The pit bull is by far one of the most misunderstood and maligned dog types in our modern culture. Years of bad press and the spread of misinformation have sadly caused many people to view pit bulls with distrust and fear.
In truth, pit bulls are friendly, loyal, fun-loving companions, not unlike many other breeds of dog. They were popular during World War I and the Great Depression because people associated them with the scrappy, blue-collar work ethic embraced by American culture.
But the focus on eradicating dog fighting in the 1970s put the pit bull front and center in the media, and myths and faulty reasoning quickly replaced the facts about these dogs.
Here are the top 5 myths about pit bulls that you should know:
Myth #1: Pit Bull is a dog breed.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is the proper and correct name for this breed. However, the term “pit bull” is incorrectly used in conjunction with many other breeds, such as the Blue Blood Bulldog, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and many mixed breed dogs.
In fact, most people cannot accurately identify an actual American Pit Bull Terrier from other breeds. The term “pit bull” has been used as a catch-all by rescue organizations to help protect all victimized breeds that are mistaken for looking like a pit bull. But in doing so, the American Pit Bull Terrier often gets mistaken for another breed.
Myth #2: Pit Bulls are more dangerous and aggressive than other breeds.
Because pit bull breeds are often used as fighting dogs, they are associated with violence and danger. However, pit bulls are not inherently dangerous dogs, no more so than any other breed.
As with any other dog, a pit bull can become violent and aggressive due to lack of training, neglect, irresponsible ownership, or abuse. If a pit bull is trained and vetted properly and shown love and respect, he will be unlikely to act aggressively.
American Pit Bull Terriers score highly regarding temperament, better even than some dog breeds considered to be gentle and kind.
Myth #3: Pit Bulls have locking jaws.
This myth is a longstanding one. Veterinarians have consistently noted that there is nothing special or unique about the anatomy of a pit bull’s jaw, and they have been proven not to lock up. In fact, there isn’t any such condition as jaw locking in any dog breed.
Some people believe that once a pit bull bites, there is no way to get the dog to let go. It is true that pit bulls have strong jaws, and they do grab and shake when fighting, but they are capable of letting go of that grip at any time. It’s worth noting that German Shepherd and Rottweiler breeds have stronger bite pressure than American Pit Bull Terriers.
Myth #4: Pit Bulls are born to fight.
Pit Bulls are not brought into the world ready to fight. They are trained to fight by people who care about entertainment and profit. Many pit bulls are forced to fight, and if unsuccessful, are often abandoned or killed through cruel methods like electrocution or execution. The dog is not violent; it’s the people who train him to fight who are brutal and vicious.
Pit Bulls are born to be dogs who contribute to their communities by becoming service dogs, police dogs, therapy dogs, and search and rescue dogs. They are also found at agility trials and dog show competitions.
Myth #5: Pit Bulls should not be around children.
No child should be around a dog unattended, but the pit bull is no more dangerous around children than any other breed. Ironically, the American Pit Bull Terrier was once referred to as the perfect “nanny dog” for children because of its loyal, friendly, stable nature.
Pit bulls can withstand the rough and tumble handling that children may give them with equanimity and tolerance.
As with any dog, children should be taught how to interact with dogs properly. The American Pit Bull Terrier always tests as one of the most stable dog breeds, and their patience and gentleness with children make them an excellent family dog.
Because of the misguided reputation that the pit bull has developed in recent years, many people don’t know the truth behind the breed.
The facts are that pit bulls can make wonderful companions, but the myths about them contribute to what is too often their sad fates: surrender to a shelter and euthanasia. Knowing the facts and the myths about pit bulls will change the way you view these dogs.
Alexandra Seagal is associated with Animalso.com Helping You Become a Better Dog Owner By Providing Simple and Actionable Advice