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Pit bull

Pit Bull (American Staffordshire Terrier)
Pit Bull (American Staffordshire Terrier)
Country of origin England
United States
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Pit Bull was originally created as a fighting dog by crossbreeding bulldogs, mastiffs, and terriers to produce a dog that combined the size and strength of the mastiff, the gameness and agility of the terrier, with the strength and tenacity of the bulldog.[1] The early bull terriers of the Elizabethan era were much heavier and bred as fighting dogs to be used for bull and bear baiting in "pit" fights, hence the name.[2][3] After the use of dogs in blood sports was banned, pit bulls were used as catch dogs in America for semi-wild cattle and hogs, to hunt and drive livestock, and as family companions,[1] although some owners still bred and used them clandestinely for dog fighting.[4] This practice continues to this day, but is illegal in many nations.[5]

The term is often used loosely to describe dogs with similar physical characteristics, and the morphological (physical) variation amongst "bully breed" dogs makes it difficult for anyone, even experts, to visually identify them as distinct from "non-pit bulls".[6][7][8] While mixed breed dogs are often labeled as "pit bulls" if they have certain physical characteristics such as a square shaped head or bulky body type,[9] visual identification of mixed breed dogs is not recommended by the scholarly community.[6]


  • History 1
    • Pit Bull Terrier 1.1
    • Staffordshire Bull Terrier 1.2
  • Socialization 2
  • Ownership risk 3
    • Studies 3.1
    • Other studies 3.2
  • Breed specific legislation 4
  • Commercial restrictions 5
    • Liability insurance 5.1
    • Air carrier restrictions 5.2
  • Notable pit bulls 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8


Bull and Bear Baiting arenas shown on the Agas Map of London of 1560 (the dogs are shown coming out of pens on each side)

Pit Bull Terrier

American Pit Bull Terrier puppy

The Pit Bull Terrier was created by breeding catch dogs in America for semi-wild cattle and hogs, to hunt, and drive livestock, and as family companions.[1] Some have been selectively bred for their fighting prowess.[4][5]

Pit Bull Terriers successfully fill the role of

  • Collier, Stephen (2006). "Breed-specific legislation and the pit bull terrier: Are the laws justified?". Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 1 (1): 17–22.  

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c d "American Pit Bull Terrier". United Kennel Club (UKC). November 1, 2008. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c American Kennel Club. "AKC Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed History". Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  3. ^ a b c d Clark, Ross D., DVM; Stainer, Joan R.; Haynes, H. David, DVM; Buckner, Ralph, DVM; Mosier, Jacob, DVM; Quinn, Art J., DVM, eds. (1983). Medical & Genetic Aspects of Purebred Dogs.  
  4. ^ a b "Pit Bull Cruelty".  
  5. ^ a b "Dog Fighting".  
  6. ^ a b "Inaccuracy of Breed Labels Assigned to Dogs of Unknown Origin". 
  7. ^ "Breed Discriminatory Legislation: How DNA Will Remedy the Unfairness". 
  8. ^ "Pit bull Identification in Animal Shelters". 
  9. ^ "Irrationality Unleashed: The Pitfalls of Breed-Specific Legislation". 
  10. ^ "Cool K-9 Popsicle retires". U.S. Customs Today 38 (10). October 2002. Archived from the original on 24 Oct 2011. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  11. ^ Lewin, Adrienne Mand (October 12, 2005). "Protecting the Nation – One Sniff at a Time".  
  12. ^ Simon, Scott (June 21, 2008). "Trainer turns pit bull into therapy dog".  
  13. ^ "Dog Fighting Fact Sheet". Humane Society of the United States. 2009. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Known prostitute' loses left arm and leg after pit bull 'viciously attacks her as she was shut inside a home with the beast". Daily Mail (London). February 17, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Swift, E.M. (July 27, 1987). "The pit bull: friend and killer".  
  16. ^ Baker, Al; Warren, Mathew R. (July 9, 2009). "Shooting highlights the risks dogs pose to police, and vice versa".  
  17. ^ Dangerous dogs' weapon of choice"'". BBC News. December 2, 2009. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  18. ^ Cothran, George (June 11, 1997). "Shouldn't we just kill this dog?".  
  19. ^ "Bring breeders of high-risk dogs to heel". Animal People News. January 2004. Retrieved September 4, 2009. 
  20. ^ Haberman, Clyde (January 13, 2004). "NYC; Rebrand Fido? An idea best put down".  
  21. ^ Laurence, Charles (January 4, 2004). "Q: When is a pit bull terrier not a pit bull terrier? A: When it's a patriot terrier".  
  22. ^ a b c "American Staffordshire Terrier History".  
  23. ^  
  24. ^ Hanna, TL, Selby LA. Characteristics of the human and pet populations in animal bite incidents recorded at two Air Force bases. Public Health Rep. 1981;96:580-584.
  25. ^ Clarke NM. A survey of urban Canadian animal control practices : the effect of enforcement and resourcing on the reported dog bite rate, Master of Science – MSc 2009
  26. ^ "Dog Bite Risk and Prevention: The Role of Breed". American Veterinary Medical Association. 17 April 2012. Retrieved October 2014. 
  27. ^ Duffy, DL., Hsu, Y. Serpell, JA. Breed differences in canine aggression. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2008;114:441–460.
  28. ^ Roll, A.; Unshelm, J. (1997). "Aggressive conflicts amongst dogs and factors affecting them". Applied Animal Behaviour Science 52 (3-4): 229–242.  
  29. ^ Pitbull Myths vs. Fact - Animal Rescuers Without Borders ...
  30. ^ Delise, Karen (2007). "The Pit Bull Placebo: The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression". Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  31. ^ Castelein C, Klouda J, Hirsch H. The bite case scenario—it is not what you think. In: WFHS newsletter. Madison, Wis: Wisconsin Humane Society, 1996;Sep:12–14. Cited in: Overall KL, Love M. Dog bites to humans: demography, epidemiology, injury, and risk. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:1923-1934.
  32. ^ Sacks JJ, Sattin RW, Bonzo SE (September 1989). "Dog bite-related fatalities from 1979 through 1988". JAMA 262 (11): 1489–92.  
  33. ^ Avner, Jeffrey R.; Baker, M. Douglas (1991). "Dog Bites in Urban Children". Pediatrics (American Academy of Pediatrics) 88 (1): 55–57. 
  34. ^ Sacks, Jeffrey J.; Lockwood, Randall; Hornreicht, Janet; Sattin, Richard W. (1996). "Fatal Dog Attacks, 1989–1994". Pediatrics (American Academy of Pediatrics) 97 (6): 891–895.  
  35. ^ a b JAVMA (15 September 2000), Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998,   PDF file
  36. ^ Shields, Lisa B. E.; Bernstein, Mark L.; Hunsaker, John C.; Stewart, Donna M. (2009). "Dog Bite-Related Fatalities: A 15-Year Review of Kentucky Medical Examiner Cases". American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) 30 (3): 223–230.  
  37. ^ a b Bini, John K.; Cohn, Stephen M.; Acosta, Shirley M.; McFarland, Marilyn J.; Muir, Mark T.; Michalek, Joel E. (2011). "Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs". Annals of Surgery (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) 253 (4): 791–797.  
  38. ^ a b Kaye, Alison E.; Belz, Jessica M.; Kirschner, Richard E. (2009). "Pediatric Dog Bite Injuries: A 5-Year Review of the Experience at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia". Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (American Society of Plastic Surgeons) 124 (2): 551–558.  
  39. ^ a b Bury, Danielle; Langlois, Neil; Byard, Roger W. (2012). "Animal-Related Fatalities—Part I: Characteristic Autopsy Findings and Variable Causes of Death Associated with Blunt and Sharp Trauma". Journal of Forensic Sciences (American Academy of Forensic Sciences) 57 (2): 370–374.  
  40. ^ "Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998".  
  41. ^ , 114 Ohio St.3d 278, 2007-Ohio-3724."Toledo v. Tellings". Supreme Court of Ohio. Retrieved June 29, 2009. 
  42. ^ "Certeriorari – Summary Dispositions (Order List: 552 U.S.)". United States Supreme Court. February 19, 2008. Retrieved August 3, 2009. 
  43. ^ , 2008 ONCA 718"Cochrane v. Ontario (Attorney General)". Ontario Court of Appeal. October 24, 2008. Retrieved July 21, 2009. 
  44. ^ "Who let the dogs out?". Center for Constitutional Studies, University of Alberta, Canada. June 12, 2009. Retrieved July 21, 2009. 
  45. ^
  46. ^ Raghavan, Malathi (June 2008). "Fatal dog attacks in Canada, 1990–2007". The Canadian Veterinary Journal (La Revue vétérinaire canadienne) 49 (6): 577–581.  
  47. ^ Barnes, Jaclyn E.; Boats, Barbara W.; Putnam, Frank W.; Mahlman, Andrew R. (2006). "Ownership of High-Risk ("Vicious") Dogs as a Marker for Deviant Behaviors: Implications for Risk Assessment". Journal of Interpersonal Violence (Sage Publications) 21 (12): 1616–1634.  
  48. ^ Ragatz, Laurie; Fremouw, William; Thomas, Tracy; Katrina, McCoy (2009). "Vicious Dogs: The Antisocial Behaviors and Psychological Characteristics of Owners". Journal of Forensic Sciences (American Academy of Forensic Sciences) 54 (3): 199–703.  
  49. ^ Schenk, Allison M.; Ragatz, Laurie L.; Fremouw, William J. (2012). "Vicious Dogs Part 2: Criminal Thinking, Callousness, and Personality Styles of Their Owners". Journal of Forensic Sciences (American Academy of Forensic Sciences) 57 (1): 152–59.  
  50. ^ a b D. Caroline Coile (April 18, 2011). Pit Bulls For Dummies. Retrieved March 31, 2013. 
  51. ^ , -REVERSED-, 2006-Ohio-975, ¶25"Toledo v. Tellings". Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth Appellate District. Retrieved October 2, 2009. 
  52. ^ "The Truth About Pit Bulls". American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  53. ^ "Breaking up a fight". Pit Bull Rescue Central. 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2009. 
  54. ^ "Break Stick Information". Pit Bull Rescue Central. 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2009. 
  55. ^ "Pros and cons of owning a pit bull". Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit bulls (BADRAP). 2007. Retrieved August 16, 2009. 
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^ National Canine Research Council
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^ "An Act to amend the Dog Owners’ Liability Act to increase public safety in relation to dogs, including pit bulls, and to make related amendments to the Animals for Research Act". Government of Ontario, Canada. August 29, 2005. Retrieved July 5, 2010. 
  63. ^ [1]
  64. ^ "Revised Municipal Code – City and County of Denver, Colorado". City of Denver, Colorado. May 19, 2009. Retrieved July 5, 2010. 
  65. ^ "Pit Bull Most Dangerous Dog Breeds". Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  66. ^ "Veterinary Conditions for the importation of dogs/cats for countries under Category A (1/4)". Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore. August 4, 2008. Retrieved August 4, 2009. 
  67. ^ "Pit Bull Information".  
  68. ^  
  69. ^ "Garrison Policy Memorandum #08-10, Mandatory Pet Micro-Chipping and Pet Control".  
  70. ^ "Marine Corps Housing Management".  
  71. ^ Palika, Liz (January 31, 2006). American Pit Bull Terrier: Your Happy Healthy Pet. Howell Book House.  
  72. ^ "States prohibiting or allowing breed specific ordinances".  
  73. ^ Campbell, Dana (July–August 2009). "Pit Bull Bans: The State of Breed–Specific Legislation". GP-Solo ( 
  74. ^ "Why Breed Specific Legislation Misses the Mark and Doesn't Work". 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2011. 
  75. ^ Nelson, Kory (2005). "One city's experience: why pit bulls are more dangerous and why breed-specific legislation is justified". Municipal Lawyer 46 (6) (August 2005). pp. 12–15. Retrieved July 11, 2009. 
  76. ^ "HSUS Statement on Dangerous Dogs". Humane Society of the United States. 2009. Retrieved July 11, 2009. 
  77. ^ "A community approach to dog bite prevention". Journal of the  
  78. ^ Phillips, Kenneth (October 10, 2008). "Breed Specific Laws". Retrieved July 11, 2009. 
  79. ^ Barlow, Karen (May 3, 2005). "NSW bans pit bull terrier breed". Sydney, Australia:  
  80. ^ Hughes, Gary (October 20, 2009). "Pit bull bite prompts call for national approach to dangerous dog breeds".  
  81. ^  
  82. ^
  83. ^
  84. ^ a b "Dog Bite Liability".  
  85. ^ "Homeowners Insurance Available to Breeds Previously Excluded with CGC Certification".  
  86. ^ Sodergren, Brian. "Insurance companies unfairly target specific dog breeds".  
  87. ^ Gephardt, Bill. Some dog breeds too risky for insurance companies., May 8th, 2013
  88. ^ "Frequently asked questions".  
  89. ^ "Traveling with pets".  
  90. ^ "Traveling with pets".  
  91. ^ "Pet Travel Requirements and Restrictions".  
  92. ^ "Pet restrictions".  
  93. ^ "Famous Women and Their Dogs: Billie Holiday and Mister". Urban Hounds. Retrieved September 11, 2013. 
  94. ^ "Famous People". All About Pit Bulls. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  95. ^ "Buster Brown and Tige". Stubbydog – Rediscover The Pit Bull. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  96. ^ "American Pit Bull Terrier ( APBT ) breed History". American Pit Bull Registry. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  97. ^ "The Pit Bull—American's Sweetheart". A Brief History of the American Pit Bull Terrier. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  98. ^ "Jack Brutus". Encyclopedia of the American Pit Bull Terrier. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  99. ^ "A Popular History of the Pit Bull in America". Adams Red White & Blue Kennels. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  100. ^ Green, Ranny (March 13, 1994). "Can Weela's Heroics Change Pitbull Image? Can Weela's Heroics Change Pitbull Image? Pit Bulls have been used for advertisement such as the case of Spuds McKenzie of the laste 80's Bud Light commercials". Seattle Times. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  101. ^ "Kool K-9 Popsicle retires". US Customs Today. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  102. ^ "Inductee: Norton". Purina Animal Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  103. ^ "Family Dog Takes Bullet to Save Family". News 9 Oklahoma. By Amy Lester, NEWS 9. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  104. ^ Hero' pit bull Heads Home to Recover"'". Retrieved November 7, 2013. 


Contemporary significant pit bulls are: Weela, who helped save 32 people, 29 dogs, 3 horses, and 1 cat;[100] Popsicle, a five-month-old puppy originally found nearly dead in a freezer, who grew to become one of the nation's most important police dogs;[101] Norton, who was placed in the Purina Animal Hall of Fame after he rescued his owner from a severe reaction to a spider bite;[102] Titan, who rescued his owner's wife, who would have died from an aneurysm, D-Boy, who took three bullets to save his family from an intruder with a gun,[103] and Lilly, who lost a leg after being struck by a freight train while pulling her unconscious owner from the train tracks.[104]

Pit Bull breeds have become famous for their roles as soldiers, police dogs, search and rescue dogs, actors, television personalities, seeing eye dogs, and celebrity pets. Historically, the Bull Terrier mix Nipper and the American Staffordshire Terrier, Pete the Pup from the Little Rascals are the most well known. Lesser known, but still historically notable pit bulls include Billie Holiday's companion "Mister",[93] Helen Keller's dog "Sir Thomas",[94] Buster Brown's dog "Tige",[95] Horatio Jackson's dog "Bud",[96][97] President Theodore Roosevelt's Pit Bull terrier "Pete", "Jack Brutus" who served for Company K, the First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry during the civil war,[98] Sergeant Stubby who served for the 102nd Infantry, 26th (Yankee) Division during World War I, and Sir Walter Scott's "Wasp".[99]

Notable pit bulls

United Airlines formerly embargoed American Pit Bull Terriers for safety reasons. However, pit bulls (along with American Staffordshires and other similar breeds) are now permitted, provided that dogs over six months old or weighing more than 20 pounds (9 kg) are transported in reinforced crates.[92]

Airline Reason Details
Air France Not Permitted Purebred Staffordshire Terriers and purebred American Staffordshire Terriers may be transported. However, dogs that "do not belong to a particular breed but are similar in morphology" to Staffordshire Terriers, mastiff (boerboel), tosa, and pit bulls may not be transported or shipped by air.[88]
Alaska Airlines / Horizon Air Health Dog breeds including American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, fly at their owner's risk, with no additional compensation if the dog suffers injury or dies during transit. The airline may refuse to accept the dog if it feels outside temperatures are too extreme for the animal's safety.[89]
American Airlines Health American Airlines will not accept brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs as checked luggage.[90]
Delta Air Lines Health "Snub-nosed dogs" are embargoed when the temperature at the departure point or any stop along the travel route is expected to exceed 75 °F (24 °C).[91]
animals. The following table has a sampling of air carrier embargoes on dogs. brachycephalic certain dog breeds, due to the effect of high temperature and humidity on embargoSeveral air carriers

Air carrier restrictions

In 2013, Farmers Insurance notified policy holders in California that "it will no longer cover bites by pit bulls, rottweilers and wolf hybrids. A spokeswoman for Farmers said those breeds account for more than a quarter of the agency's dog bite claims."[87]

Owners of rental properties may also be held liable if they knew an aggressive dog was living on their property and they did nothing to ensure the safety of other tenants at the property; as a result, many rental properties forbid pit bull-type dogs and any other breeds if the rental property's insurance will not cover damage inflicted by that type of dog. The dog breeds most often targeted by insurance companies include pit bull-type dogs, Rottweilers, German Shepherd Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Akitas (Akita Inu and American Akita), and Chows.[86]

Dog owners in the United States can be held legally liable for injuries inflicted or caused by their dogs. In general, owners are considered liable if they were unreasonably careless in handling or restraining the dog, or if they knew beforehand that the dog had a tendency to cause injury (e.g., bite); however, dog owners are automatically considered liable if local laws hold an owner strictly liable for all damage caused by their dog, regardless of carelessness or foreknowledge of a dog's tendencies. Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically provide liability coverage from US$100,000–300,000 for injuries inflicted by dogs;[84] however, some insurance companies limit their exposure to dog bite liability claims by putting restrictions on dog owners that they insure. These restrictions include refusing to cover dog bites under the insurance policy; increasing insurance rates for homeowners with specific breeds; requiring owners of specific breeds to take special training or have their dogs pass the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen test;[85] requiring owners to restrict their dogs with muzzles, chains, or enclosures; and refusing to write policies for homeowners or renters who have specific breeds of dogs.[84]

Liability insurance

Commercial restrictions

Similar legislation in Australia has been criticized by veterinary professionals. [82][83]

In the Canadian province of Ontario, a pitbull ban was enacted in 2005, making it illegal to breed or import pitbull terriers, including the Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, American pitbull terrier, or any breed with “substantially similar” physical characteristics.

In England and Wales the Dangerous Dogs Act prohibits the ownership of pit bull terrier along with 3 other breeds. The Act also bans the breeding, sale and exchange of these dogs.

The ASPCA said that along with putative over-reporting, false reporting was a major contributor to public perceptions about the breed.[81]

A third point of view is that breed-specific legislation should not ban breeds entirely, but should instead strictly regulate the conditions under which specific breeds could be owned. For example, forbidding certain classes of individuals from owning them, specifying public areas from which they would be prohibited, and establishing conditions, such as requiring a dog to wear a muzzle, for taking specific breeds of dogs into public places.[78] Finally, some governments, such as in Australia, have forbidden the import of specific breeds, and are requiring the spay/neuter of all existing dogs of these breeds in an attempt to eliminate the breed's population slowly through natural attrition.[79][80]

It is now generally settled in caselaw that jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada have the right to enact breed-specific legislation.[73] Despite these holdings by the courts, there is some public skepticism over whether the laws are effective.[74] One point of view is that pit bulls are a public safety issue that merits actions such as banning ownership, mandatory spay/neuter for all pit bulls, mandatory microchip implants and liability insurance, or prohibiting people convicted of a felony from owning pit bulls[75] Another point of view is that comprehensive "dog bite" legislation, coupled with better consumer education and legally mandating responsible pet-keeping practices, is a better solution to the problem of dangerous pit bulls than BSL.[76][77]

Approximately 550 jurisdictions have enacted U.S. Army[69] and Marine Corps[70] have taken administrative action as well. These actions range from outright bans on the possession of pit bull-type dogs, to restrictions and conditions on pit bull ownership. They often establish a legal presumption that a pit bull-type dog is prima facie a legally "dangerous" or "vicious" dog.[71] In response, 16 states in the U.S. prohibited or restricted the ability of municipal governments within those states to enact BSL, though these restrictions do not affect military installations located within the states.[72]

All of the breeds share a similar history, with origins rooted from the bulldog and a variety of terriers, except for the Johnson line of American Bulldog (as opposed to the more pure Scott line), which come from the bulldog and a variety of mastiffs. The dogs called bull terriers before the development of the modern bull terrier in the early 20th century may also be called pit bulls.

Many of the jurisdictions that restrict pit bulls apply their restriction to: (a) the modern American Pit Bull Terrier, (b) American Staffordshire Terrier, (c) Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and (d) any other dog that has the substantial physical characteristics and appearance of those breeds. Such jurisdictions include: Ontario (Canada),[62] Miami (Florida, U.S.),[63] Denver (Colorado, U.S.),[64] and Malden, (Massachusetts, U.S.).[65] However a few jurisdictions, such as Singapore[66] and Franklin County, Ohio (U.S.),[67] also classify the modern American Bulldog as a "pit bull-type dog". In the United Kingdom, a pit bull is an American Pit Bull Terrier.[68]

Breed-specific legislation has been largely found to be ineffective at reducing the number of dog attacks.[58] Research has indicated that there is resistance by those who work in the adoption industry, applying a sharper distinction before allowing a dog to be labelled as a pit bull, as well as objections from veterinarians. [59][60] [61]

Widely reported pit bull attacks in popular media have resulted in the enactment of breed-specific legislation in several jurisdictions. In some cases breed specific bans have been reversed or prohibited by state legislation.[56] [57]These perceptions have also led to increased premiums for liability insurance.

Breed specific legislation

Blue nose pit bull pup

Methods to force pit bull-type dogs to release their grip include breaking an ammonia ampule and holding it up to the dog's nose,[3] or using a "break stick" to lever the dog's jaws open if it is biting a person or animal.[54][55]

A popular myth is that pit bulls have "locking jaws".[50] There is no physiological "locking mechanism" in the jaw muscle and bone structure of pit bulls or other dogs.[51] Pit bull-type dogs, like other terriers, hunting and bull-baiting breeds,[52] can exhibit a bite, hold, and shake behavior and at times refuse to release.[15][3][53] Pit bulls also have wide skulls, well-developed muscles, and strong jaws.[50]

Several studies determined that pit bull owners, and owners of other "vicious" or "high risk" breeds (most commonly identified as Akita, Chow Chow, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, and Wolf-mix), are more likely to have criminal convictions and are more likely to display antisocial behaviors. A 2006 study compared owners of "high risk" dogs to owners of "low risk" dogs. "High risk" dogs included “vicious” dogs by breed (e.g., pit bulls) or “vicious” actions (e.g., any dog that had bitten, attacked, or killed a person or other animal). The study determined that "high risk" dog owners had nearly 10 times as many criminal convictions than did "low risk" dog owners.[47] A 2009 study[48] and a followup 2012 study generally supported these findings.[49]

"A higher proportion of sled dogs and, possibly, mixed-breed dogs in Canada than in the United States caused fatalities, as did multiple dogs rather than single dogs. Free-roaming dog packs, reported only from rural communities, caused most on-reserve fatalities."

A study by Raghaven in Canada, which showed that breed specific legislation limits the number of pitbulls, and where sled dogs and free roaming packs of dogs is more common than in the United States, an electronic search of newspaper articles found that pit bull terriers were responsible for 1 (4%) of 28 dog-bite-related fatalities reported in Canada from 1990–2007.[46]The study also noted that:

"a disproportionate risk of injury associated with larger and/or more physically powerful breeds and the existence of breed stereotypes."

The study theorized that this discrepancy between reputation and results is because of:

"scores for stranger-directed aggression found among Pit Bull Terriers were inconsistent with their universal reputation as a ‘dangerous breed’ and their reported involvement in dog bite-related fatalities".

A 2008 study by the University of Pennsylvania[45] that determined aggression by owner surveys instead of hospital reports found that:

Other studies

Courts in the United States[41][42] and Canada[43][44] have ruled that expert identification, when using published breed standards, is sufficient for the enforcement of breed-specific legislation.

Some other studies on the number of human deaths caused by dog bite trauma have surveyed news media stories for reports of dog-bite-related fatalities. This methodology is subject to potential errors, as some fatal attacks may not have been reported, a study might not find all relevant news reports, and the dog breed might be misidentified.[40]

A review of the medical literature found that pit bulls and pit bull cross-breeds were involved in 42–45% of dog attacks.[39] Fatalities were most often reported when children were attacked, with 70% of victims being under the age of 10.[39]

"...the overwhelming number of bites involving pit bull terriers in this study and others certainly has some degree of validity when it comes to identifying bite-prone breeds. Pit bull terriers, German shepherds, and Rottweilers were the offending breeds implicated in our study, and have accounted for the majority of dog bites according to other investigators."[38]

A 5-year (2001–05) review of dog attack victims admitted to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia determined that pit bull terriers were implicated in more than half of the bites where breed was identified. Of the 269 patients where breed was identified, 137 (51%) were attacked by pit bulls.[38] The authors wrote:

A 15-year (1991–2005) review of dog attack fatalities investigated by the Kentucky Medical Examiner determined that pit bulls were implicated in 5 of the 11 fatal attacks (45%).[36] Another 15-year (1994–2009) review of patients admitted to a Level I Trauma Center with dog bites determined that pit bulls were most often involved in these attacks: of the 228 patients treated, the breed of dog was recorded in 82 attacks, and of these, 29 (35%) of the attacks were by pit bulls.[37] In 45% of the attacks, the dog belonged to the victim's family.[37]

"It is extremely unlikely that they accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities."[35]

A 20-year (1979-1998) study by the American Veterinary Medical Association into fatal dog attacks on humans[35] concluded that "fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem (pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers)," and that "pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers were involved in more than half" (67%) of all the 238 recorded dog bite-related fatalities (DBRF) in the United States during that period, with pit bulls accounting for 66 deaths. They also wrote that:

A 9-year (1979–88) study of fatal dog attacks in the United States found that dogs characterized as pit bulls were implicated in 42 of the 101 attacks where the breed was known.[32] A 1991 study found that 94% of attacks on children by pit bulls were unprovoked, compared to 43% for other breeds.[33] A 5-year (1989–94) review of fatal dog attacks in the U.S. determined that pit bulls and pit bull mixed breeds were implicated in 24 (29%) of the 84 deaths in which breed was recorded.[34]


Violent interactions between humans and canines have been studied by the US government,[24] notably the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,[25] as well as private sector veterinary researchers.[26] The interpretation of these studies, breed identification and relevance [27]issues, and variable circumstances have given rise to intense controversy.[28][29][30] Expert opinion often diverges from strongly held points of view amongst conflicting interests.[31]

Ownership risk

A Pit bull's genetic make up was developed so it would be a good fighting dog. However, this genetic disposition does not mean that all Pit bulls are aggressive or that they are prone to attacking other animals. Pit bulls require the same amount of socialization training as other dogs during puppy-hood, possibly more. Like any dog, a Pit bull that is well socialized is less likely to attack when it feels threatened. The Pit bull breed is known to be more “rough and tumble” during play time, but frequent socialization with other dogs can mean that a Pit bull pet goes into adulthood with a positive feeling towards other dogs. When they lack that socialization, and are not treated correctly they are more prone to act aggressively.[23]


The dog was officially recognised by the [22]

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier had its beginnings in the early 19th century by breeding bulldogs, mastiffs, and terriers together. The resulting offspring were originally known as the "bull and terrier dog", the "Pit Dog" and the "Pit Bull Terrier". The early bull terriers of the [22] They were imported primarily, but not exclusively, for pit fighting.[3]

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

In an effort to counter the fighting reputation of pit bull-type dogs, in 1996 the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals renamed pit bull terriers to "St. Francis Terriers", so that people might be more likely to adopt them.[18] 60 temperament-screened dogs were adopted until the program was halted, after several of the newly adopted pit bulls killed cats.[19] The New York City Center for Animal Care and Control tried a similar approach in 2004, relabeling their pit bulls as "New Yorkies", but dropped the idea in the face of overwhelming public opposition.[20][21]

[17].attack dogs and as [16] use against police,[15][14]

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