Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People, recently published a report detailing all of the serious injuries and deaths caused by dogs in the United States and Canada between September 1982 and January 1, 2008. The report logs only those attacks where the dog’s breed or ancestry was identified, with the aim of examining which breeds become dangerous most frequently. Attacks by police and guard dogs and other trained fighting dogs were excluded from the log.
Between September 1982 and January 1, 2008, there were 2,524 identified-breed dog bite injuries requiring extensive hospital treatment, of which 314 ended in death. Pit bull terriers were involved in over half of those injuries, accounting for 1,312 (52%). Clifton points out that, while the definition of “pit bull” is somewhat vague, the frequency of pit bull attacks would be alarming even if half of those attacks were misattributed. Pit bull terriers were involved in 131 of the 314 fatal injuries. Rottweilers were the second most frequently involved breed, contributing to 429 injuries and 63 deaths. Wolf hybrids come in at a distant third, with 80 injuries including 19 deaths. If pit bull terriers, Rottweilers, and wolf hybrids are considered as a group, they make up 77% of all attacks and 70% of deaths.
Also included in the top 10 most dangerous breed types are the Akita, Boxer, Bull mastiff, Chow, German Shepherd, Husky, and pit bull/Rottweiler mix. The American Kennel Club point out that all dogs can bite, regardless of size or breed. Responsible ownership, training, and behavior is the critical factor in dog bite prevention.
A CDC Special Report on breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks, released in September 2000, showed similar patterns. Pit bull-type dogs were involved in over a third of the dog bite related fatalities included in the report. Together, Rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs were involved in approximately 60% of deaths. The CDC study pointed out that, although both breeds are popular, it is unlikely that they make up 60% of the U.S. dog population, suggesting a "breed-specific problem with fatalities." The study agreed that any dog, regardless of breed, can be dangerous if aggression is fostered in the animal.