Should aggressive dog breeds be banned?

This topic has been brought to mind because of the recent case of the San Francisco woman who was mauled outsider her apartment by two neighbor dogs of a notoriously aggressive breed.

Back when I was staying in Trinidad, it seemed like every week someone was getting mauled by a Pit Bull. Eventually they started to talk about decided to enacting a “Pit Bull insurance” where if you have a dog of an aggressive breed, you had to pay a hefty insurance, because statistically, that dog is more likely to maul or kill someone.

I disagree. Just pay insurance? I think these dogs should be banned from breeding. Would it be any great loss to humanity of Pit Bulls and other aggressive breeds disappeared from the face of the earth? I realize some dogs fulfill a valid security role, and that’s OK, but many good security dogs aren’t psychotic in the same way that these certain aggressive breeds are.

And yes, it’s possible to have well controlled and behaved Pit Bulls. But surely as a whole this breed requires careful handling - and that’s too much to ask of dog owners. We can’t require that all dog owners be great owners. Dogs should be safe enough so that even if the owner is fairly neglectful, the dog doesn’t go and kill someone. Life is too precious for that.

So… what do you think?

I think your bar is a bit low. Merely preventing one’s dog from attacking people in the street is not the sign of a great dog owner. It is the sign of minimal competency. Hence I think banning the breeding of pit bulls is absolutely ridiculous. By the logic expressed in the OP, we should ban anything that is both potentially dangerous and requires a minimum level of competence to use.

This would not be my kind of state.

Not only that, but it is my understanding that most attacks of this type happen because of dogs that have either been mishandled or encouraged to be aggressive, or out and out trained to attack people.

Pit Bulls, and Rotweillers, both dogs with reputations as violent animals, actually bite less than, say, German Shepherds. (Amusingly, I cannot find a cite for this, so it must be IMHO.)

But, punishing the dog for being mishandled by its owner


(Emphasis mine)

Clearly, asking people to train their dogs isn’t at issue. Actually, the whole website listed above is good for all kinds of information - including a whole page discussing why judging a particular breed of dog as vicious isn’t productive.

That should, of course, read “is at issue.”

And I have no idea what that dangling fragment in the middle was going to be about.


The problem is that one has to be careful to distinguish between “Pit Bulls” and the breed that was originally associated with that name, the Staffordshire/English Staffordshire Bull Terrier. When I was a youngster ( not that long ago :smiley: ) those two terms were synonymous. No longer. Pit Bull now is more properly used for those genetic abominations that derive from the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, but have been admixed with Bullmastiff, Doberman, and any of 50 other breeds purely for fighting and aggression.

Staffordshire’s are potentially dangerous and very tough ( as are many other breeds ). In fact they’re one of the few breeds that has been shown to be able to occasionally tough out distemper and win. Like all powerful dogs they can be a threat if improperly socialized/trained. They are a very dominant, territorial breed and therefore can be a handful. Amateurs should never own one. And they were bred for fighting originally. However…Traditionally the “well-bred” Staffordshire’s don’t have a reputation as people biters. Cat killers, yes. Dog fighters, to be sure. But it used to be when you walked down the “murderer’s row” of dangerous animals in a local pound you found two types of animals. Hysterically barking, flinchy, “shy-sharp” dogs alternately cowering and hurling themselves at you ( at most pounds dominated by ill-socialized German Shepard’s and Doberman’s ). And sweet, quiet dogs that come up and lick your fingers. These are the ones that are in for treating the neighbor’s cat like a bunny. And they tended most commonly to be Bull Terrier’s ( including the piggish looking English Bull Terrier which are notorious for getting into dogfights ).

Now you get HUGE ( well-bred Staffordshire’s rarely top the scale at 70 lbs ), slavering, snapping, aggressive ( and not the fearful, “shy-sharp” type either ) monsters - Bull Terrier mixes ( and the occasional Rottweiler ). Animals raised either explicitly for the underground fighting trade ( which seems to have exploded in popularity in the last couple of decades ) or just macho nuts looking for the biggest, toughest critter they can produce. These animals are often ( not always ) so fucked up genetically that they NEED to be destroyed, post-haste. No rehabilitation is possible.

A co-worker found an abandoned puppy near our job in a poor, semi-industrial, semi-rural district ( hard to describe area, really ). 6 or 7 weeks old. She tried to keep it. This poor animal greeted everyone ( quite happily ) with constantly snapping jaws. It was “playing” - But not like any puppy you have ever seen. It would have quite literally been a threat to it’s littermates. At 8 weeks it had jaws like a vice and could not be controlled by my very experienced co-worker. Five, FIVE, separate vets had the same advice - It needed to be euthanized for it’s own good. It was a walking time bomb.

Well-bred animals are not like that. They can all be trained, socialized, and turned into “good citizens”. Even the hard breeds like the Bull Terrier’s. And the aggression can be bred out of them ( as has been done with great success with the English Bulldog ).

I don’t think banning whole breeds is necessarily the best solution ( but I agree it is a debatable point )in all cases. Often they have traits, other than their aggression, that make them desirable. Bull Terrier’s really can be incomparably sweet animals :slight_smile: . Better to breed ( and train ) out the aggression ( or the worst of it - These are carnivores and you’re not going to get it all ). And crack down heavily on the backyard puppy-mills and dog rings that produce the monsters.

Just as an aside, the Canary Island Mastiffs that killed that poor woman are extremely dangerous and their breeding was at one time banned by Spain because of it. In that case I think you can make a better case for banning that whole breed. I’ve never heard them described as anything but nasty, even by Mastiff breeders. And there are certainly other breeds that do fall into this greyer area for me.

But I do like the “original” Pit Bulls :slight_smile: .

  • Tamerlane

Disclaimer: I have not now, nor have I ever owned a Bull Terrier - Just known many. I’ve had an Airedale Terrier and a Chesapeake Bay retriever. Currently I just have a cat :slight_smile: .

Neither mine. I could potentially severely injure or maybe even kill myself with a chainsaw. However, I should still be able to own chainsaws.

One difference with dogs is who gets injured. If I misuse my chainsaw, I get injured. If I misuse my dog, someone else will probably get injured or killed. It doesn’t really seem right, does it?

A second difference is that of choice. If there were chainsaws that were somehow injury-proof and were functionally equivalent to regular chainsaws, I see no problem in outlawing the old dangerous chainsaws. Since the functionality is the same, the user doesn’t lose anything. Similarly, I’m not talking about outlawing all dogs here, just the dangerous types. So you can’t own a pit bull. If you want a guard dog, you can own one, just not a pit bull. This is no great loss to the dog-owning community.

As to unfairly targeting breeds, when the vast majority of those breeds are OK… well that’s why I don’t advocate extreme measures like putting all Pit Bulls to sleep, or outlawing their existence in any way. We should try to eliminate these breeds through not letting them breed, which I think is fairly humane, although not necessarily enforceable.

If we were just talking about dog bites, I wouldn’t be concerned. As a paperboy in the early 60’s when just about every small town home had a dog, I was bitten by a Cocker Spaniel and a Dalmation, both attacks brief, and both dogs with no previous history of biting, both owned by caring and reasonable dog owners. There is no guarantee that a dog will not bite. Being a German Shephard owner myself(as a kid), and interested in dogs and breeding I had never heard or seen either Pit Bulls or Rotweillers in the sixties, but hearing of the many Pit Bull maulings occuring these days in my home province alone suggests that ferocious dog attacks are now a part of life, and every community can expect a young child to be horribly disfigured, and most likely by a pit bull, every several years.

Dog bites are common to all breeds and deaths are usually the result of dogs packing. I don’t think any one is keeping accurate statistics on breeds that maul.

It is my hope that the Pit Bull breed is banned. I do not want to be terrorized by its presence, and I don’t think others should be as well. If not, and one day someone on my street gets a Pit Bull, then I will buy one as well for protection

Buy a gun instead:D

From the site I cited above:

Banning Pit Bulls, or Rotweillers, or Dobermans or Shepherds isn’t the answer. Adequate training for both human and animal is. I mean, how do you know that animal down the street is a pit bull and not a boxer (the two breeds do look similar).

Grienspace, please go have a look at that site. Don’t assume an animal is dangerous just because the newspaper tells you so.

I am a firm believer in bad owners being the problem, not bad dogs.

Having said that, if ANY dog is exhibiting overly agressive tendencies, up to and including biting, then a responsible owner will look at control options which include euthanasia.

I do not support the banning of any breed. Next, someone might tell me to put my dog to sleep right now, before the vet bills (which we know are coming) start to pile up. I mean, he’s gonna die anyway, right? Why not do it before he costs you a bunch of money and heartache?


All dogs will bite given sufficient provocation. The Pit-bulls reputation as a savage has more to do with the owners than the dogs.

They are naturally aggressive, but so are Border Collies, who generally enjoy an excellent reputation.

Much of the Pit Bull breed has a genetic defect bred into it deliberately. Their jaws do not release until they’ve fully closed. Once they start to bite, they literally can’t let go.

What to the dog was intended as a playful friendly nip can result in a massive tearing of the flesh as the dog works to release itself.

What would be a puncture wound or two, or a minor injury from another dog, can be catastrophic from a pit bull.

There can be no reason IMO to preserve this dangerous trait. Dogs with it should be destroyed as a matter of law.

That aside, as a breed Pit Bulls are smart, friendly, relatively clean, and loyal, and make excellent companion dogs.

Trained guard dogs must always be handled by professionals. They are not pets, and do not fulfill the dual role of guard/companion.

Training a dog to be aggressive outside of those handled professionally is sheer stupidity beyond the bounds of belief.

Get a good solid breed from a reputable breeder, treat it with affection, and love, socialize it properly, and it will love you back. If you are being seriously attacked, the dog will know. Most likely he/she will come to your aid in no uncertain terms.

My dogs are very safe and friendly. Still, when a strange car pulls into the driveway, they quite obviously place themselves betweeen my wife, and the visitor. The implications are clear but nonthreatening.

No, “breeds” shouldn’t be banned. Agressive dogs might need to be euthanized, but that has to be done on a dog by dog basis. And criminal charges for owners of aggressive dogs should be considered.

99% of all dogs of all breeds will be fine IF they are socialized properly. Now, there are some dogs that are just crazy from birth, those dogs must unfortuneately be euthanized. I say unfortunately because the dog is not at fault, it has simply been born at the wrong place in the wrong time. Anyway, even pit bulls can be good pets, PROVIDED the owner doesn’t raise it to be an attack dog. ANY dog is dangerous if it has been trained to be aggressive, even a toy poodle.

The answer is to euthanize untrainably aggressive dogs, not entire breeds, since there is no such thing as an untrainably aggressive breed. Individual dogs, yes, breeds no. And even the most vicious adult dog probably could have been saved by humane treatment and training as a puppy.

We have a chow/husky mix. Both breeds are known for aggression. But our dog is not aggressive because we’ve trained her since she was a puppy that aggression is not tolerated. And we know that we have to continually dominate her, and never let her forget who is in charge.

It makes no sense to ban entire breeds because each dog is an individual, with an individual temperment and individual training.

I think the point is that an aggressive dog could cause someone ELSE a bunch of money for Dr. bills, as well as lots of heartach and pain. No one wants to actually take the friendly family pet away.

I think there should be more stringent animal control laws. Dog fights and animals bred specifically to be aggressive should not be allowed. It’s unfair to neighborhoods and the animal itself. I can’t imagine that any dog valued for it’s aggression is very well taken care of and loved the way a pet should be. The problem is that if you took an animal like this away from someone, they’d go right out and get another one just like it without hesitation. Puppy mills seem to be the logical place to start controlling the situation.

Amen, Scylla!

There is a world of difference between a “guard” dog and a “watch” dog. Guard dogs are not pets, and owners who don’t understand this will either have a tragedy in the home, or in the neighborhood.

It is my understanding that Chows and Dalmations are notorious biters, and while they may not be the Great Whites of the dog world, I don’t think they have to be.

Responsible pet ownership begins long before the dog is brought home. Questions potential owners should be asking are-

How much time to I spend at home? At work? Do I have enough time to devote to properly raising and training a dog? An untrained dog is the most dangerous kind, and they cannot train themselves. Dogs represent almost a large a time commitment as a child.

Do I have children? Am I planning on having children in the next 5 years? A puppy may consider an infant or small child a littermate, which means that the puppy may play roughly and nip the baby. This can be a problem, obviously. If you don’t have kids now, are you planning to have any? If so, you must choose a breed that will be well-adjusted with kids and family. In our case, we knew that our dog would eventually have to share his home with our children, and our choice of a Newfoundland was made with our future child’s safety being our highest priority.

Will we have more than one dog? Some breeds are more territorial than others, and don’t do well sharing a living space or family.

Any decent dog owner will have asked and answered these and probably many other questions before introducing a dog into their home. All dogs need some training.

One more thing- if my dog ever bites anyone, we will have to take a long, hard look at the circumstances, because euthanasia will be one of the options. It’s not that I don’t love my dog, because I do with all my heart. But I will not give a tragedy two or three chances to mnaterialize. If I do, then it won’t be the dog’s fault at all- it will be mine.

I think aggressive dog breeds should be banned, as I stated in my thread in June 1999:

Banning “aggressive” breeds does not have the desired effect! All it does is send those who want “macho” dogs out to find another breed to make trendy, and just perpetuates the cycle.

Many breeds have quirks when it omes to aggression.

Take, for Instance, the Portuguese Water Dog. Have a look at and . Awwwww …

Porties are cute, playful, affectionate, gentle around children, and a great family dog, albiet a little bit high maintenance. However, one of the jobs they were bred for was to guard fishing vessels and the daily catch. At night, my PWD is a friendly, fuzzy ball of fun – she doesn’t even bark at the mailman. At night, however, she turns into a different creature. If were out walking, she considers every stranger to be suspect, often barking at them. After a proper introduction, she’s back to her friendly self. (Fortunately, most people don’t feel threatened by a shaggy white dog.) Many other PWD owners report the same thing – friendly during the day, a regular guard dog at night.

American Cocker Spaniels are supposedly the worst biters (I don’t have a cite, but it’s somewhere online. The breed was popular in the '60s, and they were bred indiscriminately by puppy mills to meet the demand. Now, some 30 years later, we still see the evidence of the Cocker boom – lots of yippy, ill-tempered dogs bred by well-intentioned but ill-informed “backyard breeders.”

IMHO, aggressiveness does vary from breed to breed, but the big factor is the owner. Serious Amstaff breeders work to produce well-behaved dogs – my fuzzy Portie has played with a number of them, and she always held her own. However, the breed is popular among certain subcultures that see them as a “tough” status symbol. Those folks will breed not so much for conformation or a positive temprement but rather meanness. Sadly, the bad backyard breeders in the barrios and ghettos seem to outnumber the good hobby breeders.

{b]Dogsbody** I don’t know if you have any children, but I assume you don’t, because if you did, you look at the guy down the street whose large viscious looking dog runs along the fence or lunges against his chain displaying aggression doesn’t care about the terror he strikes in the heart of a parent who knows full well that large dogs break chains all the time, and escape frequently as well. You Dogsbody as an adult can safely drive by, but children going to the park or school have no choice unless they have a stay at home soccer mom that drives them everywhere.

Sure, pit bulls don’t maul, pit bull owners do. Yeah, like I’ve heard that argument for guns. The problem is that people have rights coming out of the ying yang and any attempt to solve the problem by education can only partially address the problem if at all.

This debate just did not exist 40 years ago. Why, because the Pit Bull and Rotwieller were not popular. If we ban the two breeds, It would be the fastest most effective solution to the problem notwithstanding the probability of some future popular breed years down the road requiring banning as well.

I looked at the site. It certainly reflects your position dogsbody and the facts are not in dispute, however I do not agree with the conclusions regarding the viability of banning breeds.

While I certainly agree that you can’t believe everthing you read in a newspaper, I do not believe I am misinformed when I see the report of a mauling on the front page. A debate ensues everytime and then dies out. Your site even suggests that Pit Bulls top the list at 57 homocides compared to 17 for Rotweillers running second.

I am a dog lover, own two of them, daschunds,but if it was a neccessary compromise to ban all breeds to solve the dog mauling problem we have today then I would accept having to give them up.

According to Scylla, Pit Bulls have a genetic defect that cause their jaws to lock when biting someone. This can be pretty damaging to the person at the other end. Seeing as how this is a genetic defect, banning it would have the desired effect of not having this undesirable trait around. So I don’t see the problem.

I agree, any large dog can be trained to maul. So we must be careful and ask if a certain breed is by nature more agressive before passing any restrictions.

The other problem is defining which dogs fall into which breed. What, exactly, makes a dog a “pit bull”? Are pit bulls any short-haired, large headed, stocky, muscular, aggressive dog? What if I get a long-haired dog exactly like it? You can’t ban breeds because breeds, strictly speaking, don’t really exist.

It would come down to “Your dog looks like a Rottweiler, so it’s a Rottweiler”. Well, with Rottweilers that might work, but pit bulls are not purebred dogs. “Pit Bull” is really a descriptive term. And you can have Rottweilers that don’t “look like” Rottweilers by simply giving them a different coat color. And if my dog is half Rottweiler or half “Pit Bull”, what then? Is any dog with any amount of the banned breed also banned? How can I prove that my dog doesn’t have the offending lineage? Or how could the cops prove that my dog is a pit bull? Because it looks like a pit bull?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to go by temperment rather than looks? The only way to do this is ban individual dogs or perhaps individual traits.