Your Public Radio > WYPR Archive
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
You are now viewing the WYPR Archive of content news. For the latest from WYPR, visit

Forget "inherently dangerous." Are pit bulls simply MORE dangerous?

Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, vol. 217, no. 6

It’s been nearly a year since a controversial ruling by Maryland’s highest court gave the force of law to discrimination against dogs known as pit bulls. Both the House of Delegates and the Maryland State Senate are expected to pass similar bills extending liability to owners of all dog breeds. And, as WYPR’s Karen Hosler reported, more than a hundred pit bulls were turned into the Maryland Humane Society after the ruling.

Since the ruling, there has been much debate over whether pit bulls are “inherently dangerous.” But what about a simpler question: are pit bulls simply more dangerous than other breeds?

A 2000 study looked at 20-year trends in DBRF (dog bite-related fatalities). The study found that there were more DBRF from bites from pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers, but it acknowledged that identifying breeds and accounting for non-fatal dog bites makes enacting effective policy difficult.

Below is the table that shows DBRF for 2-year periods between 1979-80 and 1997-98.