Status Dogs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the way in which dogs have been harmed as a consequence of their use as a status item. While historically ‘status’ dogs have taken many forms: as fashion items and national icons, more recently the use of this term in the UK has specifically referred to a trend among young people to own aggressive bull or other illegal breeds/types of dog. The nature of abuse and prevalence of the problem is examined. In particular, through their treatment as commodity, status symbol, bodyguard or weapon, these dogs are subject to behaviour frequently resulting in torture and destruction. The complicated motivations for status dog ownership and the means by which these dogs confer status are explained using labelling and subcultural theories. Finally, the chapter presents the formal and informal responses to the status dog phenomenon and considers how this has exacerbated the harms experienced by dogs labelled and used as status dogs. Leading on from this, the authors question the approach of breed specific legislation and examine how effectively other approaches have prevented the victimisation of these dogs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPalgrave International Handbook of Animal Abuse Studies
EditorsJennifer Maher, Harriet Pierpoint, Piers Beirne
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-43183-7
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-43182-0
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2017


  • status dogs
  • illegal breeds of dogs
  • animal abuse
  • animal cruelty
  • dogs as a commodity or weapon
  • torture


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