Illegal Dog Fighting

Though illegal, dog fighting and dog combat is unfortunately still a reality. Training dogs for illegal fighting involves abuse, cruelty and extreme mistreatment of these animals. To create a “killer pit bull, ” these irresponsible dog owners typically provoke, physically abuse and otherwise torment these dogs until they are constantly aggressive.

List of Dog Fighting Breeds

Along with various breeds classified as pit bulls, the following types of dogs are often used in illegal dog fighting:

  • bull dog breeds
  • foreign breeds, such as the Argentine Dogo, Perro de Presa and the Japanese Tosa
  • some mastiff breeds.

Dog Fighting Explained

Dog fighting occurs in closed-in pits generally surrounded by plywood or a cage-like material. A fight begins when two dogs (or more) that have been conditioned and trained to fight are put into the pit together.

The dogfight only ends when one dog can no longer continue. This often lasts around an hour, though it can go on for far longer. Gambling, betting and spectators are present during illegal dog fighting.

The Damage Caused by Illegal Dog Fighting

Dogs will suffer greatly from the injuries inflicted by illegal dog fighting, not to mention the abusive training associated with it. Injuries from illegal dog fighting are often fatal, though the dog may suffer for days after the fight before actually dying. Common afflictions after illegal dog fighting include:

  • blood loss
  • dehydration
  • exhaustion
  • infection
  • shock.

Many owners also brutally treat or kill dogs that lose illegal dogfights. Reports have been made of dogs being:

  • drowned
  • electrocuted
  • hung
  • shot
  • strangled.

Illegal dog fighting has negative effects on other animals as well. During training for illegal dog fighting, owners often use “bait animals ” to train their dogs to fight. These animals are essentially sacrificed to the fighting dog. Bait animals can include:

  • cats
  • rabbits
  • smaller dogs or other small animals.

Effects of Training for Illegal Dog Fighting

Dogs that have been mistreated and trained for illegal dog fighting must be put to sleep if they are found or end up in an animal shelter. Because of how they have been treated, they will always act far too aggressive towards both animals and humans, making it unfeasible for them to ever be pets.

In some cases, illegal dog fighting can also put people at risk of serious injury or death. If dogs that have been trained to fight get loose, they may attack people, other animals and even small children.

Laws Against Dog Fighting

Dog fighting is illegal in every state in the United States. Only two states, Idaho and Wyoming, list the offense as a misdemeanor. In the remaining 48 states, illegal dog fighting is a felony.

Attending, organizing or watching an illegal dog fight is also a punishable offense. In most states, these offenses are also felonies. Because spectators and gamblers perpetuate this violent, inhumane activity, they are also usually punished as harshly as the owners of the fighting dogs.


Humane Society of the United States (2008). Dogfighting Fact Sheet. Retrieved January 24, 2008, from the Humane Society Web site: