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10 Dog Breeds Most Likely to Bite Humans (With Dog Bite Statistics)

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 23, 2024 by Dogster Team

Angry German Shepherd

10 Dog Breeds Most Likely to Bite Humans (With Dog Bite Statistics)

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REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

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The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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It’s not every day that you get bitten by a dog, but these things do happen from time to time, and many people worry about which breeds are considered the most dangerous. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), more than 4 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States every year, and roughly 800,000 of those victims will seek medical attention.

Reliable dog bite statistics are hard to come by, mainly because very few institutions are reliably tracking these incidents and categorizing them by breed. Therefore, we looked at a broad range of sources that gauge the likelihood of a dog breed to bite.

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How We Compiled the List

To compile this list, we reviewed a list of fatalities caused by dog bites between 2005 and 2019 in the United States and a controlled study on a breed’s likelihood to bite based on its potential to be dangerous to the public. For the controlled study, toy and small breeds were not included. Rather, it was a mix of 170 medium to large breeds that participated. The study took place in Northern Italy and was overseen by veterinarians and dog behaviorists. Eighty-seven out of the 170 dogs observed showed aggression towards humans.

Important Note: Although the following list covers the breeds that, through reports and statistics, feature highly in terms of bite incidents, it is important to note that the dogs that are most likely to bite, regardless of breed, are:

  • The ones that feel frightened, threatened, cornered, or in pain.
  • Those who were not given adequate socialization when they were young.
  • Those who have been taught to expect pain, punishment, and mistreatment from humans.
  • Those who have not been shown how to appropriately interact with people.

Any dog of any breed can bite under the right (or wrong) conditions, but the following breeds have been identified as more frequent biters.

The 10 Dog Breeds Most Likely to Bite Humans

1. Pit Bull/Pit Bull Type Breeds

Agressive Pitbull Terrier
Image Credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock

Pit Bulls and Pit Bull types are often the first breed people think of when it comes to biting humans. Over the recorded 14-year period, this breed type caused 346 fatalities. It is important to note that Pit Bulls often refer to a group of breeds that share similar characteristics rather than one breed on its own. Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs, and Bull Terriers are a few breeds that can get lumped into the Pit Bull category. So, those 346 fatalities could have been caused by a mix of breeds that resemble Pit Bulls which would have increased the number of bites attributed to Pit Bulls.

In the controlled study, nine out of the 87 dogs that showed aggression toward humans were Pit Bull types (Pit Bulls and American Pit Bulls).


2. American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier Dog Breed in the woods
Image Credit: Crazypitbull, Pixabay

As we discussed earlier, American Staffordshire Terriers often get categorized as Pit Bulls, so the study we used did not have specific statistics on them. We can only speculate that some of the 346 fatal bites were caused by Staffies based on what we learned from the controlled study on aggression. Seven out of the 87 aggressive dogs were American Staffordshire Terriers.


3. Rottweiler

Angry Rottweiler
Image Credit: Jan Mlkvy, Shutterstock

The next dog on our list is the Rottweiler. In the dog bite fatality stat compilation, Rottweilers fatally killed 51 people over that 14-year period. In the controlled study, six Rotties showed aggression towards humans.

Rottweilers are large, strong dogs bred to be cattle dogs. Over the years, their protective instincts have made them one of the dogs most likely to bite a human. However, other studies show that while they are more likely to bite, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the most aggressive. In general, Rottweilers are well-behaved and social if they have proper training.


4. German Shepherd

german shepherd dog barking
Image Credit: Dyrefotografi, Shutterstock

It is probably not surprising to see German Shepherds on this list. These dogs are often used as police dogs in several countries and have quite a powerful bite force of 360.4 Newtons. The controlled study showed that 11 German Shepherds showed aggression toward humans. This breed was also responsible for 22 fatalities.


5. Mixed Breeds/Crossbreeds

Papillon Maltese mix breed dog in the park
Image Credit: Steve Bruckmann, Shutterstock

In the controlled study, mixed breeds made up 27.6% of aggressive tendencies towards humans (24 dogs out of 87). Of course, a mixed-breed dog can be almost anything, including a combination of the aforementioned breeds on this list. Mixed breeds accounted for 27 fatalities over the 14-year period.


6. Mastiff

Mallorquin Mastiff charging at someone
Image Credit: katatonia82, Shutterstock

Unfortunately, the data compiled on fatal dog bites for this breed includes Italian, English, South African, and Neapolitan Mastiffs, Bullmastiffs, and Mastiff-mixes. This makes the data similar to the Pit Bulls situation. However, the Mastiff-type accounted for 18 fatalities.


7. American Bulldog

American Bulldog running in the forest
Image Credit: Volchock, Shutterstock

American Bulldogs were bred to fight, so it is not surprising to see them on this list. They have been the cause of 16 fatalities. However, this breed was not included in the controlled study. The English Bulldog was, but only one showed aggression toward humans.


8. Husky

Siberian Husky barking angrily
Image Credit: travelarium.ph, Shutterstock

Siberian Huskies are energetic and loving, but their temperament can be wildly unpredictable. Statistics showed that Huskies caused 14 fatalities. This breed was not featured in the controlled study.


9. Labrador Retriever

Black Labrador Retriever running in the grass
Image Credit: Andreas Holz, Shutterstock

It is shocking that this dog is featured on our list. Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular breed in the United States for years. However, nine have been involved in fatal attacks. It’s likely that the sheer number of Labs kept as pets is what accounts for them having such a high fatal attack number.This breed was not included in the controlled study, most likely due to their reputation for being friendly and good family dogs.


10. Boxer

Portrait of a great German boxer dog
Image Credit: Lenkadan, Shutterstock

This is another dog breed that was bred as a bull baiter. The Boxer was featured in the study, noting that two of them showed aggression towards humans, and seven of them were involved in fatal attacks on humans.*

* The Boxer was included in a 2005 to 2017 study


Other Breeds That Have the Potential to Bite Humans

The controlled study done in Northern Italy had some other dog breeds that showed aggression toward humans but were not included in the fatality stats. Here are those breeds that showed aggression in two to three people:

  • Argentinian Dogo
  • Cane Corso
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Maremmano Abruzzese Shepherd
  • Saint Bernard

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Conclusion

There really isn’t any reason to fear dogs just because of the breed that they are. If a dog is going to attack you, there are many underlying factors for that behavior, most of which have nothing to actually do with the breed itself. In order to help prevent dog bites, avoid startling or threatening dogs, don’t try to pet or approach dogs that you don’t know, watch for other signs of aggressiveness first, such as growling, hair standing on end, ears pinned, or a stiff stance, and move away from the dog slowly and quietly.


Featured Image Credit: Victoria Antonova, Shutterstock

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