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What is Breed Specific Legislation? Will it Stop all Pit Bull Dog Attacks?

Updated on September 8, 2012
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BSL - Breed Specific Legislation

Breed Specific Legislation, or BSL, is essentially any law, ordinance, or policy that pertains to at least one, if not more, dog breeds. These laws do not affect any dog breed except those listed in the ordinance. You will find that each ordinance will vary per location and state or county officials. For example, there may be different counties within one state that have different Breed Specific Legislations in place, but they may include different dog breeds- one may include Siberian Huskies and German Shepherd Dogs but the other may not.

BSL restricts owning and breeding whatever dog breed is included in the ordinance.

In many legislations involving breed bans, you'll find a grandfather clause listed in fine print at the very bottom. The grandfather clause typically says that if you have had your dog for a specified period prior to the legislation being passed, you can keep the dog, but you must abide by various restrictions. Some of the common restrictions include:

  • Muzzle the dog when in public and have the dog on a leash of specific length and material.
  • Spay/neuter the dog.
  • Contain the dog in an outdoor kennel with specific requirements, usually 6' chain link walls with a lid and concrete floor.
  • Place a 'vicious dog' sign outside of your house somewhere, typically on the fence.
  • Put a 'vicious dog' tag on the dog's collar.

Also, remember that if your dog looks like a breed on the BSL list for that area, you may lose him, unless you move or find a home for him outside the BSL limits because there is no way to PROVE that your dog is or isn't a particular breed. (I have seen this happen first hand where a purebred white boxer was taken from its owner because the law enforcement claimed there was no such thing as a white boxer, so he must be a pitbull.)

Do You Believe Breed Specific Legislation is the Answer?

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Will BSL Work to Stop Dog Bites and Attacks?


If you look at the dog bite statistics for countries and areas who have implemented Breed Bans, you will see that their dog bites will relatively stay the same. Check out these examples:

  • The Netherlands have had a ban on pit bulls for the past 15 years, but as of June 2008 their dog bite statistics are still rising.
  • The United Kingdom's Dangerous Dog Act bans pit bulls, 3 other "dangerous breeds," and crosses of those breeds, yet between 1997 and 2007, the dog bites have increased by 50%.
  • Aragon, Spain implemented their Dangerous Animals Act in 2000, and have not seen any change in dog bites.
  • Prince George‚Äôs County, MD, instituted a ban on pit bulls in 1996, and in 2003 the study performed by local task force found that dog bites have decreased among ALL dog breeds, and the ban has not had any significant change for public safety.
  • Denver, CO, has had a pit bull ban since 1989, but they are inconclusive as to whether it has helped, as although pit bull bites have decreased, other breeds have had caused problems. And, in general all dog breeds have had a decline in dog bites.
  • Aurora, CO, implemented a band in 2006, yet they have seen that the annual bites and attacks, overall have either stayed the same or increased. They actually found that in 2006, 90% of the severe dog bites were committed by non-restricted breeds.

Dog Abuse *Graphic*

American Pit Bulls and other "bully breed" dogs are the most abused dogs, and yet they are probably some of the most loyal. What do we do? Condemn them because of stupid people, when in fact it is the stupid people causing the dogs the harm. The dogs are the real victims!

Pet Pitbull - Sad reality

Pit Bull Abuse

Problems with BSL

Breed Specific Legislation is not a solution... Here are just some of the many problems associated with BSL.

  • Has not and will not improve public safety from dogs.
  • Has not and will not prevent dog bites or attacks.
  • Ignores the victims and potential victims of non-restricted breeds.
  • Is VERY costly.
  • Requires that each and every dog be identified as a breed, which is near impossible to do accurately unless the entire lineage of the dog is known.
  • Makes the targeted breeds more desirable to criminal owners.
  • Causes some criminal owners to just move to a non-targeted breed or more to an area where BSL is not implemented, both of which can potentially cause more BSL concerns.
  • Doesn't make the irresponsible dog owners accountable for the actions of their dogs.
  • Punishes responsible owners.

There is not one single canine welfare organization who supports Breed Specific Legislation.

And, believe it or not PETA is the main organization fighting to implement BSL everywhere, which is ironic since PETA is pro animal rights.

BSL Alternatives

Since, Breed Specific Legislations and breed bans, in general, haven't worked in the past and don't appear to be working in the present, what else can be done to ensure public safety towards dog bites?

There are several alternatives to breed bans that can potentially draw a greater reduction in dog bites, as well carry fewer drawbacks, because BSL does not focus on the owner of the dog(s).

  • Implement severe dog ownership laws, including ordinances for containment regulations, minimum care, noice nuisance regulations, and overall owner liability.
  • Proper, detailed containment and leash laws preventing un-attended dogs from roaming without supervision, leading to severe penalties to the dog's owner.
  • Preventing dog abuse and dog fighting, with severe penalties to the owner.
  • Education courses for children and adults about dog safety and overall dog care.
  • Low cost or free spay and neuter programs, encouraging people to have their dog altered.
  • Low cost or free dog training and dog behavior help, encouraging people to better understand the importance of basic obedience and dog behaviors.
  • Regulate dog breeders to ensure that puppies start off on the right foot with proper care, socialization, and health, even to the point of having to apply to breed a dog with yearly fees associated. People who breed without a permit, culd be penalized for improper containment or care concerns.
  • Prevent violent, abusive, and plain irresponsible people from being allowed to own dogs.

Before resulting to breed bans, one should fully understand dog bites and dog attacks. > Severe Dog Attacks and Pit Bull- Type Dogs

Dog Breeds Suffering BSL

The following list of dog breeds are those who are a part of some Breed Specific Legislation, somewhere, from some point in time. Just because a dog breed is listed below, it does not necessarily mean that that breed is listed in every single legislation that is made against "dangerous dogs."

Just remember that the more BSL takes over, the more dogs that will be added to the list.

  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Eskimo Dog
  • Estrela Mountain Dog
  • Fila Brasiliero
  • Fox Terrier
  • French Bulldog
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Golden Retriever
  • Greenland Husky
  • Great Dane
  • Great Pyranees
  • Italian Mastiff
  • Kangal Dog
  • Keeshond
  • Komondor
  • Kotezebue Husky
  • Kuvaz
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Leonberger
  • Mastiff
  • Neopolitan Mastiff
  • Newfoundland
  • Otterhound
  • Presa De Canario
  • Presa De Mallorquin
  • Pug
  • Rottweiler
  • Saarloos Wolfhond
  • Saint Bernard
  • Samoyed
  • Scottish Deerhound
  • Siberian Husky
  • Spanish Mastiff IFF
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Timber Shepherd
  • Tosa Inu
  • Tundra Shepherd
  • Wolf Spitz

  • Airedale Terrier
  • Akbash
  • Akita
  • Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Alsatian Shepherd
  • American Bulldog
  • American Husky
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • American Wolfdog
  • Anatolian Shepherd
  • Arikara Dog
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Belgian Sheepdog
  • Belgian Turvuren
  • Blue Heeler
  • Boerbul
  • Borzqoi
  • Boston Terrier
  • Bouvier Des Flandres
  • Boxer
  • Bulldog
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Bull Terrier
  • Cane Corso
  • Catahoula Leopard Dog
  • Caucasian Shepherd
  • Chinese Shar Pei
  • Chow-Chow
  • Colorado Dog
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Dogo De Argentino
  • Dogue De Bordeaux
  • English Mastiffs
  • English Springer Spaniel


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