MYTH (mith) n. 1.an invented story, fictitious person, etc. 2.a belief or set of beliefs, often unproven or false, that have accrued around a person, phenomena or institution.
Aren't Pit Bulls MEAN and VICIOUS?
No more vicious than golden retrievers, beagles or other popular dogs! In yearly tests of over 240 dog breeds by the American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS), pit bull type dogs consistently achieve a passing rate that's as good or better than the other most popular breeds. How did your favorite breed do? Check here: ATTS.org
In the ATTS test, a dog is put through a series of confrontational situations. Any sign of panic or unprovoked aggression leads to failure of the test. The achievement of pit bulls in this study disproves once and for all the old tired belief that pit bulls are inherently aggressive to people. Like any breed of dog, a healthy pit bull that is raised and managed responsibly will reflect the good care his owners have invested in him.
PHOTO: These four BR dogs took a dip together while waiting to go through their ATTS test. Spoiler Alert: They all passed with flying colors.
Dogs of any breed type that bite people are typically troubled, frightened or highly stressed individuals, set up to fail by irresponsible and/or reckless owners who've ignored or disregarded the classic warning signs that come with nearly any dog bite. Bites can result from improper handling, abuse, damaged genetics or all of the above. Profiling dog breeds works against the goal of reducing dog bites. Bite prevention education resources such as these offered by the AVMA can help build safe, humane communities without resorting to the kind of ineffective paranoia that comes from targeting select breeds. For a well researched source of information on canine aggression, visit The National Canine Research Council
Don't Pit Bulls have LOCKING JAWS?
Shush! Don't be silly. A pit bull's ability to "lock on" with its jaws is one whopper of a myth that refuses to let go. There is no 'enzyme,' no special mechanism that would make a pitbull's jaws 'lock.' They're DOGS, not alligators. Need proof? After research, Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin, University of Georgia concluded, "We found that the American Pit Bull Terriers did not have any unique mechanism that would allow these dogs to lock their jaws. There were no mechanical or morphological differences..." The same silliness shows up with myths about bite pressure.
Don't buy into media hype...it'll steer you wrong every time. Bite pressure fact checking, reported by The National Canine Research Council (NCRC)
Don't Pit Bulls have to be TRAINED TO FIGHT?
Does any dog? Pit bulls are terriers, and terriers have a tendency to be scrappy with other animals if unsocialized, poorly managed or otherwise left to their own devices. Just as farmers have used Jack Russell Terriers to do battle with badgers, foxes and other animals, unscrupulous people have exploited the terrier drive in pit bulls against other dogs for 'entertainment' purposes. Like any breed of dog, pit bulls can run the gamut from dog aggressive to exceptionally dog friendly and each dog shares some potential to fight other dogs if mismanaged. Avoiding dog fights involves knowing your dog well, understanding terrier traits and basic canine behavior in general. PHOTO: An Airedale and Bedlington Terrier on the hunt. You can just imagine why some terrier type dogs do not do well at dog parks.
A properly socialized, well managed pit bull should never find himself in a dogfight because he's accustomed to the presence of other dogs and - IMPORTANT! - he has a smart and responsible owner willing to keep him safe from situations that could invite the unhappy possibility of a scuffle.
Aren't TREADMILLS for dog fighters?
Seriously? While it's true that many convicted dog fighters have been found with treadmills on their properties, automatically connecting treadmill use with fight conditioning has unfairly profiled some of the most responsible owners out there. Many homes use mills to get their dogs in tip top shape, especially in places where extreme weather or dense urban neighborhoods prevent tiring, outdoor exercise. Apartment dwellers without yards love'em. Because pit bulls are high energy animals with hardy, athletic builds, the responsible use of a treadmill can make for healthier, happier dogs.
Video: BADRAP's Star loves using her mill at the Rescue Barn.
Will a Pit Bull that shows aggression towards other animals go after PEOPLE NEXT?
Just as hunters don't fear their hunting dogs, seasoned dog people understand that aggression towards other animals and human-directed aggression are two totally different behaviors in canines. We've heard this frightened quote, "He went after a dog (or cat) and our kids might be next!" Like any breed of dog that we see in family homes today, a properly raised, well socialized, and responsibly owned pit bull does not present a problem with humans.
Don't SCARS or CROPPED EARS indicate a dog's been "fought" or used as "bait?"
Nope! Dogs can get scars from all kinds of situations and misadventures. Housemate dogs as well as strays can have arguments over prized resources for example without any prompting from an irresponsible owner. He may have started those fights, or tried like hec to avoid them, or anything in between. He may be an active dog that ran through brambles on a hike with his owner, tumbled with a cat or other dogs at the park, nosed in too close to a wild urban animal such as a raccoon, or cut himself while trying to dig out of his yard. He may also have developed a skin condition known as mange, which causes patches of missing fur.
Badly cropped ears typically reflect an uneducated dog owner's attempt to mimic the professional crops that are popular with UKC and AKC show dogs. RIGHT: Dominck got a horrible 'home crop' in his first home, but that doesn't stop him from living a great life with his new family.
While we hate that there are people who would abuse animals, the term 'bait dogs' tends to be overused by the well intentioned but misinformed. Unless there are witnesses to the cause of injury, the story behind scars on a dog remain an unhappy mystery with an unknown perpetrator. To shout "bait dog!" whenever a dog with bite marks appears keeps a popular myth alive and may actually be encouraging copycat crimes by offering animal abusers ideas we would rather they didn't have.
Should adopters look for puppies and avoid adults with UNKNOWN HISTORIES?
Not necessarily. Nature has much to say as Nurture with personality style, so we can never know what a pup will be like when he finally matures into an adult. Really energetic or mellow? High prey drive or low? Adult dogs however tend to show you what they're made of once they approach social maturity (10-14 months is typically with pit bulls). The most successful adoption matches tend to come from taking each adult dog's individual personality style into account as well as the prospective adopters' lifestyle and expectations. For families with a specific needs, we always recommend searching for an adult dog whose known traits matches their Wish List.
Don't all pit bulls want to chase CATS?
Self-respecting dogs of every breed will go after cats, and pit bulls are no exception. However, there are endless examples of dogs who co-exist quite peacefully with cats, birds and other pets.
IMPORTANT: Understanding your individual dog's realistic limits with small animals, training him to respect your expectations, supervising all interactions and separating the pets before you step out will make the difference between success and tragedy -- And that goes for Poodles as well as Pit Bulls! Need more info on dog/cat relationships? Check out this blog post about Matzo Ball and his introductions to CATS!