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5 Reasons Why Pit Bulls are Misunderstood

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Many years ago, pit bulls were considered “Nanny dogs” because of their loyalty and gentleness toward their guardians. They were also once an American favorite, earning the title “America’s dog.”

Unfortunately, people soon found ways to exploit pit bulls’ behaviors and tendencies for dog fights, and their strong appearance became a symbol of violence, drug culture and gangs.

Today, pit bulls remain largely misunderstood because of irresponsible owners, sensationalist news stories, and a proliferation of myths. As a result, breed specific legislation (BSL) has popped up in cities across the U.S. that either greatly restricts or completely bans pit bull dogs as pets.

The stigma that marks pit bulls has also contributed to their rise in U.S. shelters. One in four of all animals brought into shelters are pit bulls, and their average euthanasia rate hovers at 93 percent across the board.

However, if given the chance, pit bulls can be very loving companions, and in some communities, they have even become heroes, saving people and their guardians from harm.

Discover the top five reasons pit bulls are misunderstood below, then help debunk these myths by telling your family, friends and social media followers the real truth about pit bulls.

Myth 1: Pit bull is a breed of dog

“Pit bull” is actually a generic term applied to various breeds including the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Blue Blood Bulldog, Dogo Argentino and hundreds of mixed breeds of similar physical appearance.

Therefore, the term “pit bull” often designates how a dog looks and not a breed itself, typically leading to a larger degree of misplaced blame on these dogs.

Most people cannot actually spot the difference between a true American Pit Bull Terrier and other breeds. (Try to see if you can yourself with this test from Pit Bull Rescue Central. Find the answer key here.)

In order to combat cruelty and misconceptions of all kinds, animal advocacy groups use the collective term “pit bull” to protect all breeds that are victimized because of their bully appearance.

Myth 2: Pit bulls are born to fight

Pit bull dogs are not born ready to rip into another dog, animal or human being. They are trained to fight by people who are interested in making a profit and providing “entertainment” in the form of a dog fight.

These dogs are forced to fight to the death in many instances, and those who cannot go on are abandoned, or killed by electrocution, gunshot, or other cruel means. It is then not the dogs who are cruel and vicious, but rather those behind their training.

Myth 3: Pit bulls are naturally violent, aggressive and mean, and are very dangerous dogs

Pit bulls are not inherently dangerous. Like any other dogs, they can become violent, aggressive and mean through a lack of training, abuse, neglect and irresponsible ownership and breeding as well as a lack of attention to health and temperament issues. If they are treated with respect and trained properly, pit bulls will exhibit little to no negative traits (just ask a loving pit bull adopter!)

In fact, according to the American Temperament Test Society, American Pit Bull Terriers, the most popular breed used in dog fights, have a very high temperament passing rate of 82.6 percent. Even dogs commonly thought to be kind and gentle (and they are, with the right care) like Bearded Collies and Chihuahuas scored lower than American Pit Bull Terriers.

Myth 4: Pit bulls have locking jaws

This myth, like the others, is completely false. According to the ASPCA, there is nothing “unique about the anatomy of [a] pit bull jaw.” What’s more, leading veterinary experts including Dr. Howard Evans and Dr. Sandy deLahunta, both of Cornell University, have stated that there is “no such thing as a ‘jaw locking’ in any breed,” as reported by Pit Bull Rescue Central.

Pit bulls do indeed have strong jaw muscles and their fighting style is one that involves grabbing and shaking, but that does not mean once they get a grip they can’t or won’t let go.

Myth 5: Pit bulls have a high bite rate

Dog bite statistics are often unfairly skewed to paint pit bulls as the primary perpetrators. Moreover, dog bite or attack stories involving a bully breed are typically written in a way that demonizes the dog and sensationalizes the story, further fueling fear and misconceptions about pit bulls.

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.”

This is not to say that certain dogs are not responsible for bites or attacks. Rather, it highlights that perhaps there is more to the story than is actually being reported (i.e. poor training and care, and in some cases, the victim has actually provoked the dog).

If you have any other misconceptions to add to this list, let us know with a comment below!

Find out more about pit bulls from Pit Bull Rescue Central and BadRap.

Image source: Richard Masoner / Flickr

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11 comments on “5 Reasons Why Pit Bulls are Misunderstood”

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23 Hours ago

I\'ve always loved dogs but have never had the environment or schedule which I thought would be appropriate for raising a happy one. The girl I am dating moved in with me and begged for a dog. I gave in since there are now two of us to be around for the dog, the back yard is fenced, and we have a climate controlled finished basement. She picked a pit bull puppy. This dog has been the most loving and loyal animal we could have hoped for. She is also whip-smart, affectionate, and protective. When my daughter (14 years old) comes to visit, the dog never leaves her side. If my daughter does not care to accompany us when we leave briefly for errands and whatnot; I actually feel better knowing the dog is home with her.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I understand that some folks have had bad experiences with one breed or another, and there are thousands of reports/articles/papers regarding the safety or danger of owning one. Whatever....I think this dog is frickin\' awesome...she\'s staying forever.

1 Months Ago

This article is so true I hate those people making up myths about innocent dogs. There just like any other dog.

5 Months Ago

All of this is a lie I have two pitbulls. My dogs do not fight they love you. they love to make people happy, they can tell if you are sad. I have had my dags for 7 years and they have not kkilled or tryed to kill a diffrent dog. soooo fuck y\'all for saying that are the worst dog.

Piet Bouer
07 Apr 2017

Fuck yourself you piece of shit pitbull owner. just google how many human beings and innocent little children have been mauled to death by these horrible fucking killing machines all due to selfish cunts like yourself who keep them.
they should all be shot and banned. Can you imagine what hell a mom must go through having to watch her child being killed by American Pitbulls.

01 May 2017

you know they\'re defending pitbulls right

The Destroyer
6 Months Ago

I found this website very useful

The Terminater
01 Mar 2017

ye what he said

The Killer
01 Mar 2017

ye what he said

Kim n konyay
01 Mar 2017

yo bro

22 Mar 2017


3 Years Ago

tDear Author,

anna mae
11 May 2015


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