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Frequently Asked Questions About Pit Bulls

Frequently Asked Questions About Pit Bulls

Critter Culture Staff



Pit Bulls are easily one of the most misunderstood dog breeds. Some people claim they're vicious killers and the breed should be destroyed. Others insist that they're gentle nanny dogs if raised properly. If you're considering welcoming a Pit Bull into your home, then you'll want answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this polarizing dog breed.


Are all Pit Bulls bred for dog fighting?

Close-Up Of American Pit Bull Terrier Against Trees Rachel Dionysiou / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Since dog fighting is outlawed, it's unlikely to find a pet Pit Bull bred specifically for fighting unless you've got crime connections or are adopting from a rescue. The majority of Pit Bulls these days come from backyard breeders who are looking to make a profit.

However, it's important to remember that, historically, Pit Bulls were first bred for bull baiting. When that was outlawed, they were used for dog fighting. After generations of this aggression bred into them, it's not uncommon for Pit Bulls to be aggressive to other dogs (dog aggressive) or choosy about which dogs they like (dog selective).


Is it safe to adopt a Pit Bull?

Laughing guy hugging and getting licked by his pit bull at the park. WhitneyLewisPhotography/ Getty Images

Many people are wary about adopting Pit Bulls due to their unknown history and genetic background. Rest assured that any reputable rescue organization will conduct behavioral tests to determine if their dogs are safe for adoption. These tests include looking for things like resource guarding, dog aggression, and fear aggression.

Rescues are looking out for the dog's best interest and won't rehome a Pittie that's dangerous or likely to be returned.


How do you unlock a Pit Bull's jaw?

Young American bully dog on grass banusevim/ Getty Images

You don't. That's because the Pit Bull's "locking jaw" is a very common myth. There is no mechanism in the jaw or joint that would lock it in place. Simply put, Pit Bulls are stubborn and strong once they decide to attack, so it may make it seem like they're locked onto their target. The truth is, they just don't want to let go.


Will a dog-aggressive Pit Bull also be aggressive to people?

Side profile of boy kissing pit bull Bridget Piazza/ Getty Images

The urge for dog aggression is completely separate from human aggression. Think about it this way: back in the day of brutal bloodsports, would a handler want a dog that they couldn't touch? Like other breeds, Pit Bulls have an instinctual human-canine partnership.

While many Pit Bulls may still retain dog aggression or a high prey drive, it's uncommon for the breed to maul a human. Small dogs like Chihuahuas are actually more likely to bite a person.


Can Pit Bulls be around other animals?

Kitten playing with dog on sofa at home Westend61/ getty Images

With proper introductions and training, many Pit Bulls can live happily with other pets. Part of owning a Pit Bull, or any dog, is the responsibility to reinforce positive behavior. Owners must remember that their dogs have a prey drive, so introducing a cat to a Pit Bull may not always work out.

It's important to have a meet-and-greet before permanently bringing a new animal into your home. No matter what breed they are, all dogs are still animals and have a degree of unpredictability.


Can I take my Pit Bull to a dog park?

Happy dogs playing in the park Lucy Lambriex/ Getty Images

As long as your Pit Bull is dog-friendly and up to date on vaccines, it's perfectly safe to try taking them to a dog park. Many Pit Bulls love to run and play with other dogs. As always, it's vital that owners keep a close eye on their dog's body language and behavior to avoid dog fights and protect the reputation of their Pit Bull.

Keep in mind that even a laidback Labrador could be triggered at a dog park—no dog will get along with others all the time.


Why are so many Pit Bulls in animal shelters?

the head of a dog of the fighting breed pitbulterier behind a wire fence Vladimira Tenzerová/ Getty Images

Unfortunately, Pit Bulls are one of the most overbred dog breeds. Many people like to own Pit Bulls because they look intimidating, but if the owner doesn't have the proper experience, this can end badly.

These inexperienced owners are more likely to abandon their dogs to a shelter when training becomes difficult or when they move and can no longer keep the dog. Backyard breeders commonly surrender their dogs when they are no longer useful. This often leads to shelters filled primarily with Pit Bulls.


How many kinds of Pit Bulls are there?

A cute red and white Terrier mixed breed puppy sitting outdoors Mary Swift/ Getty Images

"Pit Bull" tends to be a generic term for a few different bully breeds. The American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Bully are the most common in the United States. There is also the Staffordshire Terrier and Bull Terrier. Since many people don't care about the nuances of different dog breeds, they all tend to be lumped as Pit Bulls.


Do Pit Bulls have the strongest bite of any dog?

Portrait Of American Pit Bull Terrier Tara Gregg / EyeEm/ Getty Images

It's difficult to test the actual strength of a dog bite since so much depends on situational aggression. Studies tend to agree that bite strength and severity depend on the size and strength of the individual dog. A Pit Bull and a Poodle of the same weight could have the same bite strength.


If I raise my Pit Bull from a puppy, will it become aggressive?

American Staffordshire terrier puppy yawns sitting on wooden boards Laures/ getty Images

Without knowing the genetic lineage of a dog, it's hard to know exactly how they'll mature. Some dogs change at sexual maturity and become more aggressive. Some dogs always stay the same. For the best chance of a well-adjusted adult Pit Bull, it's vital to give them plenty of socialization as puppies and positive reinforcement around other dogs.

As they get older, pay attention to any changes in your dog's behavior that could be spurred by memory loss or chronic pain.



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