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Are Pit Bulls Banned in South Africa? Important Info for Potential Owners

Written by: Oliver Jones

Last Updated on July 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

white pitbull dog up close

Are Pit Bulls Banned in South Africa? Important Info for Potential Owners

Despite their loyalty and unconditional love as companions, Pit Bulls have had a long-standing reputation and controversy surrounding them. They have also been in the news in South Africa following several fatal attacks on humans.

While some countries have banned the breed, South Africa has no current laws prohibiting them, and as a South African citizen, you can own a Pit Bull. However, some citizens are fighting for the ban of this breed, while Pit Bull advocates and owners fight to keep Pit Bulls around.


Why Are Pit Bulls Controversial?

Pit Bulls have been given a reputation for being dangerous and aggressive, but many Pit Bull lovers believe that their behavior is a reflection of their owners. The Pit Bull is still a popular breed around the world today. Crossing Bulldogs and Old English Terriers for hunting and fighting produced the brave dog.

While a well-bred and properly trained Pit Bull makes a reliable and devoted companion, they are also sometimes known for their aggression toward other dogs and may become destructive when bored. If they are not properly trained and socialized or raised by an inexperienced owner, they can become dominant, aggressive, and sometimes harmful to the public.

Pit Bulls are classified by some countries as dangerous dogs and are either banned or restricted in public because of it. Some countries will also require an owner to carry a license.

Pit Bull advocates, experts, and owners say the breed is misunderstood. They believe that if a Pit Bull becomes aggressive toward a human, that is at the hands of the owner and not the dog. They also think backyard breeders are to blame for creating aggressive crossbreeds and selling them to owners who are inexperienced and don’t know the importance of proper training and socialization.

Agressive pitbull terrier
Image By: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock

Why Are Some Residents Pushing for a Ban in South Africa?

There are currently no laws in South Africa banning Pit Bulls. However, they have recently been in the news following a few attacks, sparking the call for an immediate ban. The call for outlawing Pit Bulls in South Africa comes as numerous other countries have either outlawed the breed or placed restrictions on its importation or ownership. There are multiple reasons that countries would ban a specific breed of dog, like a Pit Bull, which include:

  • Dogs that tend to be aggressive
  • Troubling dog bite statistics
  • Dogs used for illegal activities such as dog fighting
  • Dogs that have poor behavior and health records
  • Unrecognized or rare breeds that may be unpredictable

Following years of vicious attack incidents and the recent attack resulting in the unfortunate death of a 10-year-old boy, the trade union federation suggested that South Africa prohibit the ownership of Pit Bulls as pets, as other countries have done.

To prevent uncontrolled breeding, the foundation wants all male Pit Bulls castrated and all females sterilized. Additionally, they recommended that the government consider licensing for particular breeds, such as Pit Bulls, Boerboels, and Rottweilers, and even went a step further in suggesting that the police department receive all remaining Pit Bulls to use in the K9 unit.

The spokesperson for Cosatu started a petition to ban the Pit Bull as a pet, and it has been signed by more than 135,000 South Africans.

Can You Own a Pit Bull in South Africa?

Pit Bulls can be owned as pets in South Africa, but the companionship won’t come without some judgment from fellow citizens and naysayers. However, many of the breed’s fans believe the owners are the problem and are fighting against this ban. The Pit Bull Federation of South Africa (PBFSA)  is an organization that is committed to educating South Africans about the breed. They have made it their mission to protect and promote the Pit Bull in South Africa.

The PBFSA encourages owners to be responsible by having their Pit Bulls adequately trained, socialized, and fixed. The National Council of SPCAs concurs that more stringent regulations are required to safeguard vulnerable individuals and animals from dog attacks but disagrees that a total ban on Pit Bulls is the solution.

Should Pit Bulls Be Banned in South Africa?

Pit Bulls were originally bred in England for bull baiting and imported to South Africa, where they were produced further as pets, guard dogs, and for illegal fighting rings. Pit Bulls’ genetics make up about 60% of their behavior. However, proper training and socialization from a young age can drastically change their behavior.

Other breeds have been painted in a similar light in South Africa. German Shepherds and Boerboels were considered harmful, and breeds like Rottweilers, Mastiffs, and Dobermans were nearly banned.

Banning a specific breed may create some gray area for crossbreeds, and if the Pit Bulls in South Africa are all euthanized, as some call for, this will become an ethical nightmare, and rightly so. Furthermore, banning a specific breed ignores other vital aspects, such as unsocialized or intact dogs that are generally more aggressive.

A back view of a brown Pitbull dog
Image By: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

How Can Pit Bull Owners Prevent Dog Attacks?

Dog fighting in South Africa needs to be eliminated. This will result in less incentive for breeding for aggression and rather for companionship. Breeding should be done with strict regulations, along with behavioral testing. Many responsible breeders focus on family-friendly bloodlines to produce stable litters. The next step is responsible ownership.

These are the most important factors to consider for responsible ownership:

  • Strongly consider spaying or neutering your Pit Bull
  • Train and socialize the dog at a young age
  • Ensure your Pit Bull gets adequate exercise
  • Your Pit Bull should be fed a well-balanced diet to stay healthy
  • Maintain regular check-ups at the vet
  • Always supervise your dog around children and infants
  • Use a leash when walking
  • Follow local laws and guidelines.
  • A veterinarian or dog trainer should immediately assess any unsafe behavior.


Final Words

Pit Bulls are not banned in South Africa, for now, anyway. There is a petition to ban the breed, but controversy and a battle between naysayers and lovers of the species will always remain. A dog’s behavior is influenced by its upbringing, socialization, and training, and bad behavior can easily be changed with proper training. The problem lies with fighting rings and dogs bred aggressively for fighting, along with irresponsible ownership.

Featured Image Credit: Chris Anabalon, Shutterstock

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