A dog who is likely to bite people tends to be poorly socialized, afraid, threatened, injured or protecting his family. No one dog breed is more likely to bite than another. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that, “Breed is a poor sole predictor of dog bites.” A dog owner can minimize the risk of his dog biting by providing proper socialization and spaying or neutering.
All Dogs Can Bite
People bitten by a large breed dog are more likely to seek medical treatment and to report the bite. Large dogs cause greater injury, but that doesn’t mean that they’re any more likely to bite than a small dog. A dog of any breed may bite if she is:
- Protecting her home or family
- Protecting her puppies
- Guarding her bone, toy or food
- Sick or injured
Dog Owner Responsibility
As the owner of any breed, it’s your responsibility to socialize your dog so he’s less likely to bite. Ideally, socialization begins when he’s a puppy. Take him out in public so he can experience a variety of people, sights and sounds. Nervous, frightened dogs are more likely to bite people or fight with other dogs.
Spay or neuter your dog. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that neutered dogs are less aggressive and less likely to bite. You’ll decrease the possibility that your dog bites a person, and prevent unwanted puppies.
Children are Dog Bite Victims
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that children account for half of the approximately 800,000 dog bites requiring medical attention every year. The ASPCA recommends teaching your child how to interact with a dog to avoid bites:
- Ask a dog owner for permission before petting an unfamiliar dog.
- Let a dog sniff your hand first. Then pet his shoulders and chest. Don’t touch a dog’s head until he gets to know you.
- Don’t pet or grab a dog when he’s eating, sleeping or chewing on a bone. He may bite if he’s startled or afraid that you’ll take his food or toy.
- Even friendly dogs can bite if you pull their tail or ears or tease them.
- Dogs protect their homes. When he’s behind the fence in his yard, say a friendly, “hello,” to a pup, but don’t try pet him.
The American Veterinary Medical Association states that the training and neutering status of an individual dog is a greater factor than breed when predicting the likelihood of biting. The association believes that restricting ownership of any breed, “as a basis for dog bite prevention is unfounded.”
While no studies have found particular breeds to be more likely to bite, owners of pit bull-type breeds, German shepherds, huskies, Rottweilers or other breeds may have difficulty renting an apartment or purchasing homeowner’s insurance. Many insurance companies have restrictions on owners’ dog breeds due to liability concerns. For instance, Allstate states that dog bite claims made up more than 30 percent of that company’s homeowner’s insurance claims in 2013.
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Cate Rushton has been a freelance writer since 1999, specializing in wildlife and outdoor activities. Her published works also cover relationships, gardening and travel on various websites. Rushton holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.