This 6-point test will tell you which dogs you better avoid

The dog days of summer are soon upon us. Kids look forward to it all year. Later sundowns make for longer vacation days. More time to roam the neighborhood, visit friends’ homes, and play at the park. What’s there to worry about?

“Dogs,” some would say. There are 76.7 million children in the USA this year, and 83.3 million dogs. (Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, accessed 5/25/2013; American Pet Products Association,New Survey Reveals Pet Ownership At An All-Time High, February 21, 2013) In other words, there is one dog for every child in this country.

That can mean trouble. Children are the primary victims of dog attacks (Centers for Disease Control, Dog Bite Prevention, accessed 5/25/2013). In the past decade and a half, hospitalizations because of dog bites have increased 88% (US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Hospital Admissions for Dog Bites Increase 86 Percent Over a 16-Year Period, December 1, 2010), and the number of people killed by dogs has more than doubled (Kenneth M. Phillips, Canine Homicides: July 2006 to the Present, accessed 5/25/2013).

Dogbitelaw.com has developed a 6-point “dog attack danger scale” to tell you which dogs you and your children should stay away from. The presence of any one factor indicates danger, while two or more indicates a dog that should be avoided at all costs. Here’s what to look out for:

  • A dog in its own yard, and no master present. In 2012, at least 5 of the 37 fatal dog attacks happened in this manner. (Kenneth M. Phillips, Canine Homicides: July 2006 to the Present, accessed 5/25/2013).
  • Pit bull, Rottweiler, Akita or Chow. Most fatal dog attacks are by pit bulls. To date in 2013, 13 out of 14 fatalities have been caused by pit bulls. (Colleen Lynn, 2013 Dog Bite Fatalities, accessed 5/25/2013.)
  • The pack mentality. Three dogs are worse than 2, 4 are worse than 3, etc. Docile dogs often become uncharacteristically violent and vicious when they are in a pack. In 2013, 15 of the 37 canine homicides were caused by two or more dogs. (Kenneth M. Phillips, Canine Homicides: July 2006 to the Present, accessed 5/25/2013).
  • Chained or tethered. Dogs that are tied up are dangerous. Since 2003, more than 450 Americans—mostly children—have been injured or killed by chained dogs. (PETA, Chained Dog Attack Summaries, accessed 5/25/2013.)
  • Male. Male dogs are several times more dangerous than female dogs. Unneutered male dogs are the worst. (K.A. Houpt and M.B. Willis, The Genetics of the Dog (2001), pp. 393-394.)
  • Newness. A new dog in the house is dangerous for the first 60 days, and a person who is new to a household where a dog resides is in danger of attack for the first 60 days. In 2012, roughly one-third of all dog bite fatality victims were either visiting or living temporarily with the dog's owner when the attack occurred, and 75% of deaths under these circumstances were children ages 8-years and younger. (Colleen Lynn, DogsBite.org Releases 2012 Dog Bite Fatality Statistics, January 11, 2013.)