34 Dog Bite Statistics

Dog bites can be scary, but they’re more common than you might think. Every year, 4.5 million dog bites happen in the United States. Most of those aren’t dangerous, and only 19% will require medical treatment. The most aggressive dog breeds are sometimes the most harmless – chihuahuas are some of the most frequent biters, for instance, but they don’t do a whole lot of damage.

That said, some bites are worse than others. If you are curious about dog bites and the impact they have on people, here are 34 dog bite statistics worth reviewing.

Breed-Related Dog Bite Statistics

1. Dog Bite Fatalities by Breed

Over a 16-year period, in the United States, there were 568 dog bite fatalities. Here is a breakdown of the breeds involved and the number of fatalities caused.

Breed NameFatalitiesPercentage
Pit Bull38066.9%
German Shepherd244.2%
Mastiff or Bullmastiff203.5%
American Bulldog183.2%
Combination of 39 Breeds≤ 105.6%

[Source: DogBites.org]

2. Dog Breeds with the Strongest Bite

While the bite strength of a dog isn’t indicative of aggressiveness, it can give clues about how severe an injury may become if a person is bitten by a particular breed. Here is an overview of the bite strength of the 12 breeds with the strongest bite, listed in pound-force per square inch.

Breed NameBite Strength
Kangal743 PSI
American Bandogge731 PSI
Cane Corso700 PSI
Dogue De Bordeaux556 PSI
Tosa Inu556 PSI
English Mastiff556 PSI
Dogo Canario540 PSI
Dogo Argentino500 PSI
Wolfdog406 PSI
Leonberger399 PSI
Akita Inu350 to 400 PSI
Rottweiler328 PSI

[Source: Canine Journal]

3. Chihuahuas Are the Most Aggressive Breed of Dog

If you think of dog bites, most people focus on larger breeds. But one study identified chihuahuas as the most aggressive breed of dog, and another found them the most likely to bite veterinarians.

However, since they don’t have much bite force, their bites are less likely to result in serious injury, reducing the chances that the bite is reported or results in an emergency room visit.

[Source: DVM360 and The Atlantic]

4. 40 Counties and 1,160 Cities in the U.S. Have Breed-Specific Statutes

In the United States, 40 counties and 1,160 have breed-specific statutes in place. There are similar rules on 297 military bases in the United States, as well as 23 U.S. Indian reservations.

Mainly, these identify breeds that a county or a city deems dangerous, barring their ownership in the municipality. Some also enforce mandatory sterilization of certain breeds or place other restrictions or requirements on these breeds.

Overall, the most commonly named breeds in the ordinances are pit bulls and wolf-dog hybrids. Some other named breeds include rottweilers, presa canarios, American bulldogs, dogo argentinos, cane corsos, and bullmastiffs, among others.

[Source: DogBites.org]

General Dog Bite Statistics

5. Each Year, There Are Approximately 4.5 Million Dog Bites

Dog bites are incredibly common in the United States. Over the course of a year, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in this country alone.

[Source: National Canine Research Council]

6. Approximately 898 Emergency Room Visits Per Day Are Due to Dog Bites

Across the United States, dog bites lead to a lot of emergency room visits. On a daily basis, approximately 898 emergency room visits are due to a dog bite-related injury. That’s over 300,000 cases a year.

[Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality]

7. More Than 50% of Dog Bites Are Sustained by Children

Over 50% of dog bite victims are children. Additionally, their injuries are more likely to require medical treatment. While only 12% of adults need treatment, 26% of children do.

[Source: Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg]

8. 77% of Dogs Bites Involve Dogs Owned by the Family, a Relative, or a Friend

Many people worry about being bitten by a dog that isn’t familiar to them or anyone they know. However, 77% of dog bites occur with dogs that are owned by the family, a relative, or a friend.

[Source: Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg]

9. 80% of Dog Bites Happen During Typical Activities While at Home

When it comes to when dog bites occur, it’s easy to assume that most would happen while out and about. However, 80% of them actually happen at home while performing typical household activities.

[Source: Western College of Veterinary Medicine]

10. Unneutered Male Dogs Are 2.6 Times More Likely to Bite Than Their Neutered Counterparts

Neutering male dogs could reduce their likelihood of biting. Unneutered male dogs are 2.6 times as likely to bite than dogs that are neutered.

[Source: Deseret News]

11. Of the 74% of Female Victims of Abuse with Pets, 71% Reported That Their Abuser Also Targeted Their Pets

Many studies tie animal abuse to aggressive behavior in dogs of all breeds. Of the 74% of women who experienced physical abuse and owned pets, 71% stated that their pet was also targeted by their abuser.

[Source: National Center of Domestic and Sexual Violence]

12. Dog Bites Involving Children That Required an Emergency Room Visit Increased by 300% During COVID-19

During COVID-19, stay-at-home orders and school closures led people to spend far more time at home. This also led to more time being spent with or near the family dog.

Overall, dog bites involving children that required a trip to an emergency room increase three-fold.

[Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information]

Dog Bite Injury Statistics

13. Over 5,800 Postal Workers Were Attacked by Dogs Last Year

While a dog biting a mail carrier may seem cliché, it does actually happen. In 2020, more than 5,800 United States Postal Service (USPS) workers were attacked by dogs during the course of their duties, with the attacks ranging in severity from a small nip to serious bites.

It is important to note that dog bites to postal workers have seemingly declined over recent years. In 2017, the number of attacks came in at 6,244. In 2016, the number was closer to 6,700.

[Source: USPS and USPS]

14. 81% of Dog Bites Don’t Require Medical Treatment

Overall, 81% of dog bite injuries don’t require any medical treatment. They either result in no injury or injuries minor enough where formal medical treatment from a doctor or other medical professional is unnecessary.

[Source: National Canine Research Council]

15. Only 0.01% of Dog Bites Are Classified as Serious, Requiring Hospitalization

Of the 19% of dog bites that do cause an injury that requires treatment, just 0.01% are classified as serious, requiring a hospitalization. The remaining 18.99% are treated and then released, with no hospitalization necessary.

[Source: National Canine Research Council]

16. The Wrong Footwear Is More Likely to Require Hospitalization Than a Dog Bite Injury

Among injuries that lead to an Emergency Room visit, those caused by socks or non-sport shoes – when compared to dog bite injuries – are four times as likely to require hospitalization.

[Source: National Canine Research Council]

17. 77% of Dog Bite Injuries to Children Under 10 Involve the Face

When a dog bite involves a child under the age of 10, facial injuries occur 77% of the time. It’s possible that this is the case because children are closer to a dog’s level or are more likely to crouch down to play with them.

[Source: Fatherly]

18. Annually, Over 28,000 Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Procedures Are for Repairing a Dog Bite Injury

Reconstructive plastic surgery is a restorative procedure designed to correct issues, typically due to an injury. Each year in the United States, over 28,000 reconstructive plastic surgery procedures are performed to repair damage from a dog bite injury.

[Source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons]

19. 70% of Plastic Surgery Dog Bite Repairs Are on Caucasians

Of those who undergo plastic surgery to repair a dog bite injury, 70% are Caucasian. Of those remaining, 13% are on Hispanics, 11% are on African-Americans, 3% are on Asians or Pacific Islanders, and 3% are on those in another demographic group.

[Source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons]

20. 50% of Animal-Related Injuries When Traveling Involve Dog Bites

When traveling, people are often exposed to unfamiliar, local animals. However, when it comes to animal-related injuries while traveling, 50% are dog bites.

[Source: World Health Organization]

21. 99% of Rabies Cases in Humans Are Caused by Domestic Dogs

With rabies, many people fear being infected by wild animals. However, domestic dogs are actually responsible for 99% of rabies cases in humans worldwide.

[Source: World Health Organization]

22. In the United States, Only 2% of Rabies Cases Are Attributed to Local Dogs

While most rabies cases worldwide are attributed to domestic dogs, the rate is lower in the United States, partially because of the high rate of rabies vaccinations among pets. Overall, only 2% of rabies cases in the U.S. are attributed to dogs from inside the country. Another 19% are attributed to dogs from outside of the U.S.

When it comes to rabies infections in the United States, bats are responsible 51% of the time. Four percent of cases are attributed to raccoons.

[Source: CNN]

Dog Bite Fatality Statistics

23. Fewer Than 1 in 200,000 Dog Bites Are Fatal

Overall, around 0.00058% of dog bites – or fewer than 1 in 200,000 – are fatal.

[Source: National Canine Research Council]

24. In 2020, There Were 46 Dog Bite-Related Fatalities, 72% of Which Involved Pit Bulls

In 2020, there were 46 dog bite-related fatalities in the United States. Pit bulls were a factor in 33 (72%) of those deaths.

[Source: DogBites.org]

25. 25% of Fatal Dog Attacks Involved Chained Dogs

While many people would assume that chaining a dog up would eliminate most of the bite risk, that isn’t the case. Overall, 25% of fatal dog attacked involved chain dogs.

[Source: Fatal Dog Attacks]

26. 68% of Fatal Dog Attacks Involve Only One Dog

In many cases, people are more concerned about being attacked by a pack of dogs than a single animal. However, 68% of fatal dog attacks actually involve only a single dog. The remaining 32% of fatal attacks involved two or more dogs.

[Source: Fatal Dog Attacks]

27. 19% of All Dog Fatalities Involve Infants

When divided by age, 19% of dog bite fatalities involve children under one year old. Of those, 95% occurred when the child was left unsupervised.

In second came two-year-old children with 11%. Of those, 87% were kids who were either left unsupervised in the presence of a dog or who managed to wander off into an area where the dog was present.

[Source: Fatal Dog Attacks]

28. Boys Under 13 Are 2.5 Times More Likely to Be Fatally Attacked by a Dog Than Girls the Same Age

Among the 1 to 12-year-old age range, boys are 2.5 times more likely to be fatally attacked by a dog than girls.

[Source: Fatal Dog Attacks]

29. The Odds of a Fatal Dog Attack Involves a Human Attacker or Burglar Are Just 1 in 177

Overall, the odds that a fatal dog attack involves either a burglar or human attacker are only one in 177. Comparatively, there is a 7 out of 10 chance that it will involve a child.

[Source: Katz on Dogs: A Commonsense Guide to Training and Living with Dogs]

Dog Bite Cost Statistics

30. Dog Bite and Other Dog-Related Injury Liability Claims Cost $854 Million in 2020

When a dog bite occurs, it’s possible to file a liability claim against the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. In 2020, insurers spent $854 million on dog bite and dog-related injury claims.

[Source: Insurance Information Institute]

31. The Average Cost Per Dog Bite Claim in 2020 was $50,425, a 12.3% Increase Over 2019

The cost per dog bite claim rose dramatically in 2020. While the average cost was $44,760 in 2019, it hit $50,425 in 2020.

Between 2003 and 2020, the cost per claim has actually gone up by 162%, partially due to the rising cost of medical care and larger awards to plaintiffs.

[Source: Insurance Information Institute]

32. At $71,243, Nebraska Has the Highest Average Cost for Dog Bite and Dog-Related Injury Claims

A somewhat surprising statistic, Nebraska actually has the highest average cost for dog-related injury claims in 2020, coming in at $71,243. In second was New York, which had an average cost of $66,817.

[Source: Insurance Information Institute]

33. California Has the Most Dog-Related Injury Claims, with 2,103 in 2020

In 2020, California had the most dog bite or dog-related injury insurance claims, with a total of 2,103. It’s possible California’s larger population – more than 39 million residents, making it the most populous state in the nation – plays a role, as that would increase the number of dogs present.

In second was Florida, which had 1,235. Florida is the third most populous state, coming in with more than 21.7 million residents.

[Source: Insurance Information Institute and Statista]

34. In 29 States, Dog Owners Are Financially and/or Criminally Liable for Injuries Caused by Their Pet

Overall, 29 states have legislation in place that makes dog owners financially and/or criminally liable for injuries to others caused by their pets.

[Source: Insurance Information Institute]

Bottom Line

Ultimately, the dog bite statistics above are fascinating. However, they don’t necessarily offer a complete picture. Many dog bites go unreported, particularly those that don’t require medical treatment.

Since larger dogs with stronger bites are more likely to cause serious injuries if they do bite, they end up with a reputation for aggression. Smaller dogs or those with less powerful bites may not cause such injuries, causing information about dog bite frequency in those breeds to go underreported.

In reality, the breed of a dog has little to do with aggressive behavior or the risk of biting. Instead, other factors usually play a more significant role. For example, training, abuse, supervision, being startled, a dog being ill, a dog being injured, and improper human behavior around the dog are all part of the equation.

About the Author

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Catherine Reed

Catherine Reed is a writer and researcher with experience writing about a wide variety of topics including personal finance, technology, and staffing.