The Maddy’s Fund Study

In the wake of all the furor over “the video” many anti-pit people are making waves in comments all over facebook and the web. In light of that, my mom will be summarizing a couple of recent studies that show just how little a dog’s appearance matters in the big scheme of things. This information can help you make an informed argument, should someone you know try to bombard you with “facts”.

The first study we want to look at was a breed identification study done by Maddy’s Fund in 2011. This study was designed to see just how accurate shelter staff was at identifying pit bull type dogs.

Four Florida shelters took part in the study. Each shelter had 4 staff members (including vets) look at 30 different dogs; for a total of 16 experienced staff and 120 dogs. The staff’s best opinion was then matched against actual DNA analysis.

The staff identified 55 of the dogs as pit bull terrier type dogs. DNA analysis shows only 25 of those dogs are actually pit bull type dogs. In a town with Breed Discrimination, 30 dogs with NO PBT DNA would have been at risk of euthanasia.

Even more interesting, staff did not correctly identify 20% of the dogs who actually were PBT type breeds.

In all, only 8% of the “true” pit bull terrier breeds were ID’d correctly by staff. (Kind of puts a damper on the “I know one when I see one meme, doesn’t it?)

Many press accounts depend on how a dog looks to identify the breed for their stories. Organizations like take all of their statistical information about dog bites from the press.

If dog experts can’t properly identify a dog’s predominant breed by visual means, how can laymen hope to? How valid do you think those press accounts can be?

The results of the study show us a couple of things:
1) visual identification of a dog breed is totally unreliable
2) Public safety is best served by evaluating a dog’s history, personality and temperament…..not how he looks.

Maddy’s Fund put together a really cool poster showing this information. You can view it here:


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