Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

Richard H. Polsky, PhD, CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”


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Dog bite statistics & info for Akita

Akita’s have not been involved in many reported dog bite instances. The breed has its origins in Akita Dog bite expertJapan and is known for its impassive but yet territorial nature. Characterizations include tranquil, stoic, profoundly loyal, dignified, courageous and a good guard dog.  Akita’s have a life expectancy between 10 and 13 years.  Males are larger. The weight for this breed ranges between 70-130 pounds. The height at the withers is between 26 and 28 inches for males and about 24 to 26 inches for females.  The AKC defines them as a working dog.

Below I will report what I know about those instances in which Akita’s have bitten or killed people or attacked other dogs.

In 2008 an Akita viciously attacked the plaintiff’s left foot at a dog show in Melbourne Florida. The injuries were severe.  the plaintiff had five surgeries because the incident left her left leg 3 inches shorter than her right leg. The case went to trial in the plaintiff was awarded $1.6 million.  I was an expert witness in this case and my review the documentation strongly suggested that the dog in question had dangerous propensities prior to this incident. In my opinion, there was sufficient evidence to indicate the owner knew about prior aggressive tendencies in the dog. The dog had previously bitten five people before the incident with the plaintiff.  In fact, the animal behavior evidence favored the plaintiff so much, that my testimony was not even needed a trial. More detailed account of the incident can be found here.

In December 2017, a 69-year-old lady who was mauled to death by an Akita in Phoenix, Arizona.  She was a volunteer for a dog rescue organization called Akita Advocates.  The incident happened at a facility called The  Canine Country Club and Feline Inn. According to news reports the incident happened in the play yard of the facility.  The victim was working with the Akita, an abandoned dog, for rehabilitation prior to adoption. Given this dog was an abandoned dog it is likely that not much was known about its past behavioral history.  Hence, the volunteer was probably at risk trying to rehabilitate this dog.  I suspect that she may have challenged the dog in some fashion, causing the dog to attack.

In Los Angeles, I  consulted an owner whose Akita escaped from a property in which was kept and viciously attacked and killed a poodle walking on a 25-foot retractable leash.   the owners were facing a dangerous dog hearing in Los Angeles and they were advised to initiate whatever sort of training steps necessary to reduce their Akita’s aggressive reactivity towards other unfamiliar smaller dogs passing their property. Read more about this incident.

In May 2018 two Akitas viciously attacked two children in an unprovoked fashion in Harrisburg Pennsylvania.  The children were walking home from school. Fortunately, the incident happened at an intersection and drivers use their car horns to diverge the dogs.  Bite injuries inflicted on the children were not severe.  They broke away from the dogs on their own.  News reports indicate that the entrance to where the acuteness was being kept was forced open, thus allowing them to escape was forced open.   news reported did not indicate the distance from where the attack happened to where the dogs escaped. Hence, it’s difficult to understand what the motivation may have been for these dogs to attack the children.  Information about this incident was gathered from ABC 27  local news in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Learn more about the Akita