The term Pit Bull does not refer to a single breed — that’s a dog myth. It is the general term for the cross-breed between Bulldogs and Terriers. Their physical strength, agility, and obedience make them perfect companions. In fact, they were dubbed as “America’s Dog” not too long ago, starring in mainstream media as the perfect family dog. Then, why do people have the wrong notion about them?
In the 1800s, these dogs were used as a source of entertainment in a sport called “Bull Baiting” where they were set to agitate a bull until exhaustion. They were also pitted against other animals like rats and fellow dogs, and it was not until later when the British Parliament Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 prohibited the use of dogs in cruel sports for entertainment.
Well, it’s safe to say that the common misconception about this dog is that they are inherently dangerous, but this can be attributed to their unfortunate history and biased portrayal in the media. Below are myths about pit bulls:
Myth 1: Pit bulls are a Breed
As mentioned above, the pit bull doesn’t refer to just one breed. There are numerous pit bull dog breeds with varying physical attributes and characteristics. Among the types are American pit bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the American Bully. Regardless of the type, a muscular built and almond-shaped eyes are common traits they all share.
Myth 2: It’s unsafe to get a pit bull from a shelter
Under the best of circumstances, it is great to know the history, health, and the line of which the dog was bred for. Most rescued animals at the shelter lack these details, but that does not mean that the pit bull at the shelter will not make for a wonderful pet. Visit your local animal experts and shelter volunteers and ask them these things:
- Has it shown any aggression towards humans?
- How does this dog do with other dogs?
- Has it shown any undesirable behavior or habits?
Most shelters will not accept or adopt out pit bulls with any level of aggression or excessive shyness towards humans. Shelters encourage potential adopters to bring the whole family to meet the dog and they also allow home visits to see how rescues respond to the new people and surroundings.
Myth 3: Pit bulls are Aggressive and Dangerous
Pit bulls in the 1800s were indeed deemed to be aggressive, but it’s because these dogs were conditioned to be so. They were subject to intense punishment like electrocution, starvation, and beating if they disobey their owners. These methods were also used to “toughen them up” and make them ruthless. Unfortunately, even after laws have been passed, pit bulls are still one of the most abused dogs in the world only because of common dog behavior myths surrounding them.
Therefore, the owners are to be blamed for their aggressive behavior, and not the dogs. We must remember that any breed will follow by example, and they will copy what they see, so we must be responsible dog owners if they want them to be gentle and caring.
Myth 4: Pit bulls have 1600 P.S.I. in jaw pressure
According to Dr. Lehr Brisbin of the University of Georgia: “To the best of our knowledge, there are no published scientific studies that would allow any meaningful comparison to be made of the biting power of various breeds of dogs.”
While it is true that pit bulls were originally bred to take down large animals, there are compelling technical reasons why such data describing ‘biting power’ can never be collected in a meaningful way. There is also absolutely no evidence for the existence of any kind of “locking mechanism” unique to the structure of the jaw or teeth of the pitbull.
Myth 5: Pit bulls brains swell
Pit bull brains grow at the same rate as any other dog. The idea of an animal’s brain swelling or growing too large and somehow causing the animal to “go crazy” is not based in truth in any way. This rumor started with the Doberman, and has since been said about game-bred dogs in general. The only time that a Pit Bull’s brain is going to swell is if it is involved in a serious injury and that would cause the animal to die.
Myth 6: Treadmills are only used to get dogs ready to fight.
False. Many pet owners utilize treadmills to help exercise their dogs and manage their energy levels especially in places where weather prevents outdoor exercise, or in situations where off-leash exercise is not an option. Pit bulls are athletic creatures and using a treadmill can help them become healthier and happier.
Myth 7: Adopt a puppy so you can train it to behave
Having a dog since puppyhood does not guarantee it will have all of the qualities desired in a pet. One benefit of adopting a full grown pit bull is the ability to avoid the uncomfortable puppy stage. This includes constant house breaking, uncontrollable energy, teething and biting as well as possible whining, howling, and barking for attention at night.
It’s also easier to see how adult dogs will react to other dogs, cats, children, car rides, and certain situations. Bringing a puppy up in the most loving and social environment can only alter its predetermined genetic urges so much. An adult Pit Bull, however, will have more of an established personality and pet owners would know what to expect.
Myth 8: Pit bulls are only good for single-pet homes
The Humane Society of Harrisburg Area has this to say: “Individual personalities play a large part in successfully managing an environment with more than one dog (of any breed), but spaying/neutering, obedience training, an appropriate level of exercise and a firm hand will go a long way to successfully integrate multiple dogs into your home.”
Myth 9: Pit bull owners are involved in criminal activity
Some people assume that most pit bull owners are involved in crime. While it is true that some pit bulls have fallen into the hands of owners who use them to support their illegal activities, many reputable people own pit bulls including teachers, doctors, business executives, celebrities, and even former presidents.
Myth 10: Pit bulls’ Ears Must be Cropped
One common misconception about pit bulls is that they should undergo ear cropping surgery to avoid developing ear infections and other hearing problems. These fallacies have been repeatedly disputed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and currently, there are more and more veterinarians that refuse to perform ear cropping procedures on pit bulls. For a more extensive explanation of ear cropping fallacies, you may check out this article.
Pit bulls may look tough and hard-headed on the outside, but they are soft and sweet pets that are loyal to their owners forever. These common dog myths about pit bulls will undoubtedly continue for the next few years, but we should raise awareness and collectively remove these misconceptions in the future.