Frequently Asked Questions about
“Pit Bull” Dogs
Breed-specific laws and policies continue, in part, because of stereotypes and myths. Click on each FAQ below to reveal the reality of the myth.
“PIT BULL” DOGS DON’T HAVE LOCKING JAWS, BUT THEY DO BITE DIFFERENTLY, RIGHT?
ARE “PIT BULL” DOGS MORE LIKELY TO CAUSE SERIOUS ATTACKS THAN OTHER BREEDS?
IF “PIT BULL” DOGS ARE SUCH GOOD DOGS, WHY ARE THEY FILLING UP THE SHELTERS
ARE “PIT BULL” DOGS BRED TO FIGHT DIFFERENTLY?
There is no behavior that is unique to one breed or type of dog. There is no valid scientific evidence that one breed or type of dog is uniquely capable of inflicting serious injury to humans or other animals.
DO "PIT BULL” DOGS HAVE A HIGHER TOLERANCE FOR PAIN?
IF SO MANY DOGS ARE INVOLVED IN DOG BITES, WHY DO WE ONLY HEAR ABOUT “PIT BULL” DOGS?
For more information on dogs bites, please visit the National Canine Research Council.
WEREN’T “PIT BULL” DOGS BRED TO FIGHT?
Historically, some American Pit Bull Terriers (APBTs) were bred for that purpose, but they were also bred to be family dogs and farm help. To look at the APBT through the narrow scope of dog fighting is to miss out on their long and positive history in our country as cherished companions.
Plus, we can’t isolate the history of “pit bull” dogs from the history of dogs in general. If we use “historically bred for” as an indicator of future behavior, for any kind of dog, we are showing an unsophisticated understanding of dog breeding, dog genetics, and dog behavior. Breeding, conditioning, and training a dog for a specific purpose, no matter what that task may be, is a complex process.
If we look at modern “pit bull” dogs, the idea of them being “historically bred for” anything is irrelevant. We can’t possibly know what these dogs were historically bred for because the modern “pit bull” dog is made up of a diverse group of dogs with no agreed upon pedigree or phenotype. Many dogs labeled “pit bulls” are mixed breed dogs of unknown pedigree or other pure bred dogs.
We have no idea how a dog will behave simply because we’ve guessed at their ancestry, nor can we know what purpose-bred specific role or tasks (if any) might present themselves in an individual dog’s behavior.
Rather than rely on “historically bred for” to make determinations about an individual dog, look at the dog in front of you.
Aren't Shelters Full of Bait Dogs?
The term bait dog is a label people use to describe dogs used in dog fighting. Bait dogs do exist, but you won’t typically find them in shelters. Sadly, according to law enforcement professionals, these dogs are rarely found alive during dog fighting investigations. However, an unusually large number of dogs end up with the label “bait dog” based on nothing more than speculation about the dog’s past and appearance.