Can you imagine looking at someone and judging their entire personality just by how they look? It may be unfair, but some dog breeds experience that prejudice every single day.
Breed Specific Legislation (more commonly known as BSL) encompasses laws pertaining to certain breeds based on someone’s prejudgment of how that breed will behave. BSL has broken up families and the laws have sent an untold number of good dogs to kill shelters.
The ASPCA and other animal welfare organizations strongly oppose breed bans, saying there are no studies that prove the bans reduce the number of dog bites. “Breed bans have proven costly, are difficult to enforce, and do nothing more than force owners to give up beloved family pets,” says Debora Bresch, Esq., senior legislative director for the ASPCA. “The ASPCA supports breed-neutral laws that focus on behavior instead of breed, and we encourage communities to enact laws that will enable animal control resources to be used more efficiently and allow responsible dog owners to keep their family pets.”
BSL laws are common across the United States and they’re prevalent in other countries. And even if there aren’t statewide bans on breeds, many municipalities enforce breed and viscous dog laws. For example, Ohio repealed its state breed ban on Pit Bulls in 2012, but several Ohio cities and municipalities, including Canfield, Elmwood Place and Plymouth still have bans on Pit Bull breeds. Many municipalities across the country are progressing beyond breed bans and replacing them with dangerous dog ordinances, which judge each dog as an individual. Many small cities have recently repealed BSL including Bonner Springs, Kans. Its neighbor Kansas City, Kans., recently voted to keep its over two-decade ban in place.
It’s important to note that while many breed bans in U.S. cities focus solely on pit bull type dogs, others have “vicious dog” restrictions that include breeds the city deems as dangerous.
Here are a few of the most recognizable breeds that are victims of BSL.
Once an immensely popular breed, Doberman Pinschers have been the victims of breed discriminatory laws for decades. Dobermans are banned in several smaller cities, as well as public housing in New York. Internationally, the breed is banned in Ireland.
The Doberman Pinscher is a large bodied dog with a compact, lean and muscular build. It has long legs, a deep chest and a high tucked abdomen. Its head is long with ears that naturally fold over.
The Doberman Pinscher loves to play with its human family and is very loyal. It also makes for a great watchdog.
There is possibly no other dog that is more maligned currently than what is known as the Pit Bull (which is actually a combination of several terrier type dogs). Pit Bull bans can be found from coast to coast in large cities such as Denver, Colo. and in Miami-Dade Counties in Fla. to smaller towns such as Flippin, Ark. U.S. military housing and HUD housing also forbids pit bulls. Internationally, pit bulls are banned in the U.K, Australia, Ireland, Spain and Canada.
Easily identified by their stocky bodies and strong, powerful heads, pit bulls are descendants of ancient Bulldogs used in England for bull baiting and a game terrier breed.
They are also known for their intelligence, courageousness and obedience. They were once referred to as the “nanny dog” for their good natured ability to play and interact with children, as well as their loyalty. Famous pit bulls include Petey from the “Our Gang” series, the dogs used by the American military as a symbol of patriotism during World War I, Sergeant Stubby from WWI and more recently, Champion from the television show, “Parks and Recreation.”
Like the Doberman before it, Rottweilers earned a bad reputation when people started mass breeding. Rottweilers were also known—before Pit Bulls—as the guard dog for many people who engage in illegal activities, such as drugs. Many insurance companies include the breed on its list of banned dogs and the breed is even banned in Ireland.
The Rottweiler is a powerful dog with a large build. Its head is “blocky” with a wide forehead and drop ears. The breed also has distinctive tan eye brows over its amber gold eyes.
Rottweilers are very active dogs and very loyal to their families, which also make them excellent guard dogs.
It’s hard to believe that the loveable, loyal Rin Tin Tin would be banned from anywhere, but several smaller U.S. towns and cities ban the breed, which is used extensively by the military and police. Internationally, German Shepherds are banned in Ireland.
The German shepherd has a long lean body, which gives the dog its strength, agility, and elegant strides. German shepherds are usually tan and black, or red and black in color. Other rarer color variations include all-black, all-white, liver and blue.
The breed is known for its high intelligence, loyalty to its family and guard dog abilities.
A truly ancient breed thought to have originated in China around 300 B.C., Chow Chows were used as hunting and guard dogs. They are banned in many cities that have vicious dog bans in place, as well as military housing.
The Chow Chow is a medium sized dog with a very large head and round large muzzle. The ears are erect and the tail is bushy and curls over the back. The eyes are small and deeply set into the face, giving them poor vision. The mouth and tongue is bluish black.
The Chow Chow is known to be loyal to their families, especially one member of a family.
Other Banned Dog Breeds
Other dogs commonly banned in places include: Bull Mastiff, Great Dane, Japanese Akita, Japanese Tosa, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky and Cane Corso.
Chewy encourages everyone to be responsible dog parents by making sure your dog is trained and always kept under your control.
Feature image: Iagology via Flickr
Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is a freelance journalist and author who lives in a tiny house with her 5 dogs and husband.