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Factors in the propensity of dogs to bite people

L. L. M. Messam, P. H. Kass, B. B. Chomel, L. A. Hart

DOG bites happen reasonably frequently in human-canine interactions. While age is accepted as a risk factor for canine aggression, little is known about the age or ages at which dogs are most likely to bite.

This retrospective cohort study looked into the effects of age at acquisition, age of the dog and the duration of ownership on the risk of bites, during play and non-play, to people. Data were collected for dogs (n=110) that had bitten during play with a person, dogs (n=161) that had bitten outside of play and non-biting dogs (n=951) from veterinary clients in Kingston, Jamaica, and San Francisco, USA.

The study found that the association between age at acquisition and the risk of dog bites (both during and outside of play) primarily occurred during the first six to 12 months of the dog's life. Most bites during play were from dogs that had been acquired at younger than six months of age, with most bites occurring relatively soon after acquisition, during play. Dogs that had …

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