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Why breed specific legislation is wrong

Updated on August 15, 2009
alexadry profile image

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Black listed dogs are often more obedient than the average dog

Have you ever thought of banning people of a certain race from your community? Have you ever stereotyped people as being prone to criminal activities because of the color of their skin or their religious affiliations? Hopefully not. Living in the 21st century we should know better. However, this is what is happening to many Pit bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and all the 75 breeds listed as being aggressive. If you own a breed of dog that you consider mellow, take a look at the list, your loyal, sweet and obedient Rover may be listed among them.

What is breed specific legislation?

Breed specific legislation is a discriminating law that targets dog breeds not keeping into account the fact that all dogs are individuals with different personalities and with the potential of being raised into well tempered dogs. Such law hurts responsible dog owners and dogs that have flourished into well tempered and well mannered dogs despite being listed as dangerous.

Why breed specific legislation is wrong

In simple words, it is wrong because indeed it is wrong. It disrespects dogs and the owners that have worked hard in obtaining a well tempered dog.

Owners of presumed ''dangerous dogs'' as a consequence are penalized under various aspects. Perhaps the most relevant and discriminating is human perception. It is annoying to be referred to as the owner of a ''vicious dog'' with people walking on the other side of the street to be'' safe'' while all the dog wants to do is wag its tail, greet and lick people.

One of the biggest ordeals owners of ''aggressive'' dog breeds must go through is obtaining home owner's insurance. It may feel like a slap on the face when the agent bluntly asks you if you own a ''dangerous'' dog. You may feel like saying, certainly no, until he starts reading you the list of banned dog breeds and your mellow dog that has also excelled in obedience training is blacklisted.

The ban on certain dog breeds has also increased the issue of overwhelmingly full shelters. Owners may find themselves in the need to move one day, only to find that their loyal companion is not permitted in the new community they are moving to. It could be that property management has restrictions on dog breeds or whole cities and towns do not allow such breeds.

Breed specific legislation is also misleading. For instance, a prospective dog owner may decide to purchase a ''safe'' dog breed that is not listed as having aggressive traits. He decides to give the dog as a gift to the kids. Because the dog is safe and friendly he decides that no training is needed, he keep the dog in the yard all day and does not walk it. As the dog reaches its adolescent years, his child walks by him as he is eating a bone and bites him in the leg. The owner surprised cannot believe his eyes, how could this happen? His dog was one of the safest!

This is just an example of how owners ultimately shape the dog. Yes, indeed there are some dogs that may be genetically ''wired'' wrong yet this is quite uncommon. Most dogs, regardless of breed are born dogs, some may be more dominant than others, but they are all born dogs not monsters.

It is then thanks to to the guidance and leadership of owners that the dog's personality is shaped. With a good mix of nature and nurture, that is, good genes and good training a great dog is born.

As discouraging as breed specific legislation is, however, there are many ways this discriminating law can be put better into perspective and perhaps one day buried under other old files and forgotten. The key is to be a responsible dog owner that is knowledgeable and educated about the breed of their dog.

Here are some examples on how to become a responsible dog owner:

-Learn the breed

Before adopting a ''dangerous'' breed dog do your research well. Learn what to expect and how the dog may change your lifestyle. Do you have enough time to exercise the dog? Do you have enough space? Do you have time to socialize the dog and take him to obedience classes? Do you know what it takes to be a good leader? Do you know what NILIF stands for?

-Invest in ADT

If you are planning to purchase a blacklisted dog just to have a guard dog that will scare away people from your yard and protect valuables, do yourself a favor and purchase a security system. Dogs intentionally trained to guard become often fence aggressive and are a major liability. Keep your dog as a family dog, well socialized and let ADT do the rest.

-Buy from responsible breeders

BYB in the dog world is not an acronym for be you own boss, rather it stands for back yard breeders. These are breeders whose only interest is to make a profit. They choose any two dogs of opposite sex, with any temperament and they breed them. Once 63 days later the litter is born, they post ads in the newspaper (especially around Christmas) and sell the pups to owners looking for cheap dogs.

Responsible breeders on the other hand breed to improve the breed. They temperament test their breeding specimens and also test them for genetic disorders. They sell only to responsible owners. They interview them and match them with the puppy that better suits their personalities. Their puppies are more costly but they come with a health certificate and most breeders will take a puppy back if it does not seem to fit in well.


Dogs need socialization so they can get used to meeting children, senior citizens, disabled people, people of different races etc. This is a good way for the dog to learn how to behave in different situations and with different people. There is a special grace period during a puppy's development where they require lots of socialization in order to become confident dogs that are well socialized.

-Follow Leash Laws

Often dog attacks occur when owners keep their dog off leash. This could be because owners trust their dogs and give them off leash privileges that they do not deserve. Often owners forget that dogs have inherited prey drive that may kick in upon seeing a child running.

-Keep Dog under Control

Fences should be able to properly contain dogs and leashes should be able to to allow owners to control their dog. It not unknown of a dog that escapes from a fence or a dog that is too powerful and pulls the owner until the leash snaps out of hand.

-Provide Exercise

Pent up energy may cause dogs to become too exuberant and hard to control on the leash once outside. Many people will not think your dog is pulling to greet them or to get rid of some energy, they will think he is going towards them to maul them!

-Have your dog take Classes

Dogs that are obedience trained are easier to control because trainers focus on teaching owners effective methods to control their dog even under stress or under very distracting situations. Owners are also enabled to learn various techniques and methods to gain their leadership role.

-Canine Good Citizen Test

Take your dog's obedience one step further and become an advocate for protecting dogs from discriminating laws by having your dog become a canine good citizen. People will be impressed of how well behaved your dog is and will think twice next time of labeling the whole breed as dangerous.

As seen, there are several ways to educate people about dog breeds and how well tempered they can become when raised and trained the correct way. If more and more owners learn how to handle specific dog breeds perhaps breed specific legislation will be a thing of the past.


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    • emthepalacefan profile image

      Margaret Whymark 

      6 years ago from Norfolk

      Do any of us know what the illusive Colorado dog would be hard to recognise as cannot find anything on this dog yet it is on the list

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      9 years ago from USA

      Thank you, owning 2 well behaved Rotties I really felt motivated in writing this one.

    • Eternal Evolution profile image

      Eternal Evolution 

      9 years ago from kentucky

      wonderful hub. It's always great to see others speaking out against BSL.

    • billips profile image


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      I agree - the breeds aren't the problem - the owners are - B.

    • Lucey Knight profile image

      Lucey Knight 

      9 years ago from North Richland Hills, Texas

      Very informative hub. My Rottweiler was the best dog we ever owned.


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