Ohio State study identifies pit bulls, mixed breeds as dogs most likely to bite children

(Bullit Marquez | AP Photo/Bullit Marquez))
Updated: May. 22, 2019 at 4:34 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Researchers from Ohio State University found that pit bulls and mixed breed dogs have the highest risk of biting children.

The intent of the study, conducted by the Ohio State University’s College of Medicine and Wexner Medical Center, is to provide parents information when deciding what type of dog to own.

“This research highlights a significant public health issue and provides a new decision-making framework for families considering dog ownership,” said Dr. K. Craig Kent, dean of the Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Pit bulls, mixed breed dogs, and dogs with wide and short heads weighing between 66 and 100 pounds have the highest risk of biting, according to Ohio State’s study.

The study also ruled that the reasons a dog may bite vary depending on breed behavior and the behavior of the victim, parents, and dog owner.

“Young children are especially vulnerable to dog bites because they may not notice subtle signs that a dog may bite,” said study co-author Dr. Charles Elmaraghy. “We see everything from simple lacerations to injuries in which there’s significant tissue loss that needs grafting or other reconstructive surgery.”

Researchers analyzed 15 years of dog-related facial trauma cases reported by Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the University of Virginia Health System to form the conclusion. They also searched through dog bite records dating back to 1970.

Meghan Herron, an associate professor of veterinary clinical services involved with the study, offered these tips to dog owners to prevent bites:

  • Provide a quiet place for the dog away from where children play because most bites to children occur when the dog is resting
  • Provide a physical barrier between children and the dog if you cannot devote attention to interactions because of the potential for erratic and unpredicitable behavior from the child
  • Teach children to let resting dogs lie and to stay out of areas designated for the dogs
  • Do not let children to approach, touch or interact with dogs while they are eating
  • Teach children to find an adult if a dog takes one of their toys or snacks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 4.7 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs each year.

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