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BoerboelBoerboel—The Boerboel is a very large mastiff-type dog from South Africa, used to guard farms and hunt large game. Dogue de BordeauxDogue de Bordeaux—This ancient French breed is a large mastiff-bulldog type that was used for hunting and guarding.
In the case of mixed-breed dogs, appearance and characteristics are basically unpredictable and inconsistent. Animal shelters handle a large population of homeless dogs—usually stray dogs with unknown genetic make-up and history—and they must assign a breed label to each dog they take in. Because most dogs do not bring their pedigree (a written family tree) with them when they enter the shelter or animal control system, animal shelter workers assign breed labels upon intake by looking at the dog and guessing its breed or predominant breed. Furthermore, the individuals who perform the breed labeling often do so without any real education or knowledge about the appearance of the 400+ dog breeds that exist. Popular images of pit bulls often pair this type of dog with a similarly frightening owner. Breed-specific legislation (BSL) requires that all dogs be classified as a particular breed or type of dog.
One of the major difficulties with the legal definition is that every dog’s breed or mix must be identified. Though their appearance is somewhat similar to pit bulls and they have similar ancestors, American Bulldogs are not fighting dogs and have minimal (if any) terrier ancestry.
Since the activity began centuries ago, dog fighters have been talking tough about pit bulls. In most texts written by dog fighters, there is a very stereotypically masculine-oriented tone.
It should be noted that the dog fighter’s definition is also the definition from which many legal and social definitions sprout. Furthermore, novice owners tend to receive a great deal of feedback from inexperienced friends and family members who define pit bulls via media horror stories and popular imagery.


A pit bull is a type of dog, just as retrievers, shepherds, and spaniels describe types of dogs.
Show dogs like these are bred to meet a physical standard; they are not bred for performance. Shelters use breed labels for tracking and identification purposes; their clients, who are people seeking their lost dog or looking for a new one, use the breed labels to predict certain traits and thereby narrow their choices.
The process of breed labeling is entirely appearance-based and has nothing to do with a dog’s temperament, behavior, or actual DNA. There is not a dog alive that fits this description, which is based primarily on sensationalism and mythology, not scientific data.
Most dogs do not come with a pedigree, and current DNA-based breed-id tests are expensive and not very accurate. Pit bulls do well in activities like weight pull, but so do many other types of dogs.This is one of many baseless claims made by dog fighters to build up the reputation of the pit bull as a super-tough dog. Consequently, the dog fighter’s definition of a pit bull is more of a stereotype than a reality.
Show dogs of all breeds are removed from the blood sports (fighting, ratting, baiting) of their past by many generations. Dogos have short white fur, though they may have a few small black or brown spots on the fur or skin. Upon intake, dogs are mentally compared against these trait templates and assigned the closest probable breed. A different person saw more Boston Terrier in this dog, and eventually the dogs’ records were changed to Boston Terrier mix. For this reason, the stereotypical pit bull can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as those who are inclined to own a vicious dog are likely to do whatever they can to incite their dog to behave inappropriately. It is important to note that not every fighting dog is a Bull-and-Terrier, and not every Bull-and-Terrier is a fighting dog.


Bull Terriers are Bull-and-Terrier type dogs, but they were never used consistently for dog fighting, so they are not pit bulls. In the heat of a dog fight, handlers had to be very close to their dogs, sometimes with their face just inches from their dog’s face.
Because the term pit bull does not mean the same thing to everyone, a legal definition of pit bull is usually necessary in order to clarify exactly which dogs are affected by the legislation.
Responsibilities and requirements for ownership are the same as with any other type of dog. Individual dogs and mixes whose muzzles are not so foreshortened are easily seen as pit bulls.
The three elements (Bulldog, Terrier, fighting dog) come together only in the pit bull type dog.
The Dogue de Bourdeux might be considered both a Bulldog breed and a fighting breed, but the Dogue de Bourdeux has Mastiff, not Terrier, in its ancestry. Dogs that redirected their aggression toward people were culled (killed), with very few exceptions.
Courts have also cited dog fighters’ exaggerated descriptions of the pit bull as evidence that the dogs are dangerous (see, for example, State of Ohio v. It is generally understood that the pit bull is neither an innocent angel nor a vicious beast; the pit bull is a dog and will behave like a dog.
The modern Bull Terrier, with its mixed heritage and changed appearance, is significantly removed from the bull terrier that was once associated with dog fighting.




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