Dangerous dogs are being bred by young men as business assets in drug deals, debt collection and for their gang image, according to research published today.
More young men were using aggressive dogs, such as Pitbulls, as a "commodity" for security and making money in gangs, the study found.
Dr Simon Harding, of Middlesex University London, who is behind the research, said: "For many young people, dogs are increasingly viewed as a commodity which can be traded up or down like a mobile phone.
Homeless dogs at Battersea helped launch a government investigation into loopholes in existing laws controlling dangerous dogs.
MPs of all parties are carrying out inquiries into the menace of dangerous dogs bred for fighting or bought as status symbols.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home backs the move, saying that tougher controls are needed over dog ownership. The Home has to give shelter to dogs dumped by irresponsible owners and then try to rehome them.
Owners of dangerously out of control dogs which harm others in a public place will face up to 18 months in prison under new guidelines for judges. The tougher approach will see more offenders jailed, more given community orders and fewer being discharged.