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Pit Bulls: Why the Bad (and Inaccurate) Reputation?

pit bulls

If Pit Bulls are so gentle, then why do so many people fear them? After all, many insurance companies, housing complexes and even the whole city of Montreal flat out ban them. Unfortunately there are lot of junk statistics when it comes to characterizing various dog breeds (“Pit Bull” isn’t really a breed either). These incorrect numbers have led many people and organizations to inaccurately label some breeds as “aggressive.”

Dogs Aren’t Born Bad

Aggressive dogs aren’t born that way. Mean dogs frequently aren’t properly socialized as puppies. They also likely have been abused or starved well into adulthood. People choose Pit Bulls for dog-fighting simply because they’re a strong and large breed – not because they’re monsters.

Aggressive Is a Misnomer for Several Dog Breeds

Pit Bulls are in good company on the “aggressive” list. Other mischaracterized canines include rescue dogs like St. Bernards and German Shepherds. St. Bernards are famous for hazardous alpine rescue missions and are described by breed experts as gentle giants.

German Shepherds are also canine heroes. These strong pups are popular within K9 units and make good drug-sniffing and bomb-detecting dogs. Trakr, a German Shepherd from Halifax, found the last 9/11 survivor. Another mischaracterized breed is the Siberian Husky. These dogs were specifically bred to look after small children and make excellent family pets.

Only Certain Dog Bites are Reported

Which do you think is more often reported: Pit Bull bites or Chihuahua bites? Probably Pit Bull bites, right? This isn’t because Pit Bulls are meaner dogs. Chihuahua bites are possibly more common, but underreported, because these tiny dogs can’t do much damage. In fact, animal experts report no relation between breed and aggression.

The truth is that there might actually be a correlation between dog size and aggression. And the findings aren’t exactly predictable. Instead of big dogs commonly being the aggressor, it’s pups with a Napoleon complex who are statistically more likely to lash out.

Total Dog Bites Doesn’t Reflect the Likelihood of a Dog Bite

Bear with us if you’re not a math person… The total of reported Pit Bull bites doesn’t reflect the likelihood of a Pit Bull bite. Let’s use an oversimplification to explain: Let’s say in a town there are 100 Pit Bulls and 10 Pugs. In that same town, all 10 Pugs and 20 Pit Bulls bite someone. While more Pit Bulls bit someone, they weren’t more likely to bite someone. Those numbers show that 100% of Pugs bite, but only 20% of Pit Bulls bite… and one can guess that Pugs are “more aggressive” than Pit Bulls.

So should people fear Pugs more than Pit Bulls? Of course not. But it’s this kind of junk statistics that incorrectly leads some people to believe that Pit Bulls and other “aggressive” breeds are more dangerous. In fact, it’s these poorly read statistics that led Canadians to label huskies as aggressive. There was a large number of reported husky bites simply because they’re a very popular breed among northern pet owners – not because they’re vicious dogs.

Don’t believe us?

When it comes to aggression, judge dogs on a case-by-case basis, not by breed. We’re not the only pet experts staunchly opposed to policies that discriminate based on breed. The following groups agree:

  • Humane Society of the United States
  • American Bar Association
  • American Kennel Club
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • National Animal Control Association
  • National Canine Research Council
  • US Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • The Obama Administration

Then How Can I Avoid Dog Bites???

Avoiding dog bites is a matter of reading individual personality, not breed. Learn how to judge dogs by their body language, not by size or stereotypes. Always monitor children when they’re around dogs, particularly pets you don’t know very well.

Pit Bulls Aren’t Just Not Aggressive, They’re Exceptionally Sweet Dogs

Pit Bulls are unusually gentle dogs and make very good family pets. Any good Pit Bull owner will agree. And unfortunately these loving animals overcrowd shelters. So if you’re looking for a loyal and affectionate dog, the first place to look is your local shelter. You’ll save a life – and gain a best friend for life!