you not to. Many dog owners do not want a "first bite" on record and may offer you a "home nurse" solution. Do not accept a home treatment solution. Proceed to a hospital, tell the doctor you have a dog bite, which should trigger a formal bite report (what the dog owner hoped to avoid), and receive dog bite medical treatment, otherwise you could die or develop life-altering complications.

In many places it is also a misdemeanor crime to not report a dog bite.

Stopping a dangerous dog

Many U.S. courts have declared pit bulls as "lethal weapons." Police officers have the right to shoot and kill pit bulls when under threat or when protecting citizens. Examples of police officers shooting dangerous pit bulls are so common that DogsBite.org began tracking these instances in 2008. In a recent 11-year report released by the New York Police Department, the data showed that when dangerous dogs are shot 72% were pit bulls followed by rottweilers with 10%.7

The inability for the average person, much less a child, pregnant woman or senior citizen, to stop an attacking pit bull may be the single most powerful reason why pit bulls must be regulated. In 2009, Chicago police officers were forced to shoot an aggressive pit bull 10 times to stop the dog's assault. Prior to being shot to death, the animal attacked a pregnant woman hospitalizing her.8 This incident clearly illustrates the undeniable public safety threat that pit bulls present.

Legislating dangerous dogs

Over 700 U.S. cities, the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army and New York Housing Authority have adopted policies that target pit bulls and other dangerous dog breeds due to the unreasonable risk posed by them. Such policies are designed to prevent an attack before it occurs, as there is never enough insurance funds to put these severely injured victims "back together again" after an attack. (Former Lucas County, Ohio Dog Warden, Tom Skeldon, explains this in an online interview.)

  • Legislating Dogs - Learn how U.S. cities are regulating dangerous dog breeds.
  • Military Laws - View the many bases that regulate dangerous dog breeds.
  • state-by-state - Learn the cities in your state with breed-specific laws.

DogsBite.org is a large resource

The dangerous dog breed issue is both deep and wide. It is also a worldwide problem and not unique to the U.S. The composition of DogsBite.org -- over 2,000 web pages -- reflects this. We encourage viewers to read the Special Reports, located in the top right column, "Must Read" blog posts and most recent stats and to spend time in the dog bite victims section. Watch the victims tell their stories in videos, view the medical funds that we are tracking and read the victim voices.

  1. 2013 U.S. Dog Bite Fatality Statistics - DogsBite.org, DogsBite.org, January 20, 2014.
  2. Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, September 1982 to December 31, 2013, by Merritt Clifton, Animal People, December, 31, 2013.
  3. Dog Bite Prevention for Law Enforcement and Other First Responders, by Randall Lockwood, PhD, Tawzer Dog Videos, 2004 (View partial transcript).
  4. The Care of Pit Bulls in the Shelter Environment, by Leslie D. Appel DVM, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), ShelterMedicine.com, 2005.
  5. In March 2011, Aurora began discussions about narrowing its Fighting Breed ban to only pit bulls. This is likely because the other fighting breeds have such low population numbers.
  6. The presa canario breed made headlines after savagely killing Diane Whipple in 2001.
  7. 11 Years of Police Gunfire, in Painstaking Detail, by Al Baker, The New York Times, May 8, 2008.
  8. Dog killed after attack on couple, Chicago New - abc7chicago.com, March 12, 2009.