The Role of Breed in Responsible Pet Ownership

AVMA Responsible Pet Ownership PosterHave you seen the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) new “Responsible Pet Ownership” poster?

It holds all dog owners to the same standards, regardless of breed.

I met the AVMA’s marketing director at the 2013 North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) Conference and I asked how they developed the content for this poster.

She explained that the AMVA intentionally chose NOT to include breed in this poster on responsible pet ownership.

Click here to read more about the AVMA’s resources for responsible pet ownership, and to order a copy of this poster.


DOG OWNERS, here is why breed alone does not dictate responsible pet ownership practices:

  • A dog’s breed does not indicate that an owner must be more responsible –just like a dog’s breed does not indicate that an owner can be less responsible.
  • To suggest that some breeds require extra responsibilities implies that others require less, which is a flawed approach for holding all dog owners accountable.
  • If an individual dog has special medical or behavioral needs, it’s up to the owner to meet them.
  • While breeds do influence behaviors to varying degrees, dogs are largely influenced by their environment and their owner; so blanket statements equating “breeds with needs” are both over- and under-inclusive.

LAWMAKERS, this is also why breed-neutral dog laws are most effective in creating safe and humane communities. 

  • Breed-neutral dog laws focus on the behaviors of individual dogs and owners, instead of making blanket assumptions based on variables like breed.
  • Click here to read the AVMA’s “A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention,” published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) in 2001.

ANIMAL SHELTERS, this is also why breed-specific adoption policies in animal shelters are misguided and ineffective.

  • All dog owners should be held to the same standards of conduct.
  • All dogs, regardless of breed, deserve to be protected from abuse, neglect, or reckless owner behavior.
  • Having stricter or restrictive adoption policies based on breed devalues the lives of the other dogs in your care.

Everyone benefits when we move beyond breed to a comprehensive understanding of the human-canine bond!