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article imageDog breeds with the highest risk of biting children identified

By Tim Sandle     Jun 1, 2019 in Science
A new study has identified the dog breeds, together with the the physical traits of the animals, that pose highest risk of biting children. The results, pulled from U.S. data, are not always so clear cut.
Understanding patterns of dog bites and the risk that dog bites pose, especially to young children, is important, not only for personal protection but also as part of the suitability of pet ownership and for reasons of animal welfare. It is estimated that in the U.S. alone, 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, resulting in the hospitalization of between 6,000 to 13,000 people each year. Within this demographic mix, children are at a much higher risk than adults.
According to new analysis from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, although certain breeds are known to bite more frequently or cause more severe injuries, the research indicates that the breed of dog was unknown in about 60 percent of dog bite cases. Where dogs could be identified, pit bulls and mixed breed dogs pose the highest risk of biting children.
The data for the study was drawn from dog-related facial trauma cases compiled by the Nationwide Children's Hospital and the University of Virginia Health System, over a 15-year period. This analysis showed that children ages 5 to 9 years were at the greatest risk from being bitten by a dog. The data suggests the chances of a dog biting a child are influenced by breed behavior tendencies of the dog together with the behavior shown by the victim and the actions (or otherwise) of the dog owner.
Commenting on the research, Dr. K. Craig Kent, who is the dean of The Ohio State University College of Medicine states: "This research highlights a significant public health issue and provides a new decision-making framework for families considering dog ownership."
The study also reveals some common trends, which are useful for people to be aware of. These include the majority of dog attacks on children occurring from a family pet. To avoid this, there should be spaces where children can play and dogs to remain active which are separate, and with young children physical barriers should be in place to prevent dogs from attacking, particularly with babies. It is also good practice to teach children not to play with dogs when they are resting and to learn the best practices to approach a dog.
The following video from the researchers shows further good practices:
The new analysis has been published in the journal International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, with the research paper headed "Dog bite injuries to the face: Is there risk with breed ownership? A systematic review with meta-analysis."
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