Last Updated: 12/22/2023

Some dogs have a reputation for being among the most aggressive and dangerous dog breeds. But in fact, any dog can attack and bite another person or another dog. Much depends on the dog’s training, the owner’s behavior, as well as the circumstances that lead to the bite or attack (teasing the dog, scaring the dog).

Every year, there are nearly 4.7 million injuries that happen in the United States when dogs bite. According to insurance companies, the five dog breeds that are most often associated with dog bite injuries and the associated with dog breed fatal attacks are:

  1. Presa Canario—This dog is a mix of a mastiff and a pit bull that is often used to herd cattle. These dogs weigh up to 125 pounds and are about 25 inches tall.
  2. Doberman Pinscher—Dobermans are bred to guard their owners and to respond immediately when they feel threatened. Avoid violent or aggressive play with this breed.
  3. Husky—These dogs have very complex personalities and are sometimes dangerous in the hands of inexperienced owners.
  4. German Shepherd—These large dogs have a brave and confident nature, which accounts for their use in police work. However, that confident nature can often make this breed aggressive.
  5. Rottweiler—Rottweilers often dislike people and animals that they have never met. They have very strong jaws that make them extremely effective at defending their owners.

Dog breeds that some people put on the most aggressive dog breed list are:

  • pit bull;
  • Rottweiler;
  • Doberman pinscher;
  • Husky-type;
  • wolf hybrid;
  • Malamute; and
  • German Shepherd.

But any dog can be made to be aggressive or might have aggressive tendencies. Well-known dog trainer and television host Cesar Milan writes on his website, “The difference between an aggressive Chihuahua and an aggressive pit bull is that the bigger breeds can cause proportionately bigger damage.” Thus, a pit bull attack might be more likely to cause significant damage – and might, therefore, garner more media reports – than a Chihuahua attack.

Vicious Dog Declaration in Iowa

Unfortunately, some people use pit bulls for dogfighting and/or intentionally make the dog more aggressive. This has led many cities to automatically declare these dogs dangerous or vicious.

This includes Des Moines, which declares pit bulls and “any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the [pit bull] breeds” as automatically vicious. This requires the dog owner to purchase homeowner’s insurance coverage with a minimum liability of $100,000.

But any dog can be declared vicious if it meets certain requirements. Des Moines declares dogs vicious if the dog:

  • attacks a human or domestic animal without provocation;
  • has a history, tendency or disposition to attack or cause injury to humans or domestic animals;
  • snaps or bites or gives reason to believe it will snap or bite;
  • has been trained for dog fighting; or
  • has been trained to attack humans upon command (except police and military dogs).

So whether a pit bull or a Chihuahua meets these criteria, it will be declared vicious under Des Moines law and the owner must get homeowner’s insurance coverage as mentioned above.

Does the dog’s breed matter if I’m filing a dog bite claim?

No. If a dog bit you and caused injury, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a dog some people list as an aggressive dog breed or if it’s a dog most consider friendly and well-behaved. Iowa has strict dog bite liability laws, meaning whether or not a dog is declared vicious and whether or not the dog has bitten before, the dog owner is liable for damages.

So regardless of the dog that bit you, talk to an attorney about filing a dog bite claim against the owner. You can contact Walker, Billingsley & Bair to set up a consultation about your case. We will go over the circumstances of your case and the damages you might be able to recover. Call us at (515) 440-2852, Chat Here Now, or use our contact form to schedule your consultation. 

Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.