random dogIn the previous page, Statistics and Soundbites, we spoke about the challenges in obtaining and interpreting research around dog bites and breed. We recommend reviewing that page were source credibility is discussed. Below are some studies we feel comfortable linking to and citing as credible sources of data.

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
December 2013
Co-occurrence of potentially preventable factors in 256 dog bite-related fatalities in the United States.

This is study that went to great lengths to procure reliable data and ensure it was analyzed fairly. The study authors looked at a large number of fatal dog attacks and identified a number of key risk factors. Four or more of these factors were present in 81% of fatal attacks.

  • Dog was not familiar to victim
  • Dog was not spayed or neutered (84% of cases)
  • Victim was vulnerable or had diminished capacity (e.g., was a child, elderly or ill)
  • Victim was alone
  • Dog was not a family dog – lived outside or was tethered (76% of cases
  • Dog was mismanaged (not trained, roaming loose)
  • History of abuse or neglect.

This study also addressed the issue of breed identification. In only 18% of cases was a reliable breed identification available. When these attacks were reported by the media, the breed identification differed from other sources 20-40% of the time.


American Veterinary Medical Association
April 2012
The role of breed in dog bite risk and prevention

This study deserves attention and is probably the best resource out there on breed and bite data. It is a peer-reviewed literature review of 36 studies over 35 years around the world, attempting to identify the most aggressive breeds or those most likely to bite. A single study can be compelling but can be subject to a variety of challenges. A thorough literature review is the best way to note trends and patterns.

In this review, there is a lot of variety in which breeds are identified as most aggressive or most likely to bite. German shepherds, pit bull, mixed breed, Rottweiler, Chows, Jack Russell, collies, and labs all emerge as top biters depending on the study and location. The biggest factor depends on the popularity of the breed in the community, and a variety of ownership factors. The recommendation is active enforcement of dog control ordinances.


Animal Welfare
November 2011
Aggression, behaviour, and animal care among pit bulls and other dogs adopted from an animal shelter

This study followed two groups of dogs adopted through an animal shelter: pit bull type dogs and others of similar size. The study provided no evidence of greater aggression or poorer care among adopted pit bulls compared to dogs of other breeds.


Applied Animal Behaviour Science
December 2008
Breed differences in canine aggression

Using a standardized research questionnaires, the authors evaluated a variety of breeds for aggression towards strangers, owners, and dogs. Some breeds showed higher levels of aggression in one, two, or all three categories.


Canadian Veterinary Journal
June 2008
Fatal dog attacks in Canada

Between 1990-2007 there were 28 fatalities from dog bite injuries. Analysis showed differences from similar studies done in the US, particularly when it came to breeds of dogs involved (predominantly sled dogs) and multiple vs. single dog attacks. Media reports of dog fatalities were used here but their limitations are discussed. Note: an updated list of dog bite related fatalities is at ChicoBandido.com.


Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
September 2000
Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks

This study noted that while some breeds make up a higher percentage of bites, this proportion changes over time, and any breed is capable of causing fatal injury. “several interacting factors affect a dog’s propensity to bite, including heredity, sex, early experience, socialization and training, health (medical and behavioural), reproductive status, quality of ownership and supervision, and victim behaviour.”