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« Update: Fatality in Rusk County, TX | Main | Veterans Day Tribute to Veteran Service Dogs »

November 11, 2010



Marji has some really pertinent comments.. this guy has NO creds in animal behavior and has NO business commenting on that subject or generalizing about breeds.


Emily, I agree with Rinalia's thoughts over there -- Right or wrong, I didn't read nearly as much into that statement as she did -- especially given that nearly 1/4 of all of the bites he studied involved mixed breed dogs -- the largest number by a wide margin.

The other "top" breeds seem to be more of a reflection of popularity than anything to do with being an "aggressive breed".


This is an interesting article, although it suffers from the same problem as all of these other 'studies' in that there is no denominator to show the likelihood of the breed biting somebody. Without that denominator, and without exploring other factors that lead to biting, it's silly to even cite the breeds (additionally, because this study focuses on children, we'd need to know the dog breed distribution is for homes with children.)

If poodles suddenly became a trendy dog in Denver, they would be more likely to appear on the list. It's fair to point out that any breed can bite, and cite other factors in biting, but if breed is not the cause then why break out the numbers? It's like saying that race is not a factor in predicting likelihood to commit murder, then listing out the murder statistics by race instead of focusing on the germane factors

68% of bites occur in children 5 years or under not only reflects the fact that their faces are closer to dog level, but also the fact that children under 5 are more likely to be home than school-age children (who are gone all day and then are likely to have other activities in the evening). I would also guess that people are more likely to bring a 4-year-old to the hospital after a bite than a 14-year-old.


Joel makes some very good points in his comments. There are all sorts of factors that would contribute to bias and should be considered as they would skew the results of the study, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know very young children should not be left unattended - with dogs, with cats, with each other, in cars, in shopping malls, and young women certainly need to stop leaving them unattended with The Boyfriend of the Month!


I loved the opening sentence of the article:



Sorry about the previous post - I'm not quite sure what happened. computer gremlins, I suppose.

one more time, I loved the opening sentence in the article:

"ScienceDaily (Nov. 9, 2010) — As dog bites become an increasingly major public health concern,..."

Uh, an "increasingly major public health concern" FOR WHOM? Other than the media, someone with a financially vested interest in dog bite studies, and Animal Rights groups that use fear to regulate dog ownership (i.e., kill or speuter dogs), who is concerned about this? Does everyone walk around looking over their shoulder, worrying about being bitten by a dog?

I don't. Several years ago my husband's truck broke down on me at night, about an hour from home, and I sure wasn't sitting in the truck worrying about Cujo making an appearance!

Whether you like him or not, it's no wonder Rush Limbaugh calls these folks "the drive-by media".

Assuming for the sake of argument the study is correct and most small children are bitten by family pets, how is this a "major public health concern"? Seems more like a good opportunity for a thesis for a sociology student to me.

We keep seeing articles about how "one-third of all homeowners insurance claims are dog bites". There was one in a local magazine just the other day (with no source documentation). My neighbor is a State Farm agent and has been for over 30 years. He's paid out on literally thousands of claims. Dog bite claims? Four. count them on one hand. Our own agent says the same thing.

All of the local dog clubs to which I belong have Sportsmens Insurance. My husband was speaking to them recently about a club policy and asked if they had a lot of dog bite claims. No, they don't - their top claims were for overweight people getting injured when they sat in those "bag chairs" that collapsed out from under them, and people slipping in dog poop and dog pee. One woman even slipped in her own dog's poop after she didn't pick it up and turned in a claim! (you can't make this stuff up).

Joel wrote, "This is an interesting article, although it suffers from the same problem as all of these other 'studies' in that there is no denominator to show the likelihood of the breed biting somebody".
Years ago Lehr Brisbin, PhD did a fatality study where he acutally statistically calculated the population of each breed of dog, looked at human fatalities, and then calculated dog fatalities "per capita" -
the number of fatalities based on the population of the breed. Interesting stuff. Again, there are other factors involved besides numbers of dogs and numbers of fatalities, but it was interesting stuff, none the less.

Again, this is a solution looking for a problem compared to everything else that is "dangerous".


I'm having difficulty understanding the apparent hostility of the reactions to this study and its author. It says 1)Young children should not be left unsupervised around dogs; 2)The family dog is not somehow innately safe around unsupervised young children; 3)bite risk is not related to breed.

Who here disagrees with any of those statements.

Further note that the opening lines of the article about dog bites being "an increasingly major public health concern" are not the words of the study author, but of the person who wrote the article.


Liz, that's a fair point to remember - we're reading the reporting of the study and not the actual study.

To me, if breed is not a factor in determining if a dog is likely to bite, then it's useless to report the breed. Perhaps that was decision of the author of the story.

If things like the dog's health and socialization are the causes, this is what the story should be about. Provide some information or links on how to improve your dog's health and socialization.


Ah, but it's noting the breeds involved that clarifies that breed really isn't a factor. Don't note the breed, and people reacting to years of media hysteria will visualize a "pit bull" being responsible for every one of those bites.

If people didn't currently strongly believe that breed is a factor, and were just looking for the real factors without preconceptions, then yes, reporting breed would be useless. Sadly, we're a long way from that point right now.

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