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Published on October 27, 2008 by Stanley oren, Ph.D., !.".S. . in anine orner Is your dog, potentially a lethal weapon? !ery time there is a media report o" someone being mauled by a dog this #uestion arises again in the minds o" many people. $peci"ically, the public is now worrying about the possibility that there might be certain breeds o" dogs which are %bad% or at least potentially unsa"e to &eep in the city. 'he reasoning goes that dogs ha!e been bred "or many purposes, and some, li&e (oberman pinchers and )erman shepherds ha!e been selected "or watchdog and guarding ser!ices. $ince these duties could re#uire them to bite people, the concern is that they might be predisposed to bite e!erybody. )athering statistics on dog bites is di""icult. *any bites are innocuous, such as those that result "rom an o!er-eager dog that too& a chun& o" your thumb when you o""ered him a treat. +thers are more se!ere but may be treated at home. +" those bites that actually re#uire medical treatment, many do not end up in any accessible data ban& and are thus lost to researchers. !en when bites are recorded there is o"ten no in"ormation on the breed o" dog in!ol!ed. ,ortunately, a study commissioned by the -.$. .ational /enter "or In0ury 1re!ention and /ontrol, which was published in 2000, does pro!ide some in"ormation. It is based upon the one class o" dog bites that must be registered, namely those resulting in death. 'he study spanned a period o" 12 years and "ound that there were 238 dog bite related deaths during that time--roughly 12 per year. In many cases the biters are mi4ed breed, so some estimate had to be made o" the breeds that went into them. 'he results clearly show that certain breeds are more li&ely to do this &ind o" damage as can be seen in the accompanying table. 1it bulls or pit bull-type dogs, and 5ottweiler or 5ottweiler crosses, appear as the culprits most o"ten. 'ogether these two groups account "or hal" o" all o" the dog bite "atalities.

Biting Dogs and Dangerous Breeds Some breeds bite more often, but other factors are important.

6hile this list ma&es it clear that dog breeds do matter, the study also "ound that some other "actors are important--such as the dog7sse4 and se4ual status. *ale dogs were 8.2 times more li&ely to "atally bite someone, and se4ually intact dogs were 2.8 times more li&ely to be in!ol!ed in attac&s than are neutered dogs. 6ho the !ictim is and what he does also plays a role. $adly, more than hal" o" the !ictims o" dog bites are children, aged 12 or younger. 9owe!er the !ictims o" many o" these dog bites o"ten play a part in precipitating the tragedy. In :3; o" dog bite "atalities, there was some suggestion that the dog was pro!o&ed by being struc&, po&ed in the eye, ha!ing things thrown at it etc. 'he beha!ior o" the dog7s owners was also important. (ogs that are chained, or &ept con"ined in a small yard, are appro4imately 3 times more li&ely to "atally bite people. +ne important statistic that con"irms the owner7s role in their dog7s actions is that only 11.2; o" dogs that bite ha!e e!er been gi!en any obedience training. <lthough all o" this may sound "rightening you should not go out and shoot your pet dog to protect your "amily and neighbors "rom imminent death or in0ury "rom his teeth. <ccording to data "rom the .ational /enter "or 9ealth $tatistics in the -.$., your chance o" dying "rom being struc& by a bolt o" lightning is nearly 8 times higher than your chance o" being &illed by =assie or 5o!er.