The Top 5 Deadliest Dog Breeds

  Dog Breed Fatal Attacks Percentage of all Fatal Dog Attacks Attacks Causing Injuries
1 Pit bull 380 deaths 67% 2,235 attacks
2 Rottweiler 45 deaths 10.4% 495 attacks
3 German shepherd 20 deaths 4.6% 96 attacks
4 Mixed breed 17 deaths 3.9% 87 attacks
5 American bulldog 15 deaths 3.5% 71 attacks
Share on Social Media:
 Special Report

What you'll learn:

  • What is the deadliest dog breed?
  • What is the fatality profile?
  • Who is attacked more?

  • And much, much more...


Pit Bulls are by Far the Deadliest Breed of Dog

Between January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2017, DogsBite.org recorded 433 U.S. fatal dog attacks in the United States.

The data collected during that time shows that Pit Bulls are responsible for 66% (284) of these fatal attacks. The data also shows that Pit Bulls commit the vast majority of off-property attacks that result in death. While 25% (107) of attacks by all breeds of dog occurred off the owners property, Pit Bulls were responsible for 68% (73) of the fatalities that occurred off the property of the dog owner between 2005 and 2017, or, in other words, these were random dog attacks.

There were 46 people attacked and killed by dogs in the United States in 2020. Pit Bulls attacked and killed 33 people or 72% of all dog fatalities for that year. Just under half of those fatalities were children (11). Pit bulls make up about 7% of the total U.S. dog population yet are responsible for 67% of dog related deaths over the last 15 years.

According to the Dogbite.org report, pit bulls are also more likely to kill an adult than a child. In the 3-year period, pit bulls killed more adults (ages 21 and over), 54%, than they did children (ages 11 and younger), 46%. In the age category of 21-54, pit bulls were responsible for 82% (14) of the deaths. Pit bulls do not only kill children and senior citizens, they kill men and women in their prime years: 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.

Of the 88 fatal dog attacks recorded in the 3-year period, pit bull type dogs were responsible for 59% (52). This is equivalent to a pit bull killing a U.S. citizen every 21 days. Pit bulls make up approximately 2-9% of the U.S. dog population. The combination of pit bulls (52), Rottweilers (12) and American bulldogs (4) accounted for 77% of all fatal attacks during this time span.

Where do the Attacks Occur?

18% (16) of the fatal dog attacks occurred off owner property. Three dogs breeds contributed to the off-property attacks: pit bulls (13), Rottweiler (1) and American bulldogs (2). In the instance of the latter, a pack of four bulldog-mixes killed two individuals in a single attack. Pit bulls alone committed 81% (13) of the off-property attacks. This indicates that pit bulls are far more likely than any other dog breed to leave owner property and fatally attack. Of the 13 attacks, 15% involved 1 pit bull; 69% involved 2; and 15% involved 3 or more. 44% (39) of all fatal attacks involved multiple dogs; 16% (14) involved chained dogs.

Dog Attacks and Children

55% (48) of the fatal dog attacks occurred to children (11 years and younger). Of children, ages 2-4 suffered the most fatalities 22% (19); ages 0-2 suffered the second most 18% (16); and ages 5-9 followed at 11% (10). Between the ages of 0-4, 14% (12) of the fatal attacks involved a "watcher," a person such as a grandparent or babysitter watching the child. Of these attacks, 75% (9) involved a grandparent type. 19% (17) of the fatality victims fell into the 21-54 age group. Pit bulls were responsible for 82% (14) of these deaths.

The frequency of pit bulls killing adults is unmatched by any other dog breed. In the 3-year period, pit bulls killed more adults (ages 21 and over), 54%, than they did children (ages 11 and younger), 46%. Of the six age group categories (ages 2 and younger; 2-4; 5-9; 10-20; 21-54; and 55 and older), the 55 and older group suffered the most fatalities 26% (23).

Top 5 facts sources:
  1. Dogsbite.org. (2021). Report: U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities: Breeds of Dogs Involved, Age Groups and Other Factors Over a 13-Year Period (2005 to 2017).

    Note: sources have been updated and data has been blended to include more recent statistics.
Tags: Animals & Nature, Pets, Deadliest, The United States, Crime & Punishment Statistics

Sources:  
  1. Clifton, M. (2012). "Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada September 1982 to December 31, 2013."
  2. Dogsbite.org: Multi-Year Fatality Report.


List Notes: Data is top 5 dog breeds involved in fatal attacks on human beings in the U.S. and Canada between the years 1982 and 2020. Some of the data was compiled by the editor of ANIMAL PEOPLE from press accounts since 1982, this table covers only attacks by dogs of clearly identified breed type or ancestry, as designated by animal control officers or others with evident expertise, who have been kept as pets.

Other data was compiled by the people at Dogsbite.org , which is the one of the best sites to find continuous and accurate data on dog-bites and the breeds that cause harm to humans. All accounts were cross-checked by date, location, and identity of the victim. Attacks by police dogs, guard dogs, and dogs trained specifically to fight are also excluded. "Attacks doing bodily harm" includes all fatalities, maimings, and other injuries requiring extensive hospital treatment.

Deadliest Dog Breeds

Related Top 5 Lists