‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts was a book that instilled in me a deep fear of stray dogs. As it turns out, however, mongrels are not the only type of dogs that pose a threat to human safety. Dog bites and attacks have been a menace to society from the time humans domesticated dogs. Though they are generally friendly creatures, listed below are some breeds of dogs that bite viciously and at the slightest provocation, sometimes going so far as to cause fatalities. A 2009 report by DogsBite brought up some startling statistics- just 19 breeds of dogs are in totality responsible for 88 deaths that occurred in the three year period preceding the study. Read on to know more-
They’re small and cute and even slightly ridiculous. Who would think that these adorable little sausage shaped dogs could transform into aggressive monsters at times. But studies have shown that one in twelve dachshunds have often snapped at or tried to bite their owners. One in five have bitten or attempted to bite other dogs or strangers. Dachshunds, in fact, have made it to the list of most aggressive dogs many times over. A study showed that 20.6% of dachshunds are aggressive towards strangers and often lash out at them, more than any other dog breed. They are a clear example of why small does not always equate to cute.
Real life incident- A lady in Illinois Linda Floyd suffered from an unpleasant experience when her dachshund Roscoe chewed off her big toe while she slept.
9. Alaskan Malamute
Malamutes are also known as sled dogs. They are generally friendly with humans but may display aggression towards smaller animals. In one study, they were shown to be responsible for 12 deaths in a 20 year period due to their biting. Their size- around 25 inches- contributes towards making their bite more dangerous.
Real life incident- In 2005, an Alaskan Malamute named Bolt had to be euthanized after it bit two women in the face.
The smallest of all known dog breeds and right up there with the most vicious of them. These dogs generally grow up to only about ten to twelve inches but seem to try very hard to compensate for their small size by being extremely aggressive. They are, in fact, not recommended for households with small children because of how easily they are easily provoked. A 2009 study by The Coalition for Living Safely With Dogs and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association data shows that Chihuahuas are most likely to bite their vets, more so than any other breed. The shape of a Chihuahua’s teeth- fine and sharp- much like a cat’s ensure greater penetration, making the dog’s bite more painful.
Real life incident(s)- A man in Utah almost lost a finger when his neighbour’s Chihuahua bit him on his middle finger. In another incident, a teacup Chihuahua named Molly was designated as officially dangerous after she bit a mailman.
7. Chow Chow
These dogs are originally from China, where they were used to guard houses, work, and as a source of fur. Their teddy bear-like appearance hides beneath it some primitive characteristics. Chow Chows are naturally unpredictable and often aggressive. In between 1979 and 1998, Chow Chows were responsible for eight human fatalities. They are especially aggressive towards strangers, and extremely protective of their owners. Their high rate of attacking owners and other animals is often a result of poor socialization in puppy-hood and incapable owners. Some insurance companies even consider them high-risk pets to own.
6. Great Dane
As the name suggests, these dogs are great. They’re h.u.g.e. Great Danes hold the world record for being the tallest dogs, the biggest one measuring a shocking 44 inches from paw to head. The sheer size of these dogs makes their bite more hazardous. Thankfully, these dogs are not very aggressive and are often referred to as ‘gentle giants.’ They are still, however, ranked ninth on the CDC list of dangerous dogs, and account for nine fatalities in a time period of less than twenty years.
Real life incident- in a freak incident, a Great Dane bit a seventeen month old baby at a pet store in Wisconsin. In another rare show of aggression, a Great Dane grabbed a six month old baby girl from her mother’s arms and dropped her onto the street in 2010
5. Wolf Hybrids or Wolfdogs
Since these dogs are hybrids of wolves and dogs, they inherit certain primitive, aggressive characteristics of their wolf ancestors. With fifteen fatalities in two decades attributed to them, wolfdogs are rated fifth in the list of most dangerous dogs according to CDC. Wolfdogs are also ‘teethy’ while playing with their owners, which means that they often end up biting people unintentionally. Mother dogs bite puppies in order to modify their behaviour. What makes wolfdogs bites even more dangerous is the fact that there is no approved rabies vaccine for wolves, so even a vaccinated wolfdog may transmit rabies if it bites you.
Real life incident- In a tragic incident in March this year, a wolfdog named Sassy bit off her eleven year old owner’s pinky finger and swallowed it up whole. Sassy was killed later in order to recover the finger.
4. Cocker Spaniels
A surprise entry on this list. Cocker Spaniels are fun-loving, playful and good natured pets. They’re one of the most popular dog breeds to keep as pets. However, these little dogs are also notorious for biting people a lot. A study by Cambridge University brought up surprising results- solid coloured cocker spaniels were likely to be more aggressive. English Cocker Spaniels also have a higher tendency towards owner and stranger directed aggression. In Palm Beach County in 1992, this breed accounted for 59 bites out of the 2,234 reported. Children were the likeliest target of these dogs, with 40% of the victims being under ten years of age.
Real life incident- a cocker spaniel in Wharton bit a 52 year old woman on the leg. She suffered from puncture wounds and had to be hospitalized.
3. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is a large sized breed of dog that originated in (obviously) Germany. With 17 fatalities attributed to them, they are definitely a dangerous breed to have around. In fact, one source suggests that German Shepherds are responsible for more dog bites in the USA than any other breed. They are notorious for biting smaller dogs. The bite of a German Shepherd is the second strongest amongst dogs, right after a Rottweiler’s. It has a force of approximately 238 pounds force. Incorrect socializing of this breed from the very beginning can result in aggressive behaviour later on which consequently manifests itself in problems of biting others.
Real life incident- Cracker, a German Shepherd in Appleton, was deemed dangerous after it bit a mailman twice over a period of seven months. Cracker also bit and attacked a neighbour’s pet Chihuahua.
Rottweilers are extremely powerful dogs. In the CDC study, they were proven to be responsible for an astounding number of 39 fatalities. In 2011, four deaths were reported to have been caused by this breed. Rottweilers are banned in Poland, Romania and Ireland, among other countries. The aggression they display often stems from their natural guarding instincts or is territorial aggression. Shocking statistics reveal that Rottweilers killed about one citizen every 87 days in the USA. The bite force of this breed is also significantly higher than most others at 328 pounds of force. In just four years (79-82) there were 24,195 reported cases of Rottweiler bites.
Real life incident- in 2010, Lesley Banks died due to septicaemia after her Rottweiler bit her. This was the same dog who had once saved Lesley from a fire in 2009
1. Pit Bull
Pit Bulls have truly earned their reputation for the most aggressive breed of dogs, as well as their number one spot on this list. The CDC research attributes 66 deaths to Pit Bull bites and attacks. A study shows that 94% of pit bull attacks are unprovoked, a fact that makes this breed all the more dangerous. This breed of dogs is responsible for one third of all dog bites in the USA. Pit Bulls are vicious and naturally aggressive, and are often bred for illegal dog fighting. They also tend to attack smaller animals and young children. It is because of this that many countries have banned this particular breed.
Real life incident- Pamela Devitt died after being bitten by a Pit Bull 150-200 times in California. The dog’s owner Alex Jackson was charged with murder. Jackson, according to the police, knew his dogs were vicious and had attacked people earlier as well.