A half-year study, conducted jointly by two Denver-area news agencies, has yielded a list of dog breeds in the area that tend to bite the most frequently.
The list, compiled by KUSA and I-News PBS, also indicates where on the body the breeds tend to bite as well as how severe the resulting injuries are.
For some it may come as a surprise that Labrador retrievers top the list. The breed is followed, in descending order, by German shepherds, Pit Bulls, Chihuahuas and bulldogs.
- German Shepherds
- Pit Bulls
But it’s not a surprise to Alice Nightengale, Denver's director of Animal Care and Control. Labs are among the most popular breed in the Denver area, and as Nightengale points out, just because the breed is characterized as being docile doesn’t mean they won’t bite.
“I think humans have a lot responsibility for dog bites,” she said. “The friendliest dog will bite given the right kind of circumstances.”
The results of the study, which were put together using the “subjective” testimony of both victims and animal-control officers, stand in stark contrast to other studies.
Like the one conducted this year by Animal People newsletter editor, Merritt Clifton. That study looked at press reports of dog bites going back to 1982 and all the way up to December 2013. It found that pit bulls were responsible, nationwide, for the largest majority of dog attacks, despite the breed making up only 6 percent of the total dog population. Clifton’s study indicated that pit bulls were responsible for 2,792 attacks over the given time period. The second breed on the list — Rottweiler — was responsible for 514.
Those numbers fit in with the overall perception of pit bulls, adhered to by some, that they are a dangerous breed. Indeed, in the Denver area, many communities have passed laws outlawing the breed.
Commerce City is one such municipality, where, according to The Denver Post, a woman was arrested in July after her pit bull attacked and severely injured a 19-month-old toddler.
It’s an ongoing concern for members of the greater-Denver community. A KDVR report from May indicated that Denver ranked eighth in 2013 on a list of the worst cities for dog bites and dog attacks. That study did not take breed into account.
And many of the experts who spoke to KUSA say people shouldn’t take breed into account either. Sgt. Stephen Romero of Denver Animal Control is one of them.
“If a dog has teeth, it has potential to bite,” he said. “If it's in the right conditions [or] circumstance, it can potentially bite.”