How popular were pit bulls once upon a time?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2006:
While few doubt that pit bull terriers have long been bred as
fighting dogs, most discussion of pit bull traits or regulation
meets claims such as that “The American pit bull terrier and its
cousins had a well-deserved reputation as a loyal and trustworthy
family pet in the early years of this century,” (from
canismajor.com), and that “By World War I the American pit bull
terrier had became a well loved and desired dog,” (from
Newspaper Arch-ive.com now provides a quick way to check the
record, via 28.9 million pages of text-searchable microfilmed
newspapers from the 18th century to today. This includes the
classified dogs-for-sale ads.
ANIMAL PEOPLE recently ran searches on 34 dog breeds and
breed types for the years 1900-1950, limiting each search to U.S.
newspapers only, and adding the word “dog” to each search to avoid
pulling up entries for “husky” football players, St. Bernard the
Roman Catholic monk, boxers and pugs who were human prizefighters,
Two breeds hit the NewspaperArchive search engine ceiling of
314,027 mentions, and are asterisked accordingly in the table at
right. Huskies in the second quarter of the 20th century were at a
peak of popularity, after their heroics in delivering diptheria
serum to Nome over the Iditarod Trail in 1927. St. Bernards appear
to have been very popular as well.
The exercise was skewed toward finding more pit bulls rather
than fewer, since multiple searches were run to try to find pit
bulls under a variety of different names; since searches were not
run on every recognized dog breed; since not all mentions of
huskies and St. Bern-ards were returned; and since several always
rare breeds such as Basenjis were included in the sample, to
establish a lower-end benchmark for comparison with the most popular
breeds and breed types.
The sum of pit bull terriers, Staffordshires, and American
bulldogs came to 34,770: 1% of the sampling of nearly 3.5 million
breed-specific mentions of dogs.
St. Bernard *314,027
Spaniel (all) 232,107
German shepherd 187,843
Basset hound 63,925
Great Dane 46,108
Afghan hound 19,956
Jack Russell 19,711
Pit bull 19,573
American bulldog 29
English bulldog 11,597