Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Since the global pandemic hit in 2020, there has been a rise in pet ownership in the UK, with 3.2 million households welcoming a new pet into their home. Of the 34 million pets in the UK, 12 million of these are dogs. Dogs make wonderful companions, but they need to be trained and cared for correctly.
With the rise in dog ownership, there has also been a rise in dog bites in the UK in recent years. As friendly as your dog might be, all dogs are capable of biting if they feel the need to. It can happen out of fear, surprise, play, protection, frustration, and many other reasons. Sadly, dog bites happen more often than you may expect, and there is always a story behind why the incident happened. Only in rare cases do dogs bite with no cause.
To help you better understand the warning signs and to create awareness around this subject, we’ve listed some dog bite statistics for the UK.
- The Impact of Dog Bites in the UK
- Highest Victim Groups of Dog Bites
- The High Risk of Being a Postal Worker
The Top 10 UK Dog Bite Statistics
- 8,655 admissions to the hospital were due to dog bites and injuries in 2021/22.
- Nine people have died from dog bite attacks in 2022 thus far.
- 2,925 people needed reconstructive surgery due to dog bites in 2020/21.
- There has been a 26% rise in dog bites since 2020.
- The highest number of dog bite patients in 2021/22 were between the ages of 50 and 54.
- 614 children between ages 0–4 were bitten by a dog in 2021/22.
- 59% of dog bite fatalities are male.
- 32 postal workers per week are bitten by dogs.
- The highest number of dog attacks on Royal Mail delivery staff happened in Sheffield, England between 2021 and 2022.
- 77% of dog bites occur at the front door, garden, or drive of their home.
The Impact of Dog Bites in the UK
1. 8,655 admissions to the hospital were due to dog bites and injuries in 2021/22.
Although 8,655 hospital admissions from dog bites and attacks is a high number, these figures only reflect the number of people that were admitted in the UK and not the dog bite victims that were treated and sent home for less serious wounds. With over 12 million dogs in the UK, it’s safe to assume that a high number of dog bites weren’t reported, either out of fear or a lack of severity.
In comparison to the previous year, there was a 17% rise in hospital admissions from dog bites.
2. Nine people have died from dog bite attacks in 2022 thus far.
2022 was the first year since dog fatalities have been recorded to have more than five dog attack fatalities. Sadly, nine people have died from dog attacks this year. Considering the 12 million dogs in the UK, nine fatalities is a relatively low number. However, pet owners need to take responsibility and train their dogs. First-time dog owners must educate themselves on the breed of dog they are purchasing before welcoming them into their care.
3. 2,925 people needed reconstructive surgery due to dog bites in 2020/21.
Some dog bites are so serious that they can leave lasting marks on a person’s body or face. Of the 2,925 victims who needed reconstructive surgery after being bit by a dog, 380 of those were under the age of 4 years. Four of those patients were over the age of 90.
4. There has been a 26% rise in dog bites since 2020.
With an increase of 2 million dogs in the UK since 2020, there is a higher risk of dog-related injuries. Many of these dogs were bought during lockdown, where no social interaction could take place. This has left a large portion of lockdown dogs with social anxiety and a higher likelihood of biting someone or something out of fear.
Highest Victim Groups of Dog Bites
5. The highest number of dog bite patients in 2021/22 were between the ages of 50 and 54.
713 people between the ages of 50 and 54 were bitten by dogs and hospitalized in 2021–2022. On average, around 20 adults were admitted to the hospital per day due to dog bites.
6. 614 children between ages 0–4 were bitten by a dog in 2021/22.
As sad as it is, it’s not surprising that so many children are victims of dog bites. Children 4 years and under are around the same height as most dogs. Children are also known to cause anxiety in many dogs because they’re loud and unpredictable, and they’re less able to defend themselves.
Dog bites can be prevented by educating children on how to handle dogs properly, as well as always being supervised while in the presence of a dog. This is necessary for both the sake of the child and the dog.
7. 59% of dog bite fatalities are male.
Men are at a higher risk for dog bites and attacks because they are typically bigger and more threatening to a dog than a woman is. It can even come down to a man’s walk, movements, and deep voice that can make dogs see them as a greater threat.
The High Risk of Being a Postal Worker
8. 32 postal workers per week are bitten by dogs.
Dogs are territorial animals and will often bite intruders if they feel as though they’re a threat to their homes. Postal workers deliver mail, which often results in them walking up to the front door or sticking their fingers through letterboxes. These are fast ways to get bitten.
Dog owners should never open the door to a postal worker while their dog is around or let them play in the yard around the time their mail is delivered.
9. The highest number of dog attacks on Royal Mail delivery staff happened in Sheffield, England, between 2021 and 2022.
51 postal workers have been bitten by a dog in Sheffield in the past year. The number of dog bites on the Royal Mail staff has dropped by 7% since the year before, but this city has been one of the areas with the highest dog bites on postal workers since 2013.
50 dog attacks occurred in Belfast, coming in close second to Sheffield.
10. 77% of dog bites occur at the front door, garden, or drive of their home.
39% of dog bites on postal workers occur at the front door of a dog’s home. This is often because owners have not placed their dogs in a closed room before opening the door to receive their delivery. A further 38% of dog bites happen on the property or street of the dog’s home, while 23% happen through a letterbox.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Bites in the UK
Why Have There Been More Dog Bites and Attacks in Recent Years?
It’s hard to know for certain why there has been an increase in dog bites in recent years but the influx of new pet dogs over the past 2 years likely has a large role to play.
Many people got a dog for companionship and to help their mental state during lockdown when everyone had to isolate. However, many of these people are first-time dog owners with little experience in how to look after them.
The lack of training and socializing during their developmental stage will also play a role, as these “lockdown puppies” don’t have the skills that dogs should have due to the circumstances we all faced. Many of them are anxious around other people and dogs and thus more prone to aggressive behavior.
How Can I Stop My Dog from Biting Someone?
One of the most important steps to take with your new dog is getting them trained and socialized with other people and other dogs. A dog that isn’t anxious around people is less likely to bite someone out of fear. However, regardless of how trained your dog is, never leave them unsupervised with children. In turn, teach your children how to treat dogs with kindness.
Be mindful of postal workers, and always keep your dog in a closed room when opening your door to receive your delivery. Also, be sure that there are no holes in your fence that your dog can escape through. This will reduce the chance of them biting someone or being bitten by another dog.
And lastly, get your dog spayed or neutered as it reduces their need to roam, as well as lowers their likelihood of biting someone by over 30%.
Are Any Dog Breeds Banned in the UK?
Yes—no one is legally allowed to sell, own, abandon, give away, or breed a Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Fila Brasileiro, or Dogo Argentino. Dogs that are similar in appearance and characteristics to the breeds mentioned above can also be banned.
With 8,655 admissions to hospitals due to dog bites in the UK in the past year, this is certainly an area of concern. No person should ever have to lose their life or mobility due to a poorly trained dog. Dog owners have a responsibility to train and socialize their dogs. However, there are often two sides to a story, and greater education about why dogs bite and how to prevent it from happening is necessary.
Featured Image Credit: dimid_86, Shutterstock