Illegal dogs include any breed of dog that is thought to be especially vicious and dangerous to the general public, regarding which a law has been passed restricting them in some way. There are no national laws that name certain dogs as illegal. There are a number of state, county, and city laws that restrict or ban the ownership of certain breeds of dogs. Frequently banned breeds include the pit bull terrier and the wolfdog.
Dog breeds are declared illegal through breed-specific legislation. Breed-specific legislation means that there is a law restricting a specific breed in some way. Such laws are usually enacted when it is believed a certain breed of dog is especially dangerous and poses a public welfare risk. This may involve anything from a specific dog breed needing to wear a muzzle in public or requiring certain breeds to be spayed or neutered. It may go as far as to forbid ownership of certain breeds.
Pit bull terriers are frequently declared illegal dogs. They have historically been bred for fighting and today are often used in illegal dog fighting. Pit bulls are also frequently involved in dog attacks. This breed is banned in the city of Denver, Colorado, and Ohio requires all pit bull owners to have $100,000 US Dollars in insurance and to always keep their dogs properly restrained.
Wolfdogs are another type of often-restricted dog. Wolfdogs are the product of any domestic dog bred with a wolf. Many are concerned that these dogs are still wild and do not have enough domesticated traits to be safe around humans. They are often considered wild animal hybrids and in some areas are subject to any legislation that addresses wild animals.
Although pit-bull terriers and wolfdogs are both illegal dogs in some areas, these are not the only restricted breeds. There are over 70 different breeds of dog that are subject to breed-specific legislation in the United States. Many of these breeds have been used as fighting dogs, but others are not. Some of these illegal dogs include the spitz, the labrador retriever, rottweilers and the Boston terrier.
There is significant controversy over breed-specific legislation. Many believe that since certain dog breeds were bred for fighting that they are naturally more aggressive and prone to attacking humans. Others believe that a dog’s aggression is a learned behavior from irresponsible or abusive owners rather than an inherent trait of certain breeds. These advocates also point out that breed-specific legislation encourages negative stereotypes surrounding certain breeds that encourages their neglect and abuse.