Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dog Bites :: Breeds, Head Size and Bite Strength

These are three video clips comparing the relative bite strength of a Pit Bull, a Mastiff, a Belgian Malinois (the type of dog used by the U.S. Secret Service), a Dutch Shepherd, a Rottweiler, and a Wolf.

Though the Wolf did not seem to be giving it his all, his bite strength was topped only by that of the Mastiff.



Heather said...

Err ... Belgian Malinois.

While we've all been waiting for someone to actually measure bite force in various breeds of dog -- because dimwits love to quote invented numbers for "bite force" of pit bulls, but can't produce any source for them -- I'm afraid this is mere sensationalism.

What this bozo is comparing is the bite forces of several individual dogs, which happen to be of various breeds.

Since he's not a professional helper, trained in police or sport work, he's not catching the dogs very well. That's going to affect their force, and it's going to introduce inconsistency that wouldn't be there with a skilled helper. Even more so for the poor fat cornered wolf -- he's biting defensively, and that is clearly different from the dogs trained to bite the sleeve.

The dogs' training and situational motivation is going to have a huge effect on their bite forces.

Now that someone has the gizmo to take measurements, I'd like to see it go on the road. Visit some police and military training centers, and some good schutzhund and ring sport clubs, and measure the forces of many dogs, all trained similarly, and all caught by the same highly-skilled helper, as consistently as possible.

I'd bet money that the important factors in relative bite-force, measured several times per animal, will be:

* Body mass
* Training method/experience
* Specific genetics (in bloodlines where there is rigorous selection for a full-mouthed, calm grip -- working GSDs, Dutch shepherds, Belgian Malinois)

I doubt that breed would be a big factor, and I doubt very much that pit bulls will overall show higher forces than the protection breeds.

PBurns said...

Thanks for catching the typo.

Bite force measuring tools have been around since 1995 or so, and if your look, you will find quite a lot written. It turns out that ounce-for-ounce, the Tasmanian Devil has the strongest bite measured for a mammal. See >>

The hyena bite is about 1,000 pounds, or about 4 times that of most dogs, and about twice that of a very large wolf.

As the video says, if you are looking for big numbers in a canine bite, body mass matters a lot, and so too does head size as the jaw muscles do most of the work and they need surface area to attach to.

Breeds are a factor in that breed type determines body mass to no small extent, and it also determines head size and shape as well.


smartdogs said...

I agree with Heather on the lack of scientific rigorousness of these videos. They're fun to watch and provide some food for thought - but a few bits of anecdotal evidence should not be used as the basis of a scientific theory (or at least that's what my graduate advisor told me).

Also, the breed Belgian Malinois, not Dutch Malinois.

Bigshrimp said...

That guy's got more jams than Smuckers!! LOL

(sorry....corny Schutzhund joke)

Totally agree with Heather on this...only demonstrates what these individual animals are capable of (not the breed as a whole). It is very obvious that these dogs were trained to bite and that the wolf was not (cornered giving a very shallow defensive bite capable of MUCH more power than that!). Also agreed that if caught properly (and not jammed) that their bites would be closer to their true potential.

Very interesting though and thanks for sharing Pat!

BTW, I am one of those helpers that Heather is referring to ;o)

PBurns said...

What is pretty clear is that ANY of the large breeds have WAY MORE bite power than they need to maim and kill. In the real world, a dog, wolf, hyena, coyote, etc. will not grab an animal optimally most of the time, but it turns out it does not need to. Most animals are attacking DOWN the food chain, and are (essentially) deer hunting with a bazooka.


smartdogs said...

Exactly! And given the bite power large and giant dogs have, isn't it wonderul how rarely they use it against ut --- especially considering how idiotic people can be around dogs.

Gregg Barrow said...

Hi Patrick,

If they had larger sample groups and the ability to control the variables, things like, the amount and quality of the dog's previous training, strength of character and nerves (the Mastiff had some nerve issues, and dogs will bite harder if they start to kick into defense. This appears to have been confirmed by the numbers produced by the wolf as well as the Mastiff), the experiment would have had a little more in the way of validity.

The Rottie appears to be an import (the tail would indicate this) and he showed well.

The hardest biting individuals I have ever worked are a Dutch bred Mal and two Giant Schnauzer imports out of the same sire. But across the board, the Dutch Shepherds are consistently the harder biting dogs.

The kennel club has yet to get its hands on them and their pedigrees are a mix bag in Holland. Not the place to debate this, but I’ve worked plenty of notable Dutch Shepherds, Arras Pegge and Nico von Neerland to name a few, and both had Mals in their pedigree.

It’s been my experience that character and motivation are the determining factors in how hard a dog will bite. I’ve worked dozens of Pit Bulls ( Did you notice the collar and clean “out” on the dog in the video?…there is a good chance that this had something to do with his lower numbers) and have never had a pit bull commit to a man like their hog hunting counterparts will commit to a wild hog.

Sorry for sliding in so late.