10 Myths And Facts About Owning A Pitbull

By Jason Shvili on March 19 2020 in Society

Pit bulls can be just as loving as other dogs. Image credit: Вилина Петрова from Pixabay
Pit bulls can be just as loving as other dogs. Image credit: Вилина Петрова from Pixabay
  • The pit bull is not a specific breed of dog.
  • Pit bull type dogs include the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • The pit bull is the type of dog most likely to be euthanized in the U.S.

They say the dog is man's best friend, but some dogs are misunderstood. They are often judged based only on how they look. This is especially true of one particular type of dog: the pit bull. Look up pit bull on the internet and you will probably come across a lot of stories about this type of dog attacking people, biting people, and sometimes even killing people. It is this media exposure that has given the pit bull a bad reputation. In fact, many jurisdictions in the U.S., Canada and the rest of the world have banned the much-maligned dog. The truth, however, is that much of what you hear or read about pit bulls that may make you afraid of them is wrong. Here are some common myths about pit bulls, followed by the real facts on this type of dog.

10. Biting Ability

Pit bulls understand love and give it in return like any other type of dog.
Pit bulls understand love and give it in return like any other type of dog.

Myth: You're more likely to get bitten by a pit bull than by any other dog.

Fact: Other breeds bite more than the pit bull.

Regardless of what you've heard in the media, the pit bull is not the dog most likely to bite you. In fact, you are more likely to get bitten by a Chihuahua or a bulldog than a pit bull.

9. Unpredictable Behaviour

Myth: Pit bulls are unpredictable and will attack a human at any moment.

Fact: All dogs, including pit bulls, give warnings that they are uncomfortable, but we often ignore or don't see these warnings.

There are plenty of stories in the media about dogs, especially pit bulls, attacking people without provocation. The truth, however, is that dogs always give subtle warning signals that they are uncomfortable with a situation and may react negatively, even violently, if they are not taken away from such situations. The problem is that we humans fail to pick up on these signals, or ignore them.

8. Fighting Abilities

Pit bulls can be just as adorable as any other types of dogs. Image credit:  Timothy Perry on Unsplash
Pit bulls can be just as adorable as any other types of dogs. Image credit: Timothy Perry on Unsplash

Myth: Pit bulls are fighting dogs.

Fact: Only a tiny proportion of pit bulls are involved in dog-fighting.

Actually, just three percent of pit bulls in the U.S. are involved in dog fighting. Also, pit bulls are not originally descended from fighting dogs, but rather English bull-baiting dogs, which were eventually bred with terrier breeds to produce fighting dogs. Moreover, inasmuch as some pit bulls have been bred to fight other dogs, the ASPCA says that this does not necessarily mean that they cannot be around other dogs, nor does it mean that they are unpredictably aggressive.

7. Not Dangerous

Image credit: Beverly Lussier from Pixabay
Image credit: Beverly Lussier from Pixabay

Myth: Pit bulls are more dangerous than other dogs.

Fact: Statistics show that the pit bull is no more dangerous than other dogs. 

Studies have shown that pit bulls are not disproportionately more dangerous than other dogs. They've also concluded that breed is not a factor when determining the cause of dog bite-related fatalities. In addition, dogs are often misidentified as pit bulls, leading people, especially members of the media, to believe that it is pit bulls that are disproportionately responsible for dog attacks. 

6. Can Be Good Family Dogs

Myth: Pit bulls are not good family dogs.

Fact: Pit bulls can be fantastic family dogs.

Pit bulls are actually great for families. Firstly, they tend to be very loyal to their owners, although they are generally not good guard dogs because they love people so much. They can also be very good with children. In fact, because of the pit bull's propensity to be very friendly with children, it was labelled the nanny dog in the early 1900s.

5. Cannot Lock Jaws

2013 American Hero Dog of the Year - Elle the pit bull and owner Leah Brewer. Image credit: State Farm/Flickr.com

Myth: Pit bulls have locking jaws and a powerful bite.

Fact: Having lockjaw is impossible for dogs, and other dogs have more powerful bites.

One common misconception associated with pit bulls is that they have the ability to lock their jaws. In actuality, lockjaw is not possible in pit bulls or any other dogs for that matter. Also, the pit bull's bite is actually outdone by the bite of several other dog breeds, including Rottweilers, Siberian Huskies and German Shepherd Dogs. It is true, however, that one trait many pit bull type dogs do have is determination, so when a pit bull bites down on something, it is likely determined not to let it go, which can give people the impression that it is somehow locking its jaw to prevent something from escaping its bite.

4. Not Unfriendly

Myth: Pit Bulls do not get along with other dogs.

Fact: A Pit Bull can live peacefully with other dogs.

While it is true that some pit bull dogs are bred and trained to fight other dogs, they are not automatically predisposed to not getting along with other dogs or other pets. All dogs are individuals and a pit bull that is well-socialized with other dogs, not to mention other types of pets and people, will be able to live a harmonious existence with other fellow canines.

3. Brain Cannot Swell

Myth: A pit bull's brain can swell and this can make them unpredictable and aggressive.

Fact: If a dog's brain swells too big for its head, it will die.

This myth began with Dobermans, but has since been attributed to other types of dogs, including the pit bull. There is no scientific evidence, however, to support this misconception. The fact is that if a dog's brain swells too big for its head, it will die rather than become unpredictable or aggressive. 

2. Not Predisposed To Be Aggressive

Myth: Pit bulls are predisposed to being vicious and aggressive.

Fact: No dog is inherently vicious or aggressive.

Neither viciousness nor aggression is an inherent trait in any dog, including pit bulls. In fact, on temperament tests done by the American Temperament Test Society, which evaluates signs of panic, avoidance and aggression, pit bull type dogs score higher than some traditional family dog breeds. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Position Statement on Pit Bulls also validates that many breeds can be bred or trained to have aggressive traits.

1. Not A Breed Of Dog

Myth: The pit bull is a breed of dog.

Fact: The pit bull is a type of dog, not one specific breed.

Contrary to popular belief, the pit bull is not a specific dog breed. It is a type of dog that can be composed of various different breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Terrier, the American Bully and the American Bulldog. The American Kennel Club does not recognize the pit bull as a specific breed.

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