One of the most frequently voiced falsehoods by pit bull advocates is that “By World War I, the pit bull terrier had become the most popular dog in America.” To test the claim, Animal People conducted a search in 2006 of classified dogs-for-sale ads between 1900-1950 on NewspaperArchive.com. The results showed that the most popular breeds of this period were Huskies and St. Bernards. Of the 34 breeds searched, pit bulls ranked 25th.

According to the Animal People exercise, pit bull terriers, Staffordshires, and American bulldogs combined only came to 34,770 mentions. This is equivalent to 1% of the sampling of nearly 3.5 million breed-specific mentions of dogs (versus huskies and St. Bernards, both hitting the roof of the NewspaperArchive ceiling at 314, 027 mentions each). So the often quoted claim that pit bulls “used to be among America’s most popular dog breeds,” is baseless and invalid. – DogsBite.org

Just a few examples:

The Pit Bull was so popular in the early 1900’s they were our mascot not only in World War One, but World War Two as well. They were featured on recruiting and propoganda posters during this time period. – Pit bull lovers
When Pit Bulls enjoyed being the nation’s most popular dog during the W.W.I era, there were no problems with vicious Pit Bull attacks. Pit Bulls were not banned anywhere. – Pit bulls on the web
The American Pit Bull Terrier was the most popular family dog in the beginning of the 20th century. What happened? How did this breed become so maligned and misunderstood? – Don’t bully my breed
Stubby lived in a time when American Pit Bull Terriers were loved and respected by everyone. They were the nation’s most popular dog, an icon, a symbol of American pride. – Pit bull advocate 101
In the early 1900’s, this type of dog was the most popular family pet in America. – Hiding the truth
In America, the Pit Bull flourished. It was one of the most popular breeds, highly prized by a wide variety of people. The Pit Bull was used to represent the US in WWI… – 910 Kennels

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