Dog bites occur on a daily basis, and often, they come from the most unexpected sources. What we know for sure is that any dog placed in the wrong circumstance is capable of biting someone, and the onus is upon us to set our dogs up for success. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) tracks vital statistics regarding dog bites in the United States. They report that 4.7 million people are bitten by a dog each year. Though this statistic seems quite high, we must bear in mind that the CDC can only record bite incidents that are reported to them, meaning the bite occurrences are likely significantly higher than the current recorded statistics indicate. Yet not all dog bites are created equally. Though certain dog breeds often feature more prominently in bite reports, others who may bite only on occasion receive far greater negative attention. Though research indicates Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Jack Russell Terriers bite more frequently than their bully breed counterparts, it is the pit bull-type dogs who garner all of the media’s focus. Today, there is an outcry against bully breeds, declaring them to be dangerous dogs even though they account for a substantially smaller portion of dog bites occurring in America. Why is this? Though a Dachshund may bite more frequently, his chompers pack less of a punch than those of a muscle-bound breed that more closely resembles a pit bull type dog. Bites are measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). When it comes to lethal blows, it is not the number of bites that leads to the severity of the situation, it is the force behind it. Pit bulls may not bite often, but when they do, their own bite has the power to inflict very serious damage and even end a life. Though unfair, this is the reality of how dog bites are recorded and categorized in today’s world. This leads us to ask the question—what breeds are known to have the strongest bite? Which dogs are the ones capable of inflicting the most damage with a single bite?
Measuring Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) for Dog Bites
There are several different means to determine the strength of a dog’s bite. Dr. Ian Dunbar, a leading veterinarian and positive reinforcement-based dog trainer, has developed a severity scale which is measured in levels. There are six tiers of bite scenarios each with its own set of criteria which help to shed light on the potential motivation behind a bite. Level One is characterized by a bite that poses little threat. Though it makes direct contact with the skin, it is intended to warn not harm. At the opposite end of the spectrum is a Level Six bite. A dog that bites at Level Six intensity is biting to kill and is deemed a truly aggressive dog. Dogs with a history of biting at that level are often unable to be rehabilitated and must be euthanized for their own safety as well as that of the public at large.
However helpful Dr. Dunbar’s system may be, it relies on observation which can be highly subjective. The greater measurement of a dog’s ability to harm a living being via its bite is through measuring the dog’s bite force. Measuring the bite force of a dog is a scientifically accurate means to understand how a bite applied against human or animal flesh will affect the recipient of the bite. The measurement for bite force is known as pounds per square inch or PSI.
PSI is a set measurement that is calibrated to detect the amount of pressure exerted on an object based by the surface area affected and the power behind it. There are several factors which may affect the measurement of a dog’s PSI. These include:
- What is being bitten
- The dog’s mental and/or emotional state at the time of the bite
- The actual dog in question
By comparison, it is helpful to understand the bite force of a human being. The average person exerts a bite force of 120-140 PSI which seems a substantial number until it is laid against the crocodile’s which rings in at 230-250 PSI.
When measuring a dog’s PSI, it is important to note that dogs possess the ability to exert different amounts of force at will. Most often a dog will only make use of its full strength when provoked to do so or in fear for its own life. In addition to this, the dog’s physical makeup is also a strong determiner of its naturally given ability to exert a bite with a powerful punch when required to do so.
What Breeds Have the Strongest Bites?
Kangal – The Dog with the Hardest Dog Bite – 743 P.S.I
With a bite force of 743 PSI, the Kangal earns the top position as the dog with the strongest bite. A breed developed to serve as a guard dog, the Kangal is considered to be the most powerful dog in the world. Kangals are renowned for their protection skills and are extremely loyal to both their families and the livestock they are entrusted to care for. The breed has been known to confront large predators including wolves, coyotes, and even bears.
American Bandogge – 730 P.S.I
The American Bandogge packs a powerhouse punch with its strong jaws, biting at a force of 730 pounds per square inch. Aficionados of the breed believe the Bandogge is the result of a crossbreeding between the American Pit Bull Terrier and the Neapolitan Mastiff. The Bandogge is deliberately bred with gameness in mind. Its primary role was to function as a guard dog, eagerly protecting its owner’s home and hearth.
A dog breed that is renowned for its immense heart and loyalty towards those it loves most, this dog will willingly lay down its life for its family if feeling threatened. To put some perspective on the P.S.I of this powerful dog breed, a lion’s bite intensity is measured at only 650, making the Bandogge’s jaws 80 P.S.I more potent than one of the most fearsome predators in the jungle.
Cane Corso – 700 P.S.I
The Cane Corso is a dog breed that was developed to serve as a guard dog. The Cane Corso is an impressive looking specimen with his strong head and muscular body. Most commonly seen with cropped ears, the Cane Corso can invoke fear in many people. This dog breed’s PSI is 700, an impressive figure indeed.
Dogue de Bordeaux – 556 P.S.I
Another breed descending from the Molosser family and originating in the region of Bordeaux, France is the Dogue de Bordeaux. A breed also commonly called the French Mastiff, the Dogue de Bordeaux exerts an impressive bite with a measured force of 556 PSI.
This dog type was highly prized for his strength and was often employed in positions where power was required such as pulling heavy carts or moving cumbersome objects. The Dogue de Bordeaux was also used for protection, keeping watch over the homes and belongings of the rich and famous.
Though a large breed in possession of a head of monstrous proportions, the Dogue de Bordeaux is actually quite a gentle soul who is most content lounging by his master’s feet.
Tosa Inu – 556 P.S.I
A dog type that originated in Japan, the Tosa Inu was bred to be a fighting dog, tracing its history as far back as the 1300s. It is believed that the Tosa Inu’s pedigree includes such dog breeds as the Kochi, Shikoku, German Pointer, Mastiff, Great Dane, Saint Bernard, and Bull Terrier. The breed enjoyed great popularity in its native Japan and was aptly nicknamed the “Sumo wrestler of the dog world.”
The Tosa Inu is greatly respected in Japan and is regarded as a national treasure. A dog of impressive size, it is not surprising that the Tosa Inu’s bite force measures 556 P.S.I. The breed makes a loving and devoted family friend, but true to its roots as a pit fighter, can be aggressive towards other animals.
English Mastiff – 556 P.S.I
A dog breed sometimes referred to as an Old English Mastiff, the English Mastiff is well-renowned for its gentle, affectionate nature with its family and friends. The breed is particularly well suited to people with children. Though this breed is well known for its soft, sweet nature towards people, it still possesses an impressive bite force of 556 P.S.I.
The English Mastiff can be dog aggressive. The breed’s original role was to serve as a guardian or watchdog, a role at which its brawn and powerful bite allowed it to excel.
Dogo /Presa Canario – 540 P.S.I
The Presa / Dogo Canario is a dog breed that can seem quite intimidating due to his strong, muscular appearance and cropped ears. A dog often also referred to as a Canary Mastiff, the Presa Canario exerts a bite force of 540 PSI. Originally bred to serve as a livestock guardian, this dog’s possession of a strong bite was one of its strengths in his role as protector of his home and family.
Dogo Argentino – 500 PSI
The impressive Dogo Argentino is a majestic dog whose original purpose was to serve as a hunter of large game. The Dogo is known for his fearless nature and will not back down even when facing a mortal threat. A dog with a bite force of 500 PSI, the Dogo does not possess the strongest bite but is still capable of inflicting great damage with a single chomp.
Leonberger – 399 P.S.I
The Leonberger is a dog breed that hails from Germany. Large of size, this dog breed was created through careful crossbreedings between Newfoundland dogs, Saint Bernards, and Great Pyrenees. A highly social dog, the Leonberger is most content enjoying time with its family and friends. The breed has a soft, sensitive side and takes it to heart when disagreements between family members occur.
Though not typically known for aggression, the Leonberger possesses an incredible bite force of 399 P.S.I.
Akita Inu – 350-400 P.S.I
The Akita Inu, another powerful dog breed that originated in Japan, has a bite force that ranges from 350 to 400 P.S.I. This dog breed makes an excellent guard dog, protecting those it loves most from danger. The breed is loyal to its family but is suspicious of strangers and will respond aggressively if feeling threatened.
The Akita Inu is strong, serious, and not particularly tolerant of foolishness. The breed can be aggressive with other animals, and dogs, in particular. Akita Inus are not recommended for homes with small children because of their large size.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier – 328 PSI
Though the Staffordshire Bull Terrier does come from fighting origins, today he is a loving family companion known to be excellent with children. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are far removed from the original purpose for which they were bred. Though they possess a bite force of 328 PSI; it is highly unusual for them to be involved in bite incidents.
Rottweiler – 328 PSI
Of equal bite strength to that of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is the Rottweiler whose powerful jaws weigh in at 328 PSI. A dog commonly used in police and corrections work where a strong bite is greatly desirable, the Rottweiler is considered to be a fearless dog who is highly prized for his physical strength and intimidating presence.
Rottweilers are a highly intelligent breed with the courage to match their smarts. They are not inherently aggressive and make wonderful family companions.
American Bully – 315 P.S.I
The American Bully, also commonly known as the Bullypit or the American Bully Pit, is a dog that is built low to the ground with extreme muscling. The American Bully is in possession of a bite force of 315 PSI.
Bullmastiff – 305 P.S.I
The Bullmastiff, a breed developed to serve as a guard dog, has been proven to have a bite force of 305 PSI. However, Bullmastiffs are a breed known for their gentle ways. They are excellent family companions that are well-renowned for their loyalty. Aggression is not a trait commonly associated with the breed.
Bull Terrier – 269 P.S.I
The clown-like Bull Terrier is easy to identify with his shark-shaped head and almond eyes. The Bull Terrier is a breed known for his stubbornness, and he does bear a very muscular frame. The Bull Terrier’s bite force rings in at an impressive 269 PSI.
German Shepherd – 238 P.S.I
One of America’s most beloved dog breeds, the German Shepherd has a bite force of 238 PSI, placing him marginally above the American Staffordshire Terrier. This dog breed is fiercely intelligent and is often employed in protection work. Due to their courage, strength, and innate intellect, the German Shepherd is a popular breed for police or military work.
German Shepherds are loyal family companions and bond quickly and deeply to their families who they will protect with their lives if necessary.
American Staffordshire Terrier- 235 P.S.I
The American Staffordshire Terrier, also commonly referred to as an Amstaff, is a dog breed that gets the worst rap and is often unfairly stereotyped as an aggressive dog. Though the Amstaff’s origins do trace to the pit fighting ring, the breed is highly prized for its affection for people though dog aggression is often a common trait. The Amstaff’s PSI is 235; interestingly enough, one of the lowest measurements of all of the dogs on this list.
American Pit Bull Terrier – 235 P.S.I
The American Pit Bull Terrier, a breed sometimes referred to simply as a “Pit Bull” has a bite force equal to that of the American Staffordshire Terrier: 235 P.S.I. This is for a good reason. The American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier are largely the same breed. There are minute differences between the two, primarily that the Amstaff is slightly smaller in size than the American Pit Bull Terrier and possesses a marginally less game temperament.
The difference in name was undertaken when the American Kennel Club sought to recognize the breed but did not want to include Pit Bull in its original breed title because of the association with its colorful and sad history as a pit fighting dog. In its place, the name American Staffordshire Terrier was instituted, a handle that paid homage to the dog’s roots in its native UK.
Like the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier is an excellent family companion. This dog is loving and affectionate with all people, especially its family. Human aggression should never be seen or tolerated in this breed. However, the true American Pit Bull Terrier is most often dog aggressive, a trait in keeping with its original purpose though these dogs are no longer active in that capacity.
Boxer – 230 P.S.I
The Boxer is a sweet and lovable breed, but due to its strong, muscular body, this dog is often mistaken for a pit bull. Boxers trace their roots to a group of breeds known as “bullenbaiers” and are a mix of many different dog types including Mastiffs, Great Danes, Bulldogs, and Terriers. The Boxer has a PSI of 230.
Labrador Retriever – 230 P.S.I
Though known as more of a lover than a biter, the sweet natured, happy Labrador Retriever has a powerful bite force that measures at 230 P.S.I in total. An active sporting dog known for its intelligence and playful nature, the Labrador Retriever is a wonderful family companion that is not often associated with bite incidents.
The Labrador Retriever’s main role was to assist fishermen off the coast of its native Atlantic Canada with retrieving fishing gear and other items out of the icy waters of the north Atlantic Ocean.
Rhodesian Ridgeback – 224 P.S.I
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a member of the hound family. The Ridgeback fits in a class all his own. Though the breed is known for being standoffish and aloof, aggression does not run in its nature. A breed originally bred to hunt lions, the Rhodesian Ridgeback possesses a bite force of 224 PSI, just slightly beneath the measurement for an American Staffordshire Terrier.
What Determines the Damage from a Bite?
There are many factors which come into play when trying to ascertain the level of damage which may be sustained from a dog’s bite. A dog’s physical conformation plays a vital role in this. Dogs who possess blocky heads with strong, muscular jaws are already well-equipped to inflict serious injury if tempted to bite. The size of the bite is also a strong consideration. This is why smaller dogs who bite with a greater frequency result in fewer trips to the hospital for emergency care.
Another factor which must be considered is the recipient of the dog bite. The elderly and small children possess skin that is more delicate, resulting in greater bruising and skin that is more frequently broken even if very little pressure is exerted. This may mean that a bite may look far more serious than it is; particularly if there is a lot of blood involved.
However, dog bites must always be taken seriously. It is always important to try to ascertain the circumstances that led to the bite and if they could have been prevented. Many times, the dog was simply placed in a circumstance beyond his control and responded to his heightened emotional state with the only weapon he had to protect himself: his teeth. In this case, it is human failure that led to the bite.
Yet sometimes, dogs do experience mental health issues which lead them to bite without warning, making them a risk to themselves and to others.
What is clear is that regardless of the intentions behind a bite, the adults in the equation must do better to protect their dogs and those who are around them to prevent tragedy from occurring.
Are there some dogs who have a stronger bite than others? Yes, when it comes to a dog bite not all of them are created equally. When measured in pounds per square inch, there are some breeds whose bites pack a more powerful punch.