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What are the levels of dog bites?

| Sep 23, 2015 | Animal Bites |

If you think you’ve been attacked by a dog and want to have the owner’s treatment of the animal investigated as well as the security of the animal’s encasement, you have every right to seek that kind of investigation out. In fact, knowing the level of the bite you received can help you when you make a claim for compensation. However, it’s important to know if you’ve really been under attack or if the dog’s behavior is normal.

Dogs have several kinds of bites, from playful nips as puppies to dangerous bites as adults. Aggressive and fearful bites are very different from mouthing someone during play. Lunging, barking, and putting teeth to a person’s skin is unacceptable behavior for a dog. If the dog is scared or aggressive, intending to cause harm, or otherwise attempting to bite, that bite can become deadly.

There are a few different bite levels. Level 1 is known as a pre-bite. This is when a dog snaps at you without making any skin contact. Recognizing a pre-bite can help you prevent a real bite. It’s a warning sign that the dog is not happy, being territorial, or is scared.

A near-bite is known as Level 2 in animal-behaviorist lingo. It stands for bites that make contact with the skin but don’t break the skin. Unlike Level 3A, which is when the dog bites once and breaks the skin shallowly, Level 2 bites cause no real harm.

Level 3B bites are those that puncture the skin and continue deeper than the full length of the canine fang teeth. The dog may bite multiple times in quick succession. Level 4 bites, which are similar to Level 3 bites, also puncuture the skin as deeply as the canines, but the dog also slashes the wound by shaking its head back and forth. This is an incredibly serious and debilitating bite.

Level 5 bites result in multiple deep wounds. The dog may continue to attack and bite multiple times, causing very severe injuries. Level 5 bites are differentiated from Level 6 by the fact that the injured victim does not die. With Level 6 bites, the victim is critically wounded.

Source: Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS, “Was It Just a Little Bite or More? Evaluating Bite Levels in Dogs,” accessed Sep. 23, 2015


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