If you’ve ever been lucky enough to love and be loved by a pit bull, then you know they’re a special breed. Recognized by their square faces, broad chests, and muscular builds, these dogs may look intimidating, you’ll find they’re lovable, charming, and playful goofballs and some of the most loyal and affectionate dogs around. However, as you’re probably well aware, pit bulls aren’t always recognized for their family-friendly qualities. They’re often thought of as aggressive, vicious, and untrainable, and chances are, you’ve heard more than a few concerning pit bull (facts) Some cities have even banned the breed in an attempt to decrease the number of dog attacks.
A dog with a blocky head, almond eyes, broad chest, muscular build, and short hair must be a pit bull. There is no definitive answer when it comes to what constitutes a pit bull, but they are descendants of the English bull-baiting dog. Breeds often labeled as pit bulls are actually individual and distinct breeds, such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Bully, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the American Bulldog,” says Colleen Deming-Riley, a canine behaviorist with Deltopia. Riley points to one study that revealed even veterinarians, breeders, and trainers often guess the wrong breed or mix when looking at a dog.
Pit bulls are distant relatives of English bull-baiting dogs, which were “bred to bite and hold bulls, bears, and other large animals around the face and head. When baiting large animals was outlawed in the 1800s, the English bull-baiting dogs were bred with smaller terriers to produce a fighting breed, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be around other dogs or that they’re unpredictably aggressive.”
The statement goes on to explain that many pit bulls who attacked their owners or other people were put down, ending their bloodline, and also notes that just because they were bred to fight, it doesn’t mean they are unpredictably aggressive or more likely to fight another dog. On the other hand, many pit bulls were bred for companionship and are known to be gentle, affectionate, and loyal. Today’s pit bulls are likely a mix of the two, and “the result of random breeding is a population of dogs with a wide range of behavioral predispositions,” the statement says.
In the American Temperament Test Society rankings on dog temperament, which looks at signs of panic, avoidance, and aggression, the two breeds often associated with pit bulls, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier earned high marks for affability, with scores of 90.9 percent and 87.4 percent, respectively. That means they were less likely to show aggression than many traditional “family dogs,” including the Beagle (79.7 percent), Golden Retriever (85.6 percent), and St. Bernard (84.9 percent). Goldens and St. Bernard, interestingly enough, are known as two of the calmest dog breeds.
dog bites are from pit bulls
“No centralized reporting system for dog bites exists, and incidents are typically relayed to a number of entities, such as the police, veterinarians, animal control, and emergency rooms, making meaningful analysis nearly impossible. Moreover, a pet dog that bites an owner or family member might go unreported if the injury isn’t serious.” Plus, studies show that victims of dog bites are more likely to only report dog bites from breeds they deem “dangerous.”
Pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers were involved in more than half [of the dog-bite deaths between 1979 and 1988],” and a recent study published in International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology that looked at dog-bite data from the University of Virginia Health System and Nationwide Children’s Hospital from 240 patients over the last 15 years found that “injuries from pit bulls and mixed-breed dogs were both more frequent and more severe.”
don’t get along with other pets
Just like humans, dogs can have people they are more comfortable and social with and it’s not breed-specific. “Each dog is an individual, and their response to other animals will be dependent on their development and things such as their individual disposition, socialization, and previous experiences,” says Megan Stanley Her own pit bull, Duke, helps at her training facility to socialize puppies and dogs with limited social skills. “He is a wonderful mentor dog at helping fearful dogs gain confidence, exposing puppies to large dogs, and helping dogs gain social skills so they can integrate back with their human companions,” she explains. And at home, Duke lives in harmony with two dogs and a cat. Some species, however, don’t make good roommates, like these pairs that probably shouldn’t live together.
Pit bull “fact.” The study revealed there are many factors involved when researching the causes associated with dogs killing people. For example, the absence of an able-bodied person to intervene, unneutered dogs, and dogs who were isolated with little human positive interaction. “Owner history of mismanagement, abuse, and/or neglect were also identified as major factors.
turn on you in an instant
Dogs give us many subtle signals that they are uncomfortable such as lowered bodies, tucked tails, snarling, or growling,” she explains. “Instead of listening to this communication, we often ignore or even reprimand our dogs for doing so. This results in the dog suppressing the warning signals and possibly jumping to snapping or biting the next time they are uncomfortable.” Here’s how to decipher the subtle signals your dog’s tail is trying to tell you.
dangerous because they are on a Breed Specific Legislation list
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is a term for laws that regulate or ban certain dog breeds to decrease dog attacks on humans and other animals. 18 states have legislation that prohibits it. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior says, “BSL is ineffective and can lead to a false sense of community safety as well as welfare concerns for dogs identified (often incorrectly) as belonging to specific breeds.” The false sense of security relates to people thinking a specific breed is safer over another breed, when all dogs are capable of biting. “BSL is the result of misunderstanding and prejudice against these blocky-headed dogs.” You might not be aware of these other weird dog laws in your state.
BSL laws decrease dog attacks
There’s no evidence these laws work, according to the ASPCA. “In eight of the countries that have breed bans, they’ve studied whether or not they actually reduce dog bites and serious bite injuries, and they’ve found that they do not,” Bronwyn Dickey, author of Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon, told The Cut. “Leash laws, containment laws, and holding reckless owners responsible are far more effective measures.”
There are so many pit bulls in shelters because they can’t be trusted
The reasons why pit bull types end up in shelters are no different than the reasons why every other breed winds up in shelters,” says Stephen Deboned, pet behavior manager at Bedewed. Dogs end up in shelters for a variety of reasons—they caused trouble with another pet, bit someone, were too aggressive, or had too much energy. In other cases, the owners didn’t have time to care for the dog, passed away, or moved. “These reasons are true of pit bull types, Chihuahuas, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and every other breed,”
impossible to train
Because of pit bulls’ sheer size and strength. when you do, you can expect them to excel. “The breed’s intelligence and desire to please make training a fun, easy process, The experts note that the dogs are especially talented at canine sports such as obedience, agility, and dock diving.
There are also several pit bulls who have risen to fame due to their obedience and skill, meaning this “pit bull fact” is a verifiable myth. Sergeant Stubby, for example, a dog who served on the Western Front in World War I with the 102nd Infantry Regiment, is America’s most decorated war dog.