"There is no scientific methodology or process for determining the
genetic history of a dog from its physical appearance."
Linda Watson, Researcher
"If it looks like a Pit Bull, it's a Pit Bull"
Graeme Smith, CEO at Lost Dogs Home

Owners Fear Their Dogs Will Be Wrongly Identified

An increasing number of Victorians are currently terrified that their family pets will be seized and killed by Council Officers. The Victorian Government wants to rid the state of ‘Pit Bulls’ and has enacted new laws to enable a cull. These laws enable Council officers to seize and kill dogs they believe look like American Pit Bull Terriers.

Breed Standards Not Valid For Identifying Breed

Key to this process is the release by the Minister of the ‘Standard For Restricted Breed Dogs in Victoria’. As we will see below, this is basically a rearrangement and rewording of the official breed standards for the breeds in question. The problem is, breed standards are intended for dog show judges to use when comparing dogs of a known pedigree.

Use of a breed standard as a basis for determining the breed of a dog, where that
breed is not known as a matter of fact and  is a question in dispute, is an entirely
misconceived use for the document, and is not a process which is capable of
producing any objectively valid determination as to whether a dog is of one particular
breed or not.

That Won’t Stop This Government

The Minister has released an identification standard (download here) created by three individuals who we believe wish to remain anonymous. The work they have produced has not been scientifically validated. No evidence has been provided to allay fears that it will produce false positives. Given its intention is to decide the fates of family pets this is unacceptable.

Thinly Veiled Copy of UKC Breed Standard

Did you ever do a school project by copying text from a single book and simply rearranging sentences and making cosmetic changes to avoid accusations of plagiarism?  The authors of our ‘approved standard’ appear to have done just this. The section on American Pit Bull Terriers reads like a thinly veiled reworking of the United Kennel Club’s breed standard for APBT’s.


Slightly shorter in length to the skull (i.e. 2:3 ratio for muzzle:skull). It is broad, deep and powerful with a slight taper to the nose and falls away slightly under the eyes (refer figure 4).

UKC: The muzzle is broad and deep with a very slight taper from the stop to the nose, and a slight falling away under the eyes. The length of muzzle is shorter than the length of skull, with a ratio of approximately 2:3.


Large, fairly flat, broad and deep, slightly tapering towards the stop. There is a deep median furrow reducing in depth from stop to occiput. Cheek muscles are prominent but free of wrinkles. When the dog is alerted wrinkles will form on the forehead.
UKC: The skull is large, flat or slightly rounded, deep, and broad between the ears. Viewed from the top, the skull tapers just slightly toward the stop. There is a deep median furrow that diminishes in depth from the stop to the occiput. Cheek muscles are prominent but free of wrinkles. When the dog is concentrating, wrinkles form on the forehead, which give the APBT his unique expression.


Large with wide open nostrils and may be of any colour.

UKC: The nose is large with wide, open nostrils. The nose may be any color.


Medium in size, round in shape and set low in the head – not prominent. Eyes can be all colours except blue. The eye rims are the same colour as the skin colour.

UKC: Eyes are medium size, round to almond-shaped, and set well apart and low on the skull. All colors are equally acceptable except blue, which is a serious fault. Haw should not be visible.


Moderate length and with great strength, tapering from the head into the shoulders. A slight arch over the crest. The neck must be free from loose skin or dewlap (loose, pendulous skin under the throat).

The neck is of moderate length and muscular. There is a slight arch at the crest. The neck widens gradually from where it joins the skull to where it blends into well laid-back shoulders. The skin on the neck is tight and without dewlap.

Mocking A Dog Before Killing It?

The breed standard contains photographs of a number of dogs. We’re seeking more information about these dogs but think there’s a reasonable chance they were taken at a Victorian pound and that these dogs were subsequently killed.

Second ‘Tough Dog’ collar appears to have been dropped over slip lead. Why?

Both collars look super loose and the second “tough dog” collar was obviously dropped over the top of the slip lead. To make him look vicious? Was this his crown of thorns?

Are These Verified American Pit Bull Terriers?

Are they certified American Pit Bull Terriers or are they simply dogs someone thought looked like Pit Bulls? How was the breed of these dogs established? This document will be given to people with no training or qualification in breed identification. Surely it does not include images of dogs from unknown parentage?

This dog looks more like a Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Who Actually Wrote The Standard?

People do some things under the clover of anonymity that they would never dream of if they had to sign their work. It’s our understanding that the authors were assured their involvement would remain a secret.

Hon. P. R. HALL (Minister for Higher Education
and Skills) — In respect of consultation with other
groups, I can advise Mr Barber that the persons
involved in the consultation on the development of the
standard — I do not know the actual names of the
people — included an all-breeds judge, a veterinarian
and an authorised officer of council. They represented
their groups on the development of the standard.

We Believe The Writing Group Consisted Of These People

We would welcome a response from the writers and would be happy to publish anything they send through.

Patricia Stewart, AVA Victorian Branch

Glenda Cook, All Breeds Judge and Corgi Breeder

An Authorised Officer