Vol. 7 No. 3 (2021)

A survey on the number of dog-induced injuries inflicted by pure-breed and mixed-breed dogs in Italy

Francesca Cecchi
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Pisa
Giulia De Toni
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Pisa
Fabio Macchioni
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Pisa

Published 2022-05-26


  • dog,
  • breed,
  • aggression,
  • training,
  • questionnaire,
  • genetics
  • ...More


In this survey we collected information on the number of biting events inflicted by dogs on other animals or people, recorded by local health authorities (LHAs) in Italy after an official complaint over a one-year period. The aim was to evaluate the possible differences between mixed and purebred dogs and between trained dogs and untrained dogs, and potentially highlight the most aggressive breeds. A questionnaire was developed and emailed at the beginning of 2019 to 87 LHAs located in north-central Italy asking them to report biting episodes due to dog attacks occurred in one year. The questionnaire included questions about the subject attacked and the breed of the aggressor dog with the reasons for the aggression. Only six questionnaires were received and processed. The results revealed 1169 cases of aggression in one year reported in the total of the six LHAs (194.8±115.33 as average value), especially against humans (96.9%). Among these attacks, 52.6% were against strangers and 29.8% were against a family member (owner or another family member).

There were no differences in the number of attacks by pure-breed (53.6%) or mixed-breed dogs (46.6%). The German Shepherd, which is often used for protection and as a guard dog, was the breed with the highest number of biting cases reported (19.0%). However, this is essentially due to its prevalence in Italy, with over 12,000 dogs registered in the ENCI every year but also why this popular breed has been used by people as a guard dog. Of the 377 cases of registered bites, 343 (91.0%) of the dogs had not undergone any training, thus indicating that owner education programmes are fundamental tools to reduce risk factors and prevent aggression.