The Facts About Dog Bites
Dog bites are an incredibly common occurrence. 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States. This breaks down to a person being bitten by a dog every 75 seconds and over 1,000 people are sent to the emergency room every day as a result. In 2012, 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery following a dog bite.
Big or small, any dog with teeth is capable of biting. Even the friendliest of dogs under ordinary circumstances might bite a person if they feel threatened. DogsBite.org compiled dog bite data between 2009 and 2013 and found that the top breeds linked to fatal dog bites are pit bulls, rottweilers, huskies, and german shepherds. Pit bulls alone caused 62.2% of fatal dog bites from 2009-2013. Rottweilers came in second with 11.7%, and huskies and German shepherds both caused 3.9% of dog bite fatalities.
However, just because a breed isn’t commonly linked to dog bite fatalities, that doesn’t mean they don’t have reputations for biting. When you look at the statistics for all dog bites, not just fatal ones, you’ll see plenty of the usual suspects like pit bulls, rottweilers, and german shepherds. But you might be surprised to see many small breeds like chihuahuas, dachshunds, and cocker spaniels. Veterinarians are more likely to be bitten by a chihuahua than any other breed of dog. Dachshunds may be small, but they have big reputations for aggression. Studies have shown that 1 in 5 dachshunds have either bitten or attempted to bite other strangers or other dogs and 1 in 12 have snapped at or tried biting their owners.
When a person is bitten by a dog, the most likely place they are to be bitten is their hands. Hands are bitten in 35% of all dog bite cases. 23% of dog bites happen on legs, 19% happen above the neck, and 15% happen on arms.
Statistically speaking, you are much more likely to be bitten by a friend or family member’s dog than you are by a stranger’s dog. 77% of all dog bite victims are bitten by dogs that belonged to a friend or family member. The majority of all dog bites also occur on the dog owner’s property. In 2013, 38% of all fatal dog bites happened while the victim was either visiting or temporarily living with the dog’s owner. Between 2006 and 2008, 18% of fatal dog attacks happened off of the owner’s property.
Dog bites are not only very common, they are also very expensive. A 2010 study found that the average cost of being hospitalized following a dog bite was $18,200, which is about 50% higher than the average cost of a hospital stay following an ordinary injury. Dog bite victims are estimated to suffer a financial loss of $1-2 billion annually. In 2012, dog bites were responsible for over one third of all homeowners insurance liability claims. The average cost insurance companies paid for dog bites was $25,714, which was up 55.3% from 2003.