Many people shudder when Pit Bulls are mentioned. This is because most will have heard all the myths concerning this much-maligned breed of dog but few will have checked the facts, and accept the stereotypical image of a rabid, wild beast with powerful death-dealing jaws, a fearsome temperament and a hatred of people.
The image many have of this unfortunate animal has no grounding in fact and couldn’t be any further from the truth if it tried.
Where to begin? Mention Pit Bulls and people will respond with any of a dozen reasons why the breed is positively evil and should be wiped from the face of the earth but let’s clear up some of the most common misconceptions.
- Locking Jaws. Stories persist that Pit Bulls have locking jaws that cannot be prised apart once clamped shut. In fact, a Pit Bull’s jaws operate in precisely the same manner as any other breed of dog and are actually not as strong as those of a Rottweiler or German Shepherd.
- Untrustworthy. We are often told that Pit Bulls cannot be trusted and that, even after years of being with an owner, the dogs will one day turn and attack. Pit Bulls were initially bred for fighting purposes and any dogs that exhibited an aggressive nature towards their human handlers were culled. Today’s Pit Bulls have been bred for centuries to be loyal to people and are more trustworthy than most, if not all, other breeds of dog.
- Dangerous. A Pit Bull is strong and will fight when it has to as this is built into their genetic make-up. But there is absolutely no evidence, statistical or otherwise, to show they are any more aggressive or dangerous than other breeds.
- Bad with Children. Any dog that is mishandled or hurt, even unintentionally by a small child, will usually react to some degree. Even a mild-mannered and docile Golden Retriever will respond and a Pit Bull is no better or worse. Because of their size and strength, the Pit Bull has an element of fear and awe attached but, in the main, they are gentle animals and safe with children although it is a good idea to teach kids how to handle all dogs properly and not just Pit Bulls.
- Unsafe to Adopt. Adopting any dog from a shelter comes with some risk attached but no responsible animal shelter would knowingly hand over a dog that might be a problem or dangerous. All animals up for adoption have been subject to screening and this is just as true of Pit Bulls as with any other breed of dog. Claiming that it is dangerous to adopt a grown Pit Bull from a shelter is not only untrue but unfair.
- Pit Bulls Kill More People. This is a skewed use of statistics. Pit Bulls have been involved in more fatal dog attacks than other breeds but they are one of the most common and popular breeds and their numbers far exceed those of any other types of dogs.
Distorted Facts and Downright Lies
Because the earliest Pit Bulls were bred for fighting purposes, the perception is that they are no more than semi-domesticated killers. Pit Bulls are no worse, and probably better, than any other breed but their name has been tarnished by decades of distorted facts and downright lies.
The plain facts of the matter are that Pit Bulls are no more aggressive or vicious than any other dog and have, in fact, been shown to be one of the best behaved and trustworthy dogs in a study by the American Temperament Testing Society.