Are Pitbulls Dangerous: Sorting Out The Facts From Myths

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
Pitbulls have got a lot of bad press in the past. With all the hype surrounding this breed, how do you sort the facts from the myths – are Pitbulls dangerous or not?

When someone mentions the word Pitbull, what pops into your mind? Do you envision a friendly dog with a wagging tail or a vicious animal with snapping jaws and murder in its eyes? The sad truth is that many people falsely assume that Pitbulls are dangerous because of stories about dog fighting and dog bites that are blown out of proportion by the media. In this article you will learn the basics about Pitbulls including why they have gained such a nasty reputation and what the real truth is.

Why do People Think Pitbulls Are Dangerous?

The name Pitbull may refer to several breeds of dog including the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Pitbull terrier, or any mix of these breeds. The Pitbull is a medium-sized dog with a well-muscled body and incredible jaw strength. The Pitbull was originally developed in Britain for the purpose of bull-baiting and bear-baiting – their jaws were formulated to hold on to their prey in order to inflict the maximum amount of damage possible. When these blood sports were outlawed in 1835, these dogs came to be used for dog fighting instead.

Related: Pitbull Top “American Hero Dog” At The 2013 AHA Hero Dog Awards

As a result of their use for dog fighting, Pitbulls have a bad reputation for being aggressive and dangerous. Prior to the 1980s, however, reports of Pitbull attacks were largely non-existent. In fact, during the early half of the century Pitbulls had a positive image, being used in army recruitment posters (they’ve been used as mascots for the American military and World War 1 campaign posters) and being featured in several movies and television shows. By the late 1980s, however, more than thirty communities had passed breed-specific laws and/or bans on Pitbulls. This may have been due to resurgence in dog fighting that happened during this time, as well as the use of Pitbulls by drug dealers and gangs as guard dogs. Also contributing to these bans are that dogs that are held or reported as biting a person or pet are falsely reported as being a Pitbull.

The Truth About Pitbulls

Any dog that is treated poorly has the potential to develop aggressive behavior, largely out of fear. The thing you need to understand about Pitbulls are that they are not a specific breed, but a class of dogs. There’s no DNA test that can point out a specific Pitbull gene like you can with a breed such as a German Shepherd or a Chihuahua – it’s based on a certain look that the dog has. Pitbulls can have a mix of breeds in their makeup, but usually have Staffordshire Bull Terrier or Bull Terrier in their blood. Both the Staffordshire and Bull Terriers were used a century ago as fighting dogs, but now they make excellent working and companion animals.

Related: Picture of Pitbull Cuddling With Bunnies and Chick Goes Viral

As is true for all dogs, however, proper socialization and training can make the Pitbull a wonderful companion pet. American Pitbull Terriers have a friendly temperament and they get along well with children. The same can be said of both the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Though these breeds are often great with people, they can still be a little aggressive toward other dogs and they can have problems with small household pets like cats… but then again, so can other breeds that are dominant or have a strong prey instinct.

If you are considering adopting a Pitbull, you need to take the time to learn as much as you can about the breed first. Pitbulls are smart and enthusiastic dogs who love to run and play. Many of the behavior problems Pitbull owners report in their dogs can be prevented with proper training and by making sure the dog gets enough mental and physical exercise throughout the day. If you adopt a puppy, make sure to begin socialization and training as early as possible and then maintain consistency with it throughout your dog’s life.

What we don’t hear enough about in the media are the Pitbulls who are used as therapy and service animals, or the Pitbulls who put their lives on the line for their beloved owners. Did you know that the American Humane Society has named two Pitbulls “Hero Dog of the Year” in both 2013 and 2014? Both of these dogs, and many more like them, have defied the public’s unjust views and have become role models and lifesavers for people in need. The old adage of “judging a book by its cover” certainly rings true for Pitbulls – and we ask you to remember that before rushing to judgment about this wonderful dog.

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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