One of the most maligned breeds of dogs in the world today is the Pit Bull. It is interesting to note that a Pit Bull is not a breed of dog, but rather a type of dog that includes many different “bully breeds.”
The Pit Bull type can be a combination of a variety of recognized breeds. These include the American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the American Bully, Boxer, and the English Bull Terrier, not all of which are recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Instead, the term Pit Bull is used in the United States and in many parts of the world to describe a dog that is shorter and broad-chested, with a muscular body, wide head, and a largemouth. Most dogs described as Pit Bulls also have moderately large ears that may stand up, curl over at the top, or rest closer to the head. The eyes tend to be smaller and set wide apart, and the coat is typically short. Colors range from solids to brindles, bi or tri-colors, and everything in between based on the specific mix.
The term Pit Bull came from the early 1800s in the British Isles, where these dogs were bred to bait bulls, a horrifically cruel sport that was outlawed in 1835. The dog type, however, was valued as a farm dog and a guard dog, and later as more of a nanny dog that was exceptional with children.
Myth: Pit Bulls are Genetically Geared for Aggression
It is this past reputation, as well as the use of these dogs in horrific and illegal dogfighting activities, which has generated many myths about the type. As a whole, these dogs are loving, playful, and kind companions for individuals and families. Like any dog, they need ongoing training and socialization, but they are not genetically or inherently more aggressive than any other breed.
Myth: Pit Bulls are Always Aggressive with Other Dogs/Cats/Animals
Just like any other breed, a Pit Bull has to be socialized and trained around other animals. These are dogs that were raised to take down other animals, not unlike other breeds such as the Rhodesian Ridgeback, Dog Argentino, Plott Hound, Curs, and other types of big game hunting dogs.
With socialization and training, the Pit Bull is a well-behaved and social dog. They can be very playful throughout life and often bond very closely with other dogs in the family. They can be wonderful companion pets in households with cats and other animals with early training and socialization.
Myth: Pit Bulls Lock their Jaws
The Pit Bull type, like any dog, has a typical jaw structure. There is no way for the dogs to lock their jaw, and they do not exert any more pressure with their bite than other dogs of similar size.
Myth: Never Adopt a Pit Bull from a Shelter
There is no more risk of aggression in adopting a Pit Bull from a shelter than any other dog. Reputable shelters and rescues that foster dogs can provide accurate information about how the Pit Bull interacted with kids, other dogs, and other pets in the foster home setting.
Myth: Pit Bulls are Linked to Human Injuries
This is perhaps the most damaging myth to Pit Bulls. There is no higher rate of injuries from bites or attacks from Pit Bulls than other breeds. Unfortunately, when this breed is abused, neglected, untrained, or trained for aggression, it is often singled out due to the significant injuries that occur when these attacks happen.
As with any dog, take the time to consider if the type is right for you. Pit Bulls that are socialized and trained make loving companions that are ideal for a more sedate lifestyle or an active house full of kids and family.