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Dog bite liability

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 4.7 million dog bites per year. These bites cost the property/casualty insurance industry roughly $320 million in 2003.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability. The following tips can help reduce the chances of your dog biting someone:

  1. Have your dog spayed or neutered. These procedures will greatly reduce the likelihood that the dog will bite.
  2. Socialize your dog so that it knows how to act with other people and animals.
  3. Play non-aggressive games with your dog such as "go fetch." Playing aggressive games like "tug-of-war" can encourage inappropriate behavior.
  4. Avoid exposing your dog to situations in which you are unsure what the dog’s response will be.

Insurers may charge more for certain breeds of dogs. The following purebreds were responsible for the greatest number of dog bite-related fatalities over the 20 year period from 1979 to 1998, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The breeds are listed in declining order of fatalities:

  • "Pit Bull"
  • Rottweiler
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • "Husky"
  • Malamute
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Chow Chow
  • Great Dane
  • Saint Bernard
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