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We had a conversation on the podcast about the racialization of dog breeds, where we talked to @BronwenDickey, the author of Pitbull: The Battle Over an American Icon.


In the 1930s, Pitbulls — which, as Bronwen pointed out to me over and over, don’t constitute a dog breed but a shape — used to be seen as the trusty sidekick of the proletariat, the Honda Civic of canines. (Think of “the Little Rascals” dog.)
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That began changing in the postwar years and the rise of the suburbs. A pedigreed dog became a status symbol for the burgeoning white middle class. And pitbulls got left behind in the cities.

Aside: USians have flitted between different “dangerous” breeds and media-fueled panics around specific dogs. (anti-German xenophobia in the late 1800s fueled extermination programs of the spitz, a little German dog that newspapers said was vicious and spread disease.)

Some previously “dangerous” dogs get rebranded over the years — German shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers. But the thing their respective periods of contempt and concern had to do is that they were associated with some contemporarily undesirable group.