When reading a new rental agreement you may see a clause stating that pit bulls aren’t allowed. And in some dog parks, you may have even seen signs that read “No Pit Bulls Allowed.” Would you be surprised if we told you that some towns and cities even have ordinances against pit bulls? So if this breed of dogs isn’t harmful why do so many people think that they are? Sadly there are a lot of inaccurate statistics surrounding pit bulls that characterize them as aggressive. So are pit bulls dangerous? Or are they just the victims of unfortunate circumstances and stigmatization?
What is a Pit Bull?
Before you can answer, “are pit bulls dangerous,” you first have to know what a pit bull is. The term pit bull is one that encompasses three distinct dog breeds: the American pit bull terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier, and the American Staffordshire terrier. However, there are a few other breeds of dogs that fall under the umbrella of pit bull including, blue blood bulldog and dogo argentino. These dogs were originally bred as catch dogs for hunting and attacking large animals like wild boars. They were also bred for hoarding livestock and for pit fighting (one reason people question, “are pit bulls dangerous”).
Are Pit Bulls Dangerous at Birth?
Dogs aren’t born aggressive or mean. More often than not, their aggressive behavior can be attributed to not being properly socialized at birth. Aggressive dogs have also oftentimes been abused or starved throughout a large portion of their life. The question, are pit bulls dangerous only exists because they are a large and strong breed that was bred for dogfighting. However, this breed is largely misunderstood because they are just victims of irresponsible owners, sensationalized news articles, and numerous myths that surround them.
The Myths Behind the Question “Are Pit Bulls Dangerous?”
The stigma that follows pit bulls has also greatly contributed to the rise of this breed in shelters. One in four animals that are brought into shelters are pit bulls. Here are the top reasons why people ask the question: are pit bulls dangerous?
1. Pit Bulls are Born Fighters
Are huge stigma behind this dog breed is that they are born ready to fight any other animal or human that gets in their way. However, this is not the case. Pit bulls are trained to fight by people looking to make a profit from dog fights. These dogs are forced to fight to the death in many instances, and the dogs who can no longer fight are then killed and discarded. Because of this it is not the dogs that are vicious and dangerous, but the person responsible for their training.
2. Pit Bulls Have Locking Jaws
These pit fights are where the myth about their locking jaws originated. While pit bulls do have extremely strong jaws there is no evidence that a pit bull’s jaw is anatomically different from any other breed. And according to experts, there is no such thing as ‘jaw locking’ in any dog breed. Pit bulls do have extremely jaw muscles and when fighting they do tend to grab and shake but that does not mean that once they have a grip, they won’t let go. Leaving one to reconsider their answer to, “are pit bulls dangerous?”
3. Pit Bulls Have a High Bite Rate
Another myth that may have you reconsidering the answer to “are pit bulls dangerous,” is that pit bulls have an extremely high bite rate.
Dog bite statistics are frequently skewed unfairly in order to paint pit bulls as the number one perpetrator. And not only that, stories in the media that surround this breed are written in a way that not only demonizes the animal but that also sensationalizes the story. By doing this they are fueling the stigma that pit bulls are extremely dangerous animals.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “It is not possible to calculate a bite rate for a breed… [because] mixed breeds are commonly described as purebreds … [and] the actual number of bites that occur in a community is not known … if they did not result in serious injury.”
4. Pit Bulls are Naturally Violent, Aggressive, Mean, and Dangerous
Pit bulls are not inherently dangerous animals. All dogs can be violent and aggressive if they have had a lack of training, have experienced abuse or neglect, or irresponsible owners who do not address their health and temperament issues. When they are treated with respect and proper training, pit bulls and other dogs are less likely to engage in negative behavior.
Things to Remember About Pit Bulls
When it comes to this breed of animal there are a few important things to remember:
They aren’t born bad
Remember that mean and aggressive dogs more often than not victims of abuse, neglect, and extremely poor owners. And just like how that behavior is learned, good behavior can be learned as well. Good pit bull owners will tell you that their pup is gentle and is a wonderful family pet and our success stories here at Wounded Paw Project agree too!
At Wounded Paw Project we help rehabilitate and train these “aggressive” shelter dogs into service dogs for veterans that suffer from PTSD and other mental health issues. In hopes of helping them recover from the trauma of war and the transition back into normal life.
Aggressive is a term misused in regards to many breeds
Did you know that rescued St. Bernards and German Shepherds are also considered to be aggressive? Pit bulls are in good company on the “aggressive” list, but you don’t view the German Shepherd down the street as dangerous do you? Most likely not, proving further just how strong the stigma and myths that surround pit bulls stretch.
Not all dog bites are reported
If were to ask you right now to decide if pit bull bites are reported more frequently than shih tzu bites you would probably say pit bull bites. This isn’t because pit bulls are meaner, but rather that shih tzu bites go unreported because the tiny dog can’t cause much damage. You would even be surprised to find that animal experts have found no relation between dog breeds and aggression.
Aggression should be judged on a case by case basis rather than generalized by breed.
So now what do you think? Are pit bulls dangerous?
So now what do you think? Are pit bulls dangerous?
So tell us your thoughts. Are pit bulls dangerous? Or are they just misunderstood? Learn more about our mission at Wounded Paw Project and how we fight against the stigma that shelter dogs can’t be service dogs and that dog breed attributes to aggression here.