‘In the 70s they blamed Dobermans. In the 80s they blamed German Shepherds. In the 90s they blamed the Rottweiler. Now they blame the Pit Bull. When will they blame the humans?’ (Cesar Millan).
How much of this is true? Are some breeds of dog naturally more dangerous than others, or is it just media hype?
There are certain breeds that are illegal to own, breed and sell in the UK. These are:
Pit Bull Terrier
It’s not, however, illegal in all cases to own the breeds above. You may, for instance, have bought or been given a puppy that grows into one of these so-called dangerous breeds. You can keep the dog if you can demonstrate that the dog is well-socialised, it attends assessment training with the Met Police‘s Status Dogs Unit and wears a muzzle in public.
Of course, some breeds of dog are more dangerous than others purely because they have stronger jaws, larger teeth etc., but all dogs can be trained to be used as a weapon. It’s not just training that could make a dog violent, however, as some dogs may have brain abnormalities or they may have behavioural problems because of abuse.
Many vets and behavioural professionals wouldn’t consider the breeds detailed above to be inherently dangerous. Most of it is hype. While I think it’s inadvisable to refer to pit bull terriers as ‘Nanny Dogs’, a lot of information about dangerous dogs is sensationalism and demonisation of certain breeds.
Dogs are often used as status symbols as different breeds have become more fashionable over the years. Poor dogs are getting caught up in ridiculous expectations of masculinity and gang culture. The fact that the Met Police has a Status Dogs Unit shows how prevalent and worrying this problem is.
Perhaps it’s not a bad idea that people should hold a licence before they can get a dog. This was the case up until 1987 and is still the case in Northern Ireland. Licensing could improve general welfare of dogs, reduce stray rates, and generally discourage owners from training their dogs to be violent. I don’t want to go too much into the licensing aspect in this article but here is a link if you want more information on this:
Whatever the facts, what happened in Cardiff was truly tragic, and these sorts of cases are apparently on the rise in the UK. What’s needed is better education and intervention from such programmes as the Met’s Status Dogs Unit, and seeing an end to dogs being used as status symbols.