5 Common Misconceptions About Pit Bulls

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If there was a dog that was both dependable and stoic, while simultaneously playful and eager to please, it would be the breed group referred to as ‘pit bulls’. Don’t let the big, goofy-looking faces fool you, they can be just as smart as the rest. Unfortunately, due to decades of media misrepresentation, a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes have risen up around these loveable pups.

“Pit Bull” actually isn’t a specific breed.

When it comes to dogs that are attributed to being pit bulls, there are specific features that people usually hone in on – a stocky body and blocky head. There are several breeds that are not directly related which could fit into these guidelines, and sometimes the wrong breed is interpreted as being a pitbull. We’ll get into why this is a problem next.

The cluster of breeds that are known as pit bulls are the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldogs, and American Staffordshire Terriers. While sharing a similar ancestry, these breeds are distinct cultivations of genetic stock in an effort to create hard-working and strong dogs to serve as animal companions and stand in for a variety of roles.

Not As Aggressive As Media Portrays

Considering that ‘pit bull’ is often used by the media as a vague term to outline dogs who fall under a certain appearance – including various mastiffs breeds, dogo argentino, and sharpeis  – incidences of dog attacks garner an extra level of sensationalism when their name is invoked in the title, even the accompanying images of the animal in question are clearly not part of that specified breed group.

These irresponsibilities in attribution cause a chain effect, as their organizations that catalog such information for statistical purposes use headlines to base their numbers upon. Because of this, reports become heavily skewed against this breed group.

… But They Are Also Not A Nanny Dog

While proponents of the breed are eager to combat the overwhelming misinformation and stigma surrounding them, sometimes we can indulge in our own positive myths. One of these is that the pit bull is a “nanny dog”. The claim of this comes from a charming news article in the ’70s, where they were referred to as such, and the phrase took off. Currently, there are no verifiable records of instances where this was an achieved trait or general use for the breed. The unfortunate truth is that many of the breed lines do have a bloody past, being used for fighting in the 17th century despite its illegality.

While there is no doubt that they are very protective household pets when it comes to guarding children, the fact remains that dogs are not babysitters. In fact, one should always avoid leaving children unattended with any dog breed, for the safety of both parties.

Locking Jaws Do Not Exist

Any pit bull owner is used to hearing strangers mention something about the breed’s overwhelmingly powerful “locking jaws”, which make it nearly impossible for someone to break free from their bite.

Reviewing the radiographs and physiology of their jaw and its structures will show that there are no abnormalities or mechanisms which could make this a possibility. 

They Do Not Live Well With Other Animals

Another commonly repeated myth is the claim that pit bulls cannot live with other animals in the household. The statement of this is not true for the breeds as a whole – in fact, any dog may have a reason in which they cannot live in a home where other pets are present. Oftentimes these are situations of poor socialization, abuse, or traumatic experiences.

If you are adopting from a shelter, they will have performed appropriate temperament testing to ensure whether or not your potential companion – of any breed – would be a good fit for your home.

Now that we can sort out some of the ‘bull’, let’s take some time to appreciate these true underdogs. As people become more understanding about the pit bull, they are returning to their prominent role in the house and in the media – and rightfully so!

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