The Truth About Pit Bulls

Content courtesy of StubbyDog, Our Pack, Inc. and Marthina McClay on Responsible Dog Ownership. By Marthina McClay, CPDT

Photo by Melissa Lipani

Over the decades there have been myths told about many breeds including pit bulls. Below are some facts that dispel some of these myths.

Pit bulls feel pain just like any other dog. The people who fight dogs have promoted the idea that their dogs don’t feel pain to excuse their abusive and criminal actions. We must stop buying into to the insidious claims of criminals. All dogs are individuals and will respond differently to pain, but every dog feels pain.

Pit bulls are not predisposed to human aggression. Human aggression is not a breed trait attributed to American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers (also called “pit bulls”) by the UKC or the AKC. While human aggression does occur in all kinds of dogs, it should never be considered to be expected or acceptable behavior in these breeds. All cases of human aggression should be evaluated on an individual case by case basis and not judged by breed. Please consult a trainer for human aggression in any dog of any kind.

Pit bulls have varying degrees of dog-dog tolerance. Dog directed aggression and human directed aggression are entirely unrelated. They are completely separate behaviors and do not cross over. As all dogs are individuals, some dogs may always be social with other dogs throughout their lives while others will have minor to severe levels of dog-to-dog issues, even if they have been well socialized. Those that show leash reactivity can be trained to be calm around other dogs while on leash. Each individual dog should be evaluated based on his own level of reactions to dogs and not because he’s this breed or that. Over-the-top or extreme dog-to-dog aggression is not expected or acceptable in pit bulls.

Pit bulls with scars were not necessarily used for dog fighting. Dogs get scars from all kinds of injuries, not just dog fighting. It is not helpful to speculate about how a dog received scars. Instead, spend time getting to know the dog to determine if previous experiences or injuries have affected the dog’s behavior or physical abilities. Scars do not predict behavior.

Pit bulls are just as likely to be good with children as any other kind of dog. American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers (also called “pit bulls”) are expected to be very safe around children. Well socialized dogs of all kinds do well around children generally. Supervision between dogs and children is always a must in any setting. Sometimes children may not know how to interact with dogs. It’s also key to teach children how to treat animals appropriately.

Pit bulls do not have locking jaws. All dogs are mammals and no mammals have locking jaws.

Pit bulls are not guard dogs. Pit bulls are not known or expected to be guard dogs. Better get a guard dog for your pit bull!

It is a shame that many times in our lives we let misperceptions define our views. And sadly, if we don’t do something to correct these misperceptions, many of these beautiful breeds are going to die. Be a responsible pet parents and show the public that it’s the deed that’s to blame, not the breed.