There are almost as many myths and legends about Pit Bulls as there are surrounding Dracula and Frankenstein. As is the case with the two legendary anti-heroes of film and folklore, the myths about Pit Bulls are often far from the truth but with some grounding in ancient history. Pit Bulls, as a breed, were initially bred as a fighting dog due to their relative small size in comparison to their strength and tenacity. But the image of Pit Bulls as a miniature canine killer persists to this day with little regard to the facts.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
To begin with, there are numerous types of dogs that are banded together under the heading “Pit Bull”. While there are certain familiarities between them, and some genetic links, not all of these so-called “Pit Bulls” are of the same mindset, genetic make-up or disposition as the normal dog on the street Pit Bull.
Although distantly related, breeds such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa and Cordoba Fighting Dog have as much in common with the modern-day Pit Bull as black does with white.
Most, if not all, of the Pit Bulls’ bad reputation is propagated by its size, shape and physical appearance as well as its portrayal in books and movies. The term “scapegoat” springs immediately to mind but most Pit Bulls are in fact gentle, docile and friendly.
It’s All About Image
Misconceptions abound about Pit Bulls but the bad press the breed has constantly received is no fault of the dogs. While it’s true that nobody wants to be on the wrong end of a Pit Bull attack, the animals involved in attacks on people were generally under the control of street thugs and criminals who viewed the dog as nothing more than a weapon and status symbol. If any dog is treated badly and taught to attack when ordered, it will inevitably obey or face the consequences. The same is equally true of Dobermans, Alsatians or any large dog and even the lovable St. Bernard can be trained to attack on command.
Legends and Facts
Probably the biggest myth about Pit Bulls is that they possess a locking jaw that once engaged is impossible to open, even if the animal is killed. Not only is this ridiculous and untrue but impossible. There is no animal in the world that has such a jaw structure. In fact, although a Pit Bull does indeed have exceedingly strong jaw bones and muscles, they are surpassed by both Rottweilers and German Shepherds.
But enough of the myths that surround Pit Bulls, how about some surprising facts.
- Fighters. Pit Bulls bad reputation is built around the fact that they are supreme fighters for their size and weight. This is true but because of the animal’s desire to please their human handlers they often suffered abuse and mistreatment resulting in “bad dogs” getting their bad image.
- Popularity. Strange as it may seem but Pit Bulls were actually the most popular family dog in the early 20th century.
- Shepherds Friend. Because of their strength and devotion to their owners, Pit Bulls were the breed of choice for shepherds and farmers in the British Isles for centuries.
- Best Temperament. A survey carried out by the American Temperament Test Society showed that Pit Bulls were less aggressive and more controlled in stressful situations than other family dogs such as poodles, beagles and terriers.
There is no basis in fact for labeling Pit Bulls as the bad boys of the dog world. Bad press for the breed has been allowed to spread and with no valid reason or excuse. When it comes down to it, there are good Pit Bulls and bad Pit Bulls but everything depends upon how the dog is treated and raised as is the case with any breed of dog. It is high time that people realized that a dog is a dog and each should be judged on its own merits as we would do with people.