Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Dogfighting has been illegal in the UK since the early 19th century, with several laws and bills passed to prosecute those who take part and enable dog fighting to happen. Despite these laws, the barbaric practice continues, involving different dog breeds and occurring in major cities and other areas. It is estimated that there is at least one dog fight taking place every day somewhere in the UK.
Top 12 Dog-Fighting Statistics in the UK
- There are more than 1,500 reports of dog fights made to the RSPCA every year.
- There is an amateur dog fight happening every day in the UK.
- Greater London is the region with the most fights.
- Fights can last as long as 5 hours.
- Dog fighting is prohibited by the Protection of Animals Act 1911.
- Only 31 convictions were made between 2008 and 2014.
- The maximum penalty under current legislation is 51 weeks in jail and a fine.
- Dog fighting is still legal in some countries.
- Pit Bulls were banned in the UK in 1991.
- Fighting dogs can cost more than £2,500.
- There are still believed to be more than 3,000 Pit Bulls in the UK.
- One US dogfighting champion made more than $900,000 for his owner.
Number and Frequency of Dog Fights
1. There are more than 1,500 reports of dog fights made to the RSPCA every year.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is the country’s leading animal charity. It received more than 1,500 reports of dogfighting in 12 months. It is worth noting that these are separate reports, but they do not necessarily relate to separate events; therefore, there are likely to have been considerably fewer incidents reported.
2. There is an amateur dog fight happening every day in the UK.
There are considered to be three levels of dog fighting, ranging from amateur rolls that happen in parks and on estates and typically last a few minutes to fully arranged, large-scale events that are invitation only and can attract bets equating to hundreds of thousands of pounds. Organized events are very difficult to detect because they are invitation only, and those invitations are typically only sent to participants who are trusted within the dogfighting world. However, it has been estimated that an amateur fight is likely taking place every day in the UK.
3. Greater London is the region with the most fights.
The places with the greatest number of reported dog fight incidents were Greater London, followed by the West Midlands and Greater Manchester. These are the areas of the country with dense populations that are known to attract organized crime gangs. West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire rounded off the top five spots for fighting reports.
4. Fights can last as long as 5 hours.
(League Against Cruel Sports)
Dogs are trained intensively for “professional” fights. They can spend several hours a day on treadmills, building up stamina, and they are trained to ignore their own pain and social cues that would normally cause one dog to back down in a fight with another. Submissive actions such as lying down would naturally bring a dog fight to an end, but not from aggressively trained dogs. As a result of this training, dog fights can last between 30 minutes and 5 hours. Amateur fights, called rolls, are more likely to only last a few minutes, but that’s still long enough for the dogs to get seriously hurt, as well as pose a risk to passers-by and owners.
Dog Fighting Laws and Regulations
5. Dog fighting is prohibited by the Protection of Animals Act 1911.
Dogfighting was once commonplace in England. Not only was it accepted but it was also encouraged. Bull baiting was one especially common type of animal fighting, along with cockfighting and dogfighting. However, it was first outlawed in the 1800s and subsequently made illegal by the Protection of Animals Act in 1911. The act made “fighting or baiting any animal” illegal, and it also made it illegal to allow the use of premises for fights.
6. Only 31 convictions were made between 2008 and 2014.
(League Against Cruel Sports)
Despite having been made illegal in the early 20th century, and despite more than 1,500 reports of dog fighting made to the RSPCA every year, there were only 31 convictions of the offense between 2008 and 2014. It is notoriously difficult to successfully try animal cruelty cases, and since there is no specific law against dogfighting, it can be difficult to prosecute. Groups like the League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPCA are lobbying to make it a strict law and to make it easier to seek and get a conviction.
7. The maximum penalty under current legislation is 51 weeks in jail and a fine.
The most recent legislation to cover dogfighting is that of the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 in England and Wales and the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act of 2006. Penalties include an unlimited fine and 51 weeks’ imprisonment in England and a maximum £20,000 fine and 12 months’ imprisonment in Scotland, respectively.
8. Dog fighting is still legal in some countries.
Thankfully, dogfighting has been outlawed in most countries around the world, including all countries in the UK and EU. It is also a federal offense in all 50 US states. However, it is still legal in Japan, Russia, and arguably, in Afghanistan. Despite this, fights still continue in the open in areas like Pakistan and Eastern Europe. Underground fights obviously also happen in the UK and US, as well as other countries.
9. Pit Bulls were banned in the UK in 1991.
According to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, it is illegal to own one of several breeds of dog in the UK. Besides the Pit Bull Terrier, the law makes it illegal to own the Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasileiro. The legislation was introduced after several dog attacks on small children involving Pit Bull-type dogs, and the law covers cross-breeds and hybrids of these dog types. It does not require a DNA test, and a dog that looks to be of a Pitbull type can be seized.
Fighting Dog Statistics
10. Fighting dogs can cost more than £2,500.
Dog fights can take place for any of several reasons. Besides for the supposed sport, they take place for betting purposes, though only typically when they are pre-arranged. Urban and amateur fights can be gang related and may involve any domestic dog. Fighting dogs can command price tags of several thousand pounds, according to their success rate, lineage, and breeding.
11. There are still believed to be more than 3,000 Pit Bulls in the UK.
(Metropolitan Police Freedom Of Information Request)
Despite Pit Bulls having been banned in the UK for 30 years, there are some instances where a judge can offer an exemption so that the dog may remain and not be euthanized. A Freedom of Information Act request has shown that under this guise, more than 3,000 of the breed are still in the UK.
12. One US dog fighting champion made more than $900,000 for his owner.
(League Against Cruel Sports)
Prize dogs can cost thousands, but a successful dog can make hundreds of thousands for their owner. One US prize dog, called Barracuda, won his owner more than $750,000 in prizes and $100,000 in stud fees and was sold for $80,000.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Fighting
How Many Dogs Die From Dog Fighting?
Dog fighting is an illegal and now underground sport. While it does still happen, dog owners typically administer their own treatments to injured dogs. Those dogs that are considered too injured to recover are killed. Very rarely are fighting dogs seen by registered vets, and even more rarely are their deaths reported. As such, there is no way of knowing how many dogs die in this way, but considering at least several hundred fights take place each year, it is likely that it numbers in the dozens or more.
What Breeds Are Used for Dogfighting?
The American Pit Bull is considered the most aggressive and efficient fighting dog, and while some examples do still exist in the UK, they have become less common since the 1990s. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is now one of the most popular breeds, but Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Mastiffs are also commonly used.
Are Bait Dogs Real?
Unfortunately, bait dogs are real. They are non-aggressive dogs that are put in a ring or enclosure with a fighting dog to test their fighting instinct while ensuring that the prize dog does not get injured. Many bait dogs die from their injuries.
Do Dog Fighters Use Cats as Bait?
Smaller animals are also used similarly. They tend to be put just out of the reach of a tethered dog, which will strain against their leash to get to the animal, strengthening their upper body and encouraging them to attack. Eventually, the dog is released to kill the bait cat or other bait animal.
Dog fighting is illegal in most countries around the world, but it does still continue in countries like the UK. Fights can range from amateur one-off fights in parks or on private property to organized events with prize money and big-money gambling. Although the offense is illegal, it is difficult to detect and even more difficult to prosecute, with just a handful of convictions made each year.