21% of U.S. pit bulls currently available are in first year of life; 19% have lost at least one home
Nearly 15% of the dogs available to the U.S. public for sale or adoption as of mid-June 2018 were pit bulls, but that scarcely made pit bulls the most popular breed.
Rather, the numbers indicate the magnitude of the pit bull glut afflicting animal shelters and rescues throughout the nation: of a total of 4.4 million pit bulls alive in the U.S. as of June 2018, 1.8 million––41%––were seeking homes.
Of those pit bulls, 925,000 were offered for sale by breeders. Those were the 2018 pit bull puppy crop, amounting to 21% of the total pit bull population, or about one in five.
Competing with the pit bull puppies for the limited available homes were 852,400 pit bulls offered for adoption, 19% of the total pit bull population, who had already lost at least one home and were in custody of shelters and rescues.
A conspiracy of dunces?
A conspiracy theorist might suggest that pit bull advocates purposefully produce a glut of pit bulls, many of whom will never find “forever homes,” to ensure that the humane community will keep pouring resources into boosting the image of pit bulls, in order to avoid having to euthanize the perpetual surplus.
But that would require imagining that significant numbers of pit bull advocates are both cleverly diabolical and more far-sighted than their counterparts who run humane organizations––and that pit bull breeders are at the same time deliberately producing overpopulation which in turn results in thousands of animal shelters and rescues giving pit bulls away for free, undercutting the paying market.
Imagining such a conspiracy theory also requires imagining that the humane community will never awaken to reality and pursue breed-specific legislation to stop the overpopulation of pit bulls as aggressively as it has pursued legislation against so-called “puppy mills,” most of which produce dogs of breeds that are in demand.
12th electronic survey
The pit bull population data is only one small part of the wealth of information emerging from the ninth annual ANIMALS 24-7 peak-of-puppy-season electronic survey of the U.S. dog population, and our 12th overall, following similar surveys covering the time frames 1900-1950, 1970-1979, and 1980-1989.
(Scroll to the bottom for the complete chart of “Most popular dog breed categories & others of concern, 1900-1950 & since 2010. The 1970-1979 and 1980-1989 data are also included.)
Each survey crunches the numbers from classified ads offering dogs for sale or adoption. The surveys covering the time frames before 2010 extracted breed information from the classified ads published in print media archived by NewsLibrary.com and NewspaperArchive.com.
The surveys from 2010-present extract data from classified ads published online.
15.6 million dogs
The 2018 ANIMALS 24-7 survey reviewed listings offering 11.6 million dogs for sale and 3.8 million dogs for adoption.
Not surprisingly, large retrievers, hounds, and the northern working breeds remain among the five most abundant dog breed categories, just as they have been since 1900.
Pit bulls, by all of their common names and variants combined, are the third most abundant dog breed category, whereas they made up less than 1% of the total U.S. dog population from 1900 to 1950.
Top dozen & top 18
But all of the other dog breed categories who were among the most abundant dozen from 1900 to 1950 are still among the top dozen, including small terriers, collies, spaniels, Dachshunds, German shepherds, poodles, beagles, setters, and boxers.
The only breed categories among the top 18 of 2018 who were not comparably numerous in 1900-1950, besides pit bulls, are Chihuahuas, Rottweilers, Bernese mountain dogs, and cattle dogs (also known as Queensland heelers and blue and red heelers).
Most breed categories include multiple breeds recognized by various breed associations and registries.
Wide fluctuations appear from year to year in the numbers of specific breeds, and even in the numbers of dogs of any given breed type offered for sale, but over several years most of the fluctuations tend to average out and return to the norm.
1% usually cracks the top dozen
Usually a dog breed type numerous enough to amount to at least 1% of the dogs offered for sale by breeders in any given year will be among the top dozen, among hundreds of breeds recognized by some entity or other.
Only large retrievers, the northern working breeds, and poodles have ever exceeded 10% of the dogs offered for sale in any surveyed time frame. Only 14 times has any breed type been a greater percentage of all the dogs offered for sale in any surveyed time frame than pit bulls were in 2017 and 2018, at 8% in each year.
Half of all pit bulls will be elsewhere in a year
Never has any other breed type amounted to more of the dogs offered for adoption than pit bulls, 22.6% as of June 2018 if all listed breed descriptions are taken at face value.
That number would be 34% if adjusted for the frequency with which pit bulls are described as something else in ANIMALS 24-7 samplings of shelter and rescue advertisements accompanied by photographs.
If the number of pit bulls who are misdescribed is added to the number known to be offered for sale or adoption, fully half of the U.S. pit bull population is likely to be elsewhere within a year.
Chihuahuas & greyhounds
Of the dog breeds offered for adoption at the next greatest frequency, Chihuahuas were next most numerous, as of June 2018, at 3.2% (although more than three times that numerous in some parts of the country.) Greyhounds were third, at 0.9%.