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Pit Bulls, the All-American Dog


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Pits Bulls are the All-American dog – at least dogs we call them Pits. Of course, in reality, these are mostly dogs of a certain phenotype or a certain ‘look.’ In fact, take any five Golden Retrievers or West Highland White Terriers, and genetically they have much in common – aside from being dogs, moreover they are the same breed.

Take five dogs we call Pit Bulls, and there is far more genetic variation among them. Though they may not be a breed per-se, they are absolutely though – just dogs – the All-American dog. And they are also hugely popular. Since there is no registration to tally, it’s a matter of guess work. Likely, though there about as many or nearly as many pit bull looking dogs in America as there are Labrador Retrievers, the most popular registered American Kennel Club breed.

The problem with there being so many – and due to misconceptions, people who don’t spay/neuter and a host of other reasons – is that there are too many pit bull type dogs. Shelters all over America are filled with them.

As one example, check out these dogs photographed at DeKalb County Animal Services in Decatur, Georgia. The shelter was notorious in the Atlanta area for euthanizing dogs, especially pit bulls. Last year, it was taken over by LifeLine, an animal-rescue organization, which has worked to raise the adoption rate.

Maybe this will help: A position statement soon to be released by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), which I co-authored with veterinary behaviorist Dr. Sagi Denenberg of Ontario, Canada, on breed-specific legislation (BSL).

BSL is legislation that limits what owners of dogs identified (though often misidentified) as pit bulls need to do (such as have increased homeowners insurance, dogs wearing a muzzle in public, etc.), and often municipalities ban breed all together.

Check out the State of the American Dog – as DeKalb County Animal Services rebrands dogs we call pit bulls.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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