What’s Wrong with Breed-Specific Laws?

BSL carries a host of negative and wholly unintended consequences:

  • Dogs go into hiding
    Rather than give up their beloved pets, owners of highly regulated or banned breeds often attempt to avoid detection of their “outlaw” dogs by restricting outdoor exercise and socialization and forgoing licensing, microchipping and proper veterinary care, including spay/neuter surgery and essential vaccinations. Such actions have implications both for public safety and the health of these dogs.
  • Good owners and dogs are punished
    BSL also causes hardship to responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised and well-socialized dogs who happen to fall within the regulated breed. Although these dog owners have done nothing to endanger the public, they are required to comply with local breed bans and regulations unless they are able to mount successful (and often costly) legal challenges.
  • They impart a false sense of security
    Breed-specific laws have a tendency to compromise rather than enhance public safety. When limited animal control resources are used to regulate or ban a certain breed of dog, without regard to behavior, the focus is shifted away from routine, effective enforcement of laws that have the best chance of making our communities safer: dog license laws, leash laws, animal fighting laws, anti-tethering laws, laws facilitating spaying and neutering and laws that require all owners to control their dogs, regardless of breed.

Dog Attacks:

  • More than 70 percent of all dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs.
  • An unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than is a neutered dog.
  • A chained or tethered dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than a dog who is not chained or tethered.
  • 97 percent of dogs involved in fatal dog attacks in 2006 were not spayed/neutered:
  • 78 percent were maintained not as pets, but rather for guarding, image enhancement, fighting or breeding.
  • 84 percent were maintained by reckless owners—these dogs were abused or neglected, not humanely controlled or contained, or allowed to interact with children unsupervised.

Recognizing that the problem of dangerous dogs requires serious attention, the ASPCA seeks effective enforcement of breed-neutral laws that hold dog owners accountable for the actions of their animals.


>> The Breed?: Proponents of BSL usually cite the need to protect the public from dog breeds viewed to have inherent tendencies to aggressive behavior. Many tend to believe that dangerous dogs must be certain breeds in order to make them this way. Some proponents believe that a pit bull has superior jaw strength, different muscular ability, and the like. However, the idea that a pit bull has superior jaw strength is a complete myth. Interestingly this myth was also supposedly true for Doberman Pinschers, but now it is no longer considered true for the Doberman. The musculature assertion is also false. Consider that while the American Pit Bull Terrier does well in weight pull competitions, it is by no means superior in that other breeds in the same weight classes have beaten these dogs.

1. (source) Dr. Brisbin, as well as the other experts, testified that pit bulls do not have locking jaws. Based on actual dog dissections and measurement of their skulls, the evidence demonstrated that pit bull jaw muscles and bone structure are the same as other
similarly sized dogs. No evidence was presented to demonstrate that a pit bull’s bite is any stronger than other dogs of its size and build. He stated that, contrary to information relied upon and perpetuated by earlier case law2 and law review articles,3 assertions that a pit bull can bite with a “force of 2,000 pounds per square inch” have absolutely no basis in fact or scientific proof. The testing of dog bite strength has never been done, and would be difficult if not impossible to perform.

>> Attacks : Opponents believe that many of the policies created by BSL have been randomly or illogically developed, and are often capriciously or inconsistently enforced. For example, though “Pit Bulls” are primarily the focus of BSL, there is no consensus on what a “Pit Bull” actually is. The term “Pit-Bull-Type-Dog” has been used to describe over ten very different breeds, including Bulldogs, Boxers,Chow chows and Bullmastiffs. Additionally, Rottweilers, though having shown a virtually equal propensity for dog attacks, are rarely included in dog bans or BSL. Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherd Dogs, Great Danes, Husky-type dogs, Alaskan Malamutes and Mastiff-Type Dogs also frequently injure people, but do not experience the same scrutiny as Bull Breeds.

1. (source) Fatalities during 1997 and 1998—During 1997 and 1998, at least 27 people died as the result of dog bite attacks (18 people in 1997 and 9 in 1998). Of 27 human DBRF, 19 (70%) were children (1 was ≤ 30 days old, 3 were between 7 and 11 months old, 9 were between 1 and 4 years old, and 6 were between 5 and 11 year old), and 8 were adults (ages 17, 44, 64, 70, 73, 75, 75, and 87). Approximately half (n = 15 [56%]) of the human DBRF were male. Five (19%) deaths involved unrestrained dogs off the owners’ property, 18 (67%) involved unrestrained dogs on the owners’ property, 3 (11%) involved restrained dogs on the owners’ property, and 1 (4%) involved a restrained dog off the owner’s property. Eighteen (67%) deaths involved 1 dog, 5 (19%) involved 2 dogs, and 4 (15%) involved 3 dogs. Sixty percent of attacks by unrestrained dogs off the owners’ property involved more than 1 dog. Fatal attacks were reported from 17 states (California [4 deaths]; Georgia and North Carolina [3 each]; Kansas, Texas, and Wisconsin [2 each]; and Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, South Dakota, and Tennessee [1 each]).

>>Dog Temperament Statistics:

Just a small part of a list of hundreds of breeds tested…and look who scored higher than an Airedail.

ATTS Breed Statistics
as of February 14, 2013

Breed Name Tested Passed Failed Percent
SHILOH SHEPHERD 25 20 5 80.0%
SIBERIAN HUSKY 299 260 39 87.0%
SILKY TERRIER 19 14 5 73.7%
SKYE TERRIER 8 3 5 37.5%
SLOUGHI 1 1 0 100.0%
SMOOTH FOX TERRIER 56 43 13 76.8%
STANDARD POODLE 253 219 34 86.6%


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