Small Dog Attacks Happen, Here’s What You Should Know

Key Points

  • Smaller dogs are becoming increasingly popular in the United States.
  • No matter the size of the dog, bites and attacks can be dangerous and lead to infections or other complications.
  • Temperament is usually a better indicator than breed when it comes to the likelihood of a dog attack.

Today, Americans are choosing small dogs as companions more often than larger breeds. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, most dogs registered in the U.S. are small breeds.  This may be because small dogs are less expensive to feed and may not require a large yard in which to run.

Why Are Small Breeds Growing in Popularity?

Perhaps one reason Americans turn to smaller breeds for their family companions is that larger breeds, particularly Pitbulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds, tend to get bad press. As a result, these dogs are often perceived to be more of a liability in terms of aggressive tendencies. Interestingly, the truth may not be that simple. Some scientists contend that small dogs are simply not large enough to kill or significantly injure people, which may be why their reputation isn’t tarnished.

Yet, according to a recent study by the University of Helsinki, small breeds are 49% more likely to show aggressive behavior than large dogs. They are also 38% as prone to behave aggressively as medium-sized dogs. So, pound for pound, small dogs can be even more hostile than their larger cousins.

Common Questions about Small Dog Breeds

Do Smaller Dogs Bite Less Often Than Bigger Dogs?

Small dog attacks may leave less damage, but why do they behave aggressively – growling, snarling, lunging, snapping, and biting – in the first place? According to the same University of Helsinki study, smaller dogs were less likely to listen to their owner’s commands or follow commands consistently.
In addition, smaller dogs were also more aggressive and excitable (more likely to bark, growl, and lunge at strange people and other dogs) and more anxious and fearful in new situations. These traits appear to be the factors most often tied to aggressive dog behavior.

An aggressive dog

10 Smaller Dog Breeds Known to Bite

The following list includes dog breeds most likely to be involved in biting incidents:

  • Dachshund
  • Chihuahua
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Pekingese
  • Beagle
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Pomeranian
  • Papillon
  • Shih Tzu

Chihuahuas are often overlooked as a risk for dog bite attacks because of their tiny stature. Yet surprisingly, Chihuahuas are typically listed as one of the most aggressive dog breeds. According to, dog temperament tests show Chihuahuas outrank Pitbulls in the bad-attitude department.

Chihuahuas are known to growl, bark, nip, and bite both adults and kids. Despite their small frames, this breed can instill fear in kids and adults alike – ask any mail carrier!

Small dogs may not be as strong as larger dogs, but they can still inflict harm. Their bites can lead to injuries and secondary infections, putting the victim at great risk.

Because these animals appear cute and harmless, bite victims, particularly children, may lean in and expose themselves to bites. As a result, sensitive areas like the face, neck, and hands are most often at risk. Additionally, young children and elderly individuals may not have the physical strength to push an excited attacking animal away, leading to more severe injuries.

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Dog Bite Victims May Have Legal Recourse

If you’ve been injured in a dog attack, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries. No matter what size your canine assailant is, your injuries may be grounds for legal action in Georgia.

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