State by State Pit Bull Ownership Statistics: 2024 Data

Last Updated on: 10th February 2024, 05:34 pm

Pitbulls are one of the most misunderstood and misidentified of all dog breeds probably because of their looks and some dog attack statistics which paint them in a bad light.

We all know that statistics are often gathered based on a small study group and as such are not truly representative which is why we curated the right dog attack statistics and pitbull statistics.

It also doesn’t help that the media prefers to shine the spotlight on the aggressive and not-so-friendly side of pit bulls.

All these plus the enforcement of breed-specific legislation by most states have contributed to a decline in the ownership of pit bulls in the U.S. in recent years.

But contrary to popular belief, pit bulls are loving and loyal dogs and would make a great pet and friend, should you decide to adopt one.

This article will be focused on debunking some of these Pitbull myths and wrong statistics while providing you with the right answers to your Pitbull related questions, BSL laws in each state, and genuine pitbull stats.

Top 10 Pitbull-Friendly States in the USA 2023

Pitbulls, although often misunderstood due to misconceptions and stereotypes, they remain beloved pets for many individuals and families across the United States.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 Pitbull-friendly states, based on the estimated number of Pitbulls residing in each state:

  • Texas – 625,000
  • South Carolina – 432,600
  • Minnesota – 411,100
  • Tennessee – 404,100
  • Florida – 400,000
  • Mississippi – 385,800
  • Massachusetts – 359,900
  • New York – 355,800
  • California – 350,000

Texas takes the lead with an estimated population of 625,000 Pitbulls, showcasing the state’s affinity for these loyal and friendly dogs. South Carolina follows closely with 432,600 Pitbulls, while Minnesota and Tennessee also demonstrate their appreciation for the breed with over 400,000 Pitbulls each.

The list continues with Florida, Mississippi, Massachusetts, New York, and California, where Pitbulls have found a loving home.

These figures highlight the popularity and acceptance of Pitbulls in various regions throughout the United States, helping to dispel misconceptions and promote a more positive perception of this remarkable breed.

Least Pitbull-Friendly State in the USA

While Pitbulls are cherished companions in many parts of the United States, there are some states where the breed faces more challenges and restrictions.

Among these states, one stands out as the least Pitbull-friendly based on the estimated number of Pitbulls residing there:

  • Louisiana – 50,000
  • Maryland – 25,000
  • Missouri – 20,000
  • New Jersey – 15,000
  • Oklahoma – 12,500
  • Virginia – 1212.6
  • Wyoming – 504.4
  • Washington – 497.8
  • Wisconsin – 404.1
  • West Virginia – 151.2

West Virginia – 151.2

West Virginia has the smallest Pitbull population on our list, with only 151.2 Pitbulls reported.

The state’s low number of Pitbulls suggests a less welcoming environment for the breed.

It is important to note that various factors can contribute to a state being considered less Pitbull-friendly, such as breed-specific legislation, public perception, and limited resources for Pitbull rescue and advocacy organizations.

Efforts to educate the public about responsible dog ownership and combat misconceptions about Pitbulls can help create a more inclusive and accepting environment for this loving breed.

Pitbull-Related Attacks per State in the USA

It is essential to consider the safety and well-being of both humans and animals when examining the statistics on pitbull-related attacks across different states in the United States. The following table presents the number of reported pitbull-related attacks in each state:

Arizona emerges at the top of the list with 13 reported pitbull-related attacks. Colorado and Indiana follow closely with 11 and 10 incidents, respectively.

While these figures highlight the occurrences of pitbull-related incidents, it is important to note that they do not provide a complete picture of the breed’s behavior as a whole.

Factors such as responsible ownership, proper training, and socialization play significant roles in a dog’s behavior.

These statistics can serve as a reminder of the need for education, responsible pet ownership, and effective measures to prevent and address incidents involving any dog breed, including pit bulls.

Note: It is important to note that these numbers only represent registered pit bulls. There are likely many more pit bulls in the USA that are not registered.

Breed-Specific Legislation and Pitbulls in the USA

pitbull breed legislature

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) refers to regulations or laws targeted at specific dog breeds or breeds that are considered”dangerous” or “aggressive” by local governments.

One such breed that has been heavily impacted by BSL is the Pitbull.

Many states and cities across the country have implemented some form of BSL that specifically targets Pitbulls or breeds that are commonly mistaken for Pitbulls. These laws often impose restrictions or outright bans on owning, breeding, or housing Pitbulls within the designated jurisdictions. BSL may also require Pitbull owners to meet stringent requirements such as muzzling their dogs in public, obtaining special permits, or obtaining liability insurance.

Why Do Some Cities Ban Pit Bulls

Some large dog breeds like Rottweilers, Dobermans, and Pit Bulls have a bad reputation for being ferocious and aggressive by nature. However, if you’re a dog lover or pet parent, you’ll agree with me that the idea of an aggressive breed is more of a myth than a reality.

It’s not fair to label all dogs of a certain breed as being dangerous especially when these breeds have been trained with harmful tactics such as negative reinforcement just to trigger their aggressive behavior.

The fear of Pit bulls began in the late 1980s when the US Time Magazine published an article titled “The Pit Bull: Friend or Killer”. The article criticized the popular opinion then, by asking if pit bulls were lovable and friendly as their owners claim or if they were dangerous and unfit for society.

The story went viral and created a lot of stigma around Pit Bulls and so many people surrendered their pit bulls to shelters. This also brought about the enactment of breed-specific legislation by many cities.

But there’s hope for pit bulls as animal rights activists and loving Pitbull parents are working tirelessly to reverse these breed-specific laws and change the negative views of the public concerning Pit bulls and Pitbull type dogs. And fortunately, there has been significant progress. Before, 40 states were operating breed-specific legislation in their various cities, now that number is down to 37.

For example, the city of Denver lifted the 30-year ban on Pitbulls in January 2021 and even more cities are starting to relax their laws and bans to accommodate pit bulls and other Pitbull type dogs.

States that prohibit bans on pit bulls and other breeds

White and black American bully dog twisting the head with expression of attention next to two people

As of 2021, there are only 9 states that prohibit local governments from implementing or enforcing breed-specific legislation. They include:

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Washington DC

In addition to these, 12 more states also prohibit local governments from including specific breeds in dangerous dog laws:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida*
  • Minnesota
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia

Note that Florida’s prohibition only applies to laws that were passed after October 1, 1990. Also, some other states like Hawaii do not have any breed-specific legislation in place.

Major Cities With Bans And Restrictions on Pit Bulls

  • Washington, DC: Prince George’s County in Maryland had a ban in place against all bully breeds, but in the District of Columbia, these breed restrictions are not enforced.
  • Miami, FL: Buying, keeping, or bringing Pit Bulls into Miami-Dade County was made illegal in 1990 and has remained so till the present day. Violating this law will attract hefty fines or result in the dog being euthanized.
  • San Francisco, CA: If you plan on buying or breeding Pit Bulls in San Francisco, you must first obtain a permit from animal control. Also, keeping unneutered or unspayed Pitbulls in this part of the state is considered illegal
  • New York City, NY: New York City on its own does not enforce bans on Pit bulls but the New York City Housing Authority has placed a ban on all Pit Bull breeds, Rottweilers, and Dobermans from all its properties.
  • North Chicago, IL: Pet parents who reside in North Chicago can only keep a maximum of 2 Pit Bulls. Anything above that is illegal otherwise you’ll have to get written permission from the local animal warden. That aside, to own a pit bull in North Chicago, you must obtain a Pit Bull Kennel license from the city valued at $500.

Pitbull Statistics You Should Know

1 . The total population of Pit Bulls in the U.S is around 4.5 million

Despite their bad rep, there are still quite several Pitbull lovers in the U.S. This is reflected in the Pitbulls population which is around 4.5 million, making up a total of 6% of the dog population in the U.S

2 . Pit Bulls only share about half of their DNA makeup with their Pitbull ancestors

Modern-day Pit Bulls only share about 50% of their genetic makeup with their ancestors. This is due to years of crossbreeding between pit bulls and other dog breeds.

3. Pit Bulls are often subject to abuse, illegal breeding, and dog fighting rings.

Many Pitbull owners choose this dog breed for guard duties. And oftentimes, these owners abuse and mistreat these dogs by starving them of food and attention just to trigger their aggressive side. And because pit bulls tend to get aggressive when abused or riled up, they end up being used for illegal dog fighting rings. To a large extent, this abuse from Pitbull owners is what has contributed to the myth that they’re ferocious killers.

4. Each year, approximately 1 million Pit Bulls are put to sleep

Pitbulls and bull-type dogs make up approximately 40% of all dogs euthanized in shelters. 1 million pit bulls are put to sleep each year. This means 2800 pit bulls are euthanized daily in shelters because there are not enough people who are willing to adopt them. Which is mostly caused by the misinformation surrounding the breed.

5 . 51 Put Bulls were rescued from Michael Vick’s illegal dog fighting ring.

Dog fighting rings are illegal in all 50 states in the U.S. yet some people continue to host dig fighting in secret locations. One such person is Michael Vick, an NFL superstar who had just signed a 10-year $130 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons before he was arrested for operating a dog fighting ring. A total of 51 Pitbulls were recovered from his property and they had all been abused and mistreated. One of the dogs had to be euthanized, and two others died from their injuries, but luckily the remaining 48 were rehabilitated and rehomed.

Vick however, was banned from owning a dog for several years and also given a sentence of  19 months in prison.

6 . In 2019, 7.9% of Pitbulls were illegally bred and sold online

The majority of breeders indulge in illegal backyard breeding of pit bulls and in 2019 alone, about 7.9 % of pit bulls were advertised online. Which is approximately 1.3 million pit bulls. These are more reasons why there are so many unwanted pit bulls in dog shelters.

7 . Pit Bulls make up approximately 6% of all dog shelters in the U.S

Considering the backyard breeding and large litter sizes of Pitbulls, it’s no wonder how they end up in huge numbers in dog shelters all across the U.S. There’s also the problem of negative media influencing the poor rate of adoption of these dog breeds from shelters. A study shows that about 25% of Americans are scared of Pitbulls and 50% of families with children are not willing to bring home a Pitbull.

8 . 32% of all dogs put up for adoption in shelters are Pit Bulls

Seeing that most pit bulls end up in shelters, they account for about 32% of all dogs put up for adoption. And even when they do get adopted, they usually find their way back to the shelters, mostly as a result of breed-specific legislation in some states.

9 . Pit Bulls stay three times longer in shelters than other dog breeds

Due to several factors, pit bulls are much more likely to spend a long time in shelters than other dog breeds. These could be due to factors such as

  • Landlords prohibition of Pitbulls as pets.
  • The bad reputation of Pitbulls may discourage many people from adopting them.
  • Some other dog breeds are wrongly labeled as pit bulls because of their appearance.

10. 75% of the time, animal shelters label Pitbull breeds wrongly

Breed identification in animal shelters is oftentimes done using just appearance. However due to extensive crossbreeding, some of these dogs may not necessarily belong to the Pitbull family but because these Pitbull-type dogs look stocky and muscular, they end up being labeled wrongly. 

11 . There’s a significant 64% increase in the rate of adoption from shelters after the removal of identification tags

In a study consisting of 17,000 adoptions from shelters, researchers discovered that pit bulls were 64% more likely to be adopted when their identification labels were removed. This same finding was true for other dog breeds.

12 . Pit Bull adoption rates decreased by 31% between 2000 and 2011

The 11-year period between 2000 and 2011 saw a drastic decrease in Pitbull adoption rates by 31% owing heavily to the negative press surrounding pit bulls. During that time, pit bulls became one of the most hated digs in America.

13 . Pit Bulls are ranked second on the list of biting dogs

Studies have shown that pit bulls are responsible for 22% of dog bites while 9ther dog breeds account for 21% of fatal dog attacks. However, you should know that dog bites most times are a result of some sort of provocation. And given the high rate of abuse and baiting behavior from owners it’s no surprise why there’s a high number of Pitbull attacks.

14. 60% of pit-involved deaths were recorded between 1979 and 1998

Pitbulls alongside Rottweilers were responsible for 60% of dog bite fatalities that led to the death of several persons between 1979-1998. However, these reports were based on a small percentage of dog bite injuries and thus painted Pitbulls in a bad light.

15. 26% of Deaths recorded between 1981 and 1992 were a result of Pit Bull bites

Of all the dog attacks which resulted in death between 1981-1992, pit bulls were paraded as being responsible for about a third of them. But further studies have shown that 25 different breeds were responsible for those fatal attacks on humans

16 . Pit Bulls reportedly killed 36 Americans in 2018 and about 346 Americans between 2005 and 2019

Reports confirmed that pit bull attacks were responsible for 72% of fatalities recorded in 2018 and sadly 68% of those attacks involved family members instead of strangers. It was recorded that during the 15 years from 2005-2019, Pitbulls were involved in 66% of dog attacks that resulted in the death of 346 Americans.

17 . Pit Bulls were recorded to have caused fatal dog attacks between 2016 and 2020

Pitbull statistics show that pitbull attacks resulted in fatalities between 2016 and 2020. However, the research also concluded that dog attacks are not a breed-specific problem. Instead, any dog breed can attack based on its behavior which is largely influenced by its environment.

18 . Pitbulls were involved in the most dog bites in 20 states between 2013 and 2021

In many states in the U.S., pit bulls have been recorded as being responsible for the majority of dog bite cases. Another research carried out in Harris County, Texas showed that Pitbull bites were 213% more likely to be fatal than other breeds.

19 . Pitbulls were responsible for 2/3rd of the dog bite-related incidents in Philadelphia hospital

In 2009, a study was published that took into account 5 years of dog bite incidents in Philadelphia hospitals that involved children and it was confirmed that a third of the attacks were from pit bulls.

20 . Between 1965 and 1975, there was only one reported Pitbull Attack

Between 1965 and 2975, Pitbull owners were very common and this breed was once regarded as America’s dog. During this period, only one Pitbull attack was reported.

21. 25% of Americans think negatively about Pitbulls

Research shows that about 25% of Americans view pit bulls in a negative light, and an even higher percentage of the population is wary of this breed. This is probably because pit bulls were originally bred for bear baiting and the negative media surrounding the breed.

22 . In recent years, Pitbulls have been involved in fewer human attacks compared to other breeds

Although some people may want to argue that this is a result of the implementation of BSL in many states. But the truth is there has not been any nationwide system put in place to track dog breed-specific bite incidents, at least not since 1998.

23 . Pitbulls are in the top 23% of best-tempered dogs

Contrary to what the media wants you to believe, pit bulls are one of the best-behaved dogs. Three Pitbull breeds were tested and collectively secured an average score of 87.9% in a study carried out by the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS), putting it in the top 23% of best-tempered dogs.

24 . Pitbulls are not a threat to humans

Pitbulls are lovable pets and are not the aggressive vile killers that they have been painted to look like.

For example, in August 2007, there were four reported dog bite incidents. One was by a Pitbull and the other three were by other breeds. The attack involving a Pitbull was covered by 230 different local and international news agencies while the attacks involving the other breeds were only covered by one or two local newspapers.

This does not dispute the fact that Pitbull attacks do occur, but it’s also a fact that all dog breeds bite when provoked. The only difference is, the Pitbull’s bite force is much more severe compared to other smaller dog breeds.

Side Effects of BSL

  • It can lead to the unnecessary euthanization of innocent dogs.                                
  • It can make it more difficult for people to find homes for pit bulls and other banned breeds.                                                                    
  • It can discourage people from reporting dog bites, out of fear that their dog will be seized or euthanized.                                                                 
  • It can create a false sense of security, leading people to believe that they are safe from dog bites simply because they live in a community with BSL.

If you worry about dogs biting, there are some steps you can take to keep you and your family safe. These include:

  • Teach your kids how to be safe around dogs.
  • Always supervise children when they’re with a dog.
  • Pay attention to your environment and avoid getting close to dogs you don’t know.
  • If a dog bites you, get medical help right away.


The American Pitbull Terrier is a dog breed that has been misunderstood. We hope that with this data and information, you will be able to get a better understanding of this dog breed.

Sources And Important Note:

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