The Associated Press
“Everything is telling us these animals are safe if you raise them right,” said Jeff Borchardt, an East Troy, Wis., man whose 14-month-old son was mauled to death a year ago by two pit bulls that tore the child from the arms of their owner, who was baby-sitting. “My son’s dead because of a lie, because of a myth. My life will never be the same.”
The two dogs that killed Borchardt’s son had lived with their owner since soon after they were born, were well-cared for and had no history of aggressive behavior, he said. Both had been spayed or neutered.
That contradicts the contention that only mistreated, neglected or abused pit bulls attack people.
Colleen Lynn, founder of DogsBite.org, pointed to a friend-of-the-court brief her organization submitted in a 2012 case in which the Maryland Court of Appeals declared pit bulls “inherently dangerous.”
“Appellate courts agree with us. Doctors and surgeons agree with us. That is credibility right there,” Lynn said. “We also have the support of three divisions of the U.S. military, huge, massive bodies in the U.S. government.”
The Marines, Army and Air Force all have banned dangerous dogs — including pit bulls and rottweilers — from their bases because of the “unreasonable risk” they pose to safety, Lynn said.
On the other side stand the American Bar Association and National Animal Control Association, which oppose breed-specific laws because they are discriminatory against a type of dog that isn’t really a single breed.
Three main breeds — Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier and American Staffordshire terrier — along with mixes of those breeds are generally considered pit bulls. But many muscular, square-jawed, boxer-type dogs often are misidentified as pit bulls, making breed-specific bans hard to enforce.
“There’s no such breed as a pit bull.” “Pit bulls aren’t a breed; they are just a ‘type’ of dog.”
The term “pit bull” in lower-case letters refers to three closely-related breeds. The original breed was the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a dog bred for pit fighting in the 18th and 19th centuries in the UK. After importation to the U.S. in the late 19th century, they continued to be used for fighting, but were bred to be taller and heavier. These larger cousins were then registered in the UKC as “American Pit Bull Terriers” (1898) and in the AKC as the “American Staffordshire Terrier” (1936). Note that these are identical breeds under two different names, and many individuals hold conformation championships in both registries. In addition, some of the original, smaller dogs were reimported from the UK and were recognized in the AKC as the original “Staffordshire Bull Terriers” (1935).
A recent ASPCA study revealed that 93% of shelter workers were able to properly identify a “pit bull,” meaning one of the three closely-related (or identical) breeds above (click here to see the study).
The American Pit Bull Terrier is actually one of the purest and oldest of registered breeds. The second-largest national kennel club in the world, the UKC, was originally founded in 1898 for the express purpose of registering fighting pit bulls. For approximately the first 50 years, a pit bull not only had to be purebred, but had to win 3 dog fights in order to be registered with the UKC. Today, these dogs’ descendants compete to win prizes in conformation, weight pull, and other sports. Thousands have earned the title of UKC Conformation Champion.
Verdict: The three “pit bull” breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, are just as purebred as St. Bernards, Schnauzers or Dalmatians.
*The Staffordshire Bull Terrier originates from the region of Staffordshire, England in the 19th century and is genetically related to the Mastiff and the Bull Terrier. When bear- and bull-baiting were banned, people who’d made a living off that bloodsport started mixing the Elizabethan bear-baiting, bull-baiting mastiff type ‘Bulldogs’ with terriers to reduce their size. The goal was to get a smaller, more agile dog that would be fit for dogfighting instead of attacking larger animals. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a local version of the various fighting dogs that resulted, originating in the coal mining areas of Staffordshire, England. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, like all breeds, retains the traits its forebears were bred for – in this case, the trait referred to as “gameness”. “Gameness” is an eagerness to engage in fighting activities and willingness to continue despite injury or pain to the attacking dog. Originally no more than 16” at the shoulder, these Mastiff / ‘molosser’ descendants were classified as terriers by the British Kennel Club in 1935, partly to disguise their fighting history. The breed wasn’t recognized by the AKC until 1975. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is nowadays often much larger, thus losing the main difference that distinguished them from the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. The Staffordshire is a Pit Bull type breed.
*The American Pit Bull Terrier is, like all the ‘bully’ breeds, one of this group of descendants of the British ‘bull and terrier’ type fighting bulldogs. Once imported into the United States, it was bred up to be bigger again, and again used in baiting animals and in dogfighting. The American Kennel Club (founded 1884) was unwilling to register these fighting dogs, so in 1898 the United Kennel Club was founded specifically to register working pit-fighting dogs and to promote dogfighting. In order to be registered, a dog had to first win three pit fights7,8,9. The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) became a ‘breed’. As dogfighting declined in popularity in the 1930s and 1940s, Colby (the most famous and prolific breeder of these dogs) began to search for a new market and began promoting the APBT as family pets10,11. This despite the fact that his breeding lines included child killers12.
*The American Staffordshire Terrier is in fact the same dog as an American Pit Bull Terrier, but registered by a different kennel club. At the turn of the 20th century, the pit bull breeders wanted the respectability of AKC recognition, but the AKC was reluctant to register fighting dogs. The AKC finally recognized the American Pit Bull Terrier in 1936 after decades of lobbying by pit bull breeders. John P. Colby’s champion fighter, American Pit Bull Terrier ‘Primo’, formed the basis for the breed standard of the ‘new‘ AKC breed – but the AKC wasn’t willing to have the word ‘pit bull’ in the ‘ new’ breed’s name. The ‘new’ pit bull breed was dubbed ‘the Staffordshire Terrier’ in order to hide its relation to the pit bull and its origins and history in the fighting pit. The breed’s name was changed again to American Staffordshire Terrier in 1972, to distinguish the larger American version from the smaller English version (which kept the name ‘Staffordshire Bull Terrier’)1,2. In 1972, the breed register was also re-opened for a time to allow people to register their UKC registered pit bull as an American Staffordshire Terrier if they regretted not having done so earlier.
Because of their shared ancestry, history, function and genetics, we refer you further to our page about the American Pit Bull Terrier, since the information you need to have is identical.
LIST LINKS to:
1. Stregowski, J, American Staffordshire Terrier athttp://dogs.about.com/od/dogbreedprofiles/p/American-Staffordshire-Terrier.htm (accessed March 2014)
2. Jessup, D, History of the Pit Bull at http://www.workingpitbull.com/history.htm (accessed March 2014)
This is a list of dog breeds that have a history of being potentially dangerous to people, especially children. Daxton’s Friends for Canine Education and Awareness understands that any dog has the ability to bite or inflict serious harm to humans. This list consists of several dog breeds that have a higher than average number of recorded human fatalities. Please use extreme caution if you choose to bring one of these breeds into your home. Rental communities and homeowners insurance may restrict many of the dog breeds on this list due to the likelihood of a serious incident.
Pit Bulls, Mastiff, and Rottweiler lead in fatalities and are listed first. The rest of the breeds are listed in alphabetical order:
Pit Bull Terrier Family
- American Bulldog
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- English/Standard Bull Terrier
- Miniature Bull Terrier
- Olde English Bulldog
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Cane Corso/Italian Mastiff
- Dogo Argentino
- English Mastiff
- Fila Brasileiro
- Dogue de Bordeaux/French Mastiff
- Great Dane/German Mastiff
- Presa Canario
- St. Bernard/Alpine Mastiff