Dog attack information and statistics page

This page is here to provide information on dog bite injuries and fatal dog attacks in Pennsylvania and in the United States.

Fatal Dog Attacks – US

A report of dog attack fatalities performed by demonstrates the exceptionally dangerous nature of pit bulls.  According to the report, pit bulls make up between 2 and 9% of the total US dog population.  The report recorded 88 fatal dog attacks between 2006 and 2008 in the US.  Of these fatal dog attacks, 52, or 59% of the fatalities were the result of pit bull attacks.  The disparity between the number of pit bulls in the US and the number of pit bull fatal attacks shows that pit bulls are inherently more dangerous than other dogs.  The report indicated that Rottweiler were responsible for the second highest number of fatal dog attacks.  The high incidence of fatal pit bull attacks and fatal Rottweiler attacks as reported by is consistent with the statistics reported in the Centers for Disease Control statistics as set forth below.

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Statistics on Fatal Dog Bite Attacks – 1979 – 1998
Purebred Dogs Number of Fatal Attacks
Pit Bull 66
Rottweiler 39
German Shepherd 17
Husky 15
Malamute 12
Doberman Pinscher 9
Chow Chow 8
Great Dane 7
Saint Bernard 7
Crossbred Dogs
Wolf-Dog hybrid 14
Mixed Breed 12
German Shepherd Mix 10
Pit bull Mix 10
Husky Mix 6
Rottweiler Mix 5
Malamute Mix 3
Chow Chow Mix 3
Doberman Mix 1
Saint Bernard Mix 1
Great Dane Mix 1

According to the report, there is an unusual variant in the fatalities caused by pit bulls as compared to other dogs. Pit bulls caused fatal injuries to a much higher percentage of adults in comparison to other dogs. This may be due to the nature of the interactions between pit bulls and adults, the nature of interactions between pit bulls and children, or perhaps a reduced frequency of pit bull interactions with children as compared to their interactions with adults.

More Dog bite statistics

  • An estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year
  • Nearly 800,000 dog bites require medical care
  • Approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered
  • Approximately 25% of fatal dog attacks involved chained dogs
  • Approximately 71% of bites occur to the extremities (arms, legs, hands, feet)
  • Approximately two-thirds of bites occurred on or near the victim’s property, and most victims knew the dog
  • The insurance industry pays more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims each year
  • At least 25 different breeds of dogs have been involved in the 238 dog-bite-related fatalities in the U.S.
  • Approximately 24% of human deaths involved unrestrained dogs off of their owners’ property
  • Approximately 58% of human deaths involved unrestrained dogs on their owners’ property

Dog bites and children

  • 50% of dog attacks involved children under 12 years old
  • 82% of dog bites treated in the emergency room involved children under 15 years old
  • 70% of dog-bite fatalities occurred among children under 10 years old
  • Bite rates are dramatically higher among children who are 5 to 9 years old
  • Unsupervised newborns were 370 times more likely than an adult to be killed by a dog
  • 65% of bites among children occur to the head and neck
  • Boys under the age of 15 years old are bitten more often than girls of the same age


Pennsylvania Statistics on dog bite injuries

Statistics on dog bite injuries in Pennsylvania can be found at the Pennsylvania Department of Health website. According to the report, compiled in 1999 and reporting dog bite injuries in 1995, there were 469 dog bite attacks resulting in inpatient treatment in Pennsylvania.

Children under the age of nine accounted for 31% of those hospitalized due to dog bite injuries. The incidence of dog bite injuries peaked in July and August. The leading type of injury from dog bites was open wounds and the most frequent area of the body injured was the face and head. Dog bite injuries requiring hospitalization averaged lengths of stays in the hospital of 3 days.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 4.5 million people suffer dog bite injuries every year. Approximately 885,000 of those injured by dogs require medical treatment. In 2006, over 31,000 people required reconstructive surgery for their dog bite injuries. Among children and adults, having a dog in the household is associated with a higher incidence of dog bites. As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the incidence of dog bites. Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home.

The Department of Health study provides the following advice for preventing dog bite injuries:

  • Realistically evaluate environment and lifestyle and consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to determine suitable breeds of dogs for pet consideration.
  • Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children.
  • Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful or apprehensive about a dog and, if so, delay acquiring a dog.
  • Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it.
  • Use caution when bringing a dog or puppy into the home with an infant or a toddler.
  • Spay/neuter virtually all dogs to reduce aggression. Dogs which have not been spayed or neutered can be up to three times more likely to bite than those which have been spayed or neutered.
  • Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
  • Properly socialize and train any dog entering the household.
  • Teach the dog submissive behaviors (e.g., rolling over).
  • Immediately seek professional advice (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.
  • Do not play aggressive games with your dog (e.g., tug-of-war, wrestling).
  • Play and teach cooperative games and skills such as fetching or shaking a paw.
  • Teach children basic safety around dogs and review regularly:
    • Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
    • Never run from a dog and scream.
    • Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog (e.g., be still like a tree.
    • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., be still like a log.
    • Never play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
    • Immediately report stray dogs, or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
    • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog. Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
    • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
    • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

Contact a dog bite attorney today at 724-709-7958