Dogs will use their mouth to communicate with us and unfortunately that includes their ability to bite. Not all bites can be classified in the same manner. Each level of bite signifies a message from the dog that delivered it.
Dr. Ian Dunbar, a renowned veterinarian, animal behaviourist and dog trainer with over 30 years of experience has put together a bite assessment scale so we can fully understand what a bite represents.
Ian Dunbar’s Bite Assessment Scale
Level 1– Dog growls, lunges, snarls-no teeth touch skin. Mostly intimidation behaviour.
Level 2– Teeth touch skin but no puncture. May have red mark/minor bruise from dog’s head or snout, may have minor scratches from paws/nails. Minor surface abrasions acceptable.
Level 3– Punctures ½ the length of a canine tooth, one to four holes, single bite. No tearing or slashes. Victim not shaken side to side. Bruising.
Level 4– One to four holes from a single bite, one hole deeper than ½ the length of a canine tooth, typically contact/punctures from more than canines only. Black bruising, tears and/or slashing wounds. Dog clamped down and shook or slashed victim.
Level 5– Multiple bites at Level 4 or above. A concerted, repeated attack.
Level 6– Any bite resulting in death of a human
Any bite from a dog needs to be treated as they are highly prone to infection.