Top 10 Banned Dog Breeds
In the late 1980s, an epidemic of attacks by Pit Bull type dogs, and other related breeds, led to widespread bans. In 1991, the Parliament of the United Kingdom banned the ownership of Japanese Tosa Inus, Argentine Dogos, Fila Brasilieros and Pit Bulls, with many other countries following suit soon after. Even in areas where having such dogs is legal, it can be nearly impossible for homeowners to get liability insurance if they own one of the breeds below.
Banned in Denmark, Singapore and various municipalities, the American Bulldog’s origins are in the deep south, where it was used as a farm dog. Its specialty is catching feral hogs, which can weigh several hundred pounds and wield savage tusks. When cornered, these razorbacks are nasty fighters, requiring a dog of great strength and athleticism to fight them, battling the hog into submission and holding it down until the hunter arrives. For this reason, they have a very high pain threshold. The American Bulldog can weigh from 70-120lbs., though many have been known to grow even larger.
The term ‘bandog’ has been in use since the Middle Ages and is used to describe a large dog that was let off its chain at night to guard its property. The modern bandog is not a purebred, and there are various ‘recipes’ to achieve its creation, including American Pit Bull terriers and various mastiffs. The goal is to create a dog with the size of the mastiff and the drive of the APBT. The breed rose to a certain prominence in the late 60s, when veterinarian John Swinford began breeding them. His most famous dog was Bantu – a fierce, hard dog known for his fighting prowess. Weight can vary wildly, but 80 to 150lbs is the general range. Bandogs are generally prohibited anywhere there are restrictions on its parent breeds.
The Neapolitan Mastiff or Neo, comes from Italy, where once it was used as a gladiator dog in the bloody spectacles of the Coliseum. They were also used as war dogs by the Roman legion. Today, they are generally protectors of the home. Distinctive in appearance, the largest males can top 200lbs and are covered in loose, wrinkly skin with hanging jowls. A Neapolitan Mastiff was used to portray Hagrid’s pet Fang in the Harry Potter films. They are illegal to own in Singapore, and to own one in Romania you have to be certified psychologically fit.
There are many established breeds of wolves and domestic dogs, including the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog (a mix of German Shepherd and Carpathian wolf) and the Saarloos Wolfhound (German Shepherd and Mackenzie Valley timber wolf). Perhaps the most famous was Jack London’s fictional White Fang. Due to its varied genetic structure the wolf dog is extremely unpredictable, reacting to certain situations like a wolf and others like a dog. It maintains an extremely high prey drive, and is not generally considered a good pet. There have been many attacks on humans, most commonly on small children, which they may view as prey items. It is prohibited in Norway.
The Boerboel comes from South Africa, and closely resembles a more athletic Bull Mastiff in appearance. The name roughly translates from Dutch to “farm dog”. It was bred from various native African dogs and guard dogs, and were brought into the country by European settlers, most notably the Dutch. In the late 1920s, the diamond company De Beers brought Bull Mastiffs to South Africa to guard their mines, and they contributed greatly to the modern breed. Excellent home guardians without being overtly aggressive, they are also said to be very fond of children. Easily topping 150lbs, they are banned in Denmark.
First bred in Argentina in 1928, the Dogo was taken from the now extinct Cordoba Fighting Dog, which was mixed with various other breeds, including the Great Dane, Dogue de Bordeaux and Irish Wolfhound. Breeder Antonio Nores Martinez developed his dog as a big game hunter, taking on such dangerous prey as the mountain lion. Although it was not its original purpose, the Dogo has also been used for fighting. Generally weighing in at just under a hundred pounds, it is solid white and resembles a larger Pit Bull. The Dogo is banned in at least 10 countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Portugal.
The Presa Canario is a massive fighting dog hailing from Spain’s Canary Islands, generally weighing over a hundred pounds. Of diverse mastiff stock, the breed achieved notoriety in 2001 when a pair named Bane and Hera attacked and killed 33 year old lacrosse coach Diane Whipple in the hallway of a San Francisco apartment building. The dogs were originally bred for an Aryan Brotherhood fighting ring. Bane and Hera’s owner, Marjorie Knoller, was convicted of second degree murder (a landmark judgment at the time) and is currently serving a prison sentence of 15 years to life. Presa Canarios are banned in Australia and New Zealand.
The Fila or Brazilian Mastiff, is a huge dog bred for hunting boar and jaguar, and was even used for tracking down runaway slaves. It has Mastiff, Bulldog and Bloodhound ancestry. It is perhaps the least tractable breed on this list, and is highly prized for its aggressiveness. This personality trait is called “ojeriza”, which translates from Portugese to ‘distrust’. The Fila despises strangers, to the point where Brazilian dog show judges are advised not to touch it, and the standard allows a certain ferocity in the show ring. It is illegal to own a Fila in the United Kingdom.
The Tosa Inu can weigh anywhere from 80-200lbs. It is a mix of indigenous Japanese dogs and various Western breeds, such as the Mastiff and Bull Terrier. The Tosa is also a fighting dog – although the Japanese idea of combat is much different than in other locales. There is great ceremony attached to Tosa matches. They are much like sumo wrestling, with the greatest champions achieving the rank of ‘Yokozuna’. The Tosa displays an uncommon stoicism, as they are expected to fight silently, without growling or whimpering. It is illegal to own in Denmark, Malta and Norway, amongst other countries.
There is no dog breed on earth more polarizing than the Pit Bull. Much maligned, the Pit Bull was bred from early Bulldogs and Terriers for the purpose of fighting other dogs. At this task, he has no peer. Once a beloved family pet (The Little Rascals’ Petey was a pit bull) the breed began to attract the wrong kind of attention in the 1980s. Prized for its strength and gameness (a somewhat indefinable quality which is identified by a willingness to fight, no matter what the cost), Pit Bulls became an urban symbol of criminal masculinity. Poor breeding and training has caused them to be responsible for attacks on humans, many of them fatal. This is somewhat anachronistic of the breed’s history, as Pit Bulls were never bred to be aggressive towards people. In the old days, dog fighters would bathe each others’ dogs before the match (to eliminate the threat of poison on the fur), and a snappy dog would be culled. Whether one considers them sweet-natured pets or deadly monsters, they are illegal to own in Miami-Dade County, Florida; Ontario, Canada; and many countries throughout the world.