Fatal Dog Attacks By Breed In The U.S. (2024)

Statistics showing fatal dog attacks by breed prove that not all breeds are equally likely to cause fatal bites. Learn which dog breeds are the deadliest.

Sarah Edwards


Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


Read in 3 mins

Fatal Dog Attacks in the U.S. by Breed, 2005-2017


Dogs have served humans as companions, hunting partners, and protectors for over 12,000 years. In the 21st century, however, the same traits that made them useful, such as size, aggressiveness, and bite strength, can also make them dangerous. Explore dog attack statistics by breed, offering insights for pet owners, trainers, and the public to promote safety and responsible ownership.

The Most Dangerous Dogs to Humans

Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Dogbites.org, a victims advocacy group, conducted multi-year studies on fatal dog attacks by breed.

The CDC study looked at 20 years of dog bite statistics from 1979 to 1998, while the Dogbites.org study looked at 13 years of data spanning 2005 through 2017. These studies reached similar conclusions about the most dog attacks by breed.

Pit Bulls

Both studies found that Pit Bulls were responsible for the most fatal dog attacks. Their strong build, aggression, and powerful jaws contribute to their reputation.


The studies also agreed that Rottweilers are responsible for the second-most fatal dog attacks by breed. Rottweilers can weigh up to 135 pounds and have a reputation for aggression.

Other Notable Breeds: German Shepherds and Huskies

German Shepherds and Huskies also made it onto both lists. However, these breeds fell far behind Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, which caused the overwhelming majority of fatal dog attacks.

Is Breed a Predictor of Fatal Dog Attacks?

Misunderstandings around dog attack statistics by breed can lead to fear and stigma. Both studies point out that these incidents often reflect the owner's handling and the dog’s upbringing more than the breed's inherent nature. In short, individual dogs, not breeds, cause fatal dog bites.

Do I Qualify for

Accident Compensation?
Free Case Review

The U.S. has no national dog bite reporting system. However, a study in 1994 estimated that 4.7 million dog bites occur annually in the U.S., with a significant number requiring medical attention.

People injured by dogs have different rights depending on their state’s laws. These laws describe the legal standard for determining a dog owner’s liability for injuries caused by their dog and what the victim must prove to obtain a personal injury settlement or damage award.

In many states, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs. You only need to prove ownership to win your personal injury case. In these states, the breed is irrelevant.

Other states require victims to prove negligence. They must present evidence of the dog’s vicious reputation and the owner’s carelessness in restraining it. The breed is usually excluded as a factor in the dog’s reputation.

This legal theory is sometimes called the “one-bite rule” because dogs get one “free” attack before their owners have notice of their reputations.

One additional source of compensation comes from workers’ comp insurance. People bitten while working can pursue a workers’ comp settlement by showing the injury occurred while performing job-related tasks like delivering packages or reading a water meter.

Learn More About Dog Bites From ConsumerShield

While looking at fatal dog attacks by breed provides interesting reading, a dog’s breed is largely irrelevant to a dog owner’s liability. Instead, dog bite cases hinge on your state’s laws.

ConsumerShield is dedicated to educating people about their legal rights and connecting them with a lawyer who can help. Contact us for a free review of your dog bite case.

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Sarah Edwards


Sarah Edwards is a seasoned legal writer with more than a decade of experience.

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