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Top 10 dog breeds that need pet insurance

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has warned pet owners that regardless of size, gender, or age, “any dog can bite,” but added that most of the time, such instances can be prevented.

“Even the cuddliest, fuzziest, sweetest pet can bite if provoked,” the organization explained in a dog bite prevention guide on its website. “Remember, it is not a dog’s breed that determines whether it will bite, but rather the dog’s individual history and behavior.”

Read more: Revealed – top 15 pet insurance providers in the US

Why do dogs bite?

There are several reasons why canines bite, according to AVMA, but often they do so as a reaction to something.

“If the dog finds itself in a stressful situation, it may bite to defend itself or its territory,” the association noted. “Dogs can bite because they are scared or have been startled. They can bite because they feel threatened. They can bite to protect something that is valuable to them, like their puppies, their food, or a toy.”

Some canines also become aggressive when they are sick or injured as they may want to be left alone. But even if they are feeling well or playful, there is still a risk that they may bite.

“Dogs also might nip and bite during play,” the association added. “Even though nipping during play might be fun for the dog, it can be dangerous for people. It’s a good idea to avoid wrestling or playing tug-of-war with your dog. These types of activities can make your dog overly excited, which may lead to a nip or a bite.”

What is the average cost of dog injury-related claims?

These instances demonstrate the importance of having the right type of coverage for many of the country’s dog owners.

AVMA’s data shows that pet insurance companies paid a total of $881 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other canine-related injuries in 2021, with the average cost per claim amounting to about $49,025.

Among the insurers that have the highest dog-related injury claims payout in the past several years is State Farm, which has paid more than $1.1 billion between 2012 and 2021. 

Meanwhile, the top 10 states that reported the greatest number of dog bite incidents last year in alphabetical order are Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Read more: Dog breeds with the most and least expensive insurance rates

What types of insurance policies do dog owners need to take out?

Pet insurance, including that for dogs, typically provides three kinds of coverage, mostly health-related. These are: 

  • Accident and illness: The most common type of coverage, this type of policy covers injuries caused by accidents – including broken bones, torn ligaments, bite wounds, eye trauma, and poisoning – and sickness – such as skin infections, cancer, arthritis, allergies, ear infections, diarrhea, and internal parasites.
  • Accident-only: Some insurers offer this kind of plan, which essentially covers anything associated with sudden physical injury. This type of policy usually costs less than accident and illness plans, and suits pets with pre-existing conditions.
  • Wellness: This optional coverage pays out for wellness expenses, including annual physical exams, spay or neuter procedures, routine blood panels, heartworm testing and treatment, fecal testing, urinalyses, routine vaccinations, teeth cleanings, and flea and tick treatments.

However, experts advise canine owners to take out another form of protection, which covers injuries and damages their pets cause others. This type of policy is called pet liability insurance. 

How does pet liability insurance work?

Most homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies provide liability coverage up to a certain limit. This includes claims resulting from pet-related injuries and damages. Apart from dog bites, some plans cover property damage, including when a pet, for instance, chewed up another person’s couch or peed on someone else’s laptop.

Canine owners can also purchase a separate dog liability coverage, especially if their pets are among those considered “aggressive” breeds or if they feel that coverage in their home insurance policies is not enough. 

Read more: Dogs bites are an increasing liability for businesses and pet owners

Top 10 dog breeds that need pet insurance

In a recent blog, Pawlicy Advisor listed the top 10 dog breeds that may need coverage due to different behavioral and health factors.

To come up with the list, the pet insurance marketplace considered several parameters, including bite force data from industry information website Pet Comments, temperament scores – which measures how well-mannered a dog behaves in various settings – from the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS), and percentage of home insurers (among 42 providers) banning the breed from Forbes Advisor. These metrics reflect each breed’s risk level when it comes to attacking or biting others. Pawlicy Advisor also factored in the different illnesses the breeds are exposed to.

Here are the top 10 dog breeds that require coverage, according to the pet insurance marketplace. The list is arranged in alphabetical order:

1. Akita

Bite force: 350 to 400 pounds per square inch (PSI)

Bite force ranking: 11th

Temperament score passing rate: 77.8%

Percentage of home insurers banning the breed: 79%

Common health issues: Sebaceous adenitis and hip dysplasia

2. Alaskan Malamute

Bite force: 235 PSI*

Bite force ranking: Not ranked

Temperament score passing rate: 84.8%

Percentage of home insurers banning the breed: 26%

Common health issues: Bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus)

3. American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff)

Bite force: 328 PSI**

Bite force ranking: Not ranked

Temperament score passing rate: 85.5%

Percentage of home insurers banning the breed: 100% (classified under pit bulls)

Common health issues: Elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, progressive retinal atrophy, and cerebellar ataxia

4. Bulldogs

Bite force: 305 PSI**

Bite force ranking: Not ranked

Temperament score passing rate: 86.9%

Percentage of home insurers banning the breed: 19%

Common health issues: Illnesses related to the nose, eyes, teeth, and respiratory system

5. Cane Corso

Bite force: 700 PSI

Bite force ranking: 3rd

Temperament score passing rate: 88.1%

Percentage of home insurers banning the breed: 19%

Common health issues: Epilepsy, gastric dilatation-volvulus, and eyelid abnormalities

6. Chow Chow

Bite force: 220 PSI

Bite force ranking: 22nd

Temperament score passing rate: 71.7%

Percentage of home insurers banning the breed: 95%

Common health issues: Hypothyroidism, skin and ear infections, obesity, and depression

7. Doberman Pinscher

Bite force: 245 PSI

Bite force ranking: 16th

Temperament score passing rate: 79.5%

Percentage of home insurers banning the breed: 100%

Common health issues: Certain types of cancer, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), liver inflammation, wobbler syndrome, and bloat

8. German Shepherd

Bite force: 238 PSI

Bite force ranking: 17th

Temperament score passing rate: 85.3%

Percentage of home insurers banning the breed: 45%

Common health issues: Issues in the hips and gastrointestinal tract

9. Labrador Retriever

Bite force: 230 PSI

Bite force ranking: 20th

Temperament score passing rate: 92.2%

Percentage of home insurers banning the breed: None

Common health issues: Elbow and hip dysplasia, as well as knee-related issues and eye problems

10. Rottweiler

Bite force: 328 PSI

Bite force ranking: 12th

Temperament score passing rate: 84.7%

Percentage of home insurers banning the breed: 100%

Common health issues: Heart disease, including aortic stenosis

* Data from Dog Breeds Expert

** Data from

Read more: 25 most dangerous dog breeds

How can owners prevent their dogs from biting others?

While AVMA pointed out that dogs – regardless of breed, age, or gender – can bite others when provoked, there are several practical strategies that canine owners can do to prevent such instances from happening. These include:

  • Socializing the dog: This can help dogs feel at ease in different situations. According to AVMA, by introducing the dog to people and other animals while it is still a puppy, the more comfortable it will feel in different situations as it gets older.
  • Being a responsible pet owner: This include carefully selecting a dog that is right for their family, and giving it proper training and regular exercise, and neutering or spaying the pet.
  • Proper education: Educating themselves and their children about how, or whether, to approach a dog can reduce the risk of them being attacked or bitten.
  • Avoiding risky situations: It is also important to know how to avoid escalating risky situations and understand when they should and should not interact with dogs. These include when the canine is not with its owner, or when it is growling, barking, sleeping, eating, playing with a toy, sick, or injured.
  • Paying attention to body language: Just like people, dogs rely on body gestures, postures, and vocalizations to express themselves and communicate. While it is not always possible to read a dog’s body language accurately, it can give people helpful clues as to whether it is feeling stressed, frightened, or threatened.

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