Words matter. When we assign a label to a shelter dog or speak about "pit bull" dogs with the public, our words carry serious consequences. We owe it to the dogs to examine the language and labels we use to describe them.
There is no standard legal definition for "pit bull." So, the use of that label, "pit bull", is arbitrary, subjective, and often randomly applied.
Approximately 50% of the 78 million dogs living in the U.S. today are mixed-breed dogs (2009-10 American Pet Products Manufactures Association survey).
When labels are applied, correctly or not, it can mean the difference between life or death. No dog should be discriminated against because of a label. When a person calls a dog a "pit bull," or a "pit bull mix," that dog is now saddled with a label that might get him killed in a shelter that does not adopt out "pit bulls," or kicked out of a community with Breed Discriminatory Legislation (BDL).
A label will stick with a dog for the rest of its life. A label can mean discrimination, losing its home, or even death. Labels are a problem for the dogs when shelter staff, or veterinarians (considered to be the local experts on animals), allow adopters, politicians, and community members to think that the label assigned can predict who that dog is or will be.
Unless you are certain of a dog's breeding or heritage, please just call them a mixed breed dog, or better yet; let's just call them dogs.
"There is so much behavioral variability within each breed, and even more within breed mixes, that we cannot reliably predict a dog's behavior or his suitability for a particular adopter based on breed alone. Each dog is an individual." Amy Marder, V.M.D., CAAB, Director of the Center for Shelter Dogs, Animal Rescue League of Boston
(The above information was compiled from the Animal Farm Foundation website)