What Are Breed-discriminatory Laws (BDL)?

Bad for Dogs, Bad for Communities

Breed-Discriminatory Laws (BDL) are:

  • Laws that prohibit or restrict dogs based on their supposed breed.
  • Today, most BDL often targets “pit bull terriers.”
    • But “pit bull terrier” isn’t a recognized dog breed, it’s just a term used to describe dogs that look a certain way, regardless of actual breed.
    • Multiple studies on dog bites have found that pit bull terriers are no more aggressive than other types of dogs.[1],[2]

What’s wrong with BDL?

  • BDL simply doesn’t work. Experts and studies have proven that BDL doesn’t make communities safer and wastes taxpayer dollars.
    • A comprehensive review of studies by the American Veterinary Medical Association concluded BDL didn’t reduce dog bites.[3]
    • BDL in Prince George’s County, Maryland has failed to reduce dog bites and costs the county tens of thousands of dollars annually.[4]
    • BDL has failed in the United States, Spain, and the U.K.[5],[6]
    • There are no studies finding that BDL does work.

What Should Communities do instead?

  • Breed-neutral, responsible pet ownership laws are the only effective way to reduce dog bites and make communities safer. These laws focus on the owner, not a dog’s physical appearance.

BDL Opponents:

  • Virtually all animal protection groups oppose BDL.
  • But it’s not just about concern for pit bull terriers, non-animal welfare groups also oppose BDL including the American Bar Association, the Center for Disease Control, and the Obama Administration.

“There is no evidence that breed-specific bans reduce the rate or severity of bite injuries.”[7]

– The American Veterinary Medical Association



[1] Duffy D, Yuying H, Serpell J. Breed differences in canine aggression. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2008: 114 3: 441-460

[2] Ott, S.A., Schalke, E., von Gaertner A., Hackbarth, H., & Mittmann, A. (2008). Is there a difference? Comparison of golden retrievers and dogs affected by breed-specific legislation regarding aggressive behavior. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 3(3): 134-140.

[3] American Veterinary Medical Association: Animal Welfare Division. (2015). Dog Bite Risk and Prevention: The Role of Breed.

[4] Vicious Animal Legislation Task Force, REPORT OF THE VICIOUS ANIMAL LEGISLATION TASK FORCE 2 (2003) (Presented to Prince George’s County Council, July 2003)

[5] B. Rosado et al., Spanish: Dangerous Animals Act: Effect of the Epidemiology of Dog Bites, 2(5)JOURNAL OF VETERINARY BEHAVIOR 166-74 (2007).

[6] B. Klaassen, J.R. Buckley & A. Esmail, Does the Dangerous Dog Act Protect Against Animal Attacks: A Prospective Study of Mammalian Bites in the Accident and Emergency Department, 27(2) INJURY 89-91 (1996)

[7] American Veterinary Medical Association: Animal Welfare Division. (2015). Dog Bite Risk and Prevention: The Role of Breed.




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