Top dog cities, dog bite statistics, and breed studies about the bite

National Dog Bite Prevention Week is this week. But this is one time a city—or a state—may not want to be No. 1.

Los Angeles has the unique distinction of being the bite-a-mail-carrier capital of the country, Linda DeCarlo, manager of safety for the U.S. Postal Service, told U.S. News & World Report recently. San Diego and Houston are runners-up.

Dog bites and dog-related injuries, which accounted for over one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claims in 2014, paid out $530 million. California, again No. 1, contributed $62.8 million to that sum, reports the Insurance Information Institute.

However, incidents of dog bites are actually decreasing.

In a 2008 survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health, 1.5% of the U.S. population, or 4.5 million people, were bitten by a dog between 2001-2003. Compared to 1994 data, that's a decrease of 47%, due to the drop in dog bites in children. 

Does that mean people are buying different breeds for their kids? Not necessarily. 

According to a March 12 literature review conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) about breed types and dog bites, the factors that contribute to dog bites and dog bite statistics are, well, complicated.

Breeds that are popular at the time tend to show up in dog bite statistics during the reign of their popularity.

Small- to medium-sized dogs are more aggressive but their bites are not as likely to inflict serious damage. Because the bite is worse with large dogs, owners tend to seek help for the aggression. Large breeds such as hounds and retrievers are under-represented in bite statistics, reports the AVMA.

Alas, pit bulls suffer from a “breed stigma,” and their owner’s behavior may contribute. (Pit bull owners were more likely to have been involved in criminal or violent acts.)

The most serious dog bite incidents, notes the AVMA, involve young children, un-neutered dogs, and dogs that are familiar to the victim. Breed, in fact, is a poor sole predictor of dog bites.

And finally, another California city has been rated No. 1 when it comes to dogs. San Francisco is the most expensive city in the country to raise a dog in, according to Trupanion. (The least expensive is Phoenix.)