The Pit Bull is a popular but controversial breed.
The Pit Bull is a popular but controversial breed.

Most people love dogs, and city residents are no exception.  But when I walk through my Brooklyn neighborhood and see people walking their dogs, I really only see one kind of mutt: Pit bulls.

Pit bulls are currently the tough canine of choice, but this was not always the case. In the 1960s and 70s, we had a thing for German Shepards, In the 80s Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers dominated the scene. But from the 90s until now, the Pit Bull is far-and-away the most popular hood pet.

The Pit is a controversial breed that has a reputation for being aggressive, dangerous and unpredictable. Not to mention that seeing them can conjure up images of gang mascots guarding drug dens and mauled children.  

A Time magazine piece The Problem with Pit Bulls says “Pit bulls make up only 6% of the dog population, but they’re responsible for 68% of dog attacks and 52% of dog-related deaths since 1982, according to research compiled by Merritt Clifton, editor of Animals 24-7, an animal-news organization that focuses on humane work and animal-cruelty prevention.”

Luckily, this is not the only breed of dog on the planet earth. Here are five breeds with loads of street swag that can be great alternatives to the PR challenged pit bull.

1. English Bulldog – Originally bred to herd cattle, this cousin of the pit bull is like the family member with the good credit score.  Everybody loves them. These jowly pups have enjoyed a rehabilitated reputation. Once seen as a tough surly animal, this popular team mascot now is viewed as a dignified and cuddly family member.

2. Great Dane – The gentle giants of the canine world, Great Danes can grow up to about 200 pounds and almost three feet tall at the shoulder. If they stand on their hind legs, they are taller than most human beings.  Despite being very easy going companions, they are known to be very alert home protectors. Make sure you have a home with plenty of room and sizable pet food budget!

3. Boxer – Known for their loyalty, Boxers are intelligent and alert. Their playful attitude combined with a strong and sturdy physique make this breed a perennial favorite.

4. Weimaraner (pronounced vahy-muh-rah-ner)– This is one of those dogs that may not immediately pop into your head when you think about popular breeds, but everybody loves them when they see them! These classy animals are distinguished by their pale gray coats and graceful gait. They are known for being great with kids and highly trainable.

5. Pug – Although they may be a very sharp departure from the intimidating Pitbull, these pint-sized powerhouses pack a lot of dog in a little package. Dog lovers of all stripes fall in love with their trademark round head, big eyes, and sturdy compact bodies. They make versatile pets and adapt to a wide variety of settings. They are perfect for people living is small apartments!

If none of these breeds pique your interest, visit the American Kennel Club website and explore the multitude of breeds to choose from. The struggle for dog diversity in the hood continues!

Reginald Richardson

Blogger, educator, real estate professional, equity advocate, culture, lifestyle and politics curator, building a #Skybridge between #Brooklyn and #SouthAfrica.

Join the Conversation


  1. All of the dogs you promote here as ‘alternatives ‘ have killed children.

    No-one using science and reason to study the factors involved in adverse events use breed as any kind of yardstick.

    Nor does anyone who knows anything about the subject quote self-proclaimed ‘experts’ like Merritt Clifton who falsely claims credentials he doesn’t own and refuses to provide the raw data to back up his ‘statistics’ which he admits he gleans from media reports.

    You need to do some real research and quote some properly credentialed experts.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I never said that other breeds never killed anyone. The argument is that Pits have mauled and killed disproportionately compared to their numbers. It’s just math. I knew when I wrote this that Pit Bull advocates would be in their feelings, but it’s cool, I’m here for it! Peace and Blessings!

    2. Maybe you should understand it’s genetic . This was breed into the Pit bull . They are the number one dog to attack per Ohio state university. It is genetic per Children’s hospital . Pits are hyperactive . Google Pit bull attack and set it to where you will get alerts so you know how many there are not just in your local area.

  2. You really don’t need to study anything. Simple life experience shows you plain as day that many pits are aggressive and will attack without warning or signals. They maim and kill far, far more people, pets, and livestock than any other dog. They’re well equipped to inflict severe or fatal wounds quickly. They often won’t stop attacking despite being attacked themselves with anything from water to a bullet. It’s not the owner. It’s not how they were raised. It’s not people taunting them. It’s not a symptom of past abuse. It’s the breed. You pit fans do your dogs a great disservice trying to pretend they’re like every other dog. Stop setting them up to fail. That’s how you get BSL.

    1. Marklar… Everything you just said is complete bullshit and you have probably never owned a pit your entire life. No one needs any of your dumb Dogsbiteorg Merritt Clifton rhetoric. All of it is completely uncited, hyperbolic bullshit about a “breed” you have absolutely no knowledge about. Everything you said is completely unfounded, media hysteric nonsense. This article is complete garbage as well.

  3. Look: I am a dog lover and I have no favorites or particular dislikes, well except for annoying small yappy dogs.

    I keep hearing about all of these pit bull attacks. Not that I constantly read about them but certainly the pitbull’s rep does stoke people’s fears. Obviously that aggressive reputation is not totally undeserved but we rarely hear about any other dogs doing anything. You can’t tell me that pitbulls are the only heavies. German shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, even Rhodesian ridgebacks: all of these are considered aggressive dogs, bred to be aggressive. We breed them to increase their natural aggressiveness. So if we are talking about blame, let’s spread it around, shall we?

    In terms of overall numbers I wonder what the statistics are. How many pitbull attacks versus other dogs. And let’s admit it, because of the pitbull’s rep based on , we now expect to hear about pitbull attacks.

    Unfortunately many of those other breeds can be prohibitively expensive to purchase. For low income communities, pit bulls are easy to get and depending on your neighborhood, might actually be a necessity. The shelters are filled with pit bulls who are easy to adopt. Also many of the other breeds, especially purebred dogs, can come with built-in health problems. That can also be very expensive. It’s interesting how other breeds have been bred for particular traits and as far as I know pitbulls are not being bred to be less aggressive. Obviously people must want such an aggressive dog.

    I think that good training, like in many situations, can one tone down the negative tendencies. Note I didn’t say get rid of them. But you have to invest time and money to do it properly. People treat dogs like fashion accessories. Dogs are living creatures and a real responsibility. Unfortunately many people are just not up to the task. I constantly see badly-trained dogs. Unfortunately, just like with kids, many people have dogs who just shouldn’t have pets. Just because you can get one doesn’t mean you should have one.

  4. “I really only see one kind of mutt: Pit bulls.”, then two paragraphs down “Pit bulls make up only 6% of the dog population”. These are conflicting points.

    1. No conflict at all. Pit bulls are 6% of the entire dog population but my point is that they are grossly over represented in urban communities like mine and seem make up almost half of the dogs you see in the neighborhood. I hope this clears up any confusion. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

      1. Actually it is a conflict, a mutt is a mixed breed & pit bull/American pit bull terrier is a full blood breed so that’s contradictory. The 6% number is garbage but let’s act as though it’s real that would be for the apbt & maybe! The American Staffordshire terrier (as even vets, experts & kennel clubs can’t tell them apart) but the problem there is “pit bull” is an umbrella term used to describe roughly 20 different breeds that all look Similar ranging from the aforementioned apbt & amstaff to dogo argentino, cain corso, bull terrier, American bulldog, many others not even counting the mixed breeds that retain a Similar look. So riddle me this batman, how is it fair to lump together & damage the rep 20 some odd breeds & the countless mixed breeds (many of which are stray with nothing but survival instincts to compel them) & compare them to the bite stats of all other single breeds?????

    2. I’m glad you bring this up Matthew! That 6% number is nonsense of the purest form, the ASPCA and veterinary data put the number of pitbulls at closer to 20%. Quite plainly, this number ONLY comes from Merrit Cliffton; a self-described pitbull hater who seeks nothing less than the literal extinction of the breed. For whatever reason, journalists never question this “expert” on his methodology, they never bother to confirm this number with any sort of outside research– they simply regurgitate it. Every time “6%” pops up, it’s Merrit Clifton. The Times article referenced here takes that number from an interview with Merrit Cliffton. Wikipedia uses the 6% statistic based off of the same Times article and Merrit f*cking Cliffton. Why there is so little fact-checking when it comes to this number has to do with the writer’s biases: pitbull advocates will search farther for the truth, pitbull haters and sensationalists will simply vomit the number forth with glee. Merritt Cliffton is the Andrew Wakefield of dog information and every gullible journalist an accomplice.

    I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and amusing,
    and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something not enough men and women are
    speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy that I found this during my search for something
    concerning this.

  6. RR,
    Nice article.
    I just wonder… in an urban environment people want a dog for protection. So, they’ll get a dog, like the pit bull, that’s known to be aggressive. And if the dog is not naturally aggressive they’ll train it into him.
    It may be that the Pit Bull is an aggressive breed, but life has taught me you get what you give.
    You give an animal love and respect, and 9
    times out of 10 that’s what you will get.

  7. Here, in France, any registered pure bred Pit, Staff, and other “known dangerous” breeds need an owner with a license to own them. At the local pound there are more of these “dangerous” dogs or xbreds than nearly all the other dogs together. I adopted an old breeding stock Staff, said to be xbred, who, breeding days finished, due to illness, was thrown out, on a local dump. She was neither vicious, nor unpredictable, an angel tbh. She can’t have led a happy life as a puppy-machine, but in her last few years she gave me no problems, and I have other “yappy” small dogs too 😉 . Another Pit, on visit, regularly hit with a stick for nothing, attacked and mutilated one of my dogs. If I hadn’t pulled him away, attack over, she was beginning to EAT him! Never seen that, and I have had all sorts of dogs for nearly 60 years… OK they are bred for there vicious traits, but lets be clear! A lot depends on the owner, their personality and treatment of ANY breed of dog.

  8. Please stop citing the “pitbulls are 6% of the dog population” statistic. This isn’t true. It’s a false statistic created by Merrit Clifton who hates pitbulls and is on a self-described mission to eradicate them. Wikipedia uses that number, using this same Times article you reference, where the source for that number is… Merrit f*cking Clifton. Based on ASPCA data and veterinary population data, they are closer to 20% of the dog population. Also, look at that pug; it’s front legs are malformed (where even is that left foot going?!), it can’t breath and it’s morbidly obese. It’s waaaaaay unethical to promote pugs in any capacity, let alone after sowing deliberate misinformation. Disappointing, I would think people who write would do a better job of vetting sources.

  9. It’s amazing how many pits I see on the west side of Lancaster OH. Oftentimes they’re even running around loose while I’m walking my husky mix. I also noticed multiple puts in every animal shelter! They’re over bred. I don’t trust them. Never have, never will.

  10. Any breed untrained is a danger. A sweet pitbull. A dangerous retriever. The dogs you show – docked tail, cropped ears, overweight. Cruelty. The owner is to blame, not the dog.

  11. Thus is such crap. I gave owned put bulls for years, they are no more vicious, unpredictable or agrresive than any otger breed. The pit I have now is registered emotional support animal. He does not hav a vicious bone in his body. There is no such thing as bad pit bulls, just bad pit bull owners.

  12. I have owned put bulls for years, they are no more vicious, unpredictable or agrresive than any other breed. The pit I have now is registered emotional support animal. He does not hav a vicious bone in his body. There is no such thing as bad pit bulls, just bad pit bull owners.

  13. I have owned put bulls for years, they are no more vicious, unpredictable or agrresive than any other breed. The pit I have now is registered emotional support animal. There is no such thing as bad pit bulls, just bad pit bull owners.

  14. We have 2 Blu nose healer/pit and they are 5 months old…. I read articles about Blu nose healer and articles about pit bulls. …. nothing on the mix… Any articles on them? I sure would like to read up on them

  15. If you do your research apbt passed temperament tests in top of the class. So called pitbull attacks are not by american pitbull terrier but by mixed breeds mislabeled. Please be more accurate with the information you provide

  16. Pit Bull s are not mean dogs. NO DOG IS BORN MEAN THEY ARE MADE MEAN BY CREATURES THAT TRAIN THEM TO BE MEAN! Dogs need proper socialization, and proper training. Idiots that take a sweet dog and train the to attack, to fight and to attack need to be held totally responsible when their trained dog attacks. Pitbulls are babies if raised by responsible people that understand what is required to raise any dog to be a good dog. There is more to raising a dog than just feeding them.

  17. We own a pit bull. She is the greatest pet we have ever had. She has been the best addition to our family. Our kids love her. She is such a joy. I would recommend a pit for anyone who wants a loving,loyal, very smart pet!

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