Dog Bite Statistics

centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention (1)

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates half of all children 12 years-of-age and under have been bitten by a dog.

In many cases, teasing or an unintentional provocation, such as appoaching a dog while it’s eating or sleeping, can lead to a dog bite or even worse, an attack.  The vast majority of dog bites are from a dog that the child is acquainted with – his or her own, a neighbor’s, or a friend’s dog.  Seventy nine percent of fatal dog attacks are on children. (Dog Bite-Related Fatalities — United States, 1995-1996, MMWR 46(21):463-467, 1997.) Over eighty seven percent of dog bite fatalities involving children occurred when the child was left unsupervised with a dog or the child wandered off to the location of the dog.  Even small breeds such as Dachshunds and Pomeranians have attacked children resulting in fatalities. said Kris Crawford, Kristine Crawford of For Pits Sake


Research shows that just 1 hour of dog safety training can reduce attacks by 80%

  • A single dog bite prevention lesson incorporated into a regular school day has been shown to dramatically reduce high risk behaviors toward unfamiliar dogs in both very young (kindergarten) and middle-school children. (Kahn A., Bauche P., Lamoureux J. “Child victims of dog bites treated in emergency departments: A prospective survey.”  European Journal of Pediatrics, 2003; 162(4) 254-8). Chapman, S., Cornwall, J., Righett, J., Lynne, S., Grossman, D. ‘preventing dog bites in children:  Randomized controlled trial of an educational intervention.” The Western Journal of Medicine, 2000; 173(4) 233.)
  • There are over 65 million dogs in the USA. (American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) 2003-2004 National Pet Owners Survey, cited by The Humane Society of the United States, U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics.)
  • Dog bite injuries are the second most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms from 9 activities common among children. (Weiss HB, Friedman DI, Coben JH. “Incidence of dog bite injuries treated in emergency departments,” JAMA 1998;279:53, citing US Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Injuries associated with selected sports and recreational equipment treated in hospital emergency departments, calendar year 1994.” Consumer Product Safety Review, Summer 1996;1:5. Also citing US Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Stair Steps and Baby Walkers Don’t Mix.” Washington D.C.:US Consumer Product Safety Commission;1992. Consumer Product Safety Alert No. 009207.)
Cause of injury  Emergency room incidents annually
Baseball/softball 404,364
Dog bites 333,687
Playground accidents 268,810
All-terrain vehicles, mopeds, etc. 125,136
Volleyball 97,523
Inline skating 75,994
Horseback riding 71,162
Baby walkers 28,000
Skateboards 25,486
  • Severe injuries from dog bites is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years.
  • Three quarters of dogs involved in bite incidents belong to the victim’s family or a friend.
  • The majority of dog attacks (61%) happen at home or in a familiar place.
  • When a child less than 4 years old is the victim, the family dog was the attacker half the time (47%), and the attack almost always happened in the family home.
  • The face (lips, nose and cheeks) of children under 10-years-old are the most frequent target of a dog bite (77% of all injures).
  • The odds that a victim of a fatal dog attack will be a burglar are 1 in 177. The odds that it will be a child are 7 in 10.




Kris Crawford, Kristine Crawford, For Pits Sake

Unsupervised children

This is arguably the most critical factor in fatal dog attacks on children. There are a number of reasons why unsupervised children are especially vulnerable to a fatal dog attack:

Dogs are much less likely to attack a child in the presence of an adult, particularly in the presence of the owner.

In the event that a dog does attack a child in the presence of an adult, the intervention of the adult often prevents the attack from becoming a fatality.

Children, because of their small size, are usually not able to sustain an attack until help arrives. Many adults survived severe dog attacks simply by virtue of the fact that they were able to sustain and fend the dogs off to some degree until assistance arrived.

Children often engage in dangerous behavior (approaching too close to a chained dog or trying to hug/kiss an unfamiliar animal) that a supervising adult would have prevented.

The age group with the second-highest amount of fatalities due to a dog attack are 2-year-old children. Over 88% of these fatalities occurred when the 2-year-old child was left unsupervised with a dog(s) or the child wandered off to the location of the dog.

The Pit Bull Paparazzi

  • PLEASE NOTE — DOG BITE FATALITIES ARE HIGHLY UNUSUAL. Incidents of dog bite fatalities by ANY breed are very rare. There are approximately 15 to 20 dog bite fatalities in the United States a year, and that’s out of the 65 million dogs that Americans keep as pets.

    Janis Bradley, dog bite researcher and the author of ‘Dogs Bite: But Balloons and Slippers Are More Dangerous,’ states, “Dogs can be dangerous. And they are more dangerous to children than adults. Not as dangerous, of course, as kitchen utensils, drapery cords, five-gallon buckets, horses or cows. Not nearly as dangerous as playground equipment, swimming pools, skateboards, or bikes. And not remotely as dangerous as family, friends, guns, or cars.

    A child is more likely to die choking on a marble or balloon, and an adult is more likely to die in a bedroom slipper related accident. Your chances of being killed by a dog are roughly one in 18 million. You are five times more likely to be killed by a bolt of lightening.”




It is important to emphasize that dogs bite today for the same reasons that they did one hundred or one thousand years ago. Dogs are no more dangerous today than they were a century or millennium ago. They only difference is a shift in human perception of what is and is not natural canine behavior and/or aggression and the breed of dog involved. — Karen Delise, author of “Fatal Dog Attacks



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