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-dog hybrids.
|Pit bull terrier||Pit bull terrier||Rottweiler||Pit bull terrier|
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 15-year period from 2005 to 2019, canines killed 521 Americans. Pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 76% (397) of these deaths.1 During the 20-year government study period of 1979 to 1998,2 238 dog bite-related fatalities with breed information was studied. The combination of pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 50% (120) of these deaths.
This is a 52% increase since the government's last study in this area, which stated two decades ago, "there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities." - Breeds of Dogs Involved in Fatal Human Attacks in the United States Between 1979 and 1998
It is important to point out that since 2005, pit bulls and their mixes have inflicted fatal dog attacks at over 6.5 times the rate as 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, strategic manner of attack (gameness).
- Pit Bull FAQ - Learn about pit bulls and why they are so dangerous.
- Pit Bull Myths - Learn the truth behind the many pit bull myths.
- Pit Bull Owners - Learn about the types of people who own pit bulls.
- Dog Attack Videos - Watch videos of dangerous dog breeds attacking.
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||Presa canario||Cane corso||Tosa inu|
Wolf-dog 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 government study, wolf hybrids accounted for 14 deaths between 1979 and 1998.7 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 mauling death of Kyle Holland.
|Wolf-dog hybrid||Wolf-dog hybrid||Wolf-dog hybrid||Wolf-dog hybrid|
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: Tanner Kinnamon, Ashton McGhee and Kyna Deshane). Under no circumstances should a person agree to "watch" or harbor a friend or relative's dangerous dog breed if there are children in the home or may be visiting the home either. Children are disproportionally victims in these attacks.
- Staying Safe from Dangerous Dogs - Learn about the most dangerous situations.
- Safety Brochures and Flyers - Purchase safety brochures and download free flyers.
- Dog Bite Victim Videos - Learn about survivors of serious dog attacks.
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 might develop life-altering complications.
- Dog Bite Victim Guide - Steps to take following a dog bite.
- Preventing Dog Bites - CDC also explains the risk of infection.
- Rabies Prevention - What is rabies and how is it treated?
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 officers shooting dangerous pit bulls are so common that DogsBite.org tracked these occurrences over a 2-year period.8 In an 11-year report released by the New York City Police Department in 2008, data showed that when dangerous dogs are shot, 72% were pit bulls followed by rottweilers with 10%.9
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 they must be regulated. In 2014, after a "family" pit bull flew into a frenzy, attacking and killing a 4 year old girl, Houma Police Chief Todd Duplantis said it took 12 shots to kill the dog.10 This incident and countless others involving police shooting dangerous pit bulls clearly illustrates the public safety threat that pit bulls present.
- DogsBite.org Amicus Brief - Why Pit Bulls are Dangerous (2012)
- Report: U.S. Police and Citizen Shootings of Pit Bulls 2008
- New York City Police Firearm Discharges (1996 to 2006) - New York Times
Legislating dangerous dogs
Over 900 U.S. cities, all three major military divisions and many housing authorities have adopted policies that target pit bulls and other dangerous dog breeds due to the unreasonable risk they pose. Such policies are designed to prevent an attack before it occurs and recognize the cost and severity of victims' injuries and the difficulties of receiving compensation after a serious attack. Many owners of dangerous breeds do not have sufficient insurance policies or any coverage at all.
- Breed-specific legislation FAQ - Learn what encompasses breed-specific laws.
- Legislating Dogs - Learn how U.S. cities are regulating dangerous dog breeds.
- Military Regulation - View the many bases that regulate dangerous dog breeds.
- BSL State-by-State - Learn the cities in your state with breed-specific laws.
- Indian Reservations - View Indian reservations with breed-specific regulations.
- Public Housing Authorities - View breed-specific policies at housing authorities.
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 2,200 web pages -- reflects this. We encourage viewers to read our Special Reports, our Must Read posts and recent Shelter Dog Attacks and Service Animal issues. Also, review the dog bite victims section. Watch the victims share their stories in videos, view the medical funds we are tracking and read the victim voices.
- 2019 U.S. Dog Bite Fatality Statistics - DogsBite.org, by DogsBite.org, July 16, 2020.
- Breeds of Dogs Involved in Fatal Human Attacks in the United States Between 1979 and 1998, by Sacks JJ, Sinclair L, Gilchrist J, Golab GC and Lockwood R, J Am Vet Med Assoc, 2000 Sep 15;217(6):836-40. The combination of pit bulls (76) and rottweilers (44) over this 20-year period includes purebred and crossbred dogs from Table 2 (Page 3).
- Dog Bite Prevention for Law Enforcement and Other First Responders, by Randall Lockwood, PhD, Tawzer Dog Videos, 2004 (tawzerdog.com)
- The Care of Pit Bulls in the Shelter Environment, by Leslie D. Appel DVM, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), 2005 (sheltermedicine.com)
- 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.
- The presa canario breed made headlines after savagely killing Diane Whipple in 2001.
- Breeds of Dogs Involved in Fatal Human Attacks in the United States Between 1979 and 1998, by Sacks JJ, Sinclair L, Gilchrist J, Golab GC and Lockwood R, J Am Vet Med Assoc, 2000 Sep 15;217(6):836-40.
- U.S. Police and Citizen Shootings of Pit Bulls 2008 and Mid Year Results: U.S. Police and Citizen Shootings of Pit Bulls 2009
- 11 Years of Police Gunfire, in Painstaking Detail, by Al Baker, The New York Times, May 8, 2008 (nytimes.com) (Archived by Archive.is at https://archive.is/cXZ5b) | Related chart graphic.
- Pit bull attack unprovoked, by Jordan Gribble, Houma Today, March 27, 2014 (huomatoday.com) (Archived by Archive.is at https://archive.is/VJuHz)