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PIT BULL TYPE (PBT) IDENTIFICATION PROTOCOL (in collaboration with Staffordshire University and contributors in the UK, USA, Ireland and Australia)

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The identification of banned breeds of dog under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 has proved problematic, as even with recent advances in canine genetic science it is difficult to positively identify the breed of a given dog with certainty. (1), (2)

Currently the identification of Pit Bull Type (PBT) dogs relies upon a list of highly subjective physical characteristics taken from the American Dog Breeders Association Standard of Conformation. (3)

The law does not require a suspected PBT to fit the description perfectly, rather it requires for a ‘substantial number’ of characteristics to be present to that it can be considered ‘more likely’ to be a PBT than any other type of dog, again these requirements are very subjective. (4)

It is our aim with the PBT Identification Protocol to use samples of hair from PBTs and similar breeds, in order to compile a database from which objective, scientific and non-invasive measurements can be taken in order to identify a PBT dog. This will be the first database of its kind.

In the field of human forensics, hair samples can be used to identify the ethnicity of the donor, and it is our hope that similar attributes will be found which will differentiate PBT hair from non-PBT hair. (5), (6)


(1) Sacks, Jeffrey J., et al. "Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 217.6 (2000): 836-840.

(2) Voith, Victoria L., et al. "Comparison of adoption agency breed identification and DNA breed identification of dogs." Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 12.3 (2009): 253-262.

(3) Pit Bull Gazette, vol 1, issue 3 1977 (American Dog Breeders association standard of conformation)

(4) Dangerous Dogs Law, Guidance for Enforcers, DEFRA

(5) Gaudette, Barry D. "Some further thoughts on probabilities and human hair comparisons." Journal of Forensic Sciences 23.4 (1978): 758-763.

(6) Jackson & Jackson, Forensic Science, Second Edition 54 - 67

hair photo pit bull sketchhair photo with measurements

Results are to be published later this year.




Adele has co-authored a chapter on bitemark analysis in Practical Veterinary Forensics (David Bailey, Cabi Publishing), available here.

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