Getting a dog can be a joyous event. Having a backyard where the kids chase Rover around the yard or walk it on a leash is part of the American Dream. Kids snuggling with dogs make up half of the memes on social media (next to cute cats). The nightmare is that sometimes dogs can cause serious damage by biting, mauling or even jumping on people when they least expect it–even their owners. Pet owners can be quite surprised when they fill out the form for home insurance and it asks about dogs, and you need to list their breed. List the dogs? Why would a home insurance company need to know that?
The answer is that actuaries who collect data on injuries, deaths, and property damage have many dogs on their list who pose a possible risk. Don’t even think about outsmarting the insurance company by leaving your dogs breed off of the policy. If anything happens, like your dog bites or knocks someone down and injures them, the policy will refuse to pay on the grounds that you did not add your dog to the policy. Particularly if it is one of the breeds that they list as risky. Yes, you will pay more for owning a ‘risky” breed and if you are a renter, you may be denied an apartment or be evicted if you procure the dog after you rent, as pet policies vary as to acceptable breeds and sizes.
Here are twenty dogs who can be lovely as individuals but because they belong to a certain breed group, have garnered a reputation for trouble and may be seen as a risk factor for insurance companies.
These dogs are all the rage.Wolf hybrids are domestic dogs mated with a dog who is a certain percentage wild wolf. They are often bred with another powerful breed so the result is a dog who could do some serious damage if it wanted. The evolution chain toward domesticity is not as strong as if you breed two breeds who have had centuries to lose their “wilder tendencies” Insurance company tends to see these recently popular designer breed dogs as a possible problem. Well trained or not, it’s part wolf. And the breed has murdered people and many small pets. In the UK one poor five year old was killed and half eaten by a Wolf Hybrid. Insurance companies keep data on that grisly stuff.
These dogs are gorgeous, but they have a tendency to bite. Again, not all of them all the time, but they have an aggressive gene that causes them to display aggression toward other dogs, and sometimes children. Most common with Akitas is male to male dog attacks and the females don’t do well with other females. They are also natural hunters so cats are often their prey. Don’t let their beauty fool you–they have a serious bite.
Their powerful jaws and protective instincts make them a possible danger. There are several types of mastiffs, the most popular The English Mastiff. It’s the protective part that causes them to be on the list of possible problem dogs. Again, large breeds with powerful jaws can cause more damage if they go “rogue” so many insurers.
Yes, they are tall and pretty but they also have a fickle temperament. They are considered “gentle giants” but they don’t always make friends with other pets in the neighborhood and their aggression is often focused on other animals.
Malamutes are simply gorgeous, powerful dogs who were bred to pull sleds in packs. Put them in the average home and you may get more than you bargained for as they are willful dogs who have bitten and even killed children. A little girl in Manitoba, Canada lost her life during an attack by two Malamutes. The fact that they work so well in teams makes a Malamute attack particularly vicious.
Pit Bull Terriers
What more can be said to add to the thousands of reports of murders by Pit Bulls? Yes, some of them are lovely and yes, they were traditionally bred as “nanny dogs” and yes, oftentimes it’s the owners who overbred, mistreat them or encourage their aggressive tendencies but when they attack, they don’t just bit and let go–they often go in for the kill. Since they have become a popular urban status dog insurance companies don’t test each dog or look at their bloodlines or individual histories. They judge the whole breed by the worst examples. Logically, if you see a loose pit wandering down the street loose you should consider a pit bull a danger too and take precautions i.e. get you and your children out of its path. The UK has banned these dogs and a few other breeds under their “Dangerous Dog Act”. Will the US follow?
Most Huskies are good family dogs, but when they go bad, the result is terrifying. Children have been killed. Even if a Husky, like a Mal just playfully jumps on a child or elderly person, serious injury can result They also see small animals, like small dogs or cats as prey. If you think people haven’t filed lawsuits over mauled cats or dogs, or on behalf of elderly ladies who broke their hip because they were knocked off balance on the doorstep, think again.
Although this breed has not been banned in the UK, there are some concerns that insurance companies take quite seriously. These dogs were bred during the 19th century as fighting dogs, in the days when the sport was less popular as it is now (except for some Youtube videos). Like the Pit Bull, the Staffordshire Terrier has many detractors as well as champions, but the insurance company only sees risky business.
They make great guard dogs, yes, but some have killed infants in cribs. It’s part aggressive gene, part training yes, and partly that these dogs are so darn powerful. Their jaws can shut like a steel trap and their killer instinct that can make them great for protection, can’t always distinguish friend from foe.
Is it any wonder that police department personnel wear protective padding as they train German Shepherds. Again these regal dogs can be sweet but their big mouth and sharp teeth can cause some serious damage. They are great in the Army, on the police force and they are gorgeous animals, but many owners have found out too late that they can be unpredictable.
Banned in the UK due to it’s fighting nature, insurance companies keep this dog on their radar of problem breeds. They have attacked other dogs and owners at dog shows and that does not escape the notice of the actuaries. Another “fearless” breed, where the owner’s intervention cannot usually stop an attack in progress. Once the dog gets riled up it can turn on its owner in a heartbeat.
This breed’s traits was refined to be an expert hunter and protector. It was designed to be able to stop an adult male human in his tracks. What chance does a human have against a dog like this if it breaks loose and decides it wants to “protect” your home.
They are so cute and fluffy, but their bite is much worse than their bark. In fact, they make few warning noises before they attack. They are easily annoyed by young children. While proper training and guidance can certainly tone them down, insurance companies only look at their animal nature which unfortunately is a little more aggressive than most breeds.
Another gorgeous fighting breed that has been put on the “scary dog” list due to its being bred to fight. An owner may think it has this dog trained, but it has attacked without provocation and is hard to control once it decides to fight. Once aggression is bred into the genes, it’s hard to train it out.
The Bulldog’s powerful jaws make this breed a potential danger. Once it bites down, adrenaline kicks in, just like the Pit Bull, making it hard if not impossible to pry it’s vice like jaws from its prey. So even though you could have a “calm” American Bulldog, an insurance company will not want to take the risk. It’s unfortunate but that’s their business.
The Pakistan Gull Dong looks like a Pitt Bull and it is a powerful, independent dog with a fighting nature. They are exotic and another new status dog who will not only kill kids and other animals and will also have their prey for a meal if say another dog goes for its bowl or bone. It’s not that these dogs are demonic or cruel, it’s just their nature.
Another beautiful animal that looks so cute as a puppy but may grow up to do some serious damage. Rhodesian Ridgebacks’ are known to attack children. So what if you don’t have kids? Still, a problem for the insurance company as many dog attacks take place when the dog slips its chain (for those awful folks who chain up dogs on a short lead summer and winter), jumps a fence or breaks free while on a walk.
The Bandog from England has been banned in many countries. It will die trying to save its owner from a perceived attack. With a large jaw and teeth like razors, it’s no wonder that it has been at the center of lawsuits. This dog will not give up until its prey is finished. This tenacity like that of the Pit Bull makes it a formidable foe as well as an insurance risk.
Many, many boxers are a pure joy to have around. But that doesn’t mean they can’t do some serious damage. Another “protective” breed that might misinterpret signals like a hug from a friend to its owner as an attack. Male Boxers are a particular threat to strange male dogs that may cross its path.
The Bully Kutta is a very aggressive dog of the mastiff family origin. Responsible for killing and maiming kids and adults, many try to “train” the aggression out of them with poor results. Training means nothing to insurance companies. If a dog breed has a reputation for aggression, you will pay for the risk incurred to keep such a dog.
Dobermans can be an aggressive breed. They are bred to fight and guard. It’s hard to turn that instinct on and off. Even dogs who are part Doberman can raise the alarm for insurers who know that this breed is not all aggressive, but when things go bad, it’s awful! Dobermans have turned on family guests, neighbors, and even their owners with little or no warning. It’s the question factor that puts them on the insurance high premium list.
So why do people keep dogs that have a high potential for trouble? Some say that their preferred dog breed has been demonized for publicity. Some like owning a tough dog for street cred, although many of these owners do not take out insurance, nor own a home. These animal owners do little but make life miserable and fearful for others who live in their housing area. Some idiots abuse these dogs, thinking that these breed like to fight.
Some take a poor Pitbull, breed the life out of her and then turn the female out when she is no longer part of the money making machine for pit pups. Then there are some gentle souls who love their dogs with all of their hearts, treat them gently and know how to take the right precautions. Those loving owners are eclipsed by the horror stories of what happens when dogs go wrong–and it’s usually always one of the above mentioned breeds that are central to the story.
Before we blame the insurance company, think of how actuaries see the world. Non-smokers vs. smokers, medical history, family history etc. When issuing policies we are reduced to statistics and the numbers show that certain breeds, like big, powerful dogs, cause more damage than say a miniature poodle. All dogs, given the right provocation, may bite. It’s just that some canines have larger jaws and will hang on for a lot longer and not retreat on command.