How To Spot A Dangerous Dog In Washington State

Updated on: 11/22/2019

Attacks and severe dog bites have great and sometimes life-altering impacts on families and pet owners. It’s important that everyone knows the consequences of these attacks and does everything to prevent them. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you spot a dangerous dog.

One of the easiest ways to determine if a dog is dangerous is if there is a “Beware of Dog” sign on the property. However, as we recently learned in a Puyallup pit bull attack, these signs do not release a dog owner from liability in the event of an attack. In fact, the sign may be used as an admission that the owner knew the dogs can do damage.

dangerous dog breeds banned in Washington STateIf you’re a dog owner worried about the aggressiveness of your dog, there are ways to prevent these problems. While there’s no foolproof way to prevent aggression, you can socialize your puppy with dogs and other people, spay or neuter your dog, and always treat your dog with kindness and respect. Correcting the problem may require the help of a professional.

Below are four common signs of a dangerous dog.

1. The Dog Is Showing Signs Of Aggression

If you find yourself in a situation with a dog you believe is dangerous, it’s best to assume that the dog will bite you. Back away slowly and watch for these indicators:

  • Direct eye contact: This is a threat from the dog.
  • Licking lips or yawning: These are signs that a dog is anxious and unsettled.
  • Ears up or perked: Dogs will do this when they’re feeling aggressive.
  • Low, rumbling growl: A dog’s growl is a way of defusing a dangerous situation before a bite occurs. Do not take this warning lightly.
  • Showing front teeth: Referred to as a “short mouth,” and is interpreted as an intention to bite.
  • Tail up and wagging: Just because the tail is wagging doesn’t mean the dog is happy. A wagging tail simply is a sign of high energy.
  • Legs apart: The dog is trying to look big.

2. The Dog Has A History Of Aggression

More than 60 percent of dog bites occur in the home of the dog owner. Approximately 77 percent of dog bite victims are members or close friends of the dog owner’s family and are therefore familiar with the dog. Thus, contrary to popular belief, most dog bite cases occur where the victim either knew the dog or was at least somewhat familiar with it.

If you are not familiar with the dog, ask the owner’s permission before you introduce yourself to the dog. Always use caution when interacting with an unfamiliar dog. If you see a dog you suspect is dangerous, do not approach it or make eye contact. Contact your local animal control officials if the dog is loose.

3. Identify The Breed Of Dog

It’s no secret that pit bulls are the most dangerous type of dog breed. In the United States, pit bulls make up 1 to 3 percent of the overall dog population but cause more than 50 percent of serious attacks. According to the Seattle Animal Shelter, pit bulls account for a disproportionate number of reported bites in Seattle alone. While pit bulls account for just 4 percent of the total dog population in Seattle, they were involved in 22 percent of all reported dog attack incidents as of 2007.   

Although a high percentage of those involve pit bulls, there are a sizeable number involving other breeds, like German shepherds, labs, retrievers, Akitas, chow chows, and Rottweilers. More needs to be done to raise awareness among the public about how dangerous dogs can be and the damage that they can cause to people and children. 

4. Look At The Dog

Statistics show that male dogs tend to be more aggressive than female dogs. Non-neutered dogs are the most aggressive of all. Studies show that due to high testosterone levels, intact male dogs between 18 months and two years of age have a greater likelihood of aggression than their female or neutered male counterparts.

If You’ve Been Attacked By A Dog In Washington State

If you or your loved one has been bitten by a dog, it may be time to speak with a personal injury attorney about your rights. Contact dog bite attorney Chris Davis and the Davis Law Group, P.S., today at (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature below or fill out the contact form on this page to find out if you have a claim. The phone call is free and the advice could make all the difference in your claim.

Chris Davis
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Christopher M. Davis is principal attorney and founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.
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