Peer Reviewed Scientific Studies on Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL)

Not a single peer-reviewed scientific study has shown BSL to be effective in improving public safety or decreasing dog bites or dog bite fatalities. 

About Underlying Cause of Death, 1999-2018“. There is an average of 31 fatalities in the U.S. due to dog bite related fatalities (DBRF). Scientific studies determined most common causes of fatal dog attacks are preventable factors related to irresponsible ownership, abuse and/or neglect. Contrary to unreliable information about breed-specific risk, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and multiple peer-reviewed studies concluded a dog’s breed does not determine aggression, bite strength, or risk. This study rejects BSL based on Dog Bite Related Fatalities.

Animal control measures and their relationship to the reported incidence of dog bites in urban Canadian municipalities2013. Study assessed differences in dog bite-related incidents between Canadian municipalities with and without Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). The data provided no evidence of lower dog bite incidence in municipalities with breed-specific legislation. This study rejects BSL based on legislative effectiveness.

Bite Forces and Their Measurement in Dogs and Cats” 2018. Debunking myths. A dog’s physical characteristics related to size and weight are the primary factors that affect its bite force, breed was not an identified factor affecting bite force. This study rejects BSL based on general misconceptions of bite strength in certain breeds or types of dogs.

Breed-specific legislation and the pit bull terrier: Are the laws justified?2006. The APBT is well down the lists of absolute number of attacks by breed, and the case that it is an especially dangerous dog is not established.  It is questionable whether laws to extirpate a breed can be justified. This study rejects BSL based on amount of dog bites, breed misidentification and DNA.

Co-occurrence of potentially preventable factors in 256 dog bite-related fatalities in the United States (2000-2009). Most Dog Bite Related Fatalities were characterized by coincident, preventable factors; breed was not one of these.  Study results supported previous recommendations for multifactorial approaches, instead of single-factor solutions such as breed-specific legislation. This study rejects BSL based on breed risk.

Cranial dimensions and forces of biting in the domestic dog2009. Debunking myths. A dog’s overall size is the primary significant factor that affects its bite force. Breed was not an identified factor affecting bite force. Study concluded: “Force of biting in domestic canids is strongly related to size”. This study rejects BSL based on misinformation on a breeds bite strength.

Defaming Rover: Error-Based Latent Rhetoric in the Medical Literature on Dog Bites2017. In many medical studies analyzed, there were: “​clear-cut factual errors, misinterpretations, omissions, emotionally loaded language, and exaggerations based on misunderstood or inaccurate statistics. In many of the medical studies analyzed, a due-diligence effort was not performed to accurately and/or scientifically identify the breed(s) involved in the bite incidents. This study rejects BSL based and on inadequate breed information and misidentification.

Dog bite injuries to humans and the use of breed-specific legislation: a comparison of bites from legislated and non-legislated dog breeds” 2017. “There is no difference (in the medical treatment required following a bite or in the type of bite inflicted) between dog bites by breeds stereotyped as dangerous”. This study rejects BSL based on perceived bite severity on breed of dog.

Dog bites in The Netherlands: A study of victims, injuries, circumstances and aggressors to support evaluation of breed specific legislation2010. “Dog bite incidents are the result of a complex set of factors including dog ownership factors, circumstantial factors, and other factors. Most importantly, the results of breed risk calculations did not match with the breeds legislated by the enacted breed-specific legislation”. This study rejects BSL based on legislative ineffectiveness.

Fatal dog attacks in Spain under a breed-specific legislation: A ten-year retrospective study” 2018. Dog bite-related fatalities (DBRFs) are the result of a number of different factors and breed-specific legislation was ineffective for reducing DBRFs. “The implementation of breed-specific legislation in Spain does not seem to have produced a reduction in dog bite–related fatalities over the last decade”. The study recommends a multidisciplinary, behavior-based approach. This study rejects BSL based on a lack of legislative effectiveness.

Human directed aggression in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris): Occurrence in different contexts and risk factors2014. The study found aggression is strongly linked to an individual dog’s experience and/or environment and aggression is not a trait that can be associated with any specific breed. “It would be inappropriate to make assumptions about an individual animal’s risk of aggression to people based on characteristics such as breed.” This study rejects BSL based on false assumptions of breed’s aggression tendencies.

Human hospitalizations due to dog bites in Ireland (1998–2013): Implications for current breed specific legislation“. 2013 . “Breed-specific legislation has not been effective in Ireland and serious dog bite incidents significantly increased when breed-specific legislation was enacted”. Present legislation is not effective as a dog bite mitigation strategy in Ireland and may be contributing to a rise in hospitalizations. This study rejects BSL based on a lack of legislative effectiveness.

Inconsistent identification of pit bull-type dogs by shelter staff” 2015.  Lack of consistency among shelter staff indicated visual identification of pit bull-type dogs was unreliable. “Since injuries from dogs have not decreased following bans on particular breeds, public safety is better served by focusing on recognition and mitigation of risk factors for dog bites”. This study rejects BSL based on the inability of shelter workers to correctly determine breed identification.

Is there a difference? Comparison of Golden Retrievers and dogs affected by breed-specific legislation regarding aggressive behavior” 2008. Comparing the results of a large group of golden retrievers and breeds affected by BSL, no significant difference in aggression was found. “A scientific basis for breed specific legislation does not exist”. This study rejects BSL based on a false assumption of a breed’s aggression. -and-bslbreeds.pdf

Italian breed-specific legislation on potentially dangerous dogs (2003): assessment of its effects in the city of Florence (Italy)” 2015. “These findings suggest that restrictive legislative measures regarding potentially dangerous dogs are not effective for the control of canine aggression towards people”. This study rejects BSL based on a lack of legislative effectiveness.

The effect of breed-specific dog legislation on hospital treated dog bites in Odense, Denmark – A time series intervention study – December 26, 2018. Study supports previous studies showing breed-specific legislation (BSL) had no effect on dog bite-related injuries and specifically concludes breed-neutral regulations should be used to reduce dog bite-related incidents. This study rejects BSL based on a lack of legislative effectiveness. The effect of breed-specific dog legislation on hospital treated dog bites in Odense, Denmark—A time series intervention study – December 26, 2018 .