When asked that question, we have found that opinions and descriptions vary greatly among both animal professionals, owners and the average citizen.
A “pit bull” is not a breed of dog, but a commonly used term to describe many kinds of dogs. In some instances the term may be used to describe the breeds that commonly make up the pit bull group: the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
In other circles the term pit bull can be used to describe dozens of breeds and types of dogs including the Cane Corso, American Bulldog, English Bulldog and the Dogo Argentino or any other dog that the observer feels has the physical characteristics of a “pit bull” dog.
In Manteca, CA a pit bull is partially defined as: Any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier or an American Staffordshire Terrier. While South Bend, Indiana defines a pit bull as an American Pit Bull Terrier, but does not include American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
So, as you can see, just about everyone has a different opinion on what a “pit bull” is. However, I think we can all agree that at the end of the day, a “pit bull” is just a DOG!
Don’t pit bull dogs have locking jaws?
Absolutely not! An anatomical difference in jaw structure would make “pit bulls” something other than canine.
In a University of Georgia study, Dr. I Lehr Brisbin reported, ”We have found that the American Pit Bull Terrier did not have any unique mechanism that would allow these dogs to lock their jaws. The few studies which have been conducted on the structure of the skulls, mandibles and teeth of the pit bull show that, in proportion to their size, their jaw structure and thus its inferred functional morphology, is no different than that of any breed of dog.”
Won’t the bite of a “pit bull” dog do more damage than the bite of other kinds dogs?
No. Dr. Brady Barr of National Geographic conducted a study on the bite force of several species. Here is what he found in relation to the bite force of 3 different dog breeds. The American Pit Bull Terrier, Rottweiler, and German Shepherd. Among the three, the average bite force documented was 320 lbs of force, the lowest force of the three breeds, the American Pit Bull Terrier.
No. All dogs, even those thought of as “pit bulls” are individuals. Therefore, no single blanket statement can describe the tolerance for other animals when talking about such a diverse group of dogs.
In homes around the world, pit bull dogs live peacefully with diverse families that may include other dogs, cats, chickens, horses and a long list of other types of animals. And yes, there are a few pit bull dogs who prefer to live by themselves. Each dog, like each human is different. To make the best match for your family, look at the dog you are considering, not the “breed” label.
Can I have a pit bull dog around kids?
Yes. With a 2012 Vetstreet survey showing the American Pit Bull Terrier as the most popular in the country, pit bull dogs are bound to live with children. When considering adding a dog to your family, take into account your child’s needs. Finding a dog that would properly match those needs is important. Both parties are individuals and should be regarded as such.
Are pit bull dogs more dangerous than other dogs? We hear about them so often.
No. Several studies on the links between breed and aggression have been done, none of them have concluded that any one breed is more predisposition to aggression than the other.
There are several reasons the frequency in which we hear of incidents of dangerous dogs. First and foremost is that we live in an age with 24/7 access to an endless list of media outlets. Sensational reporting brings big ratings for media outlets, increasing profits. Many times the actual breed is ignored and/or misidentified.
The other issue lies in the fallacies of visual breed identification. In a 2012 Maddie’s Fund study, where over 5000 animal professionals were surveyed. The participants included vets, trainers, breeders, shelter workers & others. Each person surveyed was asked to assess photographs of 100 dogs. They were asked to ID the primary breed(s), meaning having DNA of 25% or more. More than 66% of the time, the participants were incorrect when their responses were compared to the DNA analysis of each dog.Again reinforcing the findings of a previous study by Dr. Voith of Western University, in which 87% of dogs whose DNA was tested, were visually mis-identified by shelter workers.
Some examples of the dogs used in the 2012 Maddie’s Fund study. How well are your visual identification skills in comparison with the DNA findings?
If pit bull dogs are so great, why are they filling up the shelters?
The reasons shelters and rescues may house a large number of dogs labeled as “pit bulls” vary greatly.
In times of economic hardship, families are often faced with difficult decisions in regards to their pets. Resources to provide proper care may not be available or families may have to relocate to a place where landlords enforce breed restricted policies.
Banfield’s State of Pet Health Report 2011, lists Pit Bull among the most popular pets in 46 states. They concluded, “Pit Bulls have increased in popularity by 47 percent over the past 10 years.” This trend puts more pit bull dogs at risk should their families fall on hard times in a community with little support for pet ownership retention.
Additionally, there is the issue of breed identification based on visual inspection. As this poster from National Canine Research Council illustrates.
In our effort to recognize dogs as individuals, we do not promote any hard and fast rule when it comes to the pairing of dogs. We believe that in finding compatible pairs or groups of dogs, it is about the energy they project, individual personalities and preferences.
Dogs of all types, including pit bull dogs live in same sex pairs, opposite sex pairs and mixed gender groups while others may prefer to play with other dogs, but not cohabitate with them. Each dog is different. If introducing a new dog into your pack, take it slow and follow these steps as suggested by our friends at Our Pack.
I’ve met some high energy pit bull dogs. Are they all that way?
Absolutely not! Just like humans, the energy level of pit bull dogs varies with each individual. As with other dogs, some “pit bulls” are couch potatoes, others like to go, go, go!, and there are those who fall somewhere in the middle.
When considering adopting a dog of any appearance, it is important to be honest with yourself and your family about the dog’s needs and your willingness or ability to meet those needs. If you are an active, outdoorsy family or love to run, a dog of high or medium energy would be best to keep up with you. Conversely, if you like to spend your down time at home, maybe the couch potato type would more your speed.
I want to adopt my first dog. Is a “pit bull” right for me?
There are many things to take into account when adopting a dog, the breed label is not one. Instead, the consideration of each dog you are interested as an individual and how that dog will fit into your life is the best approach.
If you are not ready to make a life long commitment or want to ease into pet ownership, you may consider fostering. Most rescues who do not operate a facility rely on foster homes to save lives. While the rescue seeks out an adopter for the foster pet, an individual or family cares for the animal in their home. Typically the rescue will provide fosters with supplies such as food and crates and always should cover any veterinary costs while under the umbrella of the rescue organization. And you never know, a foster dog or cat may be just the right fit for you and you can adopt them! Here are groups always looking for foster homes.
Need some guidance on adding a new member to your family? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org