Is the popularity of pit bulls and pit mixes increasing or decreasing as a breed in the US?

I live in a middle-class to upper-middle-class neighborhood I’ve noticed recently that a number of the dogs being walked up and down the streets are not just pit bulls but dogs that appear to be a cross breed of a pitbull with some other breed.

I know a lot of people are not big fans of pit bulls and pit mixes and I tend to regard them them with some degree of wariness as I have seen pitbull type dogs go after other dogs in public spaces on more than one occasion dragging their owners behind them like rag dolls. I’ve also seen some well-behaved pitbulls that appear to be the archetype of a friendly family dog.

In some areas pitbulls are banned or landlords are allowed to ban them at their discretion while allowing other dogs. Even given this the shelters seem to be loaded up with unwanted pit bulls and pitbull mixes and I also see these dogs being walk in my neighborhood a lot more than they were in the past. Are pitbulls becoming a middle-class dog now?

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In some ways, they’re probably like tattoos. Not really an edgy status symbol if they become common.

Also, according to my agent many of the major insurance companies refuse coverage to household’s with pit bulls. And lots of apartments* ban them now.

I agree with you that I’m seeing fewer of them and I suspect the above changes are putting pressure on new owners.

*One of my kids manages an apartment complex. In some cases, they have evicted pit bull owners when the dog is discovered. I suspect seeing a neighbor out on the street and losing their deposit tends to discourage other potential owners.

There may be an increase in the percentage of pits, mixes, and similar dogs in the suburbs because it’s mainly cities that have enacted regulations requiring insurance and special licensing. I’ve never heard of home owners insurance specifically mentioning pit bulls but I wouldn’t be surprised considering the hysteria.

They’ve always been popular and they used to be a middle-class dog, probably still are. Hard to tell if their popularity is changing.

I’ve seen it asserted that the anti-pit-bull-hysteria has peaked and is dying down…I’m not sure I buy that. I see so much prejudice, exaggeration, sensationalism, and lying going on.

They’re certainly popular in animal shelters.

I adopted two young pit pups this past year. I did a lot of research before doing so, here are a few interesting points:

-“Pitbull” is a catchall term often applied to dogs that have square heads, chunky jaw muscles, etc. An attack attributed to a pit may have been a mix breed, wholly different breed, etc. Some shelters are now calling pits American Staffordshire Terriers and it has increased the adoption rate.

-In some studies, daschounds, spaniels, chihuahuas, and some big dogs are more bitey than pits. However, a pit bite will be more damaging than a Chihuahua bite. :smiley: (also, the whole idea of “breed” and its characteristics are questionable at times).

-Historically, pits were known for being “nanny dogs” because they’re so good with kids and people in general. Before pits were demonized, it was German Shepherds then Dobermans that were deemed dangerous. Pits have and do perform police and service dog jobs.

-Pits do have a rep for being aggressive with strange dogs and I think caution is warranted.Mine have a high prey drive (crazy for squirrels and birds) and I wouldn’t trust them with kitties.

-Given the hysteria about pits, my pups don’t go to offleash parks. If there is a kerfluffle between a pit and a lab, the pibbie will be blamed.

  • The adoption org we got the pups from required signing material agreeing to train them as “ambassadors for the breed,” which we have done (dog school and so on).

-IMHO, pits have become associated with urban crime and “those people.” Dogs that become dangerous are often unfixed, are neglected, and bred to fight/be fight bait. Also, poorer folk may not be able to pay for vet care and sometimes abandon pits when they can’t have them in rental housing. Of course, many people are excellent, loving owners despite social/fiscal challenges.

  • I’m cautious about where my pits go. They’ve never displayed any aggressive behaviors, but as I wrote above, they would probably be blamed if a dogfight happens. And, I don’t trust any dog alone with a baby/toddler/young kid. Never!

-Will pits ever be de-demonized? Hard to answer. GS and dobies largely were, so there may be another breed that assumes the pariah position. I know a lot of pits who have responsible homes and it seems to be on the rise.

Anecdotally: I’ve been bitten by a collie* two labs, and a shitty little daschound. I’ve seen a purebred lab mangle a cat and a mixed collie/greyhound almost kill an corgi at the dog park. A past black lab of mine seriously injured my border collie twice – one was an attempt to tear out her throat and it nearly succeeded.

**In fact, my pit and collie got into a fight last week. As I was pulling them apart my collie turned and bit me on the hand.

To add, because it’s sweet: my boy pit will spend hours sitting by the fence with my neighbor’s 8yo autistic son. The kid will talk with and pet Baxter for hours; he rarely talks to people, so it’s very touching to see :slight_smile:

Yup. I just don’t feel like getting into that right now. There’s no useful statistics, tons of anecdotes, and we’ve been through this before in other threads, any dog someone is afraid of is called a pit bull.

The simple practical reason you see a lot of ‘pit bulls’ owned by middle class people in urban areas is that that’s what is in the animal shelters. Unless people in those areas positively resist adopting shelter pets, or go to shelters far from their homes, or go to pretty great lengths to get the small % of local shelter dogs which aren’t ‘pit bulls’, then that’s what you get.

Comparing it to getting a tattoo is quite ridiculous with all due respect. We wanted a dog. We didn’t want to pay breeders/pet stores money to create more dogs when so many dogs die unwanted. So we looked at a local foster/rescue that saved dogs from the needle in local shelters, pretty much all ‘pit bulls’. She looks like a small Argentine Mastiff more than anything else, but it’s fine if people call her ‘pit bull’. She’s a very pleasant dog to all humans. I wouldn’t have any dog of her strength that was not, of any appearance. She’s extremely aggressive to other dogs, as dogs of various appearances can be, which we manage by simply keeping her clear of other dogs: no dog runs, no off leash anywhere but inside the house.

There’s no particular social dynamic to it, mainly just informing oneself of the lack of any scientific evidence that aggression toward humans varies meaningfully by appearance of dogs, or even real breeds, but ‘pit bull’ is an appearance encompassing a genetically diverse group of dogs. No evidence that is that human aggression varies by ‘breed’ corrected for how the dogs are managed by their typical owners. Eg. 80-90% of dogs involved in killing people are unfixed males, spayed females by the themselves almost never, any kind of dog. Plus, informing oneself that humans have considerable ability to identify individual dogs which are or aren’t aggressive to people. You can tell she isn’t, with some expertise, in a fairly short evaluation. And that has played out over years. Of course any dog could suffer eg. an undiagnosed illness causing the animal extreme pain and it lashes out, but again no evidence to say ‘pit bulls’ change their basic personalities more than any other dogs. That kind of stuff is wive’s tales.