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Dog Bite Statutes Part II—Definition of “Dangerous”

Dogs and dog bites have long been a concern among insurance personnel. Underwriting has to determine whether or not to write a policy when a dog is in the house, and claims adjusters have to settle claims when a bite has occurred. Each state has statutes dealing with the issues of liability laws, definition of dangerous dog, and leash laws. As there is a volume of information, charts are provided for each section. Other topics can be found at Dog Bite Statutes Part I—Liability Laws and Dog Bite Statutes Part III—Leash Laws. The statutes are listed with each section.

 States have moved from statutes governing ownership of certain breeds to using behaviors to define a dog and dangerous, and making restrictions around those dogs, regardless of breed. Once a dog has been defined as dangerous the owner may be required to obtain particular limits of insurance, keep the dog in a fenced or other secure area, leash the dog while off premises and other requirements. 



Applicable Statute(s)

Definition of Vicious/Dangerous


Ala. Code §3-6A-3

A dog, regardless of its breed, that has bitten, attacked, or caused physical injury, serious physical injury, or death to a person without justification, with an exception for a dog that is a “police animal” under Ala. Code §13A-11-260.


Alaska Stat. §03.55.020

Any dog which when unprovoked has ever bitten or attacked a human.


A.R.S. §11- 1001

Animal of the order carnivora that has a propensity to attack, cause injury, or endanger humans without provocation or an animal so declared after a hearing before justice of the peace or a city magistrate.


Not defined.


Cal. Food & Agr. §§31602, 31603

Potentially dangerous dog: Any dog that when unprovoked on two separate occasions within thirty-six months engages in any behavior requiring defensive action by a person to prevent bodily injury when both are off the property of the dog owner, or a dog when unprovoked bites a person causing a less severe injury, Or a dog which has twice within thirty-six months killed/injured a domestic animal off the property of the dog owner.

Vicious dog: Any dog that, when unprovoked, seriously injures or kills a human; or a dog previously determined to be dangerous and currently listed as a potentially dangerous dog that, after notification to the owner, continues the behavior described in §31602 or is maintained in violation of §§31641, 31642, or 34643.


C.R.S. §18-9-204.5

Any dog that inflicts bodily or serious bodily injury or death of a person or domestic animal; or demonstrates tendencies that would cause a reasonable person to believe the dog may inflict serious injury/death upon any person/animal; or engages in or trained for animal fighting.


Not defined.


16 Del.C. §3071F, 3076F, 3077F

Dangerous dog: Any dog that has killed or seriously injured a human or domestic animal, provided that the domestic animal was under control of its owner or on its owner’s property, or inflicted damage on a domestic animal after the dog has been declared potentially dangerous under §3077F. 

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