Defining dangerous dogs

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This article examines historical connections between social class, masculinity, and dog breeds in British culture. It gives an account of the nineteenth and twentieth century origins of the pit bull terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier, and the dogs’ links to masculine identity, working class culture and practices. It examines the introduction of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, UK legislation intended to protect the public from dangerous dogs. Through an examination of the discursive framing of pit bulls, this article argues that there are historical continuities that connect social class with specific dog types, and these associations have informed legislative decision-making. Analysing media and political discourses, this article establishes how the relationship between class identity and breed shaped the public and political debate on dangerous dogs and impacts the material reality of dogs’ lives.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnthropos: Journal of Philosophy & Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2024


  • dog
  • Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
  • masculinity
  • pit bull terrier
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • class
  • breed

Research Centres

  • Centre for Human Animal Studies


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