In the UK approximately a staggering 250,000 people each year go to an emergency department because they have been bitten by a dog.There are very likely even more unreported bites as not everyone will present at a hospital so statistics are vague in this area.Most bites are caused by the owners own dog. Boys get bitten more than girls. Children under the age of 5 are most commonly affected.
Bites are measured on a bite scale from 1 to 6.( see table below – resources Dr Ian Dunbar & Dr Sophia Yin)
Level 1. Obnoxious or aggressive behaviour but no skin-contact by teeth.Snapping,air-biting etc
This bite does not touch the skin. It’s air biting or snapping. This bite shows that your dog has Superior bite inhibition.Often owners will say “he tried to bite me but he missed” – no he didn’t miss! This is a warning ( very likely preceded by growling and other warning signs that have been ignored by the owner.Punishing a dog for this behaviour may progress to the dog biting without any warning,
Level 2. Skin-contact by teeth but no skin-puncture.
This bite makes contact with the skin, but doesn’t break the skin. This can still really hurt and leave bruising, but no abrasions. This bite shows that your dog has fabulous bite inhibition.
Level 3 A. One to four punctures from a single bite with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth
Level 3 B. Skin punctures multiple bites with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth.Multiple bites mean that the dog is reacting and not thinking ( loss of inhibition)
Level 4. VERY SERIOUS One to four punctures from a single bite with at least one puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth.
The dog is putting great pressure into the bite. 1 to 4 puncture wounds with or without tearing, more than ½ the depth of the eye tooth. This is usually accompanied with bruising and likely to require medical attention. At this point, although the dog certainly has intent to cause harm, he/she may still be showing some bite inhibition depending on the size and strength of the dog.
Level 5.VERY SERIOUS Multiple-bite incident with at least two Level 4 bites or multiple-attack incident with at least one Level 4 bite in each.
Level 6. Victim dead.