Dogs bred for fighting cause carnage on British streets

A seven-year-old girl playing in a Liverpool park was rushed to hospital on Monday with serious injuries after being mauled by a dog. Unlike others, she made it out alive – albeit horribly injured. Last year Britain saw the highest number of fatal dog attacks in four decades. The vast majority of these deaths were caused by a breed also believed to be responsible for the Liverpool attack: the American Bully XL.

The most important thing to understand about dogs is that breed matters. This is clear from any cursory examination of the difference between a Great Dane and a Dachshund. But race is not only relevant for physical traits; the dogs were bred for specific tasks and behaviors. Herd of sheepdogs. Collectors recover. Pointers point. Fighting dogs are fighting. It’s not their fault: it’s why we raised them. And American Bullies are descended from dogs bred for fighting.

American Pitbull Terriers, the foundational breed of the American Bully, are responsible for 60-70% of all dog attacks in the United States. The ancestors of these dogs were cruelly bred to fight in dog fighting arenas – horrific violence that could last for hours. Only the most vicious and winning dogs would father the next generation. This meant creating a breed that was very aggressive towards other dogs, did not give warning before attacking, bit to kill and did not let go.

The American Bully XL (a variation of the American Bully breed) is essentially a larger, more muscular pitbull. This new breed was recently imported from America to Britain, where it was created by crossing American Pitbull Terriers with a small number of larger dogs to reach enormous sizes.

While a typical American Pitbull weighs around 20 kg, Bully XLs regularly reach between 50 and 60 kg. Significant inbreeding has also been documented, due to the breed’s recent creation (and small gene pool) as well as the desire to increase size. Britain is now home to a dog that has inherited the combative behavior of the American Pitbull, but is three times larger.

It’s no surprise that just two years after their rise in popularity, American Bullies are now the most common breed. most frequently typed by the Met Police for attacks on people and other dogs. Following the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991, despite increases in human and dog populations, dog attacks and deaths were remarkably low for decades. It took 30 years for a dangerous new breed to be imported and sold in Britain.

The law has been slow to catch up, which is frustrating. Pitbull types are prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act. Although they originated from the American Pitbull Terrier, American Bullies are believed to be legal to own in the UK. However, “pitbull type” is arguably a much broader category than breed, encompassing crossbreeds as well, and American Bullies are simply a particularly huge and muscular Pitbull crossbreed.

It is difficult to understand why government guidelines have not been updated to reflect this new variant of an already banned breed. Instead, current guidance is based on an outdated definition of “Pitbull” from the 1970s – ignoring 50 years of subsequent breeding. This update would be quick and easy to complete.

Alternatively, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs could simply add the American Bully as another banned type. Any of these actions to save our children and dogs from violence and mutilation must be taken without delay. The government must act.


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