A T L A N T A, Sept. 15, 2000 -- Rottweilers have passed pit bulls as America’sdeadliest dog breed, according to a study released today.
The large dogs were involved in 33 fatal attacks on humansbetween 1991 and 1998, the American Veterinary Medical Associationsaid.
Pit bulls, which had been responsible for more deaths than anyother breed, were involved in 21 fatal attacks over the sameperiod.
Protectors Turned MaulersRottweilers, first bred in Germany, surged in popularity duringthe 1990s as more people sought them for protection, said JeffreyJ. Sacks, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Controland Prevention.
“People are more in fear of crime and violence, and this hasled to a selection of bigger dogs,” he said. “If you startselecting bigger dogs, you’ll get bigger bites.”
The study’s authors, using data from the Humane Society of theUnited States and media accounts of dog maulings, reported 27people — 19 of them children — died from dog attacks in 1997 and1998.
The numbers highlight widespread mistreatment of dogs and agrowing public ignorance of how to behave around them, researcherssaid. They blamed adults for not teaching children to stay awayfrom unfamiliar dogs.
“It’s not a Rottweiler problem or a pit bull problem,” saidRandall Lockwood, the Humane Society’s vice president for researchand educational outreach. “It’s a people problem.”
Busy Families, Lack of TrainingThe annual number of reported fatal attacks has not variedwidely in the past 20 years, the study said. But overall attacksare on the rise — likely because families are busier, leaving themless time to train their dogs and watch their children.
“A dog has to have its behavior monitored and consequences putin place,” Sacks said. “People don’t seem to have a lot of timein their lives for that.”
Pit bulls led all breeds for fatal attacks between 1979 and1998, with at least one pit bull involved in 66 mauling deaths, thestudy said. Rottweilers were blamed for 37 — most of those in the1990s — followed by German shepherds with 17 and huskies with 15.
Researchers cautioned the breakdown does not necessarilyindicate which dogs provide the highest risk of fatal attacksbecause incomplete registration of dogs and mixed breeds make ithard to determine how many of each type of dog Americans own.