The American pit bull terrier (APBT) is arguably the most controversial dog breed. Certainly the APBT elicits the strongest range of reactions from supporters and critics of most other breeds.
Occasionally those reactions are spot on; sometimes they’re dead wrong. If you’re a pit bull lover (like I am), chances are you’ve heard at least a few of these common myths from pibble haters.
1. They Have Locking Jaws
The “locking jaw” claim is a common myth about pit bulls. It’s also 100 percent false.
The pit bull’s jaw is much the same as any other dog’s. In order for this claim to be true, the APBT’s jaw structure would have to be anatomically different from that of every other breed of dog.
And just to dispel any confusion — it isn’t. Generally speaking, dogs have strong jaws, and the strength is proportional to the size of the dog. But no dog’s jaws lock.
2. They Are Unpredictably Aggressive
Any dog can be aggressive if provoked. The American pit bull terrier is no more aggressive than most dog breeds today.
In fact, according to the American Temperament Test Society, pit bulls rank above average in temperament tests across the country. They score higher percentages than some of the most popular breeds, including the golden retriever, collie and cocker spaniel.
3. They Are Used Only for Fighting
Historically, the pit bull has been anything but a fighting monster!
You can find these pit bull stars on the big screen:
- Petey, the beloved canine companion on The Little Rascals(Our Gang)
- Champion, the three-legged pet on the sitcom Parks and Recreation
- Grunt, the chocolate cutie in the 1980s movie Flashdance
I bet you’ll recognize some of these famous pit bull caregivers:
- Helen Keller
- Theodore Roosevelt
- John Steinbeck
- Mel Brooks
- Brad Pitt
- Orlando Bloom
- Jon Stewart
Want to talk about usefulness and loyalty as working dogs?
- Sergeant Stubby was a war hero of World War I.
- Tahoe, Cheyenne and Dakota were 9/11 search-and-rescue pit bulls.
- Popsicle is the number-one customs dog in the United States.
4. They Are Too Dangerous to Be Around Children
Pibbles can be the cuddliest, most tolerant and sweet dogs there are, but it would be irresponsible to assume they all are. Taking the steps to safeguard your family (both the four-legged and the two-legged members) can make the greatest difference.
Thousands of pit bulls are lucky enough to be in homes with respectful children without issue.
Often pit bulls form bonds with their child family members, but that’s true only when the adults make responsible decisions about socializing their dogs and teaching their children how to behave around the family pup.
5. They Are Aggressive Toward All Dogs
Pit bulls across the country are well-adjusted members of multi-dog households. They are well socialized and participate in puppy playdates and dog park parties.
Pit bulls are certainly capable of living with other pets, dogs and cats both, happily and harmoniously.
However, all dogs should be introduced to unfamiliar pets slowly and under close supervision to avoid a potential disaster. Although lots of pit bulls can live closely and comfortably with other pets, many must be single pets because they don’t get along with other dogs or cats.
To ensure your young pit bull stays pet-friendly, socialize him regularly and have him neutered early to avoid potential aggressive tendencies.
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6. They Have the Strongest Jaws of Any Breed
As I mentioned above, all dogs have strong jaws. Pit bulls don’t actually have unusual jaw strength, despite the rumors. In a study measuring the bite pressure of three strong breeds — Rottweiler, German shepherd and American pit bull terrier — the pit bull came out on the bottom of the list.
The Rottweiler emerged highest, with a jaw strength of 328 pounds per square inch (PSI). The pit bull was almost 100 pounds PSI lower, at 235 pounds PSI.
So the next time someone tries to teach you a myth about the lovable and misunderstood pit bull, feel free to set that person straight. And if you’re walking a pit bull, maybe you can even talk that skeptic into giving your lovebug a little friendly pat!