If I asked you to describe a pit bull, what adjectives would first spring to mind? If you are like most Americans, your answer would probably be something similar to powerful, temperamental, and aggressive.
But, did you know that there was a time when the pit bull was considered to be America’s Darling? That’s right, there was actually a time in this country when seeing this animal stroll down the street with its owner evoked feelings of love and peace. Pit bulls were even featured in army recruitment posters during WWI.
But all this began to change in the 1980s. Thanks to sensationalized tales, the pit bull’s popularity began to wane. Still, it wasn’t the breed that had people in an uproar but rather the way they were being trained.
Dog fighting, while illegal, was a popular pastime and pit bulls were choice fighters. Furthermore, drug dealers began using them as guard dogs. And, when a pit bull guarding a marijuana crop killed a 2-year-old in 1987, the pit bull breed didn’t stand a chance in the court of public opinion.
Americans were mad and started blaming the dogs themselves, versus the way they were trained, as the problem. A town in New Mexico even made it legal for animal control officers to seize and destroy pit bulls on sight, with no compensation to their owners.
Thankfully, public perception of these pups is starting to change for the better. But, there are still some myths that prevail. To help you get to the bottom of these fallacies and fight the spread of bad information, we’ve busted the following myths about pit bulls:
Pitbulls have more biting power than other dogs and (to make it worse) they have locking jaws
Tales have been told of pit bulls with locking jaws that exert over 1,000 pounds per square inch of force. But, in all actuality, no dog breed has a jaw with a locking mechanism. And, pit bulls are only able to exert about 230 pounds of force per square inch, which is actually lower than overall average for dogs (320).
What pit bulls do have, however, are very determined and passionate personalities. So, what may be perceived as a locking jaw is actually a display of a pit bull’s determination not to let go of whatever it may have in its jaws.
Pitbulls are naturally more aggressive than other breeds
There’s a common saying that states, “One bad apple can mess up the entire bunch.” In other words, the negative actions of one can create a bad perception of all – and this is kind of what’s going on with the pit bull.
We are not going to say that pit bulls have never bitten people, but that the entire breed has been lumped into a group based on what a few poorly trained animals did. The truth of the matter is that a dog’s level of aggression is dependent on the animal itself, the environment in which it was raised, and its owners.
Pit bull bites are more deadly than other dog breeds
Based on information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, well over 4 million dog bites are reported every year. But, out of this admittedly high number, only about 25 are fatal. Not only is this an incredibly low percentage, even the POTUS (in 2013) stated that it was virtually impossible to determine the bite rates for the different breeds. In other words, there’s no concrete evidence that these fatal injuries were caused by pit bulls.
The Bottom Line
Pit bulls are great dogs, no matter what the proponents of the breed bans say. In fact, when these powerful and loving animals are properly trained and exercised, it is quite easy to see why they were so beloved in the days of yesteryear.