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Causes of Dog Attacks

Sometimes dogs attack without exhibiting aggression in the past. However, there are multiple factors that increase the likelihood of a dog attacking. Below are some of the factors that increase the likelihood of a dog attacking a person.

Tethering and Chaining

A study authored by Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) physicians found that dogs tethered or chained were nearly three times as likely to attack than dogs that were not chained.

Poorly Trained or Socialized

Dogs that are not properly trained or socialized with other people and dogs are more likely to attack. Poor socialization causes fear and anxiety; and thus, leads to a higher degree of aggression.

Male Dog

A male dog is several more times likely to bite than a female dog. Unneutered male dogs are more likely to attack than neutered males.

· Gershman KA, Sacks JJ and Wright JC 1994 “Which dogs bite? A case-control study of risk factors” Pediatrics 93:913-917.

Injured or Sick

An injured or sick dog is more likely to attack than a healthy dog. An injured animal is more likely to be scared when approached by a stranger than a healthy dog.


Dogs that are abused are more likely to bite other animals and people. A study of over 250 fatality cases found that over twenty percent of the attacks occurred by abused dogs.

· “Co-occurrence of Potentially Preventable Factors in 256 Dog Bite-related Fatalities in the United States (2000-2009) Patronek GJ; Sacks JJ; Delise KM; Cleary DV; Marder AR. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2013 Dec 15, 243(12):1726-36.

Genetic Predisposition

Breeders may select for behavioral traits that increase aggression in dogs. Some dog breeds are known for having aggressive tendencies, but a dog of any breed may be aggressive. Scientists are mapping genes related to canine fear and aggression.

· BMC Genomics: Genetic Mapping of Canine Fear and Aggression. Isain Zapata, James Serpell and Carlos Alvarez (2016, 17:572).

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