Breed specific legislation and breed identification

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The Dogington Post believes breed specific legislation is a bad idea even for purebreds. It becomes downright impractical for mixed breeds. Breed specific legislation and breed identifcation naturally go together. This article from StopBSL, also against breed specific legislation, gives us an idea of how complicated this really is.

Even using this highest estimate, that leaves 75 percent or more of the U.S. canine population without any sort of traceable lineage. Some of these dogs are undoubtably purebred, though they may lack any sort of historical paper trail to prove it. Their appearance is close enough to a breed standard that owners can confidently say that their dog is of a specific breed.

The vast majority of canines, however, are mixed breed dogs. And though we tend to think of mixed breed dogs as the offspring of two purebred dogs (Mastiff x Boxer = Mastiff-Boxer mix), the reality is far more complex. Most mixed breed dogs are a genetic mishmash resulting from several generations of mixed breed dogs interbreeding. The end result is incredibly complex.

To make things more confusing, a dog that doesn’t really meet any single breed standard may be categorized as a type of dog rather than a specific breed. Dogs may be identified as terriers, pit bulls, shepherds, or retrievers- none of these are actual breed names, and the breeds that really do make up these categories come in a startling variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. There’s a huge difference between an Airedale Terrier and a Jack Russell Terrier, so what does a “terrier mix” describe?

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It is generally an animal control officer or a veterinarian that is determining a dog’s breed when applying breed specific legislation. Their training is not in breed identification.

While there are commercially available genetic testing kits to help identify breed, mixed-breed dogs are typically assigned a breed mix based on visual identification. It is entirely subjective. When you stop to think of the complexity involved in breed specific legislation and breed identification, such laws just plain make no sense.

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