How To Prove My Dog Is Not A Pitbull


Being wrongly accused of having a banned or restricted breed of dog can have serious consequences. Certain breeds like pit bulls face many restrictions and even bans across different cities, counties, and countries. However, visual identification of pit bulls and other banned breeds is notoriously unreliable.

If your dog is identified as a restricted breed, even if inaccurately, you may face major hurdles like not being able to rent an apartment, higher insurance costs, muzzle requirements in public, or even having your dog taken away or euthanized. That’s why it’s so important to definitively prove your dog is not a banned breed if you are accused.

This guide covers the key steps you can take to prove your dog’s true breed and avoid any unfair consequences of breed misidentification. With veterinary records, DNA tests, expert evaluation, registration papers, and more, you can protect your dog and your rights as a responsible owner.

Get Veterinary Records

One of the best ways to prove your dog’s breed is to obtain complete medical records and history from your veterinarian. Your vet likely recorded your dog’s breed when you first brought them in for care. Having this documentation that lists your dog as a breed other than a pit bull can serve as strong evidence. According to Rethinking Dog Breed Identification in Veterinary Practice, vets make visual breed identifications that get noted in the medical records. So securing those original documents where your vet identified your dog as a non-pit bull breed can be very useful.

a veterinarian comforts a sweet labrador retriever puppy during an exam, checking its health and marking its breed in the medical records.

Make sure to request and gather all veterinary records from your dog’s entire medical history. Partial or incomplete records may not have the original breed identification notation. You want to obtain the full documentation, ideally from your dog’s first vet visit as a puppy when breed identification is most accurate. Having complete medical records can provide solid proof of your dog’s breed according to the professional opinion of your veterinarian over the course of treating your dog.

DNA Test

DNA tests can be a useful tool for identifying the breed makeup of a dog with unknown origins. Tests like Embark and Wisdom Panel analyze thousands of genetic markers to determine a dog’s breed ancestry (reference). While no test is 100% accurate, these DNA tests are considered highly reliable for detecting breeds in mixed dogs.

According to CU researchers, some DNA tests like Embark correctly identified a dog’s main breed over 90% of the time and second most common breed over 80% of the time (reference). DNA tests can detect breeds going back many generations that may not be obvious from physical appearance alone.

To help prove a dog is not a pit bull, a DNA test can conclusively rule out American Pit Bull Terrier and other bully breeds in the ancestry. While visual identification is subjective, a DNA test provides genetic proof of a dog’s breed makeup. If pit bull-type breeds are not detected, this evidence can help demonstrate the dog is genetically distinct from breeds legally classified as pit bulls.

Registration Papers

Registration papers from a kennel club like the AKC are designed to record a dog’s ancestry and breed history. Having official registration papers can serve as definitive proof of a dog’s breed background. The AKC in particular has strict registration rules and requirements in order to be listed as a particular breed.[1]

If you have AKC registration papers that list your dog as a specific breed, that documentation can be used as evidence that your dog is not a pit bull, which is not an AKC recognized breed. The AKC also offers conditional registration if DNA evidence proves a dog is a certain breed. So DNA testing showing your dog is another breed, combined with conditional AKC registration, would provide solid proof that your dog is not a pit bull.[2]

However, lack of papers alone does not prove a dog is a pit bull, as many purebred dogs lack official registration. Papers should be viewed as supplemental proof, not definitive proof on their own. The breed listed on papers would need to match your dog’s physical traits and DNA to fully rule out it being an unregistered pit bull.

Professional Evaluation

One way to help prove your dog is not a pit bull is to get a professional evaluation from a certified dog trainer or animal behaviorist. These experts can provide an unbiased assessment of your dog’s breed based on their extensive knowledge of dog breeds and experience evaluating hundreds or even thousands of dogs.

According to the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), certified dog trainers undergo rigorous testing to demonstrate their dog training knowledge and must adhere to strict ethical guidelines. CCPDT states that certified dog trainers “are educated in dog training theory, use humane training methods, and continuously update their training skills.”

a certified dog trainer evaluates a mixed breed dog, analyzing its characteristics to determine its likely breeds.

You can find a CCPDT certified dog trainer in your area by using the organization’s online directory. Be sure to choose a trainer with specific experience evaluating dog breeds.

Certified applied animal behaviorists are another option. These experts have graduate degrees and specialized training in animal behavior. The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers allows you to search for certified behaviorists by location.

During the evaluation, the trainer or behaviorist will assess your dog’s physical characteristics, temperament, energy level, etc. and provide their professional opinion on your dog’s most likely breed(s). This expert determination can help demonstrate that your dog does not fit the profile of a pit bull.

Physical Appearance

One of the best ways to prove your dog is not a pitbull is by looking at its physical attributes and comparing them to the average pitbull. Pitbulls tend to have a stocky, muscular build with a broad chest, wedge-shaped head, and strong jaw. Their coats are typically short and smooth. Some common pitbull coat colors include black, brown, white, brindle, and merle. If your dog has a very different body shape, skull shape, coat texture or length, or coloring, that is strong evidence it does not belong to the pitbull breed. For example, a long-haired dog with a narrow snout is unlikely to be a pitbull. Or a dog with very short legs and a long back does not match the typical pitbull conformation. Breed identification based solely on physical appearance has limitations and inaccuracies, but comparing your dog side-by-side to the pitbull breed standard can help demonstrate it is clearly a different breed. Describe your dog’s unique physical traits and why they do not align with a typical pitbull appearance.

Behavior Profile

When trying to prove your dog is not a pit bull, looking at their typical behavior can provide helpful evidence. Pit bull breeds like the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier are often characterized as aggressive, especially toward other dogs. However, a dog’s behavior is shaped much more by their environment, training and socialization than their genetics. Just because a dog may look like a pit bull breed does not mean they will behave anything like the stereotypes. Compare your dog’s behavior to the typical pit bull temperament.

For example, does your dog show dog aggression, or do they get along well with all types of dogs? Are they standoffish with strangers, or very friendly and social? Do they have a high prey drive and tendency to chase small animals, or do they ignore them? What about their activity level – pit bulls tend to be high energy, while your dog may be calm and lower energy. Tracking your dog’s daily behavior and taking note when it differs from pit bull breed stereotypes can help demonstrate they are not a true pit bull breed after all.

A professional dog trainer’s evaluation of your dog’s behavior can provide even more objective proof. Have them observe your dog in various controlled settings and provide a written assessment describing their personality. If your dog shows no signs of the supposed “pit bull” temperament, include this as evidence they are not what their looks suggest.

Breed History

Researching and documenting your dog’s pedigree and lineage can help prove it’s not a pit bull. Pedigrees provide a record of a dog’s ancestors, which can reveal or rule out pit bull lineage. According to the American Kennel Club article “Discover Your Dog’s Family Tree with an AKC-Certified Pedigree”, pedigrees feature your dog’s personal and family accomplishments.

a dog owner studies their dog's pedigree documents, tracing its lineage to identify or rule out pit bull ancestry.

You can research your dog’s pedigree through the AKC’s online research pedigrees, which provide information on every dog in your dog’s lineage including name, registration number, colors, markings, and more according to this AKC article. The Institute of Canine Biology also explains that a dog’s pedigree documents its genetic history and relationships with other breed members, which can help identify or rule out pit bull lineage.

Identify True Breed

The most definitive way to identify your dog’s true breed is to get a professional evaluation based on all the available evidence. A canine behaviorist or veterinarian who specializes in breed identification can examine your dog’s physical characteristics, behavior profile, medical history, and DNA test results to make an informed determination of the likely breed mix.

Some things the expert will look for include body structure and proportions, coat type, ear shape, tail shape and carriage, musculoskeletal structure, and skull shape. They will also analyze your dog’s temperament, energy level, trainability, and any breed-specific behaviors. Dog tail shape can provide clues about potential herding or sporting dog lineage, for example.

a dog behaviorist carefully examines a dog's tail, ear shape, coat, and body structure to determine its breed makeup.

In combination with DNA results, veterinary records, registration papers, and your own accounts of the dog’s history and personality, a professional evaluation provides the most complete picture of your individual dog’s breeding. This holistic approach helps determine true breed makeup beyond any single factor alone.


Accurately identifying your dog’s breed is crucial for responsible ownership and to avoid prejudice or misconceptions. Start by compiling evidence like veterinary records, DNA tests, paperwork, professional evaluations, appearance traits, and typical breed behaviors. Understand the history and characteristics of the suspected breed. Then have conversations with authorities or experts to make your case and explain why your dog does not match the profile of a pit bull. Responsible dog owners have an obligation to advocate for their pets. With sufficient evidence and expertise, you can prove your dog’s breed and give them the life they deserve.

Having a well-behaved, gentle dog helps challenge assumptions. Make sure you can back up your claims if questioned. While breed identification can be complex, put in the work to properly represent your pet. An accurate understanding of their background allows you to be a better caretaker. Do not rely on guesses or appearances alone when making a case. Instead, compile multiple credible sources to prove your dog’s breed beyond doubt.

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