What are the potential defenses a dog owner might use in a dog bite case?

a dog bite case, a dog owner may employ various defenses to mitigate their liability. These defenses aim to establish that the owner should not be held responsible for the incident. While the availability and success of these defenses may vary depending on the jurisdiction, some potential defenses include


The dog owner may argue that the victim provoked the dog, leading to the bite. This defense suggests that the victim’s actions or behavior incited the dog’s aggressive response, relieving the owner of liability. However, the level of provocation required to justify a dog bite can vary, and it is typically not applicable to young children.


If the victim was unlawfully on the owner’s property at the time of the incident, the owner may argue that they should not be held responsible for the dog bite. This defense relies on the principle that individuals who trespass on private property assume certain risks, including potential encounters with dogs.

Assumption of risk

This defense asserts that the victim willingly exposed themselves to the risk of a dog bite. It suggests that the victim was fully aware of the dog’s presence, temperament, or previous aggressive behavior, yet chose to interact with the dog regardless. However, this defense may not be applicable if the victim is a child or if the owner failed to warn of the dog’s dangerous propensities.

Contributory negligence

The dog owner may argue that the victim’s own negligence or carelessness contributed to the incident. For example, if the victim failed to exercise reasonable caution or ignored warning signs, the owner may claim that their negligence played a role in the dog bite.

Lack of knowledge

In some cases, the owner may argue that they were unaware of their dog’s aggressive tendencies or previous incidents of biting. This defense may be applicable if the owner can demonstrate that they had no reason to believe their dog posed a risk to others.

Statute of limitations

The dog owner may assert that the victim’s claim is time-barred due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. This defense argues that the victim failed to file the lawsuit within the legally prescribed timeframe.

Lack of causation

The owner may contend that their dog did not cause the injuries claimed by the victim. They may argue that the injuries were the result of another incident or that the victim’s injuries were not caused by the dog bite itself.


In rare cases, the owner may argue that the victim consented to the dog bite. This defense typically arises in situations where the victim engaged in activities such as dog training or handling, assuming the risk associated with such activities.