BSL bans or restricts the ownership of certain breeds of dogs who are characterized as “aggressive” — despite the fact that there’s no scientific basis for labeling certain breeds as more aggressive than other breeds. While in recent years Pit Bulls have become the face and most visible target of BSL, it is a much larger issue. In the US, over 900 cities across 42 states have implemented breed-specific legislation, which restrict or outright ban the ownership of various breeds of dogs from Chows to Mastiffs.

Tips for Protecting Your Dog From Breed-Specific Legislation:

Being aware is the first step toward protecting your dog from BSL. Photography by Colten Tognazzini.
Do you have a Pit Bull, Pit Bull-type mix, Rottweiler, Doberman or a dog that looks like one? Breed-Specific Legislation is something that should be on your radar any time you are thinking of moving to a new city/state, or even if you are planning a road trip with your pup!

  • Moving? Be sure to check for any breed-specific regulations that might exist in your new community and make sure there aren’t any regulations against the kinds of dogs who are part of your family on

  • Planning a road trip? Be sure that both your destination and any cities you plan to pass through will welcome your whole family — including your dog! If you must visit a city that has breed-specific laws, understand the logistics ahead of time. Contact the local Animal Control Department to find out if your dog must be muzzled, or if your dog could be seized if you visit the area.

  • Have a dog that looks like a targeted breed but isn’t? Consider carrying a notarized letter from your veterinarian attesting to the breed or mixed breed of dog that you have. You may also want to look into DNA testing so you will have DNA proof of what breed(s) your dog is regardless of how he might look.

  • In the military? Many US Military bases ban Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Chows, Wolf hybrids, Dobermans, Akitas and other breeds of dogs. Contact your US Military Base to find out specifics.

  • Live in public housing? Many public housing authorities across the country have breed-specific bans. NYC NYCHA’s breed ban includes unusual breeds like Boston Terriers.