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The Truth About American Pit Bull Terriers- Myths about Pit Bulls

Updated on August 18, 2015


Pit Bulls in Today's Society

I find it rather interesting that Horatio Nelson Jackson took his Bulldog-type dog, Bud, cross country as a part of the first transcontinental car trip. If he had decided to try this in 2003 versus 1903, he'd have to map out his trip avoiding hundreds of towns and cities that ban these dogs. He probably wouldn't have made it all the way across without some complication or another. I mean now days, breed bans are everywhere, most of which are based on myths and opinions of political officials that don't want to do the proper research to determine that the sci-fi dog they've created just doesn't exist.

It an unfortunate the opinions and thoughts that have change about the dog breed throughout the years. The American PIt Bull Terrier was once seen as loyal, trusting, loving, and gentle. Now, the dog breed is seen as aggressive, feared, hated, and malicious.

The bad reputation that surrounds the Pit Bull has also created some very interesting myths about the breed. If these myths were true, the breed would be some super-human dog. The people that actually believe these myths (no offense to anyone) must really believe that the Pit Bull and all its similar counterparts are some creation of a science fiction novel.

One dog breed in hundreds that varies in anatomy, to include bone structure and nervous system, and even mentality just sounds ridiculous, since it's a known fact that all dog breeds originated from the wolf. Unless there's a special wolf species that contributed to this super dog breed, I'd like to see the reports and studies. Heck, I'd like to see the wolf.

But, anyway, here are the more common Pit Bull myths.

Pit Bull Myths

Pit Bulls are prone to attack humans because they were bred for protection and guard. Incorrect. These dogs were bred for dog fighting, and dog fighting alone. Many modern breeders of the bully breeds such as the APBT and AmStaff have to have guard dogs such as Dobermans, Rotts, and German Shepherds to protect their breeders, as they are gentle enough to allow themselves to be stolen. This is included for dogs bred for gameness.

Pit Bulls don't feel pain. Untrue. As an animal, they feel pain, just like your average Collie. The difference is that Pit Bulls have a higher pain tolerance than other dog breeds, so they can withstand higher pressure and pain. What is true, is that Pit Bulls have a unique traits that allow them to exhibit tenacity and perseverance in maintaining their grip on an object.

They clamp on with their front teeth and chew with their back teeth. There is no dog breed that has the jaw structure that would allow them to use their front teeth to grip onto an object while their back teeth chew at the same time. If this myth were possible true, the Pit Bull would have to have movable jaw parts, but both the upper and lower jaw bones are fixed, meaning they can't move in any direction but up and down.

Pit Bulls have a higher bite force in psi's (pounds per square inch). There has been extensive research and tests performed in regards to a Pit Bulls bite force. Many media sources claim that they have a bite force of 1,200 psi, 1,800 psi, 2,000 psi, or even 2,600 psi. It's just not true or possible. The jaw and facial anatomy of the Pit Bull is not different than any other dog breed, except for extremely short muzzled dog breeds. On average dogs can reach a bite force of 320 pounds of pressure. Granted the German Shepherd, American Pit Bull Terrier, and Rottweiler, were all three tested using a bite sleeve, and the APBT registered with the least amount of pressure of the 3 dogs.

Bite force competition. Pitbull, Rottweiler, and Shepherd.

APBT pup sleeping with my handicapped brother
APBT pup sleeping with my handicapped brother

Pit Bulls are inherently dangerous. Nope. Sorry.... Pit Bulls are the nanny dogs of all dog breeds. The dogs of the breed that are inbred, over bred, and housed in unsanitary conditions, are those that are more likely to have behavioral concerns, aggression being a possible concern.

Pit Bull attacks are similar to that of shark attacks. Well, this is a sad one to debunk. The American Pit Bull is of the same descendant as the lab, poodle, terrier, husky, and any other dog breed you can image. They are all descendants of the gray wolf. It's feasibly impossible for any dog to attack like a shark, lion, tiger, or any other species other than a wolf or canine. Oh, an nor do they act, hunt, or have any other behavior as a shark, tiger, or lion. They act like dogs, descendants of wolves, who are predatory animals. Also, on the same note, dogs are mammals, sharks are fish; mammals have fixed jaw bones, sharks have 2 mobile and independent jaws.

Pit Bulls will attack even if they are not provoked. From what you hear in the media, it does seem like pit-bull type dogs attack out of nowhere. I mean loving family dogs attack the child or grandparent. Well, usually you don't hear all the acts before the attack, you tend to just hear dog attack. Plus, when you hear, "He never showed signs of aggression before. It was all out of the blue," you just assume the dog has been great all along, but no dog of any breed just attacks for no reason. There are always signs of even the slightest hints of aggression at some point in the dog's life. A little dominance here, a little snarl there- that's aggression. Most owners who don't understand or is unable to read dog behaviors, are those that claim, "he never showed signs of aggression." Plus, think about it, if you were mistreating your dog by leaving him chained on a logging chain for 5 years, fed when you thought about it, and he suffered all weather extremes in his small dog house, if he even had one, you're not going to admit any of that to the media when the dog attacks your child or someone else's.

Pit Bulls are ticking time bombs. Again, this myth is similar to, "Pit Bulls will attack even if they are not provoked." This is a lovely one-dimensional argument that has absolutely no proof or evidence to support. These dogs do not have chemical in-balances, and they're not just fly off the handle.

Pit Bulls attack unlike any other dog breed. Pit bulls are often claimed to be different that other dog breeds in their anatomy, temperament, manner of attack, and ferocity. It's just not true. They're built just like any other dog. But, with selective breeding, they are just more muscular. Just like the Saluki is thin and the Chihuahua is small.

Pit Bulls attack more than any other dog breed. Sorry no statistic can properly tell you this. There are so many people that can't ID a Pit Bull if their life depended on it, and many of these people are the ones that determine which dog breed caused the attack. Even the CDC has inaccurate information in their dog attack statistics, as it can be hard to identify a dog properly. See Severe Dog Attacks and Pit Bull- Type Dogs for more information about dog attacks and statistics.

All Pit Bulls are dominant dogs. Not true. Pit Bulls are dogs, and dogs are pack animals, which means some will be dominant and some will be passive.

Pit Bull Myths: Graphic Video

Old Navy Holiday Commercial #1 - Gifts that Warm

Old Navy Holiday Commercial #3 - Gifts that Play

The Future of the Pit Bull

I am not advocating every single person who reads this to go out and adopt or purchase an American Pit Bull Terrier, but I do think that it's only fair to hear the truths about the breed that is most commonly defamed and spoken in a derogatory manner.

American Pit Bull Terriers are your average loving, people pleasing, friend to all dog. They're quick to pick up training commands, and they big cuddle bugs. The breed is a very hardy one with no common health disorders (of course they do suffer health concerns, but nothing common amongst the breed). Sounds great...

But, they're also, stubborn, hard- headed, and strong willed. These dogs need proper training and socialization from the start.

Yes, they can be great with children, but you, as the adult, have to train and socialize the dog. And, you, as the adult, have to make a conscious effort to never leave a dog, of any dog breed, alone with a small child, even if properly trained. You can't control a dog if he's in a different room.

I hope that those who have fear about the APBT, open their heart just a little and see what really lies underneath the muscles and strength. Think about Petey on the Little Rascals, or think about the dog from the first "Cheaper by the Dozen." Great dogs who were great with children. But that takes work. You can't expect to bring home a puppy, juvenile, or adult dog and assume that it will be everything that you wanted and more.

Just don't shut out any breed just because of what you hear in the media, as the media is not always accurate, and with dog attacks, the media is never 100% truthful.

I just hope that the APBT and other pit-bull type breeds while have their image reshaped as the German Shepherd, Great Dane, and other dog breeds of the past. It starts today. It starts with you...

Please leave comments.

Make note that all comments will be approved before they appear.

I will approve all comments (including those against my statistics and opinions) unless they are derogatory to someone else or contain foul language.


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    • ckozicki profile image

      Christine Kozicki 2 years ago

      I realize this is an old article, but I wanted to say that I found the information interesting and right on point. These are extremely lovable dogs, I just wish people would stop breeding them since there are so many in shelters right now, just begging for a home and human to love.

    • profile image

      crhans 3 years ago

      Two days ago I got attacked by a pitbull/rottweiler cross. I was on my bicycle and the dog charged 100ft and sailed into my left leg above the ankle leaving a 2'' gash and crush wound. These dogs just clamp on and don't let go, so as my leg twisted out of its mouth a lot of damage got done. It was completely unprovoked - I didn't even have time to yell. Feels pretty stiff and sore right now: a persistent painful wound!

      The dog is in quarantine right now. The owner claims she is actually now serious about getting better control of the dog. Waiting to see if the α-dog behavior subsides...

    • profile image

      AMCHeritage 4 years ago

      I enjoyed reading this article & all the comments. I just adopted my pit from the shelter & have really enjoyed her so far. She never meets a stranger, she just assumes everybody wants to be her friend. I only have 2 problems with her, she wants to leave the yard so she can find new friends, AND she wants to chew everything that can fit in her mouth. Any suggestions on the chewing?

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      lizzie 5 years ago

      i have been in love with this misunderstood breed for a long time. last year i finally got the chance to own my own pretty girl. harley was a rescue that i was told had dog aggression. i had a mini english bulldog at home who at healthy weight was about 35lbs when i brought harley home at an underweight 50lbs little brindy wasn't so happy. after a few days of walks and correct introduction they were best friends. but brindy did all of the barking and growling as harley hid behind my leg. once she was back to her healthy weight at 65lbs she still let little brindy pick on her all the time. silly marshmallow.

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      Anita 5 years ago

      Great reading and I fully agree. I have 3 pit bulls. Have wonderful personalities and they love to snuggle.

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      billylamb 5 years ago

      I was bit in the face by a german shepard when I was 6 or 7. I spent a long time being scared of big dogs in general until my boss who raises pit bulls opened my eyes. I have a female pit who's 6. She obeys all types of commands including sit until she's told to eat. I can hold a steak 4inches from her nose and she will not take it until I say so and even then she's gentle as she takes it from ur hand. I can also tell her no and take it from her mouth as she eating! These are the most loveable dogs I've every owned and they crave attention and affection. I wish I could post that video and thisI entire bogtree on my facebook page to show as many people as possible that these dogs are no way even close to what the media portrays them to be!

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      Shayna 5 years ago

      Wow. I watched the video and am in shock. How can people do that to a poor,lovable animal! They're the ones who deserve to suffer and die, not the pits!

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      Phoebe lIndsey 5 years ago

      my husband and I are middle aged, our children just made us a gift of a blue male pitbull terrier, he's our 2nd bully, our first was a female, red brindle, wonderful dog, Beau is now 6 mos. old, he gets into puppy things like all puppies do. He's in training with pros for obedience, but honestly I'd never want another breed, he's so sweet, so loveable, and so much fun, as was our first one. I trust him completely, even though I know he'll be a very big dog, I raised him. I respect his breed but he's my baby and I love him. I just wish others would give this breed a chance as we did.

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      Jackie 5 years ago

      I always felt the breed got a bad rap-my shepherd from pup to older used to play with one-no problem-but was recently attacked by a nasty one who would not release no matter what the owner said or did. Clamped down and would not release. How do you get them to release?

    • Dorsi profile image

      Dorsi Diaz 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

      Wonderful hub Whitney with lots of great information about american bull terriers.

      After having had experience with this dog breed the last couple years (my sons dogs) I have a much different opinion of pit bulls now (I too used to be afraid of them because of all the bad press about them)

      Yes they can be stubborn and hard-headed, so they need a firm but loving hand training them, but they are awesome pets when trained and loved properly, like any dog. The only problem I have had in my home is food aggression when my older alpha border collie dog (he is 11) feels threatened by one of the pits that wants to eat his food. So I make sure they eat apart. My older dog has his own space and does not like it when his area is breached. I would say this is pretty typical behavior for any dog though.

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      dober 6 years ago

      Whitney that is the most wonderful blog I've ever read about pitbulls. My adopted pitbulls are sweet loving girls. They adore children, cats, other dogs and especially people.

      From what I've seen, the terrier part of this breed is just so darn smart, that most people don't pick up on important behavioral and health cues that pitbulls give.

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      dv 6 years ago

      i hate those people who use pitbulls for fight they are as similar as other dogs

    • eljaybe profile image

      eljaybe 6 years ago from Thailand

      A wonderful well thought out hub, and some excellent comments.

      When I lived in the UK I had my first Bully breed Dog, Marley, now living with my mother since I left England to live in Thailand.

      Marley is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a very high pedigree dog, now famously known as Old Marley Bourne in my Mothers local area.

      Leaving my best friend in the UK was the saddest thing that I have ever done. He was/is the most intelligent, affectionate and loving dog I have ever known, and the only thing that made him happy was to please me, (Now my Mum).

      Anyway, now I am in Thailand, in fact I have been here for nearly 2 years now. And to be completely honest the thing I miss most about Blighty is my Marley, he's 14 now.

      Because of this big hole in my life I spent some time here in Thailand trying to source a Staffordshire bull Terrier, although to no avail because they are a rare breed here as they do not cope well with Hot weather, (which is Marley had to stay in the UK).

      My interest then turned to a very close breed the APBT. And I am now very pleased to say that after investigating the breed thoroughly I am the proud owner of Smokey, still a Pup of 4 months old.

      She is of course a Pit Bull Terrier and I have been so pleased to see the same qualities in her that I loved so much in Marley, she is a quick learner, loves everyone, (my son Otis adores her), and responds to commands well.

      She is already as tall as Marley, so she still has some way to go. But every day she fills the gap a little more.

      Whilst she is young we are being careful to socialise her with other dogs as well as children which is an important factor in the breed. And so far she is turning out great.

      I have realised I’m rambling a bit so I had better conclude: All I can say is the pit-bull gets my vote, don't believe the hype, and lock up the bad owners, don't take it out on the breed.

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      Soulharlequin 6 years ago

      Thanks for posting this article, sometimes i can't believe every single Pitbull is a horrible monster, heck i have owned three Pitbulls, The first one i've got it on 2005, his name was Pup AKA puppy... he was stolen when he turned 3 years old, i still miss him.

      Pup sired puppies and my family kept one of the litter, we named this puppy, brownie cause he looked like one? he was stolen in 2007, they are sooo violent that the thieves couldn't steal them, right???

      I also owned Keila, she was a noble blue Pitbull... she was absolutely gorgeous, she was stolen too and she was only 9 months old!!!

      Damn those thieves.

      I Hope my babies are alright u_u

      I've got another Pitbull Puppy, her name is Kira... she's Keila's sister.

      In short Pitbulls are a nice looking breed and they also are very athletic, playful and fun loving.

      They can turn very aggressive if you raise them to be that way.

      Mine were never aggressive, in fact they were so nice they were stolen and no one turned out dead.

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      Barry 6 years ago

      Thank you for the great information about APBT,very informative. Wish more people were like these dogs. We have three pits, a boxer and an all american red tick coon hound. Our pits know exactly who rules the house, just ask them when they get into the bed. We were led by the media to be in fear when an APBT was anywhere near until my daughter received a 5 week old puppy. After losing our hearts completely to the little fur ball,found out just how devious the media really is concerning what they decree is appropriate or not as per them. As earlier said, now have three of the best dogs that any "sane" person could wish for or want. They sleep in our beds with us and are with us constantly when we are not at work. I have not met a more loving, want to just cuddle, love you mostest, stubborn, bull headed, watch your back, family member than these three. My daughter is now 20, and her pit,DEEOGEE, sleeps with her every night because she feels safe with him at her side. Totally justified. I feel safe with her having him at her side. These are very misunderstood and much maligned animals who only truly want to please their people. Our other two sleep with myself and my wife. Very comforting to wake up nose to nose with 100lbs of pure love in your face, first thing upon opening your eyes you hear a large thumping of the tail then a happy face wash. What could be better. Dog slobber lubricates the world and makes it a better place for all to live in. In the words of Will Rogers "If there aren't dogs in heaven, then I'm going where they are" --paraphrased yet timeless and true. God bless you and yours. Keep the faith. :BAN THE DEED NOT THE BREED:

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      cherles 6 years ago

      we own a pit sunie and she is great loves her family and her best friend is a 9 lbs yorkie. my 16 yr old daughter has sunie in the bed with her every night bcause she says she feels safe and she is!

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      Bonnie 6 years ago

      HI Whitney and all. I helped my son's dog deliver 24 pups!!

      2 in first one 11 then 11. Then we were done. We made sure they all were put in good homes. Loving homes. We kept one for ourselves. They are loving loyal and great with babies!!

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      the slly trumpet girl 6 years ago

      I think pitbulls are the worlds sweetest dogs. my grandma said that that they used to be called nannny dogs because they can be trusted with kids.that's so cool.

    • men are dorks profile image

      men are dorks 6 years ago from Namibia

      Yipee some that feel the same sentiment towards PB... they are wonderful dogs, and no one will ever change my mind...

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      Alizabeth 6 years ago

      The graphic video is what people need in order to see that not all pit bull type dogs are mean.

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