The World's Most Dangerous Dogs

Not all of man's best friends are created equal. The Daily Beast crunches the numbers on the nation's most popular breeds to find those most (and least) prone to pounce.

11.03.10 4:09 PM ET

Man bites dog: an adage used to illustrate that the media only reports the extraordinary. Dogs bites man? Well that story tends to get plenty of attention, too, and with good reason. Dog bites and attacks can be traumatic, life-changing experiences, and they account for 386,000 emergency-room visits each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Just last week, attacks on postal workers by stray pit bulls aborted mail service in several Dayton, Ohio, neighborhoods. Despite the real-life example of the classic feud between pooches and postal workers, children ages 5 to 9 tend to be the most vulnerable to dog attacks.

German shepherds, pit bulls, and Rottweilers often get a bad rap. But are these dogs the most dangerous breeds, or are they merely penalized for having a larger population? While dog-attack statistics are notoriously unclear on elucidating why people are maimed or killed by dogs (cruel breeders, bite victims that don’t seek medical attention), the sheer number of attacks should show some commonality across breeds, so The Daily Beast set to clear the air a bit by finding out, on a per-dog-basis, which breeds are more prone to attacking humans.

To rank the most dangerous breeds, we used a report compiled by Merritt Clifton, the editor of Animal People, which lists all of the press accounts of dog attacks organized by breed type. The study tallies the total attacks by dogs kept as pets from 1982 to 2009 in the U.S. and Canada. While it’s certainly exhaustive, it is by no means a complete list. We considered only the statistics pertaining to pure-bred dogs or breed variations for our purposes (example: Shar-Peis were considered, but not Shar-Pei/Rottweiler mixes, but the Belgian Malinois and Belgian Sheepdogs were grouped together as both are variations of the same breed). For each breed, we then tabulated a numerical attack value by adding the total number of attack victims, the number of deaths and the number of maimings. Because the severity of attacks is relevant, incidents of maulings and deaths were weighted two and five times, respectively, as much as each attack victim.

For a final “score” for each breed, we referred to the American Kennel Club’s most recent precise data on dog registration statistics. The numerical attack score was divided by total registered population to calculate the total score for each breed—a metric of incidents per dog, in essence.

To be sure, civilization would be poorer without our canine friends. And these incidents represent a minute fraction of the total number of dogs out there, the vast majority of whom are loving pets. But not all dogs are bred to equal—and one breed, in terms of danger, stands out from the rest. The top 19 most vicious below, and for the full list, click here.

1, Pit Bull
Varieties included: Pit Bull, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American StaffordshireTerrier
Registered dogs (U.S.): 2,683
Child victims: 661
Adult victims: 519
Maimings: 819
Deaths: 159

2, Chow Chow
Registered dogs (U.S.): 1,592
Child victims: 35
Adult victims: 14
Maimings: 34
Deaths: 7

3, Rottweiler
Registered dogs (U.S.): 14,709
Child victims: 257
Adult victims: 115
Maimings: 244
Deaths: 67

4, Akita
Registered dogs (U.S.): 2,457
Child victims: 34
Adult victims: 14
Maimings: 41
Deaths: 1

5, Bull Mastiff
Registered dogs (U.S.): 3,760
Child victims: 17
Adult victims: 20
Maimings: 26
Deaths: 8

6, Greyhound
Registered dogs (U.S.): 136
Child victims: 1
Adult victims: 0
Maimings: 1
Deaths: 0

7, Briard
Registered dogs (U.S.): 284
Child victims: 0
Adult victims: 1
Maimings: 0
Deaths: 1

8, Malamute
Registered dogs (U.S.): 2,124
Child victims: 7
Adult victims: 2
Maimings: 3
Deaths: 4

9, Husky/Siberian Huskies
Registered dogs (U.S.): 9,342
Child victims: 32
Adult victims: 4
Maimings: 13
Deaths: 17

10, Australian Cattle Dog
Varieties included: Australian Cattle Dog, Blue Heeler, Queensland Heeler
Registered dogs (U.S.): 1,499
Child victims: 3
Adult victims: 4
Maimings: 5
Deaths: 0

11, Dalmatian
Registered dogs (U.S.): 820
Child victims: 3
Adult victims: 0
Maimings: 3
Deaths: 0

12, Mastiff
Registered dogs (U.S.): 6,913
Child victims: 13
Adult victims: 4
Maimings: 12
Deaths: 4

13, Old English Sheep Dog
Registered dogs (U.S.): 1,403
Child victims: 1
Adult victims: 1
Maimings: 0
Deaths: 2

14, Belgian Shepherd/Malinois
Registered dogs (U.S.): 1,416
Child victims: 3
Adult victims: 3
Maimings: 3
Deaths: 0

15, Great Dane
Registered dogs (U.S.): 9,438
Child victims: 6
Adult victims: 7
Maimings: 11
Deaths: 3

16, Border Collie
Registered dogs (U.S.): 2,181
Child victims: 1
Adult victims: 1
Maimings: 2
Deaths: 1

17, Doberman
Registered dogs (U.S.): 11,546
Child victims: 8
Adult victims: 6
Maimings: 7
Deaths: 6

18, German Shepherd
Registered dogs (U.S.): 43,575
Child victims: 52
Adult victims: 20
Maimings: 50
Deaths: 9

19, Shar-Pei
Registered dogs (U.S.): 3,261
Child victims: 5
Adult victims: 0
Maimings: 5
Deaths: 0

To find out what other dog breeds to beware, visit The Daily Beast.