Many people wonder if there are dog breeds with a higher risk of biting. Statistically speaking, certain breeds are more likely to bite and cause serious injuries than others. However, factors like breed popularity, size of the dog, and training can influence the statistical incidence of dog bites and the severity of injuries sustained from a bite.
Understanding dog bite statistics, whether California enforces dog breed bans, and the conditions required for a court to label a dog as dangerous can help you stay safe and know how to prepare for a personal injury claim if a dog bites you.
Are Any Dog Breeds Banned in California?
California does not have a statewide ban on any breeds of dogs. However, some counties and municipalities have breed-specific legislation (BSL) for certain breeds, including pit bulls, pit-bull-type dogs, Dobermans, rottweilers, and German shepherds.
San Bernardino County dog owners must spay or neuter pit bills to reduce instances of attacks. Nearly 80% of dog bites stem from unneutered males. Non-spayed females can also be aggressive, especially when defending puppies, and unneutered males may become more aggressive in the presence of a non-spayed female.
Orange County requires that all dogs must be on a leash when off the owner’s property, including during neighborhood walks and when out in public. The county also restricts areas where non-service dogs are permitted, including public beaches and most parks.
Landlords may also implement breed or weight restrictions for tenants renting their property. If you own your home, your homeowner’s insurance provider may not cover you for damages if your dog bites someone and is a certain breed.
Dog Bite Statistics
How often do people suffer dog bite injuries, and are there dog breeds with a higher risk of biting? Statistics indicate that the 10 dogs most likely to bite with a potential for causing serious injury include:
- Pit bulls, which account for 64% of reported bites and a bite strength of 241 psi
- Rottweilers, with a bite force of 328 psi
- German shepherds, with a bite force of 238 psi
- Dobermans, with a bite force of 228 psi
- Bull mastiffs, weighing in at 130 pounds and having a bite strength of 556 psi
- Huskies, with a bite strength psi of 320
- Malamutes, with a bite force of 328 psi
- Wolf hybrids, with a bite strength psi of 406
- Boxers, with a bite force of 230 psi
- Great Danes, which weigh around 200 pounds and can have a bite force of 238 psi
Dogs bite approximately 4.5 million people annually in the U.S., and about 800,000 people see a doctor for their injuries. Approximately 30 to 50 people die from dog bites each year in the U.S. Over half of dog bite victims are children, mostly those interacting with familiar dogs like the family pet during everyday activities.
The statistics don’t account for underreported dog bites. Small dog breeds are as aggressive as large breeds, but many people don’t report bites by small dogs because the injuries often aren’t severe. Small dog owners also often think of aggression by their chihuahua or terrier breed as “cute” rather than threatening.
Additionally, many people are unwilling to report a bite from their own dog if they don’t suffer a serious injury. Labrador retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds and have a good reputation as family dogs, but they are just as likely to bite as the 10 breeds listed above. However, many owners don’t want to report their “good dog” for a bite.
What Are Dangerous Dogs in California?
California has two designations for dangerous dogs: “potentially dangerous” and “vicious.” These dogs must have met certain parameters for the courts to label them as such.
Potentially dangerous dogs have:
- Behaved in a manner without provocation and off its owner’s property that required a person to take defensive measures to protect themselves from injury on two separate occasions within the previous three years
- Bitten someone and caused non-serious injuries
- Injured or killed a domestic animal unprovoked twice in the previous three years
Vicious dogs are those that:
- Were already labeled as potentially dangerous and continue the same behaviors with or without training
- Were already labeled as potentially dangerous, and the owner has not followed the appropriate codes to keep the dog safely confined or restrained
- Have attacked a person unprovoked and cause serious injuries or death
Laws Dog Owners Must Follow if They Have a Dangerous Dog
Owners of potentially dangerous dogs must register and vaccinate their dogs and pay additional licensing fees. The owner must also keep the dog indoors or in a fenced yard that the dog cannot escape and where children can’t access the dog.
If taking the dog off the property, owners must restrain the dog with an appropriate leash, and an adult must control the leash. Additionally, the owner must notify (in writing) animal control within two days if they sell, transfer, or move a potentially dangerous dog, or if the dog passes away. They must also include the dog’s new location and owner information.
Additional restrictions for vicious dogs vary between counties and municipalities in California. In some cases, especially when a person died from a dog attack, the court may rule to euthanize a dog. Attacks due to rabies infections always require euthanasia. If the court doesn’t rule to euthanize the dog, the owner may have to keep the dog muzzled, confined, or have regular home inspections.
Contact a Dog Bite Attorney in Southern California for Your Dog Bite Case
While many people believe that some dog breeds don’t deserve their bad reputation, the fact is that dog bites can cause serious injuries. Statistics indicate that there are some dog breeds with a higher risk of biting, but numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. Dog bite cases are complex, and victims need an experienced dog bite attorney on their side. If you’ve been bitten by a dog of any breed, contact us at the Khalil Law Group. Call us at (714) 617-7870 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our office in Newport Beach, CA.