In 2015, a 5 year-old boy by the name of James Nevils III was brutally attacked and ultimately killed by a pit bull owned by his cousin. He was visiting the cousin's home when after playing outside with his 7 year-old sister, the dog suddenly latched onto his throat and shook him by the neck.
His mother dragged the dog into the yard to get help by attracting the attention of neighbors. An adult and two teenagers tried to get the pit bull off the boy by stabbing it with a knife and beating it with a pole and a brick, but it wouldn't let go! Both the child and the dog died as a result of the incident. Cries for the immediate culling of all pit bulls immediately sounded in comment sections across the internet.
When you're going to examine something without bias it's always best to first look at the statistics. There is a lot of debate about how dangerous pit bulls really are and this article is not going to be looking at the opinions of both sides of that particular debate but rather at statistics showing the number of deaths caused by dog breeds. This keeps things simple so that parents that want to get a cuddly little puppy for their children can have the facts and figures necessary to make an informed choice.
A look at the dog attack stats
In 2015 in the United States there were 34 fatalities that took place due to dog bites. Of these deaths from dog bites, 82% were from pit bulls, 9% were from Rottweilers, 6% were from American bulldogs, 6% were from unknown dog breeds and 3% were from 6 different breeds that included a German shepherd mix, a lab mix, a mixed breed, a husky, a golden retriever mix, and a Rhodesian ridgeback mix. Although there were 34 deaths, in some cases there were more than one dog contributing to the death so there were actually 41 dogs counted in the statistics.
These are the statistics for fatalities that were due to dog bites in the United States in 2015. They do not take into account the thousands upon thousands of dog bites that resulted in injuries across the country. The statistics from the fatalities can be trusted since they have been noted on record.
Still, let's move on to 2020 and look at a chart of fatal dog attacks from DogsBite.org, the top authority on dog attacks. Properly accounted for, we see that pit bulls plus additional bull breeds (and mastiff-type guard dogs and war dogs) now account for 87% (40) of all dog bite-related deaths.
When it comes to just dog bites alone, on the other hand, there are really no statistics that can be trusted 100%. There are a lot of people that treat their dog bites at home and don't visit a doctor or a hospital when they have been bitten. Even in the case of severe dog bites, some people choose to treat them at home without getting professional assistance. We don't advocate that, of course, since a dog bite that breaks the skin can be very dangerous. We are just stating it as fact. For one reason or another, such as lack of health insurance, treating the bite with natural methods or living far from a treatment center, many people do take care of their bites at home and they are never recorded in official records.
Most of the official records for dog bites are also coming from hospitals and not from smaller clinics or private doctor's offices. This skews the statistics so that they cannot be totally trusted. As well, many people that go in to get their dog bites treated have mixed breeds and are guessing at the type of dog they have.
The most dangerous dog breeds
Remember that this list is not the end all and be all and should only be used as a basic guideline. It can help you determine the types of dogs you may want to avoid because they are potentially dangerous.
With so many different dog breeds in the world and their wildly different temperaments, it really does make sense to do your research before getting one -- especially when a child lives in the home.
German shepherds are very intelligent and highly trainable dogs but they will require an alpha leader to keep them under control.
These are large dogs with large jaws. Enough said.
If you decide to get one of these dogs you should be experienced with dog training and have opportunity for exercising them if living in a small home/apt. Akitas are not advised for first-time dog owners.
This dog breed is also nicknamed the lion dog. It may bite more than other dogs due to its nickname! Like akitas, they should be regularly exercised.
You won't want to provoke one of these dogs. They have a powerful bite along with strong jaws.
These dogs are known to be stubborn so make sure that you have plenty of dog experience before owning one. They are huge dogs and make fantastic guard dogs.
Rottweilers are full of muscle and mass so keep that in mind before getting one when you have children around. As well, they make up a non-trivial chunk of fatal dog attacks. When they do bite, it hurts!
We've all seen those horrific videos, haven't we?
And there's science backing up those prejudices. Pit bulls are notorious for not only biting but for locking onto their victims with their jaws and not letting go almost no matter what. Pit bulls can also turn on their own owners for any reason, like the sound of a twig snapping or a facial expression they can't understand.
Recently police in Virginia discovered two pit bulls in the forest casually eating their female owner's rib cage. The View from a Drawbridge says: "the cold hard facts are these: Pit bulls and close pit mixes caused 3617 of the total number of dogs attacking humans in fatal and disfiguring cases. That’s 69% of all such attacks by all breeds."
When you're looking for a suitable dog that will live in an environment where children reside, it's always best to learn more about each individual breed you’re considering. Then, you'll also have other things to think about as well.
You can generalize about a dog breed and say that one is more dangerous than another but this doesn't take an individual dog's personality into account. You can have a litter of 12 puppies where one is dangerously violent and the other 11 are as harmless as pussycats. Sometimes it all depends on the personality of the dog. You just won't know what your dog will be like until he gets older and while you can certainly base part of your decision on breed traits, don't count on them completely.
The other thing that will help determine a dog's personality is his owner. If the dog is abused he will act differently than he would in a normal household environment. There are many people that will tell you that a pit bull is only as dangerous as his owner. Again, this may be partially true but there are just too many pit bull attacks that have occurred with pit bulls coming from loving homes that cannot be ignored.
If you're looking for a great dog for your child, consider taking in a rescue. That may sound counter-intuitive, but the organization you get him from will have a record of his personality and behavior. This will give you insight as to whether or not he would be a dangerous addition to the family or a fun-loving friend for years to come.
You can also look at the facts listed above and couple that with the idea of getting a rescue. Not only will you be more likely to find the ideal dog for you and your family but you'll be helping out a doggie that is desperately waiting for a loving family.