Dog Bite Facts

  • There are approximately 4.5 million reported dog bites annually in the United States (nearly 2% of the American population). The majority of dog bites are never reported to local authorities.
  • 40% of American dog owners acquired pets primarily for protection-including German shepherds, Rottweilers, Mastiffs and Doberman Pinschers.
  • Nationwide, U.S. Postal Service carriers suffered 3,423 dog attacks and bites in 2003.
  • According to the American Medical Association, dog bites are the second leading cause of childhood injury, surpassing playground accidents.
  • Dog bites to people of the male gender are approximately 2 times greater than the incidence involving females.
  • Dogs that are licensed with an identifiable owner are implicated in the vast majority of dog bites (compared with strays).
  • Dogs not known to the victim account for approximately 10 - 20% of all reported dog bites.
  • Dogs between 1 and 5 years are involved in more dog bite incidences than dogs older than 6 years. Male dogs are more frequently involved when compared with female dogs.
  • Mixed breeds and not pure bred dogs are the type of dog most often involved in inflicting bites to people. The pure-bred dogs most often involved are German Shepherds and Chow chows.
  • The list of breeds most involved in both bite injuries and fatalities changes from year to year and from one area of the country to another, depending on the popularity of the breed.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document that a chained dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than an unchained dog.
  • Canines not spayed or neutered are three times more likely to bite than sterilized ones.
  • Of the estimated 4.7 million people who were bitten by dogs in 1994, 800,000 sought medical care. Of these, 332,000 needed treatment in emergency rooms, and 6,000 were hospitalized.
  • The average hospital stay for a dog-bite injury was 3.6 days.
  • Emergency room costs for dog bite victims in the United States was about $102 million in 1994, and overall direct medical costs was about $165 million.
  • The majority of dog bites to adult humans are inflicted to the lower extremities followed by bites to the upper extremities including the head, face and neck. For children, 77% of dog bite injuries are to facial areas.
  • According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites accounted for about one-quarter of all claims on homeowner's insurance, costing more than $321 million in 2003. --In 2002, the latest year for which numbers are available, the average claim for a dog bite was $16,600.
  • Dog attacks account for one-third of all liability claims on homeowners' insurance policies. According to statistics, the insurance industry paid out more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims in 1998 alone.
  • From 1979 to 1996, dog attacks resulted in more than 300 human dog bite related deaths in the United States. Most of the victims were children.
  • Approximately 20 people die every year as a result of a dog attack in the United States. --By far, the majority of the victims are children.
  • In the two year period from 1997 to 1998, twenty-seven people died as a result of dog bite attacks (18 in 1997, and 9 in 1998).
  • Annually in the United States there are approximately 20 human fatalities directly resulting from a dog attack.
  • The breeds most often involved in fatal attacks are Rottweilers and Pit bulls.
  • In the United States, pit bulls make up one to three per cent of the overall dog population and cause more than 50%  of serious attacks.
  • Of the 27 people who died as a result of dog bite attacks in 1997 and 1998, 67% involved unrestrained dogs on the owner's property; 19% involved unrestrained dogs off the owner's property; 11% involved restrained dogs on the owner's property; and 4% involved a restrained dog off the owner's property.
  • Of the 27 people who died as a result of dog bite attacks during 1997 and 1998, 67% involved an attack by 1 dog; 19% involved an attack by 2 dogs; and 15% involved an attack by 3 or more dogs.
  • From 1979 to 1998, at least 25 breeds of dogs have been involved in bite related deaths. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers were involved in more than 50% of these incidences. 
James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller