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The 7 Most Dangerous Dog Breeds

By Steph Walsh in Dog Attacks, Dog BItes on June 11, 2024

The 7 Most Dangerous Dog Breeds

Dogs can make excellent pets and companions, providing hours of fun, entertainment, and even mental health support. However, it’s important to remember that dogs are still animals with animal instincts. Dogs descend from wolves, after all, which do not make appropriate pets. Couple that with the intentional breeding of many dogs for specific jobs, and you must remain cautious sometimes.

Should injury occur, you can often hold the owner responsible. This is good news for the victims as they may need to recover damages and compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and more.

7 of the Most Dangerous Dog Breeds

Certain breeds are more dangerous than others. This can be due to factors like size, temperament, upbringing, and strength. Below, we’ve listed some of the most dangerous dog breeds to help you evaluate the potential risk of owning or being around larger and more dangerous dog breeds. You can reference this study for more statistics and information about some of the more dangerous dog breeds out there. The study compiles information from a 13-year period.

1. Pit Bulls

The term “pit bull” has become a blanket term encompassing several bulldog and terrier breeds rather than referring to a single, specific breed. Despite their sometimes loving nature, pit bulls have garnered a reputation for aggression and violence. This group of dogs, which accounts for only 6% of the canine population in the United States, has been responsible for approximately two-thirds of all fatal dog bites over a 13-year period, resulting in 284 tragic deaths.

The upsetting statistics surrounding pit bull attacks may be attributed to their breeding history. They were originally developed for hunting and dog fighting. As a result, these dogs possess powerful physiques, strong jaws, and keen instincts. When a pit bull attacks, other animals and even humans are often left defenceless against their strength and 235 PSI bite force.

This doesn’t mean they can’t become kind and well-adjusted dogs, but it requires sound training and proper socialization. Promoting responsible pet ownership is the best way to combat the high number of unfortunate incidents with these dogs.

2. Rottweilers

These impressive canines can grow up to a healthy 120 pounds. While Rottweilers are known for their devotion and protective nature towards their own family, this loyalty doesn’t always extend to visitors, even if they’re friendly.

During the course of the study, rottweilers were responsible for 45 fatal attacks, highlighting the breed’s capacity for aggression when a situation escalates. Their bite force is an astonishing 328 PSI, making it one of the strongest among domesticated dogs. This combination of size, strength, and temperament underscores the importance of proper training and socialization for rottweilers.

Owners must be prepared to invest time and effort into training and socializing their rottweiler, ensuring that the dog learns to distinguish between genuine threats and harmless situations.

3. German Shepherds

German shepherds have a long-standing history of serving in law enforcement and military roles, thanks to their intelligence, strength, and adaptability. These impressive working dogs have been bred over generations to become effective tools in combating human threats. Unfortunately, this also contributes to their potential for deadly attacks when not well-trained or socialized.

On average, German shepherds weigh around 90 pounds and stand at 2 feet. Their bite force ranges from 238 to 291 PSI, further demonstrating their physical strength. In the study mentioned earlier, German shepherds were responsible for 20 fatalities and numerous non-fatal bites, highlighting the breed’s capacity for aggression and territorial behaviour.

Despite their potential for harm, German shepherds are highly trainable due to their intelligence and eagerness to please. With proper training, socialization, and guidance, these dogs can become loyal, obedient, and reliable companions. Owners must provide them with the necessary structure, exercise, and mental stimulation to prevent the development of aggressive or territorial tendencies.

4. Siberian Huskies

Many admire Siberian huskies for their striking resemblance to wolves, making them a popular choice for those seeking a majestic and playful companion. However, we must remember that these dogs have a strong connection to their wild ancestry, which can sometimes manifest in their behaviour.

Originally bred to navigate the harshest, coldest regions of North America, Siberian huskies are known for their independence and strength, despite being lighter than other dogs on this list. Their innate prey drive can lead them to pursue smaller animals and, in rare cases, even humans. This instinct is deeply rooted in their survival mechanisms, which can pose challenges for owners ill-prepared to manage these behaviours.

In the aforementioned study, huskies, with their 320 PSI bite force, were responsible for 3% of all fatal attacks. While they generally display a friendly and affectionate demeanour, there have been instances of huskies attacking both children and adults who they perceive as a threat or challenge to their dominance.

Potential husky owners must understand that even a dog with no prior history of aggression can succumb to its instincts under certain circumstances. Proper training, socialization, and a thorough understanding of the breed’s needs are essential to providing a safe and nurturing environment for both the dog and those around it.

5. Bull Mastiff

Many cherish Bullmastiffs for their alertness, fearlessness, and unwavering devotion to their families. These qualities make them excellent guardians of homes and properties, but their protective nature can sometimes extend to a wariness of visitors.

While attacks by bullmastiffs are not as common as some other breeds, their sheer size and strength mean that they can inflict severe damage when an attack does occur. Weighing an average of 130 pounds and with a bite force of 552 PSI, these powerful dogs are capable of causing significant harm.

Bullmastiffs were responsible for 14 deaths, accounting for 3.2% of all fatal dog attacks from the study. While this number may seem low, it’s essential to consider the rarity of bullmastiffs compared to more common breeds. This highlights the importance of responsible ownership and comprehensive training for these large and powerful dogs.

6. American Bulldog

While British bulldogs have been overbred, leading to a decline in their utility, American bulldogs have retained their impressive physique, with an average weight of 100 pounds of solid muscle. Their thick, powerful build easily places them among the most dangerous dog breeds.

Throughout the course of the study, American bulldogs were responsible for 15 deaths, or 3.5% of all fatal dog attacks. Although this number may seem relatively small, it is noteworthy, considering that the breed is not as common as others on the list.

With a bite force of 305 PSI and their muscular build, American bulldogs are capable of knocking down a grown adult with ease. Potential owners should not underestimate their strength and power and must be able to handle the challenges that come with such a formidable breed.

Proper training, socialization, and consistent leadership are essential for American bulldogs to ensure they become well-behaved and manageable companions. Owners should have experience with large, powerful breeds and have the time and resources to provide the necessary exercise, mental stimulation, and guidance these dogs require.

7. Labrador Retrievers

Labrador retrievers have long been valued as loyal hunting companions, working alongside humans for generations. These large dogs can weigh up to 80 pounds and stand around 2 feet tall, making them a substantial presence in any household. Known as the quintessential family dog, labs are notorious for their friendly and trusting nature, which can sometimes work against them in their role as guard dogs.

Despite their amiable reputation, labrador retrievers made the list of the most dangerous dog breeds in 2023. In the study mentioned earlier, they were responsible for 2.1% of the attacks. While this may seem surprising given their typically friendly demeanour, they believe, in most cases, the dog was acting in defence of its family, territory, or food.

Although labrador retrievers are not known for being the most aggressive breed, their size and strength are significant, especially given how common they are as pets. Their 230 PSI bite force can knock people over and inflict severe damage.

Dog Bite Law in Ontario

In Ontario, the Dog Owner’s Liability Act holds dog owners strictly liable for the actions of their pet. Under this legislation, owners are responsible for any damages or injuries caused by their dogs, regardless of whether the owner was aware of the dog’s propensity for aggression or if the dog had previously bitten someone.

This act provides a clear path to justice for those who have suffered from the traumatic experience of a dog attack, allowing them to seek compensation for their physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial losses.

By placing the onus on dog owners to maintain control over their pets, the act serves to protect the public and encourage responsible dog ownership. For those who have been injured by a dog, it is crucial to understand your rights under this legislation and to seek the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process and obtain the compensation you deserve.

Can I get Compensation for a Dog Bite?

If a dog bites or attacks you and the resulting injuries are enough to warrant time off work, medical attention, etc, then you do have the right to seek compensation. However, it can be a tough situation as the dog’s owner may not be cooperative, and insurance companies can be stingy. Especially for such a nuanced situation, it’s a good idea to seek help from an experienced personal injury lawyer.

A lawyer experienced in dog attack law can advise you on the process and what your next steps should be. They can also let you know what sort of medical information and evidence you need, help you submit the proper paperwork, etc.

Dog bites and attacks can cause serious injury and often warrant compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and even emotional damages. You should be able to heal and recover without any added stress – which is where a skilled personal injury lawyer will come in to represent you and fight for what you deserve.

How do Courts in Ontario Assess Dog Bite Pain and Suffering Compensation?

In Moretto v. Nicolini-Femia2017 ONSC 3945, Judge Shaughnessy opined that the assessment of general damages in a dog bite case is case-specific, meaning that the assessment varies from case to case, depending on the facts.  Also, to determine a just award for general non-pecuniary damages, judges must compare a plaintiff’s anticipated lot in life after the dog bite with that which she would have enjoyed but for the dog bite: Koukounakis et al. v. Stainrod et al. (1995), 1995 CanLII 621 (ON CA), 23 O.R. (3d) 299 (C.A.). Courts must “consider real and substantial future possibilities, both positive and negative, which could impact on the plaintiff’s quality of life”: Graham v. Rourke (1990), 1990 CanLII 7005 (ON CA), 75 O.R. (2d) 622 at p. 644 (C.A.).

In our experience, Courts determine the quantum of damages applying the following principles:

  • the age of the plaintiff;
  • the nature of her injury;
  • the severity and duration of her pain;
  • her ongoing disability;
  • her emotional suffering;
  • the impairment of her lifestyle;
  • the impairment of family and social relationships; and,
  • the impairment of her physical and mental abilities.

How do Courts in Ontario Assess Loss of Income after a Dog Bite?

If a plaintiff’s earning are interrupted due to injury, then he or she has the right to claim past and future wage losses. To determine the amount that will compensate a plaintiff for past loss of income, a Court must assess the amount that he or she might reasonably have earned from the date of the dog bite to the date of trial but for the dog bite, and compare it to his or her actual earnings to determine how much income he or she lost as a result of the dog bite. The standard of proof to be applied when determining what Ms. Constantinou might reasonably have earned but for the dog bite and resulting shoulder injury is the standard of “real and substantial possibility”: West v. Knowles2021 ONCA 296, at paras. 42-46, 72-74.

To assess the amount necessary to compensate a plaintiff for future loss of income, a Court must assess the amount of his or her potential earning capacity in the future but for the dog bite and compare it to his or her actual earning capacity to determine how much income he or she may fail to earn as a result of the dog bite and the resulting injuries. The standard of proof to be applied when considering these future events is the standard of “real and substantial possibility”: West v. Knowles2021 ONCA 296, at paras. 47-48, 74.

Have You Been Injured by a Dog Bite or Attack? Call Our Personal Injury Lawyers Today

Experiencing a dog attack can be a traumatic and life-altering event. It’s important to acknowledge that while certain breeds may have a reputation for aggression, each dog’s behavior is highly influenced by its environment and upbringing. The key to preventing future incidents lies in responsible dog ownership, proper training, and creating awareness about the importance of socializing pets.

If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite, contact our dog bite lawyers today, toll-free, no matter where you are in Ontario, at 1-844-LALANDE. If you’re local to the Hamilton / Burlington area, reach us at 905-333-8888.  Alternatively, you can reach us via the contact form on our website.

Our personal injury lawyers are more than happy to provide you and your family with a free consultation and free case evaluation regarding your pain and suffering, insurance coverage, etc. We’ll also inform you of your legal rights as a victim and your options concerning compensation for your injuries and losses.

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