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Over the decades dog lovers have read headline after headline positioning one breed or another as “dangerous.” Most recently the newest “fall dog” is the pit bull. This article and accompanying infographic will take a look at pit bull facts and just how accurate the label of “dangerous dog” fits the pit bull breed as a whole and look at the real facts behind bully breeds.
Pit Bull Facts Infographic
What is the Difference between a Pit Bull and a Bully Breed?
The term “bully breed” is used to refer to a large group of various breeds of dog that hail from the same root breed. Dogs that belong to a bully breed are all derived from one particular type of dog known as the Molosser. The Molosser is an Ancient Greek breed that was characterized by a short muzzle, large bones, a large frame and pendant shaped ears. Originally Molossers were bred with a range of other dogs that resulted in varied breed characteristics found today in the various bully-type breeds. These dogs were bred as guardians of both property and livestock. These types of owners would use their dogs in sports like bull-baiting which many believe is how the term “bully breed” came about. Unfortunately, not all owners of these dogs today utilize them for their original purpose and recognized their potential as fighting dogs.
What Breeds are Bully Breeds?
The pit bull is just one breed that is categorized under the bully breed label. All the following breeds actually make up the bully breed category:
- Alapaha blue blood bulldog
- Ambullneo mastiff
- American bulldog
- American mastiff
- American pit bull terrier
- American Staffordshire terrier
- Anatolian mastiff
- Australian bulldog
- Bantam bulldogge
- Banter Bulldogge
- Belgian mastiff
- Boston terrier
- Buldogue campeiro
- Bull terrier
- Ca de bou
- Cane corso
- Catahoula bulldog
- Dogo Argentino
- Dogue de Bordeux
- Dorset olde tyme bulldogge
- English bulldog
- Fila Brasileiro
- French bulldog
- Great Dane
- Miniature bull terrier
- Neopolitan mastiff
- Olde Boston bulldogge
- Olde English bulldog
- Pyrenean mastiff
- Renascence bulldogge
- Spanish mastiff
- Staffordshire bull terrier
- Standard bull terrier
- Tibetan mastiff
- Valley bulldog
- Victorian bulldogge
As you can see from this extensive list, the American pit bull terrier is just one of many breeds. In fact, more than a handful of the breeds on this list surprise even the most anti-bully breed proponents.
Mischaracterization of the Pit Bull Breed
Looking over the list of bully breeds above many of these breeds are unknown to general dog lovers which is perhaps one reason why so many dogs are mischaracterized as pit bulls. While these breeds all share common ancestry and have common features such as the flatter shorter snout, being able to distinguish between different bully breeds is important. Without being able to separate one bully breed from another it is easy for pit bulls to be pinned as the “breed that bit that boy.” That is not to say that bully breeds in general are bad dogs, they just happen to be most frequently selected by bad owners. Did you know that currently just five percent of all of the dogs found across the United States are pit bulls? Over all there are approximately 78.2 million dogs throughout the United States, 3.91 million of those dogs are pit bulls. However, 40 percent of dogs in animal shelters are characterized as bully breeds and 20 percent of those are called pit bulls.
The mischaracterization of all bull breeds as pit bulls is not the only area where pit bulls get the short end of the stick. Unfortunately as public opinion of this breed declines and the banning of bully breeds builds momentum, many more facts are turned around.
Myth: Pits Bite Harder than Other Dogs
Who hasn’t heard about the incredible amount of force exerted by the jaws of a pit bull? The amazing 1600 pounds per square inch that the pit bull is said to exert through their bite is actually just like many other breeds – around 235 pounds per square inch. What dog has the highest pounds per square inch bite force? The Rottweiler which measures in at 328 pounds per square inch of bite force. Even with this figure in mind though, does this mean that the Rottweiler is a dangerous breed? Not necessarily: It means that if a Rottweiler were to bite someone or something it could be capable of exerting 328 pounds per square inch of bite force. It does not mean that this dog will bite or that it will exert that much force with a bite. What this data could mean also is that if a dog does exert that much bite force, the resulting bite could be much more severe than a bite from a less powerful dog. And that means that bites from this type of dog are more likely to be reported than bites from smaller, less powerful dogs leading to a news reporting bias.
Pit Bulls Sure are Cute
No question these Pit puppies are adorable!
Are Pit Bulls Good Dogs?
Asking the question whether pit bulls are good dogs is the same as asking whether disadvantaged children are good children. A dog’s temperament depends on a variety of factors including breeding and upbringing (much like children.) What we do know from statistical analysis is that 86.8 percent of American pit bull terriers have passed their temperament testing according to the American Temperament Test Society, Inc. This is a higher number of American pit bulls to pass their testing than collies, beagles and even golden retrievers. Of 122 different canine breeds tested by the society, pit bulls ranked fourth for passing temperament testing. Pit bulls, like any other dogs, have the opportunity to be great dogs.
Are Fatal Pit Bull Attacks Common?
Turning on the news it seems like the only dog attacks that ever make headlines are attacks by pit bulls and attacks that result in death or serious injury. Few people take the time to learn the facts behind this type of breed; they simply take what they are fed by media news outlets. So just how common are fatal pit bull attacks? According to research an individual is 200 times more likely to die from taking over the counter aspirin than from a fatal pit bull attack. An individual is 60 times more likely to be killed by a falling coconut than they are to be killed by a pit bull attack. Additionally, a person is 16 times more likely to die by drowning in a five gallon bucket of water than they are to die as the result of a fatal pit bull attack. Yet how often do you hear of people dying from taking aspirin or from drowning in a bucket of water on the news? Many pit bull and bully breed haters are colored by this media reporting bias.
What Does This Media-Driven Bias Mean For Pit Bulls?
With such a bias against the pit bull breed and select bully breeds in general, how is the pit bull breed affected? Perhaps the biggest indicator of this is by taking a look at research from animal shelters around the nation. Approximately 60 percent of all dogs that are taken to shelters are euthanized each and every year. As we have already mentioned, of all of the dogs in animal shelters currently around 40 percent are classified as bully breeds and 20 percent are classified as pit bulls. Only 48 percent of the nation’s shelters place these pit bulls up for adoption, another 30 percent of shelters put these dogs up for adoption under special circumstances. Most disappointing, however, is the fact that 22 percent of the nation’s shelters euthanize dogs that are categorized as pit bulls regardless of the individual dog’s disposition. This practice of breed discrimination is wrong not only because perfectly healthy and happy dogs are being put to death because of their appearance, but also because they aren’t being given a chance due to ignorance and bias.
What Can Be Done to Help Pit Bulls and Bully Breeds?
If more people were familiar with the array of breeds within the bully breed category perhaps they would be less inclined to judge one particular bully breed as a “bad dog” — whoever heard of someone banning Boston terriers from an apartment complex because they were a bully breed? Judging a dog’s temperament by its appearance is like judging a person’s personality by the color of their skin, something one would hope humankind had learned from in our own history.
Advocate for Pit Bulls and Spread The Word
One of the best things that can be done to advocate for pit bulls and bully breeds is to spread the word about just how expansive the bully breed category is. Share with your friends about how the Boston terrier and Pug come from the same origin as the Neopolitan mastiff and the pit bull terrier. Encourage people not only to educate themselves about the difference between individual breeds but also about the sheer ridiculousness of judging an entire breed of dog based on a select few incidences that receive sensationalized media coverage. Ask people to stop and think when was the last time that they heard of a mixed breed dog bite fatality?
It is Not Okay to Minimize Pit Bull Bite Incidences
With all of these statistics under your belt it is important not to minimize pit bull bite incidences but it is important to also draw attention to the fact that there are a number of mitigating circumstances in these bite statistics. The truth is that people do get bitten by pit bulls, just as they get bitten by husky’s and German shepherds. It is possible however to become a proponent for pit bull terriers while also respecting incidences of pit bull bites. Encourage individuals with reservations about the pit bull breed to understand that not all dogs within a certain breed are bred to fight, that upbringing and good breeding can result in a wide range of dispositions. Many people have experiences that have colored their opinion of one dog breed or another but as a proponent for fair treatment of the pit bull breed it is important to make others aware of the fact that not all pit bulls are like “the one that bit that boy.”
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What do you love about pit bulls?
Source: Wikipedia: Pit Bull