If you’ve ever been bitten by a dog, you know how traumatic it can be. I was bitten as a child by a neighbor’s dog and then my arm was mauled by a rescue dog I was working with a couple of years ago. I still have scars – both physical and emotional – from both incidences and neither were too severe. One of the bites was from a German Shepherd and the other from a Labrador – both common breeds that I grew up around. But when I see a dog that looks like either of the ones that bit me, I get anxious, break out in a cold sweat and have a mini-panic attack. For those who have suffered much more serious injuries from an animal attacks, I can only imagine how much more difficult this can be.
Dog bites are scary not only when they happen but in treatment and outcomes. Dog bites can be deep jagged wounds that can be difficult to stitch up and as a result, the scarring can be profound and there’s a serious risk of infection (it’s an urban legend that dogs have cleaner mouths than people). And if it is a child that’s attacked, there is a much greater risk of fatality. Because children are small by design, they are on eye level with the dog. Injuries are common to the face and skull when dogs bite children making these attacks much more traumatic, likely to leave the child with life-long scars and often result in death.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
Most of the time, aggressive behavior in dogs stems from irresponsible owners. Owners that choose breeds known to be potentially dangerous should be sure to properly train and socialize their animals to lower the risk of an attack. While some breeds are more prone to aggression, training can address this. Dogs bite when they are protecting their territory, protecting their owner, feel threatened, are startled, are touched in places they don’t like to be touched (stomach, feet, face), when they are under-exercised, not properly socialized, are kept chained or – the worst case scenario – as a result of being actively encouraged to be aggressive!
When dealing with a dog you don’t know, taking a hands-off policy is wise. And if you have children, keeping them up and away from animals is prudent. Many dog bites happen in the home with a dog you or your child are accustomed to. You have to be mindful that no matter what training you’ve offered and comfort level you have, animals are animals and sometimes their nature will override the nurture!
Here are the five dog breeds that are most likely to bite so you know to use caution!
#1 Pit Bull
It seems every other week I hear a news story about a pit bull attack that is gruesome and off-putting. Pit bulls have been bred over the years for aggression, so this is not entirely surprising. Pit bulls can bite with no warning and little or no provocation. They always top the list of dangerous dog breeds and most likely to bite lists and, as a result, account for over 60% of dog bite fatalities. Take great caution with this breed – particularly with small children around! I know pit bulls have vocal defenders saying the breed isn’t dangerous, but I’m going to trust the statistics and avoid them as a rule.
Rottweilers are another breed known for aggressive behavior. Rotties have genetic herding and guarding instincts hard-wired that can result in over-protective behavior that can lead to attacks. Because this is a physically imposing breed with a large head, they have a bone crushing jaw strength. My best friend had a Rottweiler that was very sweet-natured around people he knew, but had to be put down after he mauled someone who reached his arm into their car to pet the dog. While the attack was brutal, the “victim” should never have put his hand into the car. If you ever see a dog in a car, no matter how cute, never reach in to pet it – you’re violating their territory!
#3 German Shepherd
German Shepherds are a beautiful, intelligent breed heavily used as police K9 animals and for home protection. It’s their protective instincts that most often lead to attacks involving intruders on their territory or strangers. This territoriality is what usually leads to aggression rather than an attack coming out of the blue. It was a German Shepherd that bit me as a child after I wandered into a neighbor’s yard when they weren’t home. The dog growled, I ran and this triggered something in what was ordinarily a kind family pet that I had been around often without incident. To this day, I admire the beauty of Shepherds from afar because of this childhood bite!
#4 Siberian Husky
Siberian Huskies are another highly intelligent dog breed but one with exuberance that needs to be exercised often and well-trained to ensure they are safe to be around. Having had friends with huskies, I know these dogs can play rough and will plow you over without a second thought. Huskies were bred to be working animals and so if they sit around your house all day with nothing to do and nowhere to play, they are going to get frustrated which can lead to an attack. Because they are such beautiful animals, they are often approached by strangers eager to check them out – if they’ve not been properly socialized, this can turn dangerous!
Boxers are similar to rottweilers and pit bulls in bite strength and can be aggressive due to breeding. They are a big dog that can be stubborn and a challenge to train. What’s more, they are also highly protective. We have friends with a rescue boxer that sometimes gets aggressive when visiting children horseplay with the children of the household. It’s best to ask your friends to put their dog away when you visit if it shows any signs of aggression including growling, hackles up or charging. With dog bites, there are no take-backs, so caution is never a bad idea.
Any Dog Can Bite!
Any dog can be dangerous in the wrong situation. Dogs that aren’t socialized, are kept chained or locked up or are not exercised regularly are more likely to bite out of frustration. Dogs that are abused or encouraged in their aggression are much more likely to attack. Even the best and most gentle breed of dog can be aggressive if mistreated, but when a breed already has a propensity for aggression, the risks are much greater that an attack can occur.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured from a dog bite or if you have lost a loved one to an animal attack, Nelson Barry can help! Call us now for a free consultation to discuss your injuries and what we can do for you.