In a range of studies, the breeds found to be highly represented in biting incidents were German Shepherd Dog,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16 pit bull type,5,9,13,16,17,18,19,20,21 mixed breed,1,4,6,8,10,11,12,22 Rottweiler,15,19,21,23 Chow Chow,7,20 Jack Russell Terrier,18,23 and others (Collie,3 Springer Spaniel14 Saint Bernard,17 and Labrador Retriever2 ). If you consider only the much smaller number of cases that resulted in very severe injuries or fatalities,17,19 pit bull-type dogs are more frequently identified. However this may relate to the popularity of the breed in the victim's community, reporting biases and the dog's treatment by its owner (e.g., use as fighting dogs17). It is worth noting that fatal dog attacks in some areas of Canada are attributed mainly to sled dogs and Siberian Huskies,43 presumably due to the regional prevalence of these breeds. See Table 1 for a summary of breed data related to bite injuries.
The prevalence of particular dog breeds can also change rapidly over time, often influenced by distinct peaks of popularity for specific breeds. It seems that increased popularity is sometimes followed by increases in bite reports in some large breeds. For example there was a distinct peak in American Kennel Club registration of Rottweilers24 between 1990 and 1995, and they come at the top of the list of 'biting breeds' for the first time in studies of bites causing hospitalization in the late 90s and early 2000s.21,23,15,45 While it must be noted that other fad breeds such as Dalmatians and Irish setters do not seem to make similar appearances, any estimate of breed-based risk must take into account the prevalence of the breed in the population at the time and place of serious biting events.25
For example, researchers may compare well-documented bite cases with matched control households. Using this method, one study found that the breeds disproportionately involved in bite injuries requiring medical attention in the Denver area (where pit bull types are not permitted) were the German Shepherd Dog and Chow Chow.51
Other studies use estimates of breed prevalence that do not relate specifically to the households where the bites occurred, such as general community surveys, breed registries, licensed dogs or animal shelter populations (See Table 2.). These studies implicate the German Shepherd Dog and crosses47,48,49,50,51 and various other breeds (mixed breed,49,50 Cocker spaniel,48,52 Chow Chow,51,52 Collie,48 Doberman,47 Lhasa Apso,35,52 Rottweiler,38 Springer Spaniel,34 Shih Tsu,34 and Poodle49).
Based on behavioral assessments and owner surveys the breeds that were more aggressive towards people were small to medium-sized dogs such as the collies, toy breeds and spaniels.26,27,28,29 For example, a survey of general veterinary clientele in Canada (specifically practices in New Brunswick, Novia Scotia, and Prince Edward Island) identified Lhasa Apso, Springer spaniel and Shih Tsu as more likely to bite.34
While small dogs may be more aggressive their size means they are less likely to inflict serious bite injury except on vulnerable individuals or as part of a pack attack.30 Referrals for aggression problem more closely approximate the breeds implicated in serious bite attacks, probably because owners are more likely to seek treatment for aggression in dogs that are large enough to be dangerous. Larger dogs (regardless of breed) are implicated in more attacks on humans31 and other dogs.32
Certain large breeds are notably under-represented in bite statistics such as large hounds and retrievers (e.g., Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers)28,34—although even these breeds may have known aggressive subtypes.33 Results relating to German Shepherd Dogs are mixed,29,34 suggesting there may be particularly high variability in this breed, perhaps depending on regional subtypes or ownership factors.
It should also be considered that the incidence of pit bull-type dogs' involvement in severe and fatal attacks may represent high prevalence in neighborhoods that present high risk to the young children who are the most common victim of severe or fatal attacks. And as owners of stigmatized breeds are more likely to have involvement in criminal and/or violent acts37—breed correlations may have the owner's behavior as the underlying causal factor.
While some study authors suggest limiting ownership of specific breeds might reduce injuries (e.g., pit bull type,38 German Shepherd Dog39) it has not been demonstrated that breed-specific bans affect the rate or severity of bite injuries occurring in the community.8 Factors that are reliably associated with serious dog bite injury (requiring hospital treatment) in the United States are the victim being a young child and the dog being familiar (belonging to the family, a family friend or neighbor).40,41 Strategies known to result in decreased bite incidents include active enforcement of dog control ordinances (ticketing)42.
See Also:National Animal Control Association Guideline Statement: "Dangerous and/or vicious animals should be labeled as such as a result of their actions or behavior and not because of their breed."
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