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Everything is covered here, I believe. There is no solvency. Crycrycry.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 30, 2008 9:28 PM

Once, a pug ate my face. Toys are DEATH.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | June 30, 2008 9:38 PM

Not to pick nit or anything (well, yeah, to pick nit) but some of those confidence intervals overlap a wee bit. I'll agree that this table represents that breed is a factor that matters but It also suggests that the Terrier and Working breed categories ain't so different. The clear winner is being a "real" male (RR 18.6!) followed by being a "real" female. I'd really like to see some bivariate analysis (e.g. gender X breed &etc.)

Posted by umvue | June 30, 2008 9:49 PM


I totally agree. I stick with my big points: Genetics matter. Breeding for bad temper is unwise. Get your dog fixed.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | June 30, 2008 9:53 PM

I think the one fact that breed ban opponents fail to recognize is that pretty much all dog breeds were created by man. If we can create a breed, then we should end a breed if it proves dangerous. I'm so sick of the "it's the owner" argument. There is no way to keep potentially dangerous dogs out of the hands of neglectful owners, so basically what you're saying when you play that card is "deal with it, the dog attacks will never end."

I'm not advocating destroying your beloved pooch (I'm a dog owner too), just stop breeding them (even with bans they will never disappear entirely).

Posted by todd | June 30, 2008 10:04 PM

The problem with pit bulls is that they don't show when they're irritated. They go straight from calm to killing. A regular dog will let you know it's angry before going for the kill. That is a big problem. Especially when you don't know what a pit bull looks like.

Posted by chris | June 30, 2008 10:08 PM

I support the death penalty for dog owners who do not get their dogs neutered. Veterinarians should be subject to losing their license if they treat unneutered dogs without snipping them on the spot.

Posted by Fnarf | June 30, 2008 10:11 PM

I'm with Fnarf. Well, not with with, but... with. But I would totally get with Fnarf, if he'd have me.

Posted by Dan Savage | June 30, 2008 10:21 PM

Oh, I'd have you, Dan. If you were a girl. Girl bits are strictly necessary. And if I wasn't, you know, married. Hmm, that's actually a pretty formidable set of barriers.

But you ARE adorable in your own way, you little minx you.

Posted by Fnarf | June 30, 2008 11:11 PM


Running the risk of commenting on a study I can only access the abstract of at the moment, a pretty fundamental issue with the cohorts is that they appear to be made up of registered dogs only. Given the registration issues here in King County (approximately 1/2 of dogs are properly registered IIRC) and the socioeconomic/class issues referenced in the abstract, there could be a pretty valid argument put forth that the pitbulls are systematically under registered compared to other owners.

Second, I don't see where we go from bite incidence numbers to conclude selection for behavior. Heredity is one factor, but rearing environment and schooling also play a role. We have two greyhounds; if you surveyed most younger greys you would conclude that they had been bred not to climb stairs. Climbing stairs is not a breeding selection, however, but more a byproduct of the environment that most racing greys are reared in. With a couple months of training, they will climb and descend stairs if you are patient. Yes, the jaw structure is selected for and increases the potential for damage - but I don't see the argument that 'working dogs' are bred for aggressive behavior?

Based on the study data as-is, we'd ban unaltered dogs. That would be an interesting policy to champion, and nearly unenforceable for females. I would rather see a different approach for enforcement of existing leash laws than trying to reinvent the wheel on genetics here.

Give people an incentive to turn in the fucktards that let their dogs run off leash in play fields & parks; I'm sure there are many out there that would happily play the role of bounty hunter.

Posted by Steve Leonard | June 30, 2008 11:14 PM

The sexual tension between Savage and Fnarf is, quite probably, the #1 boner-killer of all time.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 30, 2008 11:31 PM

*possibly. Holy living motherfuck shit biscuit mother did the cut. Shit. Fucking liver.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 30, 2008 11:32 PM

When you get to be my age, boner-killing is almost as big a thrill as boner-raising used to be.

Posted by Fnarf | July 1, 2008 12:39 AM

I am not a supporter of "pit bull breeds," but I am a supporter of dogs and the right of people to have and raise canine pets responsibly and lovingly.

Whenever this anti-"pit bull" thing comes up on Slog, it generates a lot of discussion (and hits, which is good for ad revenue I suppose), but it doesn't yield a lot of answers, so this is a static, circular discussion every time.

The focus of the discussion in the postings and commenter discussion doesn't address these things for the conversation to advance:

1. Most people who are anti-"pit bull breeds" seem to be veiled anti-dog people. How can we separate these two issues to come up with a rational discussion to solve the problem?

2. "Pit bulls" are typically mutts, not purebreds. How do you word a statute to ban certain mutts? How do you ban "violent tempers" without subjecting 1.5 million local dogs to socialization and resource-guarding tests?

3. People focus on breeds, when the issue is really **owners.** "Pit bull breed" owners, who tend to be young, lower-income males with a lower education level, will then turn to raising aggressive, badly socialized dogs of other breeds when they can't have "pit bull breeds." The cycle then continues with German shepherds, Doberman pinschers, chows, etc. Addressing this issue requires a sociological approach to handling dog ownership rules, and no one has an effective answer for this.

4. The city and county here do not have "animal cops," so whatever approach is settled on can result inherently cannot be enforced without raising taxes and creating an enforcement body.

5. The rate of nonlicensing of dogs of any breed is fairly high in the city and county, and raising taxes on pet licenses to pay for enforcement will reduce that rate farther. How do we increase licensing to fund dog programs?

I just don't see the Slogging here as contributing much or advancing to a level of rational policy discussion about dogs. So I vow to browse past these posts in the future, and I urge other readers wanting to get out of the pointless static to do the same.

Posted by Simac | July 1, 2008 6:03 AM

Mandatory radio transmitter implantation for all dogs and their owners (encoded with the same serial number). Mandatory sentencing for owners whose dogs bite and injure anybody. Mandatory fines / confiscation of property for non-injurious dog bites. Unregistered loose dogs without an implanted radio transmitter will be assumed to be feral and have rabies and therefore should be captured ASAP.

And the same goes for children.

Posted by snarky | July 1, 2008 6:54 AM

Man, it's a good thing you folks write for blogs and comment on them and not do real science because I can only imagine what the Manhattan Project would have created led by all of you. An atomic cocktail maybe.

Anyhow, the Working Breed matches the deadly and scary Terrier Breed which kind of nukes your Genetic Death Machines theory, since Working Breeds were obviously not bred to be killers, it's axiomatic. A dog bred to work for man has to get along with man not silently kill him. Duh.


Alex, I'll take Nature AND Nurture for 500 please.

Posted by Bob | July 1, 2008 7:13 AM

How about, make the registration fee for un-neutered/spayed dogs much, much higher than for altered dogs. Here in Chicago it's like $5 more.

And then actually enforce registration (of course, this requires more govt. $$, which potentially could come from increased license fees and fines).

As someone who considers herself a responsible dog owner, I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that my dog is currently unregistered. I registered him for the first few years, and since nobody ever enforces it, I just stopped renewing.

Posted by Julie | July 1, 2008 7:19 AM

In response to 14:

1. I currently have two dogs, and I used to be against any sort of breed bans. I also considered it an "owner problem," not a breed problem. But after seeing a "good" owner's pit break another dog's leg (they were just playing), and having had several occasions to fear for my own dogs' safety around pits and shepherds...well, I'm a believer. There's simply too much personal AND professional evidence to ignore anymore.

For ANYONE, good owner, bad owner, a pit bull is a loaded weapon with a hair trigger. It might be an adorable, loving weapon that never goes off, but it's ridiculous to keep taking that chance.

2. That IS a tricky one, though I've noticed that if a dog is visibly "pit-like," it usually exhibits more pit behavior. But yeah, that'll be the tough question.

3. This argument always comes down to someone carefully avoiding coming out and saying "poor black people train vicious dogs." Sociological issue indeed. Either way, mandatory neutering and dog control laws should apply to everyone.

4 & 5. If the city does not have animal cops, then who are the guys who frequently stop by the dog park and prevent everyone from leaving while they check licenses and microchips? The fines they assess for unlicensed dogs are upwards of $150 bucks. What's to say they couldn't be confiscating un-neutered dogs at the same time? (Once it's fixed, the owner can pick it back up).

As for paying more for pet licenses to fund a mandatory neuter program - I would do it in a heartbeat. And I say this because I love my dogs.

The less intact dogs that are out there (and yes, the less pit bulls, shepherds and chows out there, too), the safer my guys are.

Posted by Karla | July 1, 2008 7:27 AM

The whole idea of "banning" something is so conservative America and unimaginative.

Posted by wiseblood | July 1, 2008 7:42 AM

It's sort of like banning a gun. The people who really want them (usually for all the wrong reasons) will find a way to get them.

So I guess what I'm saying is if everyone carried a gun they'd be able to defend themselve's from attacking pit bulls.

Posted by monkey | July 1, 2008 8:10 AM

@19 I know! Aren't laws totally square? Anarchy and rape parties for everyone!

Anyway, banning pit bulls is definitely not "American," since other countries have already done it, and we haven't.

"In Germany the breeding of dangerous dogs has now been completely banned. In Holland a 1992 law demands that all pit bulls must be castrated, in Great Britain there are 17 very strict laws relating to dog ownership and Hungary banned pit bulls four years ago."

Posted by Karla | July 1, 2008 8:10 AM

The AKC Working Group includes rottweilers, dobermans, mastiffs and, uh, the Dogue de Bourdeaux, among others. The Herding group of course includes the German shepherd dog. Not all of these dogs were "bred to be violent." But many are big and impressive to the eye.

Most importantly, the three groups have very similar risk. To single out one breed in one of these groups is silly.

Especially when the elephant in the room is the man-berries. The testosterone factories. Cut off their balls and you remove a risk factor much larger than the variances in breed. Once again: 18.6 vs 3.8. No contest.

That also addresses a horrible overpopulation issue that forces us to kill untold numbers of unwanted dogs. On the taxpayer's dime and the taxpayer's conscience. Make the owners get their dogs fixed.

Posted by elenchos | July 1, 2008 8:12 AM

19 is right. but there have been some imaginative suggestions here, more than usual on this subject, despite 14's despair. refreshing.

Posted by ellarosa | July 1, 2008 8:18 AM

Dear Science,

If all but the most docile 5% of human males were castrated what would happen to the crime rate in America?

Posted by Smade | July 1, 2008 8:21 AM

You'll have to pry the keys to my backhoe from my cold, dead hands.

Posted by heywhatsit | July 1, 2008 8:22 AM

I, personally, support the death penalty for newspapers who fail to get their sub-editors snark-neutered before promoting them to the editor-in-chief position. Snark has consequences, people. How many clueless Savage Love readers, I ask of you, have had their feelings hurted by Dan Savage over the years? And why, it surely follows, have not Savage's snarknads seen the snark-veterinarian chopping block by now?

I demand a law! NOW!

And no, I don't feel like letting it go.

Posted by The Incredible Sulk | July 1, 2008 8:36 AM

boner-killers and man-berries. It's shaping up to be a *fine* Tuesday morning...

Posted by Big Sven | July 1, 2008 8:53 AM

Bad owners must be why dachshounds are not competitive with greyhounds at the race track.

Posted by ratcityreprobate | July 1, 2008 9:40 AM

"Holy living motherfuck shit biscuit mother did the cut. Shit. Fucking liver." I'm totally using that the next time I'm at a loss for words.

I think the flirting between fnarf and Dan was cute, and unexpected.

Oh, on topic, I don't support a ban since if it isn't pit bulls it will be some other breed they train to be bad to the bone, but I do support snipping those man-berries right off so they aren't bad to the boner.

Posted by PopTart | July 1, 2008 9:41 AM

In fairness, the woman-orbs and the baby sac seem to cause female dogs to be more than twice as dangerous as pit bulls.

So it isn't just neutering. Gotta spay too.

Posted by elenchos | July 1, 2008 9:48 AM

I do agree that this is one case where genital mutilation should be enforced. Although I do hate it when they snip their ears.

Posted by wiseblood | July 1, 2008 10:11 AM

Any dog that seriously injures or kills a human without clear provocation (i.e. exceptions for cases where the dog's owner was being assaulted) shall be put down. All known offspring of the dog shall also be put down.

Posted by Greg | July 1, 2008 10:34 AM

"To insist on having a badly tempered, strongly muscled large dog as a pet is like insisting on the right to drive a backhoe to work each day."

What the fuck is this shit?

I need to get a working dog to go along with my terrier for when I'm driving them around in my backhoe to the park----where we all bite people. Rar. Seattle sucks.

Posted by Sam Hill | July 1, 2008 10:34 AM

Look into the recently adopted Dangerous Dog Policy in Pierce County. It is simple, harsh, enforacable and holds the owner of ANY aggressive dog accountable.

If a dog attacks (in a non fatal manner) it gets a tattoo and is deemed dangerous. The owner's name enters a list of Dangerous Dog owners. If, in the next said period of time(10 yrs, I believe) if any other animal owned by this person attacks, they pay 5000.00 to the County and Can Not own a pet fot 10 yrs.

LOVE IT! Put the onus on the owner.
It will be interesting to see which breeds are commonly taken away from owners.

I suspect it will be more mixed than some would like to assume.

P.S. Nearly ALL dogs were bred for some type of violence as most are hunters of some sort(primarily rodents). Cats hunt and kill birds for that matter. Shall we ban them too?

Posted by Julie Russell | July 1, 2008 11:05 AM

@34: When's the last time a cat mauled an infant?

Posted by Greg | July 1, 2008 11:18 AM

Thank god we can own automatic handguns to shoot those pit bulls with ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 1, 2008 11:35 AM

INFANT ATTACKED BY A CAT (PDF) May 8, 1880. It was "a sad and singular affair."

Boo ya, Greg!

Posted by elenchos | July 1, 2008 11:37 AM

oh, and @20 ... monkey for the win!

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 1, 2008 11:40 AM

34 - do you really not understand the difference between being bitten by a cat vs. a dog with jaws that can exert pressure exceeding 1000 lb / square inch? or dogs bred to retreive birds or sniff out rodents vs. bred to kill other dogs for sport?

good grief, i don't support breed bans, but the sheer idiocy of the pitbull apologists' arguments make me question my stance. if you think comparing cats to pitbulls is a rational arguement, you shouldn't be allowed to own a houseplant, let alone a potentially dangerous dog.

Posted by brandon | July 1, 2008 11:50 AM

Golob.... I think you read this article totally wrong. As a fellow science nerd...and someone actually doing research for a living, this study does not imply in any way that because a dog is a certain breed it will end up biting. If anything the importance in the study is placed on social factors. Whether the owner chose to neuter, and low income neighborhoods...which leads to a WHOLE other set of implications.

The study to me says that owners who are likely to end up in a situation where there dog is a biter are more likely to select certain breeds...but rather that owners who are likely to raise a bad dog..are likely to select a certain breed.

This study reminds me of various older studies on African American populations claiming they are biologically more violent while ignoring the bazillion social factors created by our country.

Bad science is bad me a good study Golob that says pit bulls are more likely to bite regardless of social situation and owner and i'll get behind it..til then QUIT POSTING BAD SCIENCE!!

Posted by Hunter K. | July 1, 2008 2:03 PM

I find it interesting that Jonathan focuses on 'pit bulls' when this fact sheet only states 'terriers'. If you know anything about dog breeds there are a huge number of 'terrier' breed in existance and all generally have a high prey drive. I am also surprised that no attention is given to the working breeds.

That said, I would actually like to see basic laws enforced that would penalize any irresponsible dog owner who fails to restrain their dogs in public. I, as a pit bull owner, am sick of fighting off aggressive dogs while walking my leashed dogs daily. Strangely enough, with all the talk about aggressive pit bulls roaming Seattle streets, I have never encountered even one off leash while walking my dogs, though I have encountered aggressive weirmaraners, border collies, maltese terriers, labradors and too many more to mention.

Breed bans are no different than other forms of racism, only this time it is stereotyping dogs and not people.

Posted by Faith | July 1, 2008 3:20 PM

Want a science project?
Lock these "pitbulls are cuddly cute" people in a cage with a dozen pit bulls for a week. Throw in some raw meat from time to time and measure how long it takes the dogs kill the people.

Posted by robot2501 | July 1, 2008 8:53 PM

Sorry, can't read every word of every flare up of Pit Bull Wars '08...

But... dog bites are one thing... some nips don't wind up in an ER visit... others do, and make that statistical chart.

Howzabout dog-kills-man stats? Because these aren't just "bites" we're seeing in these pitbull news items, it doesn't seem. And Danis right, he doesn't post every one he sees, I believe he missed a toddler death in NC a few weeks ago.

Read an article in Harper's Magazine about 15 or so years ago, by a pro-pit bull author. She pointed out that a wide variety of dogs get lumped into the "pit bull" category when the reporters get ahold of the subject. (Or police, or EMS, describe the dog as such and reporter repeats it.) Given how much I've seen reporters mangle the basic facts of firearms (auto vs. semi-auto, etc etc), I can believe it.

This author also went into the history of previous breeds that people freaked out about, which seem laughable today.

Doesn't mean those breeds weren't owned by macho assholes back then.

The biggest problem here is macho. Self-percived tough guys want tough dogs. It's a dangerous world out there on the streets! (Because of all of the other guys... just like them.) I saw let them have all the cage matches they want. Keep the dog fighting ban, loosen the human-fighting ban.

Posted by CP | July 1, 2008 11:28 PM

Hey 42 I volunteer for your experiment:)

Posted by Julie Russell | July 2, 2008 4:51 PM


"Working" just means they were bred by humans to carry out a specific, useful task. The Mastiff's original "job," for example, was taking down poachers and holding them with their mouth until the landlord showed up. Not bred to be a killer (as you rightly point out), but bred to subdue the offender with its mouth. This is basically the task one way or another of all guard dogs. (They don't herd the prowler int a corner.) The working group contains the guard dogs.

What's my point? This study tracked biting, not killing.

Posted by Free Lunch | July 2, 2008 7:32 PM

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