Dr Simon Harding, of Middlesex University London, interviewed illegal and legal dog owners as well as gang members as part of his research.
The research found that dangerous dogs are being bred by young men as a business asset in drug deals, debt collection and for their gang image.
A 16-year-old boy told him: "It's not just a dog, it's a half bull mastiff and half pit bull. I'll probably get another - we are looking to breed it - and we would get about £2,000 per dog."
Another boy, 17, said about pit bulls: "People know that if you are breeding you are making money from them."
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He was sentenced to six years in prison in March.
Bosses were paid an average of around £4.7m last year.
The research comparing cat owners, dog owners and those with no pets was carried out at the University of California, Los Angeles.