Chihuahua’s do have a bit of reputation for being aggressive and protective of their owners. I’m sure you’ve seen funny photos of them baring their teeth! It did make me wonder though what the actual truth was, and what the bite force of a Chihuahua is. For example, do they have a strong bite and is it possible for them to kill a human?
What I found was extremely surprising, particular in relation to the Chihuahua bite statistics and the annual fatalities involved. You can see the research into deaths from Chihuahua bites lower down the page.
How strong is a Chihuahua bite force?
First though, I wanted to find out what the Chihuahua bite force pressure was. According to multiple sources online, the Chihuahua bite force in pounds is 3,900 (psi) pounds per square inch.
However, I simply don’t believe this is true and I am not the only doubter.
For example, in 2010, Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia explained in a post on the Psychology Today website that the bite pressure forces of dogs were often reported incorrectly – people tend to mix up units of measure, getting pounds of force and Newtons muddled.
To give you an example, the bite force of a lion is around 600 PSI. To say that a Chihuahua can bite at more than 6 times the strength of a lion is absolutely ridiculous.
He then went on to say that there is more up to date research that gives more accurate bite force strength figures for dogs:
“The size of the animal and the shape of its jaw predicted bite strength. The larger the dog and the dog’s head, and the wider the jaw, the higher the bite force turned out to be. The dog breed with the largest head and widest mouth is the Mastiff, so it is perhaps not surprising that it has been recently measured as having a bite strength of 552 pounds-just shy of the bite forces that the lion has. This force exceeds that of all breeds measured to date.”
From this 2009 research he references, we can assume that the idea of a Chihuahua pressure being 3,900 PSI is complete nonsense. They are tiny, with small heads and jaws, and so could not physically apply this amount of bite force with the jaw and skull.
Further to Professor Coren’s article, the InsideDogsWorld.com website state that:
“Two types of research have been carried out to measure the bite forces of dogs. The final results of the research were disclosed in Newtons. This actually made the highest numbers come out at 2,000 Newtons. And from there, a majority of the websites collected the number and wrongly interpreted it as the PSI. However, it is actually 450 pounds PSI.”
The moral of the story; don’t always believe what you read online.
What is the real Chihuahua bite pressure then?
And here’s the thing; nobody has ever accurately measured how bad a Chihuahua bite is. There has never been a scientific study to see how hard they can bite and what the bite force actually is.
Even when studies have measure dog bite force pressures, the numbers are never something you can completely rely on. Unlike humans, you cannot ask a dog to bite down as hard as they can. You simply will never have that reliability so can’t have reliable figures on pressure in pounds per square inch.
Top 20 dog bite forces
However, some data on bite force is said to be a better indicator than others, and here’s what my research uncovered on Chihuahua bite pressure versus other breeds.
- Kangal Dog bite force pressure: 743 PSI
- Bandog Dog bite force pressure: 730 PSI
- Cane Corso bite force pressure: 700 PSI
- Dogue De Bordeaux bite force pressure: 556 PSI
- Tosa Inu bite force pressure: 556 PSI
- English Mastiff bite force pressure: 552 PSI
- Dogo Canario bite force pressure: 540 PSI
- Dogo Argentino bite force pressure: 500 PSI
- Leonberger bite force pressure: 399 PSI
- Rottweiler bite force pressure: 328 PSI
- American Bulldog bite force pressure: 305 PSI
- German Shepherd bite force pressure: 238 PSI
- Pit Bull bite force pressure: 235 PSI
- Boxer bite force pressure: 230 PSI
- Doberman bite force pressure: 229 PSI
- Alono Espanol bite force pressure: 227 PSI
- Dutch Shepherd bite force pressure: 224 PSI
- Chow Chow bite force pressure: 220 PSI
- English Bulldog bite force pressure: 210 PSI
- Malinois bite force pressure: 195 PSI
Nobody in their right mind could ever think a Chihuahua’s bite force would be stronger than any of those large and powerful dog breeds listed above.
So, all we can do is now is make an assumption.
My own assumption is that it’s likely that a toy breed like a Chihuahua won’t have a bite force anything more than 100 PSI.
What do you think?
Handy Hint: Chihuahuas can give a nasty nip to the ankles, but why does this breed like to bite feet and shoes so much?
Chihuahua bite statistics
Moving on, I managed to find some research into Chihuahua bites that was conducted in 2009. The research was compiled by the Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association where they surveyed 188 different dog breeds.
The study generated some very interesting findings:
- Chihuahua’s bite vets more than any other dog breed.
- Chihuahua’s rank 4th in the breeds that have bitten children.
In another study conducted by the Dognition company in 2016, they found that Chihuahuas were the most aggressive dog of all the ones canvassed. The study was compiled after canvassing the opinions of 4,000 dog owners.
The study arrived at their shocking Chihuahua bite statistics by asking the dog owners to report how their dogs reacted aggressively in certain situations. The time a Chihuahua was most likely to bite was when confronted by a larger dog.
However, they did place a caveat on this report by saying that the majority of dogs aren’t actually aggressive, and the Chihuahua scored in the medium range in most cases.
Chihuahua bite fatalities
I wonder if studies like this create a false narrative about Chihuahua bites being dangerous? There’s no doubt that a Chihuahua can bite hard and leave a mark, but surely it cannot be enough to kill a human?
To back my assumption up, I researched all I could into any reports of Chihuahua bite fatalities. I found no reports of people ever being killed by a Chihuahua in the press online.
Scars from bites, yes, but deaths? None that I could find.
But then things changed…
Chihuahua bites that have killed humans
I found some data compiled by the excellent DogsBites.org website which compiles annual statistics on dog bites and attacks leading to human fatalities in the United States.
They are a national dog bite victims’ group dedicated to reducing serious dog attacks. Through their work, they hope to protect both people and pets from future attacks – check out their website I linked you to above.
Here’s a roundup of their published data from 2005 to 2017 showing the top 7 breeds are most responsible for deaths.
- Pit Bull:6%
- German Shepherd:6%
- Mixed Breed:9%
- American Bulldog:5%
- Mastiff / Bull Mastiff:2%
- Husky: 3%
When I looked into the data further past the 7 most dangerous breeds, there was a shocking entry.
Yes, that’s right, a Chihuahua was responsible for killing someone between the years 2005 and 2017, with one death logged in the United States!
I then looked into more recent years and found another startling statistic; there was a fatality logged against a Chihuahua in 2018 too, meaning there are 2 recorded deaths from Chihuahua attacks between the years spanning 2005 and 2020.
However, with this 2018 attack, it’s not 100% certain the Chihuahua was responsible as it lived in a household with two Pit Bulls, so my common sense leads me towards thinking it was the smaller dog who killed the lady in question as there were no eye witnesses to the attack.
As you can see, there are indeed reports of Chihuahua bite fatalities in the annual statistics compiled by the DogBites.org website.
But how can this be possible? You just cannot imagine their jaws being big and strong enough to mail someone to death, can you?
I can’t imagine it, but let’s say that a Chihuahua bit you on a main artery. If you don’t get quick medical attention, there’s every chance you could die from blood loss.
Moving across the Atlantic, the only press report I could find that was even remotely close to a Chihuahua managing to kill a human by biting them in the United Kingdom was a report on the Daily Mail. On their website they reported that:
“An out of control Chihuahua is facing a death sentence after it allegedly savaged a woman during a rampage through her home. The eight-inch long dog, called Chelsea, is said to have leapt up to bite Andrea McGann in a home in Twickenham, London. Wimbledon Magistrates Court heard Chelsea has been taken into custody and faces a potential destruction order after Fox was charged with being a person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control and causing injury.”
Whilst the Chihuahua bite force wasn’t enough to kill the lady in this case, the attack was obviously dangerous enough to mean the law got involved.
Handy Hint: Here are the most common reasons for Chihuahuas limping and what to look out for.
Is a Chihuahua bite worse than a Pit Bull bite?
Many of the fatality statistics having Pit Bulls prominently featured, which leads me onto the next question you might want to know; is the Chihuahua bite worse than a Pit Bull’s?
According to the statistics, the two things aren’t even close.
The DogBites.org website has the following deaths listed for each breed between 2005 and 2017:
- Pit Bull bite deaths: 284
- Chihuahua bite deaths: 1
Based on the US data, the only sensible conclusion you can come to is that Chihuahua bites are not as dangerous as Pit Bulls… the numbers don’t lie.
The point is, don’t start running away from a Chihuahua. Bite you, they might, but they aren’t going to hunt you down and tear you to pieces!
But they can give a nasty bite; whilst not necessarily hard, it’s more about how it feels (here’s how to stop them biting you).
Chihuahua’s have small teeth so it won’t be able tear chunks off you, but can nip hard at the skin, possibly drawing blood.
However, you just cannot compare the bite of a Chihuahua to a Pit Bull or similar sized dog. It’s not as dangerous, and in all honestly, the bite force pressure is bound to be many pounds lower despite the lack of scientific evidence.
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On the subject of bites, I’ve also looked into other topics about Chihuahua teeth – explore those below: