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Animal bites: which breeds are more likely to bite?

Whenever a deadly dog attack occurs, many Wisconsin residents question which breeds are the most aggressive. A dog owner in another state recently died after being attacked by her pit bull mix. While national statistics on animal bites are not maintained, the Animal Welfare Division of a national veterinary association published a report with data on the number of attacks by breed. The numbers are proportionately weighted based on the popularity of the breed.

In data compiled from 1971 to 2011, the report showed that German shepherds and pit bull mixes top the list of the most serious dog bite injuries. Other breeds on the list include Rottweilers, spaniels, and Labrador retrievers. All of these breeds are also considered to be the most popular breeds in the country, according to Kennel Club data.

While smaller dogs were found to be more aggressive, the attacks are typically not as serious. In addition, the report showed that many people named a pit bull as the type of dog in an attack, even if there was uncertainty about a breed. This so-called visual determination is not always reliable when naming a breed.

Experts stress that responsible ownership is even more important than breed when trying to prevent dog bites. It is also critical to remember that, under certain conditions, any dog may bite, no matter what the breed. Experts report that half of all dog bite victims are children, since they are less certain about how to behave around dogs.

When Wisconsin residents have lost loved ones due to serious animal bites, many choose to file a wrongful death claim. Compensation from a successful claim could provide family members with a way to pay for unforeseen funeral expenses and other costs. Since Wisconsin is a strict liability state, dog owners could be liable for the injuries caused by their dogs, even if the animal had not attacked before. An experienced personal injury attorney can help families understand the litigation process and work toward achieving a successful outcome in a case.

Source:, "Are some dog breeds more aggressive than others? A look at dog attacks", Eileen Faust, April 28, 2017

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