There are countless benefits to welcoming a dog into your home, including improved social, emotional and cognitive development in children, a more active lifestyle, an increased sense of protection and companionship. Yet, as is the case with any animal, dogs can sometimes be unpredictable, and even the friendliest dogs can bite if provoked.
There are more than 83 million dogs in the United States, according to the CDC, and more than 4.5 million people report being bitten by dogs each year in the United States, with more than 800,000 requiring medical attention. . Sadly, more than half of dog bite victims and about a third of dog bite deaths (as of 2020) are children.
Although liability for injury and property damage caused by dogs is generally within the scope of your homeowner’s or renter’s policy, some insurers set guidelines on what breeds they are willing to cover. This is because such claims are often incredibly expensive, with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimating that insurers paid around $881 million in dog bite liability claims in 2021.
Some insurers, including State Farm, have gone beyond considering a dog’s breed when deciding how to insure them for owners’ liability coverage, and others will provide coverage regardless of breed, but may adjust premiums upward if the insured has a dog on the company’s restricted list. In Michigan, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania, all insurers are prohibited from denying coverage to owners or excluding a pet from coverage based on a dog’s breed.
Although breed is not a surefire indicator of which dogs will bite – and the majority of reported dog bites are from mixed breeds or whose breed could not be determined – some insurers still take this into account because the breed of can influence a dog’s temperament if the dog is easily frightened and the strength of its protective instincts. However, regardless of a dog’s breed, it is common for insurers to introduce exclusions or completely deny coverage for a dog that has a history of biting or aggression.
In the slideshow above, we take a look at the breeds responsible for the most recorded dog bite-related deaths in the United States between 2014 and 2020, according to research by Animals 24-7.