I've put together some information about "the breeds that kill" in Australia, as well as their respective population (based on ANKC registration statistics). Obviously, that means that American Pit Bull Terriers and their mixes aren't included. However, seeing as United States data is often cited by people, and the ANKC does register three of the breeds recognised as "pit bull types" in those studies, I have used the American definition. Because of this, my "Pit Bull" representation is understated (you may get the feeling that I like numbers, you'd be right).
The four most popular Registered Pure-bred dogs are: Labrador Retriever (8.41%), German Shepherd (6.29) and Staffordshire Bull Terrier (5.9%) and Golden Retriever (4.78%). Rottweilers (2.34%) are the 8th most popular purebred.
The top 25 breeds make up 63.63% of Pure-bred registrations with 166 breeds making up the remaining 36.37%.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is not recognised by the Australian National Kennel Council, so no current figures are available for the APBT. Of the breeds commonly referred to as “Pit Bulls” in the United States that ARE recognised (Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Bull Terrier & Bull Terrier) their combined population is 8.88%, making the “Pit Bull Type” dogs (not including the APBT) MORE popular than the Labrador. With an average life span of 10-12 years, there are between 60,000 and 70,000 Pure-bred, registered “Pit Bull Types” currently in Australia. Having said that, the American Staffordshire Terrier has increased in popularity from 0.54% in 2002 (with only 377 new dogs registered) to 2.46% (and an estimated current population of about 9,000 pure bred dogs and possibly 34,000 crosses / unregistered Am. Staffs). This increase co-insides with the import bans and breed restrictions of the APBT, so it is possible that the Am. Staff is replacing the gap left by the APBT.
Pure Bred dogs make up only 20% of Australia’s Pet Population, so there could be more than 345,000 “Pit Bull Type” dogs in Australia. Once American Pit Bull Terriers and their mixes are added to this figure, the population could be considerably higher (above 10% of the total dog population). Furthermore, there are many cross breed dogs that have NO Pit Bull Terrier in their bloodline that look like Pit Bulls (for example an Am. Bulldog X Rottweiler, Boxer X Labrador, Bull Mastiff X Rottweiler, etc.). The popularity of "Pit Bull Type" dogs in Australia is therefore comparable to that in the United States (albeit with a smaller actual population size).
Without proof of parentage (via Registration Papers), hundreds of thousands of dogs risk being removed from their families unnecessarily as a result of the "visual identification only" method of identifying restricted breed dogs.
Australian National Kennel Council Registration and Litter Statistics Australian National Kennel Council
DOG BITE RELATED FATALITIES 1995 - 2011 (AUSTRALIA)
28 dogs were involved in 11 deaths between 1995 and 2011 (sourced from media reports in Australian Newspapers and are therefore not exhaustive. Bite studies indicate at least an additional 6 fatalities during this time)
One dog was involved in 6 fatalities (55%), Two dogs were involved in 2 fatalities (18%), Three to four dogs were involved in 2 fatalities (18%) and 11 dogs were involved in 1 fatality (9%).
Six of the dogs were reported to be purebred, five were reported to be first generation cross breeds (both parents identified), with mixed or unknown breeds accounted for the remainder.
Four Rottweilers, and one Rottweiler X were involved in 2 deaths, a breed consisting of only 2.34% of the population was therefore involved in 18% of fatalities (a risk index of 7.69). Because deaths are such a rare event, these percentages cannot be extrapolated out over large populations. For example, even one attack by one dog constitutes 9% of the total fatalities, and only the Labrador or combined Pit Bull type dogs even come close to this population level. At these levels, even the Siberian Husky (1.19%) and the Cattle Dog (1.72%) who were involved in one death each appear over represented (with risk indexes of 7.6 and 5.2 respectively). It is for this reason that dog bite related fatalities should not be used as a measure of a breed’s dangerousness.
One fatality in 1995 involved 3 Rottweilers and 1 Rottweiler X German Shepherd who were at large and killed a neighbour (the landlord of the dog’s owner). This incident clearly demonstrates that owner negligence was the primary factor, and the owner spent time in jail as a result. Rottweilers consisted of approximately 6% of the total dog population at that time.
The fatality in 2007 involved a Rottweiler dragging a 9 week old child from their crib, emphasising the need to ensure dogs do not have access to unattended infants. Only 1 of the fatalities occurred during the last 10 years where the population is estimated to be around 15,500 pure bred Rottweilers, and a further 62,000 possible mixed breeds.
Breeds involved: Rottweiler (4), Siberian Husky (1), Cattle Dog (1), Rottweiler X German Shepherd (1), Dingo X Labrador (1), Pit Bull X Mastiff (1), Great Dane X Mastiff (1), Great Dane X Bull Terrier (1), Medium size mixed breed (3), Large mixed breed (3) and Giant Mixed Breed (11) including Greyhounds, Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds.
Australia has an estimated dog population of 3,400,000 and an average of 1.1 fatalities per year (33 over the last 30 years), equating to one death per 3,090,909 dogs.
The United States has an estimated dog population of 77,000,000 and an average of 30.29 fatalities per year (212 over the last 7 years), equating to one death per 2,542,093 dogs.
You are slightly more (22%) likely to be killed by a dog in the United States. Most risk analysis base their findings on deaths per human population, however I feel that dogs involved per dog population is a better marker (if you half the dog population, but the human population stays the same, you will still likely see a 50% drop in bites). Given that breed popularity of Pit Bull types (estimates around 5-10%) is similar between Australia and the United States, and the risk of fatalities is only slightly higher in the United States, if breed were really the problem, we should have seen between 14-22 of Australia's 33 fatalities being attributed to Pit Bull type dogs.