In most societies, dogs are considered ‘man’s best friend.’ For some, they find their dogs as part of the family. While most dogs are truly harmless, there are still instances wherein some dogs could bite and cause harm.
Dog bites have been a common problem in most countries. Although a lot of people see it as a minor issue, it is essential to put in mind that dog bites should not be taken lightly since it could cause severe psychological and physical damage. It could also be a way for humans to acquire Rabies, which is a deadly virus.
A recent study revealed that pit bulls and mixed dog breeds have the highest risk of biting and inflicting severe injuries. Other types of dogs which pose a high risk were German shepherds, terriers, and Rottweilers.
Meanwhile, those with the lowest risk are the Dalmatians, Pointers, Great Danes, Pekingese, and Spitz. Also, when physical characteristics were examined, researchers found out that those dogs who have wide and short heads weighing 66 to 100 pounds are the most pose a high risk.
The study was done in Ohio State University College of Medicine and the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center where they looked into which types and traits of dogs have the highest risk of biting and causing severe injury to humans.
According to Dr. Garth Essig, lead author and otolaryngologist at the Wexner Medical Center, they have estimated about 83 million owned dogs in the United States, and this number continues to rise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that there are about 4.7 million people in the United States that are bitten by dogs every year. From this number, around 20% of the victims needed medical care and are mostly children belonging to the age range 5 to 9 years old.
Dr. Charles Elmaraghy, who is the co-author of the study and an associate professor of otolaryngology at Ohio State’s College of Medicine and chief of otolaryngology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, reasoned out that “young children are especially vulnerable to dog bites because they may not notice subtle signs that a dog may bite”.
Dr. Essig also emphasized that the goal of the study was to evaluate dog bites in children. He also said that they “specifically looked at how breed relates to bite frequency and bite severity. Because mixed breed dogs account for a significant portion of dog bites, and we often didn’t know what type of dog was involved in these incidents, we looked at additional factors that may help predict bite tendency when a breed is unknown like weight and head shape.”
They have reviewed cases of dog-related facial trauma for the past 15 years from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the University of Virginia Health System in which they have taken into account the size of the wound, injury to the tissue, bone fractures, and other injuries which were severe enough to necessitate consultation by a reconstructive surgeon.
Aside from the dog-related trauma cases, they have also reviewed previous studies regarding dog biting and certain dog breeds since 1970. This review was combined with hospital data to determine the risk of bite frequency and severity.
Dr. Ananth Murthy, who is the director of pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgery at Akron Children’s Hospital, confirmed this by saying that surgeons there see many severe dog bite cases each year, with most of those bites coming from pit bulls and so far this year, there have been 12 patients who have been admitted there because of dog bites. It was also estimated that about 28 victims of dog bites are admitted each year at the same hospital from 2014 until 2018.
He also added that “while all dogs bite, pit bull bites are more severe because of the dog’s strength and how its jaws clamp down” and “the danger is more pronounced for children whose faces are often on the same level as pit bulls and can be perceived as a threat. The dogs sometimes will attack a child’s head and neck”.
This new study could raise awareness and guide parents who have children at home on choosing what dog breed to adopt in order to lessen the risk of a dog biting. We should also put in mind to always be careful around dogs and to avoid provoking, scaring, or frightening them since it could trigger them to attack people.