==> "German Shepherd Dogs are dangerous!"
or "German Shepherds and Children is no good!"
or "The German Shepherd Dog should be classified as a dangerous breed!"
Dog attacks! We've heard it all. So, how true is it?
Or, are GSDs dangerous when we have small kids? A baby? A cat? Other dogs?
Pictures of German Shepherds (or often, GSD lookalikes/crosses) with bare teeth make many people fear the German Shepherd Dog. Not only robbers and gangsters, but also the average citizen.
But if we leave appearance and yellow-press media coverage aside, how dangerous are GSDs really? And how dangerous is your German Shepherd in your situation?
In this Periodical:
- Dog Attack Statistics
- Dog Attacks by Breed
- How Common are German Shepherd Attacks?
- What is the Typical Outcome of a Dog Attack?
- Is the German Shepherd Dog Predisposed to Violence?
- How Can We Prevent that Our GSD Harms Someone for No Good Reason?
Dog Bite Statistics
Many people look at dog bite statistics and draw their conclusions, without understanding the underlying concepts (eg base population, sample, frequency distribution, etc).
This is a problem that's relevant to all of us because among those people are also law enforcement officers that look into individual dog attacks in the same way - like maybe that of your dog at some point?!
Life experience and common sense tell us that, as dog owners, we can easily become the focus (and treasure chest!) of litigious fellow citizens. To avoid this, we must know the content of this and the next MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL.
So, let's first look at dog attack statistics or dog bite statistics:
- If we believe that any serious dog attack finds its way into media reports, then media reports are the best sample.
- If we believe that any serious dog attack finds its way into police reports, then police reports are the best sample.
- If we believe that any serious dog attack finds its way into medical reports, then medical reports are the best sample.
My point is: It all depends on where the dogs live that are involved in attacks.
If the dog lives say in a remote location in a state in the USA or in a province in Canada, or in a territory in Australia, or in rural India or in any other remote location, then the dog owner (and the dog) may get away with the attack - without it being reported anywhere!
In some regions of any nation in the world (other than densely populated ones like say England), both police and media may not get involved, even if there was a serious dog attack. Only the local doctor may get involved.
So, when subsequently we only look at media reports as the statistical source for dog attacks, then simply because we don't have access to police and medical reports, okay?
Also note that dog attack here means mauling, maiming or death of a human being, whether child or adult - since only such serious dog attacks consistently find their way into media reports.
The most recent statistic about dog attacks by breed we found for the USA and Canada - obviously, because the largest population of registered dogs by far lives on the North American continent.
(In India certainly live more dogs but in the vast rural areas these are unregistered dogs, which somewhat prevents reliable statistics.)
Dog Attacks by Breed
Notes of Warning before you see the ranking!
This most recent North American statistic was compiled by the editor of Animal People, Merritt Clifton, from press accounts between 1982 to 2011. Almost 30 years, this is a good representative time frame.
However, the first key mistake they make with their statistic is that they compare all historical dog attacks with the relative dog populations in the most recent year (in this case 2011) - although the relative dog populations have significantly changed over time.
For example, at the peak of German Shepherd Dog popularity in the USA in the mid-1990s, reportedly 16% of the entire US and Canadian dog population were German Shepherds and German Shepherd mixes: ca. 9 million!
While in 2012 apparently 'only' just over 3.5 million German Shepherds lived in the USA (4.6% of total dog population - which by the way shows that during a mere 17 years the USA saw an increase in dog population of at least 22 million!!).
German Shepherd mixes and an estimated 500,000 GSDs in Canada aside, this is a BIG difference.
The second key mistake of Clifton's statistic is that they put all dog attacks in relation to counted classified ads that listed dogs for sale on websites during June 2011. This way they get a GSD population of just 1.4%, although the known GSD population is rather 4.6% for the USA (based on AKC registered dogs, see above).
I am sure that the number of classified ads per breed is NOT representative of the number of dogs of that breed (desirable dogs are typically sold and purchased through other means). On the other hand, it may well be the case that likewise the number of registered dogs per breed is NOT representative of the number of dogs of that breed.
Finally, Animal People's report doesn't actually present the data the way it should be presented: dog attacks standardized per percent of the breed's population - or in their case, per counted unique classified ads.
We have done this mathematical transformation for them, and the result is:
|Rank||Dog Breed||# of Attacks per percent of dogs (based on # of ads)|
Note that Animal People's report comprises many more breeds, but for the other breeds the data in the report is insufficient to consider them in the above ranking.
If there were a reliable source for breed-specific population data, we could certainly improve on the accuracy of the ranking above. But for the moment, the data found on sites like Statistic Brain (based on AKC figures = registered dogs) is insufficient, and clearly wrong.
So for now, the above ranking (based on numbers of classified ads) may give us the most unbiased insight into 'dangerous dog breeds'.
How Common are German Shepherd Attacks?
Personally, with my breed knowledge, the above ranking held a few surprises for me, eg:
Without the report from Animal People, I wouldn't have expected that the Boxer is more often involved in serious dog attacks that kill or maim a human being than the German Shepherd!
Almost twice as often. That's a big surprise for me.
Of course, every dog attack that results in maiming or death of a child or adult is one too much, no question!
Nonetheless, considering that there are 351 million people on the North American continent (close to 35 million in Canada and 316 million in the USA), even 5 serious attacks a year of German Shepherds and all German Shepherd mixes(!) is infinitesimal, isn't it?
Particularly, once we consider how many people launch serious attacks on other people in any given year (incl. death too, yes!), and when we consider that at least 5 of these criminals will have a GSD, and thus they may very well transfer their inhumane character onto their dog, no?
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!
"Dogs are only as bad as their owners" is a popular phrase for a reason! - It is not reported whether Hitler's GSD Blondi was as bad and nuts as her owner...
So really, 3 serious attacks a year by GSDs for the entire North American continent (or 5 when GSD mixes are included) is a very small number I dare say without any bias towards the GSD!
- 69% of these GSD attacks were towards a child, 31% towards an adult
- As anticipated, for GSD-Husky mixes this relation is much worse: 83% were towards a child!
- Of the 89 attacks during those almost 30 years, 12 resulted in death (18%) and 54 in maiming (82%)
- Again, for GSD-Husky mixes this relation is much worse: 40% resulted in death!
You may wonder why I know that a GSD-Husky mix is dangerous?
The German Shepherd and its Relatives showed you that the Husky is one of the ur-dogs - with a gene pool closest to wolves.
It was v. Stephanitz himself (the alleged GSD breed founder) who warned German Shepherd breeders already over 100 years ago (remarkable: long before gene analysis was known!!):
See v. Stephanitz' book (for you the English translation): The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Picture (Note: Do not even consider to get the fake versions that are available much cheaper, their content is imaginary and wrong)
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