Being bitten by a dog always comes as a shock to the person being bitten, and often, the onlookers and even owner of the dog in question too. Dog bites should never be taken lightly, even if they don’t cause any physical harm; and both the owner of a dog that has bitten and the person who has been bitten need to consider very carefully what should happen next.
Provision is of course made in law in the UK to protect people from dog bites and other forms of injuries from dogs, and to lay out penalties and legal recourse for dog bites, both civilly and criminally.
Whether such an approach is warranted in the case of any given bite is down to the person bitten (and potentially, any witnesses, and/or formal bodies such as a dog warden, police, or court to decide) but getting to the bottom of why the bite occurred, the situation leading up to it, and what could reasonably have been expected from the dog is a large part of this.
It is a simple fact that most people will be nipped or bitten by a dog at least once in the course of their lifetime, and this doesn’t always mean that the dog in question is bad, or aggressive. Additionally, if you consider how many dogs there are in the UK, how closely we as people live with them, and how much contact the average person (even a non-dog owner) has with dogs across a lifetime, you begin to gain a little more perspective about how relatively uncommon dog bites are as a whole.
Whether you’ve been bitten by a dog, wonder how common fatal bites actually are, or want to know what type of dogs are most likely to bite – and even if the hotly debated Dangerous Dogs Act has done anything to reduce the number of dog bites in the UK – this article will share some interesting statistics and insights about dog bites, which might surprise you. Read on to learn more.
Very serious and even fatal dog attacks make national news because they’re deeply shocking – and also, vanishingly rare. If they weren’t hugely uncommon, they wouldn’t even be newsworthy at all.
In fact, you’re more likely to drown in the bath than you are to die of a dog bite – and also, more likely to be killed by a cow or a pig than a dog too!
Even eye disease has a higher mortality rate than dog bites… So you’re better off scheduling regular check-ups with your optician than you are avoiding dogs entirely in case you become one of the unlucky 0.00005% who get killed by a dog.
Has the number of deaths by dog attack fallen significantly since the Dangerous Dogs Act came into law in 1991, banning four supposedly dangerous dog breeds? Well, no. In fact, the annual number of deaths caused by dog attacks have actually risen during that time.
Prior to the introduction of the Act, an average 1.1 deaths per year were caused by dog attacks. Since the Act’s introduction, the average is 2.8 deaths per year.
During the period of time since the Act’s introduction, the canine population of the UK has increased by around 16%, but the increasing number of dogs in the UK on its own cannot be held accountable for the increasing number of fatal incidents on its own.
In fact, based on this data, the banning of four dog breeds would appear to have done nothing at all to have reduced dog attack fatalities.
If put on the spot, most people would guess that children are more likely than adults to be bitten by a dog; after all, they’re smaller and more vulnerable, and less likely to understand dogs well enough to know why they need to be careful, and how to behave appropriately around dogs.
In fact, the age group most likely to be bitten by a dog seriously enough to warrant hospital admission is the 50-59 year old demographic, based on hospital admission data from across England from 2017-2018.
If most people (including dog owners) were asked to guess what breed of dog is most likely to bite the postman, there would likely be a wildly varying range of breeds bandied about and a lot of stereotyping involved too!
However, the dog breed that has resulted in the highest number of personal injury claims from post men and women according to insurer Animal Friends, is the Labrador retriever!
This is what most of us think of as a very personable breed, and rightly so; but any dog has the capacity to bite, and many very friendly and loving dogs that are highly social with strangers in most situations can be very defensive about protecting their property from perceived threats.
That said, breed-to-bite statistics are something of a numbers game too – the Lab is the 6th most popular dog breed in the UK overall, and the 2nd most popular in terms of annual Kennel Club statistics. The more dogs of any given breed there are around, the higher statistical chance of bites occurring.