Many people assume pit bulls have bad or aggressive temperaments, but when given temperament tests by the American Temperament Test Society they score better on temperament tests than the general dog population and were found to be among the most tolerant dogs.
The tests encompassed putting a dog through "a series of unexpected situations, some involving strangers" and "pit bulls had a passing rate of 82 percent or better—compared to only 77 percent of the general dog population," the American Pit Bull Foundation (APBF) explains.
Are pit bulls inherently vicious?
The Canine Humane Network notes: "Pit bulls are not inherently aggressive. On the contrary, according to the American Temperament Test, pit bulls and mixed breeds consistently score above the average for all breeds tested, year after year."
The ASPCA notes: "While a dog's genetics may predispose it to perform certain behaviors, tremendous behavioral variation exists among individuals of the same breed or breed type."
Pit bulls have four different breeds.
Pit bulls have often been blanketed as one breed but there are actually four different breeds, which include the American Bully, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Terrier Bull Terrier, and the American Pit Bull Terrier. While there are some similarities, each breed has its own unique characteristics.
"The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is the tallest and most athletic of the four pitbull-type breeds. The American Staffordshire Terrier is slightly shorter and stockier than the APBT," Pitbullinfo.org, a website published by a non-profit research group, explains.
"The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is easily the smallest of the four. The American Bully (not to be confused with the American Bulldog) is the most unique of the group as it's the most stout and closely resembles the classic Bulldog breed," the website adds.
Are pit bulls more dangerous than other breeds?
A peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior observing canine aggression in different breeds showed "there was no significant difference in aggression between legislated breeds (such as pitbull-type dogs) and the non-legislated control group (Golden Retrievers)," Pitbullinfo.org explains.
Are pit bulls are involved in more “incidents?”
Pit bulls have often been misidentified and erroneously counted in statistics on dog-related incidents. A peer-reviewed study published by the Journal of the American Veterinary Association concluded that "media reports on bite-related incidents are prone to significant breed identification error rates of over 40 percent and that valid breed determination was possible in only 17 percent of all incidents," Pitbullinfo.org notes.
This is one area in which the media have become implicit in perpertuating the misconception of the bit bull breeds. It is not uncommon to see a news story of any other breed that bit or attacked someone and the headline will read “Man Attacked By Dog.” But if this same incident involved a pit bull you could expect to read something like this: “Man Mauled in Front Yard by Vicious Pit Bull.”
According to a peer-reviewed study done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which analyzed dog bite-related incidents over 20 years, most dog bite-related fatalities (72 percent) were attributed to non-pitbull type breeds.
"All breeds are known to 'snap' (or bite without warning) causing bite-related incidents...all breeds can unfortunately have individual unstable dogs that are typically associated with dog bite-related incidents—no breeds are immune from this," according to Pitbullinfo.org.
Pit bulls are bred for fighting.
While some pit bulls have historically been bred for fighting, others were bred for work and companionship, the ASPCA explains.
Bronwen Dickey, author of Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon, told National Geographic back in 2016: "It's true that the original breed, the American pit bull terrier, which originated in 1889, was developed for fighting. But the three other breeds that are lumped into this category have always been dog show conformation breeds."
All pit bulls were once fighting dogs.
Some assume pit bulls who turn up at shelters with scars or injuries were fighting dogs. However, it's far more likely the pit bull was hit by a car, harmed in an accident or even abused by its former owners, The Cut reported in a 2017 interview with Dickey.
A contributing factor to the fighting angle is that most pit bulls have a higher pain threshold and the ability to zero in or go “red zone” when highly agitated in a fighting ring. These two areas unfortunately, made the breeds more susceptible to be breed for and used in fighting.
Pit bull puppies will never become aggressive.
This is a Dangerous myth with any breed for ALL dogs have the ability to become reactive, aggressive or unstable. This is why socialization and environmental exposures are so important for all dogs.
It is amazing how many people ask an owner: Does he bite? After which the owner auto replies, No; he’s friendly. It does not matter if a dog is friendly for ALL dogs CAN bite and have nothing to do with breed.
While pit bulls could potentially be unfriendly to other dogs exists, that risk doesn't translate to humans.
The APBF notes: "Aggression towards humans is very abnormal for pit bull type dogs. They are not naturally or inherently aggressive towards humans." The ASPCA adds that "even those pit bulls bred to fight other animals were not prone to aggressiveness toward people."
Another myth is pit bulls make bad family pets.
Pit bulls may not seem like the ideal family-friendly dog at first glance. However, they "have long been popular family pets, noted for their gentleness, affection and loyalty," notes the ASPCA.
Some believe shelters have a high number of pit bulls because they are ill-suited for families. But many have ended up in shelters because they are "popular with unlicensed breeders and criminals, they are being overbred for profit, under socialized, and thrown away when they no longer serve a purpose, or their behaviors frustrate their owners instead of taking the time to teach them proper behavioral habits.
These factors, along with lack of breed education, have led to an influx of pit-bull-like dogs in shelters.
Pit bulls aren't good with kids.
Some people believe pit bulls are unsafe for children, but some breeds are great with kids, including the American Pit Bull Terrier. Their loyal and loving demeanor with humans, especially children, earned them a prominent place not only as a working dog but as a companion.
Pennsylvania's Humane Society of Harrisburg Area, explains: "The bully breeds traditionally have been known for their kindness to children."
It's unsafe to get a pit bull from a rescue is another myth.
Some think pit bulls that come from a rescue or shelter are too risky to take on due to the lack of information available on their genetics and background. Most dogs in rescues and shelters are there because they were never taught manners and obedience, this is the Owner’s fault, not the dogs’.
The APBF notes "most pit bull rescues will not accept or adopt out pit bulls with any level of aggression or excessive shyness towards humans. Most adoptions of pit bull type dogs are amazing successes," it adds.
Pit bulls' brains are wired to 'go crazy'
Several people and cities with pit bull bans assume this to be true about game-bred dogs in general. But the concept of a pit bull's brain swelling somehow causing it "to 'go crazy' is not based in truth in any way. This is simply another myth that has grown by lack of education and over sensationalizing coverage by the media.
The pit bull brain grows at the same rate as any other dog, and the only time that a pit bull's brain is going to swell is if it receives a serious injury. If an animal's brain were to grow too big for its head, the animal would die.
Pit bulls can lock their jaws.
Pitbullinfo.org explains: "There is no such thing as a 'locking jaw'—no dogs (of any breed or type) have physical characteristics in their jaw that would cause or allow them to 'lock' their jaws. Furthermore, pitbull-type dogs do not have the strongest bite.
Brisbin adds: "The few studies which have been conducted of the structure of the skulls, mandibles and teeth of pit bulls show that, in proportion to their size, their jaw structure and thus its inferred functional morphology, is no different than that of any breed of dog."
Pit bull owners are involved in criminal activity.
Some people assume most pit bull owners are drug dealers, gang members or participate in dog fights.
This miconception is just strange! Our day to day clients at K-9 Culture Dog Training Facility in Carrollton, Texas are your normal everyday people from all walks of live, from all cultures and races. This bias alone, reinforces the unfair treatment the pit bull breeds have received in the media.
Humane Society of Harrisburg Area notes while some pit bulls have "fallen into the hands of owners who use them to support their illegal activities," it adds "many different, reputable people are 'owned' by pit bulls—including teachers, doctors, business executives, celebrities, and even former presidents."
The secret to a good pit bull.
Surprise, it is no secret at all. As with any breed you cannot expect your pit bull to behave in a certain manner unless you show them how to behave and what behavior to not do. As you do this you teach them obedience so they understand the leadership structure in you home and where they fall in the hierarchy of that structure. Do not leave it up to your dog to figure out how to be good and well-haved, you do not do that with your child and you should not do that with your dog….for the same reason.
Have fun with your dog!
A Dog that is a JOY to Live With!