I've been saying this for years: Most dogs don't bite and when they do it's generally not severe. Dog bites are just not a statistically significant safety hazard.
Well, now there's some statistical evidence supporting this claim. The Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs has produced data from a year-long survey on dog bites in Colorado. I've been eagerly awaiting the results of this survey and now it's finally available.
The survey included 17 regions of Colorado and covered 50% of the human and dog population in the state.
The results include:
- more than 100 breeds bit during the study period
- but only 1 out of 350 dogs bit (<1/3 of 1%) - most of the bites were minor - most victims are children, particularly young males, left alone with dogs - the dogs were often running loose, male and between the ages of 1-4. The survey includes breed information and, quite frankly, the results aren't surprising. Labs topped out as the number 1 biters followed by pit bulls, german shepherds and rottweilers. All four are very popular breeds of dogs.
Still the take home point is simple: Most dogs don't bite. Breed is irrelevant in dog bites - it's a red herring to the real problem of ignorance.
Reducing dog bites can be achieved through proper child-dog supervision, education on how to interrupt a dog fight (how most adults were bitten), and education on how to keep a dog properly contained (running loose increases the likelihood of an agonistic encounter between dog and human).
Dog bites will not disappear - that is the result of welcoming toothy predatory animals into our homes. But they can be reduced through common sense practices. Our dogs should be set up for success, not failure.