A dog with someone's hand in its mouth.

How Hard Do Dogs Bite?

7 mins |

Dogs are equipped with sharp canine teeth that enable them to hunt and rip flesh in the wild. Although dogs are trained and domesticated over the years to obey the commands of human owners, sometimes they may get aggressive and bite. Are you anxious to know how hard dogs bite? How strong is their bite force? In this article, we will discuss these in detail.

Dog bites are generally far harder compared to humans and can cause considerable damage to skin, muscles, and even bones. On average, a dog bite ranges from 230 to 250 pounds per square inch (psi). However, there are some breed differences.

What Is The Bite Force Of A Dog?

A dog mouthing someone's forearm.
Cute or terrifying? You decide!

Dogs have a strong bite force. It is a measure of the strength of a dog’s jaws (maxilla and mandible bones), masseter muscles, and teeth, especially canine teeth. Bite force is measured in pounds per square inch (psi). This determines the amount of pressure exerted by a dog bite.

On average, canine bite force falls between 230 and 250 psi. However, some large dog breeds have a bite force of over 400 psi. Size, strength, breed, jaw size, and skull anatomy are all factors that determine the strength of a dog bite. 

Are There Any Breed Variations In Dog Bite Force?

When it comes to variation in bite force, the breed is the most important factor. Breeds with large frame sizes and skulls have greater bite strength compared to small breeds with smaller skulls.

For instance, Shihtzu, a toy breed of around 11 inches in height and 14 pounds in weight has a bite force of around 100 psi compared to an American Bulldog of around 100 pounds whose bite force is 305 psi.

Years of breeding for the purpose of guarding and hunting have given large breeds the jaw shape and strength to produce a strong bite force. 

Dog Breeds With The Strongest Bite Force

Wondering what dogs have the strongest bite force? Well, here they are, starting with German Shepherds:

  • German Shepherd: 238 psi
  • Rottweiler: 327 psi
  • Akita: 350 to 400 psi
  • American Bulldog:  305 psi
  • Doberman: 230 to 245 psi
  • Pitbull: 240 to 300 psi
  • Kangals: 700 psi. The Kangal was bred in Turkey to guard flocks against coyotes.

For those wondering, a Samoyed’s bite force falls in the average range for dogs, which is over 200 psi.

Anatomy Of A Canine Skull And Jaws

A canine skull is made of several bones including the cranium, maxilla, and mandible. In terms of anatomy, the canine skull can be categorized into three main types based on the length and width of the head and nose, called the cephalic index.

Below are some types of dogs based on their skulls.


These dogs have short noses and broad heads with flat facial anatomy. These are breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Boxers, etc.


These dogs have really long slender skulls and noses. Examples include Greyhounds, Dachshunds, Collies, and Great Danes.


This type is intermediate between the Brachiocephalic and Dolichocephalic, having an intermediate length and girth of the skull and nose. Examples include German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Pomeranians. 

All these types can have a strong bite. Despite anatomical differences, both brachiocephalic and mesocephalic breeds have strong bite force. Dolichocephalic breeds have a better grip and crushing force given the long jaws used in hunting. 

Canine Jaws

Maxilla and mandible bones along with muscles and a set of teeth make up the upper and lower jaws of a dog. A dog is equipped with sharp pointy canines, incisors, and molars for ripping flesh and producing a high-pressure bite.

There are 42 permanent teeth in dogs: 12 incisors, 4 canines,16 premolars, and 10 molars.


These are the teeth located in the front of the upper and lower jaws in between the canine teeth. Incisors grasp things and hold back the tongue. These along with canines initiate the bite.


These are sharp, long, and pointy teeth like fangs located on the sides of the incisors on the upper and lower jaws. They rip the flesh and anchor the jaws during a bite. These are the teeth that give dog species the name, “canine.”

Premolars And Molars

Premolars are located behind the canines and molars sit behind the premolars. They are required for cutting food. Also, molars with their grinding surface grind and crush food into smaller pieces. 

Both these teeth with the help of the masseter muscle of the jaws produce the pressure required in mastication (chewing). These teeth add pressure during a bite, adding to the bite force.

The Difference Between A Play Bite And An Aggressive Bite

Pet owners often confuse a play bite with a serious bite. A dog can bite lightly while playing, which is more common in puppies. However, it can be seen in adult dogs because of a lack of training. A play bite involves “mouthing,” a slight nibble, or holding hands in jaws with little to no pressure.

An aggressive or serious bite involves signs of aggression and a pressure bite. In order to spot a serious bite, one must closely look for the signals of aggression, for instance, wrinkling of the muzzle, exposing incisors, growling, and tensing of the body. 

Although play bite seems harmless, it still poses a risk of minor injuries and therefore, puppies should be trained properly to negate this behavior.

How To Train An Aggressive Dog That Bites?

Managing and training an aggressive dog can be a challenging task, and it involves a robust plan of action.

Firstly, get your dog’s health checkup from a qualified veterinarian to rule out any health issue causing aggression, as seen in diseases involving the nervous system.

Secondly, one must ensure the dog is mentally healthy and not facing issues like anxiety and depression. Consult with a certified animal behaviorist in order to get a behavioral plan for improving mental health.

Thirdly, provide a calm environment for the dog, removing any stressors, objects, or people making your dog fearful. Moreover, always provide ample exercise. A dog needs one hour of light exercise per day to explore the world around them and relieve stress.

Lastly, train your dog using positive reinforcement training by including rewards in the form of treats and play activities. Over time, this technique will motivate your dog to become calmer.  However, one must diagnose the cause or stressors stimulating aggressive behavior in dogs.

Never use tools like shock collars in training because this abuse will further aggravate your dog and only add to the aggression.

How To Avoid A Dog Bite?

The first and foremost thing to do when facing an aggressive dog is to stay calm and never run. Slowly distance yourself while facing the dog, but never stare directly into the dog’s eyes as it may prompt defensive behavior.

Always be mindful of aggressive behavioral signs like growling, showing teeth, a tense body, a wrinkled muzzle, and an erect, arched tail.

Never pat an unfamiliar dog on the head and never approach a dog that is protective of puppies. Also, don’t shout or make sudden movements that may stress a dog. 

If attacked, try to cover your face and give commands like, “No,” or, “Stay.” You can use your weight to exhaust the dog by putting weight on its body but try not to engage in a fight. Always protect your face using your elbows. Also, if you do put your weight on a dog, be careful to do so in a way that it can still breathe.

If you are an owner of a dog that attacks strangers, always use a muzzle when your dog is around strangers or take it to places where it won’t be around them and keep a tight leash on it. Also, get help from professional behaviorists and trainers.

Conclusion: How Hard Do Dogs Bite?

So, in conclusion, dogs bite fairly hard, producing a considerable force that can damage even bones. Nature has equipped dogs with powerful jaws and canine teeth to help hunt prey and defend themselves in the wild. However, there are considerable differences in dog breeds. Dog bite force varies depending on the dog’s size and jaw strength. Years of breeding have developed this trait in dogs, making them excellent hunters and guards.

So, what do you think about all of this? Also, were you surprised by how hard dogs can bite? Let us know your thoughts and why in the comments below!

Shahzaib is a qualified veterinarian and professional writer. He is from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. He did his DVM from the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. Being a Veterinarian, Shahzaib has technically sound knowledge of pet health, nutrition, breeding, and housing. He has more than two years of experience in small animal medicine and surgery. Currently, he is working as an Associate Veterinarian in a renowned pet hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan.