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« Weekly Roundup -- Week ending 3/25/12 | Main | Four year old Victoria County, TX boy dies from dog attack »

March 28, 2012

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Kim Wolf

I emailed the reporter to ask how they got the data. It's from 950,000 vet records to which Vetstreet has access. Issues with breed ID aside, 950,000 dogs represents less than 2% of the total canine population of 78+ million living in the USA as of 2011. So while it's nice to see that American Pit Bull Terriers (which they consider to be the same breed as American Staffordshire Terriers) are well represented here, I'm not confident in these numbers at all. Plus, they only looked at people who take their pets to vet offices, which as we know does not include a substantial portion of pet owners. It's not that I don't want to see "strength in numbers" when it comes to pit bull ownership (however we're defining "pit bull"), but if we're going to cry foul on "dog bite statistics" studies that use flawed or incomplete data, then we can't have it both ways and use these figures either.

Central Ohio Dog Blog

Despite having taken up their cause, I actually don't have a huge affinity for the pit bull dog "breed" amongst other dog breeds. I prefer shepherding breeds for my own pets. What compels me to write about them is my love of dogs in general, and their sheer numbers. I feel like if I'm going to be any kind of self-respecting dog advocate, then I need to defend all dogs, and pit bulls make up a disproportionate portion of dogs in general, and shelter/rescue dogs in particular.

From my perspective, if you care about dogs, you HAVE to care about pit bulls.

Central Ohio Dog Blog

Kim, that's interesting. I actually think that 2% is a pretty huge sample size, but I'd have to have a refresher in statistics to see whether it could be considered representative, all other things being equal.

I also think that if it's skewed towards more representation of responsibly-owned (vetted) dogs, that if anything, pit bulls may be underrepresented in this sample. I base this only on the widely-asserted notion that pit bulls, on average, have less-attentive/responsible owners than other breeds.

Brent

Kim, as with what Central Ohio posted, I don't expect anyone to have a complete inventory list of the breed of every owned dog in the country -- but what the number has to represent is a) a representative sample size and b) a representative sample.

So other statistical information on dog breed popularity based on, say, AKC numbers, would not be a statistically representative sample because AKC dogs are not representative of the dog population as a whole (nor do they even classify APBTs).

Meanwhile, things like dog bite data that is out there is based almost entirely upon media reports. Well, we can find examples everywhere of the media over-reporting dog bite information based on the type of dog involved -- and thus, the data is not only a small snapshot, but also statistically a non-representative sample.

I agree with CODB that if anything the data sounds like it would be skewed toward vetted dogs, vs non vetted, and thus, the assumption that APBTs being under-represented would likely be somewhat valid.

Jennifer Brighton

My question is: does "American Pit Bull Terrier" include dogs like mine that are shelter mixes thought to be pit bulls, i.e., do the statistics count my pit-pointer as a pit bull or a pointer or both?

Thank you CODB for realizing that all dogs need advocates. On the flip side, from what I've seen with herding breeds in my dogs' agility classes, I'll stick to the pit bull types. Those herders are challenging to say the least! They wear me out just watching their energy.

Brent

Jennifer -- I'm going to try to get some clarification on how these were classified.

A Facebook User

This makes plenty of sense. It's been obvious for years that there are a lot more pits and pit mixes than anyone knew, but everyone was going off the AKC records... but they don't recognize pits as a breed, only the AmStaffs. Once the actual numbers are in, divided into the actual incidents of aggression, then that blows the whole "vicious" argument out the door. There needs to be a balanced conversation out there regarding actual incidents, and what it means to be a responsible pet owner. But, the hysteria has outpaced the reality, and it is going to take many years to change the damage that has been done to these dogs.

Selma

Vet records don't mean Jack.

Now I understand why the APBT is not number one on the list, since according to one of the two registries for the purebreds in a private communication from 2006, they were registering 50% more American Pit Bull terriers than Labrador retrievers, the next most popular breed in the US. Actual numbers were roughly 95,000 Labs vs 130,000 APBTs annually.

APBTs are registered by the ADBA and the UKC. AmStaffs are registered by AKC and are way down in popularity, around number 60. They used to cross-register but don't anymore from the AKC side, not sure about the APBT registries, ie, if they register AKC AmStaffs. That breed parted ways with the APBT in the 1930s.

Vets just record what the owner tells them. They won't be verifying purebred status. People often believe they own a breed when they have a mongrel, or are told a dog is a such-and-such when they adopt the dog from a shelter/rescue.

So, while it is likely fair to say that "pit bulls" in the generic sense are extremely popular, expecially when we include lookalike breeds, unless they got the info from actual registries, it doesn't mean much when you are talking about an actual breed of dog.

steve

being from Rhode Island myself I can say I know of a few people who own pitbulls.As to where they found out Rhode Island is number 1 I have no Idea.
http://www.empowernetwork.com/stevepost/blog/a-career-training-dogs/

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