“Pit Bull” Facts: A Bully Or A Beauty?

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Pit Bull (caption: facts & mischaracterizations)For decades dog lovers have read headline after headline positioning one breed or another as “dangerous.” Most recently the newest is the Pit Bull. But is this dog as dangerous as the media and society make them out to be? Or are they really just cuddly, playful companions?

Article Overview

Pit Bull Basic Stats

An American Pit Bull Terrier generally weighs in around 30-65 pounds and measures 17-21 inches in height. They are medium-sized dogs with a solid build, known for their intelligence. Their average ages is between 8 and 15 years.

Another dog that is commonly referred to as a “pit bull” is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. It is a lighter weight dog at 24-37 pounds and a height of 14-16 inches tall.

As of 2017, there were approximately 89.7 total dogs throughout the United States1. 5-10 million of those dogs were estimated to be “pit bulls” (the reported number varies widely by how each vet, breeder, organization, owner, vet, etc. defines the term)2.

When you look at data from U.S. city shelters, you will find that “pit bull” type dogs make up about 40% of the dogs that are killed2.

Pit Bull vs Bully Breed

After much research, it is our opinion that the “bully breeds” include a wide range of dog breeds (see list below), but the only dog that is a true Pit Bull is the American Pit Bull Terrier, which is recognized by the United Kennel Club and American Dog Breeders Association. We know this is widely discussed and disagreed upon, but for the purposes of this article, that is our position.

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 the characteristics found today in the various bully-type breeds. These dogs were bred as guardians of both property and livestock. Some owners would also use their dogs in sports like bull-baiting which many believe is how the term “bully breed” came about. Unfortunately, many owners have recognized their potential as fighting dogs and, in turn, have created an unfortunate alternate use of the term “bully breed.”

What Breeds Are Bully Breeds?

English BulldogThere is a dog breed called American Pit Bull Terrier, but the broader name of “Pit Bull” is often used to categorize many breeds under the bully breed label. All the following breeds actually make up the bully breed category:

  1. Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog
  2. Ambullneo Mastiff
  3. American Bulldog
  4. American Mastiff
  5. American Pit Bull Terrier
  6. American Staffordshire Terrier
  7. Anatolian Mastiff
  8. Australian Bulldog
  9. Bantam Bulldogge
  10. Banter Bulldogge
  11. Belgian Mastiff
  12. Boston Terrier
  13. Boxer
  14. Buldogue Campeiro
  15. Bull Terrier
  16. Bulldog
  17. Bullmastiff
  18. Ca De Bou
  19. Cane Corso
  20. Catahoula Bulldog
  21. Dogo Argentino
  22. Dogue De Bordeaux
  23. Dorset Olde Tyme Bulldogge
  24. English Bulldog
  25. Fila Brasileiro
  26. French Bulldog
  27. Great Dane
  28. Mastiff
  29. Miniature Bull Terrier
  30. Neopolitan Mastiff
  31. Olde Boston Bulldogge
  32. Olde English Bulldog
  33. Pug
  34. Pyrenean Mastiff
  35. Renascence Bulldogge
  36. Rottweiler
  37. Spanish Mastiff
  38. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  39. Standard Bull Terrier
  40. Tibetan Mastiff
  41. Valley Bulldog
  42. 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 Pit Bulls

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 a common ancestry and have similar 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 kid.” That is not to say that bully breeds, in general, are bad dogs, they just happen to be most frequently selected by bad owners.

Misquoted Facts

The mischaracterization of all bully 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

The Pit Bull is said to exert through their bite is actually just like many other breeds – around 235 pounds per square inch. Of strongest breeds’ bite according to force, the Pit Bull is not even in the top 12 list.

Which dog has the highest pounds per square inch bite force? The Kangal which measures in at 743 pounds per square inch of bite force. Even with this figure in mind though, does this mean that the Kangal is a dangerous breed? Not necessarily: It means that if a Kangal were to bite someone or something, it could be capable of exerting 743 pounds per square inch of bite force. It does not mean that this dog will bite or that it will use 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 Are Cute

No question these pit puppies are adorable! Just watch this video if you don’t believe us.

Are Pit Bulls Good Dogs?

Asking the question of whether Pit Bulls are good dogs is in our opinion the same as asking whether misbehaved kids are good children. A dog’s temperament depends on a variety of factors including breeding and upbringing (much like our offspring).

What we do know from statistical analysis3 is that as of December 2017, 87.4% of American Pit Bull Terriers had passed their temperament testing, according to the American Temperament Test Society, Inc.

This is a higher number to pass these tests than Collies (80.8%), Beagles (79.7%) and even Golden Retrievers (85.6%). Of 931 American Pit Bull Terriers tested, 814 of them passed the 8-12 minute behavior test which measures 10 criteria, including a dog’s reaction, its aggressive behavior and more.

Are Fatal Pit Bull Attacks Common?

When you turn 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 dog, they simply take what they are fed by media news outlets.

So just how common are fatal Pit Bull attacks? According to multiple resources, an individual is 200 times more likely to die from taking over the counter aspirin. Yet, how often do you hear of people dying from taking aspirin in the news? Many Pit Bull and bully breed haters are encouraged by this media reporting bias.

What Can Be Done To Help Pit Bulls And Bully Breeds?

Fifty the Two-Legged Pitbull DogIf more people were familiar with the array of dog breeds within the bully breed category, perhaps they would be less inclined to judge one particular bully type 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 its 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 (see our comprehensive list of breeds where you can learn more) but also about the sheer ridiculousness of judging an entire classification of dog based on a select few incidences that receive sensationalized media coverage. Ask people to stop and think when the last time they heard of a mixed breed dog bite fatality was?

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 crucial to also draw attention to the fact that there are some mitigating circumstances in these bite statistics. The truth is that people do get bitten by Pit Bulls, just as they get bitten by Huskies 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 Pit Bulls to understand that not all dogs within a certain classification 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 it is important to make others aware of the fact that not all Pit Bulls are like “the one that bit that kid.”

Dog Liability Insurance May Save You Money And Your Dog’s Life

If you do want to better understand how you can protect yourself and your Pit from potentially risky situations, we recommend that you contact a dog liability insurance expert to gain some perspective on your options.

What do you love about Pit Bulls and other bully breed dogs?

Source: [1] Statista [2] KC Dog Blog [3] American Temperament Test Society, Inc

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newest oldest most voted
Allison Bennett
Our little pitty is one of the best dogs we have ever had, smart, cuddly and just makes us laugh every day
Morris Collier
I decided to get a pitt a year and a half ago so I could make up my own mind about the breed! The dog has became a real family member. Should have done this long ago. So far so good!
rs kcolb
“Pit bull dogs possess unique and readily identifiable physical and behavioral traits which are capable of recognition both by dog owners of ordinary intelligence…”
– Ohio v. Anderson, Supreme Court of Ohio (1991)
mike barnes
Enough with pimping this beeed.. ask them mom of mankind who has been killed or mauled.. or the owner over thousands of dogs that have been killed by the breed..
Jody Gabriele
Have you ever owned one? Ive had this breed since birth( my uncle and grandfather had them) and myself and my cousins grew up with them.I owned a kennel with 32 adult APBTs,my kids,neices and nephews and now grandkids have been raised with them and not one bite from an APBT.
You do a great job of avoiding the statistics that Pit bull attacks lead the human fatality category. “Respecting incidences” ? Did you really write that ? Are Pit bulls a small population ? Yes. Are they highly aggressive ? Yes ! Do they have the hardest bite ? No. Do they bite more than chihuahuas ? Maybe not, however when they do, they kill a lot more people than any other breed. Enough said ! Your solution is to get an insurance policy ? Will insurance policy paperwork defend against a Pit bull when its instincts kick in or will it just defend the owner from losing their home from the lawsuit when the K9 mauls a small child ? What a joke.
Debi King
We must remember that the vast majority of dog bites – regardless of breed – are preventable. Parents must teach their children to be kind to and respectful of animals. Children should be taught not only how dogs communicate, but also what different body postures indicate (e.g. stiff posture, hackles up, etc.). If children are untrained and allowed to harass their dogs by pulling on ears and tails or crawling all over them, the parents are ultimately responsible if those dogs eventually bite to defend themselves. When adopting a rescue dog, of any breed, it is critical that families know as much as possible about the dog they’re adopting. Fortunately, many rescues (e.g. PittieLove Rescue in Massachusetts) carefully evaluate dogs to determine where they may have sensitivities that might make them inappropriate for very small children who are less able to understand and follow even the best instructions about being respectful. Even so, whether we are involved with shelters, rescues or looking to adopt, it is the responsibility of we humans to ensure that a dog is never put in a position where it feels the need to bite to defend itself.
Sandra Patterson
You make a great point that we should be encouraging people to be educated on the different breeds as well as the fact that you can’t judge an entire breed of dog based on how a few media stories portrayed them. My sister is looking for a new dog, but she has been a bit skeptical about getting a pit bull or bully breed because of some overdone stories that she has read. I will be sure to talk to her about the fact that there are so many wonderful pit bulls that I think would be a great fit for her, and hopefully I will be able to at least change her mind about the breed.
Anita Child
Are pit bull attacks common? Typical pit bull activist answer, “ You are more likely to be killed by a coconut, an aspirin or falling out of bed.” This strategy is called change the subject instead of answering the question. The answer is-Yes they are common. In the US a person is killed by a pit bull about every 10-11 days. A person being mauled by a pit bull but surviving with hideous injuries like scalping, dismemberment, amputation, lacerations over multiple anatomical locations, amputations, defacing, is virtually a daily occurrence. Pit Bulls kill more people than all other breeds of dogs combined. Pit bulls were bred for centuries for maximum, explosive, relentless and unprovoked aggression. They were bred to kill other dogs in fighting pits and continue to be bred that way by the half billion dollar dog fighting industry in the US. Follow one of the many Victim Advocacy groups that have sprung up on Facebook and on the Internet since the Michael Vick case when pit bull rescue groups began to push pit bulls as the perfect family pet for a few weeks. You will suddenly be woke. The only dog that needs a break stick to wrench it’s Victim from its teeth. Pit bulls and their mixes kill and maul more animals, livestock and other peoples’ pets than all other breeds put together. What other breed needs advocacy groups dressing them up in pearls and flower wreaths to get them adopted. What other breed is overwhelming every animal control in every big city in this country? What other breed is banned in most of the industrialized world? Pit bulls are. They are banned in most of Europe, the UK, Russia, Israel, Malaysia, parts of Canada, over 900 cities and municipalities in the US. Delta Aurlines banned them from all their flights including pi bull service dogs after multiple serious attacks on passengers and crew, followed by Allegiant Air. Other Airlines will follow. What other breed is most likely to kill its owner or a member of the family- pit bulls and their mixes. Pit Bulls are because they kill. So far in the US in 2019 there have been about 15 people killed by pit bulls and their mixes. These dogs are dangerous because deadly aggression can appear suddenly at any time without warning and when they bite they don’t let go.
When it comes to choosing a family pet, caution is forgiving but regret is a life sentence and for some a death sentence. Just say no no to pit bulls. Oh and when a pit bull kills someone where does the breed ID come from? Most of the time from the family whose child or grandmother or mother was killed, or from the neighbors who know the dog or by the law enforcement that is called to the scene. There is no problem identifying a pit bull. That is just another strategy of their advocates called muddy the water. Follow Victim advocates for a few weeks. You will get woke real fast by the agony and anguish and regret associated with the pit bull type dog.
Please cite your sources for your statements. I’m curious to know where your information is coming from (and if you’ve actually done research or are merely regurgitating anti-bully sites who also refuse to research their “facts.”) How many dog breeds attack without warning? Zero. Ignorance on a human being’s part doesn’t translate to “no warning.” By the way, if I bite, I don’t let go either.
Thank you I agree
You are entirely wrong about your “killed by a pit bull” statistics. Your deceit is quite immoral and wrong. So instead of simply appealing to emotion, go learn something.
You have no idea what your talking about SO DO NOT GROUP ALL PITBULL IN YOUR GROUP
Jody Gabriele
Dog agression and human agression are not related in any way.
Any type of animal needs to be taken care of weather you like the animal or not
Here’s the thing, when pit bulls bite, their bite will be stronger, than say a Chihuahua. This is the case with any strong breed — and there are a lot of strong breeds out there. Aggression is a normal behavior with that species; if they feel threatened, they will act on it — regardless of the breed. Us humans, just forget this and also find this normal behavior unacceptable.

The issue I have is when people cite that pit bulls inflicted the most fatal attacks. Where is this information coming from? My bet is dogsbite.org, an anti-pit bull site (and I am guessing its very small army of trolls are on this feed). Here is something to think about when you spew off these stats. No one knows if the breed was a pit bull. Or is it an American Staffy? Or a Bull Terrier? Or a mix?Or none of the above. No one. Not that site, not the media, not the officials. It is all self-reported (and how do these people know. There is no evidence that it was from an American Pit Bull terrier. That site, per its tax records, received under $50,000 in donations, and yet, they think they can identify breeds correctly. Again, I am interested in how? The CDC, the Center for Disease and Control, a multi-million-dollar government organization, stopped nearly 30 years ago trying to identify breeds in bite castes, because it was too hard. So, again, how is a $50,000 site able to do so?

I only adopt pitbulls, and usually the ones that nobody wants: scarred, shaking, abused, etc. They are the most wonderful loving creatures who wake up every day filled with joy and somehow they know what you’ve done for them and they never forget it. I treat my girl like a princess and she deserves it.
God bless you I have a pit rescue and she is a angel and wonderful love her to death and I mean that
Maybe just go to your local shelter and take a pit for a walk. It will change your life!
Your anecdotal evidence does nothing
I owned a pitbull it was put to sleep for attacking Your anecdotal evidence does nothing
I have had 2 pit bulls. One was a Red Nose, and the other is an American Pit Bull Terrier. Both are amazing! I highly recommend Pit Bulls because all I have seen with my dogs is they are loyal, very well tempted,loving, affectionate, caring, etc. Hell, they are part of my family. I love them with all my heart! Best dog breed ever.
| like This ✊✊✊
This article: you’re more likely to die from licking a stamp than a pit bull. Seems legit. Lol. How about we compare it to another breed? I came to this site looking for answers and statistics and it’s just a biased pit bull owner shoving an agenda down my throat. I want to form my own judgement based on quantifiable data in every category not just where it fits the bias. Anyone know where I can find that about pits in comparison with other dog breed? Thanks!
rs kcolb
not here because all you’re going to get this pitbull propaganda and redirection.
They deny statistics and genetics. If they do not have a proper rebuttal they will then turn the personal attacks. No other dog breed needs a PR team.
Cheryl M
I have a 16 year old APBT she is the most loving, loyal girl there is they are all it’s all in how they are raised there wonderful dogs!!
Chad M
I have 1 yr old blue nose pit named Bo. I’ve had several dogs over the years and number of different breeds and Bo is probably the least likely to bite of any dog I’ve ever owned. He’s never even growled at a human… Not once. He’s sensitive to praise and scolding and seems more attuned than most dogs to human actions emotion and expression- the opposite of a violent or dangerous animal.
i am using this for a report thx so much
I’ve seen a few nuts on here talking trash about a dog breed. If you think you are so superior than a dog,why go out of your way to click on this article and spew nonsense? Just hateful, useless words. This is exactly why so many people value dogs over humans. I’ve known more good dogs than bad. Each breed has their own characteristics but you have to meet each individual dog to know if it’s dangerous or not. I know for a fact my pit bull mix is an angel. He is like any other dog. All dogs growl at certain people they are suspicious of(because they are protective). Some dogs don’t get along with each other. Some have more energy than others. Is it so hard to understand that? I don’t care that in one specific case someone got hurt by a dog and it happened to be a pit bull because i hear 10 more stories with labs, huskies, German Shepards, e.t.c.. For someone to suggest a whole breed is evil is moronic. If anyone is aggressive and dangerous it’s HUMANS. For those who are true animal lovers, and have a heart, will agree.
You are absolutely right.
Pit bulls are the most loving dogs I ever met.
I wish I could “thumbs up” this comment more than once! I couldn’t agree more.
Keri Ricketts
I have pitbull terrier dogs as pets. They are the most loyal and loveable dog I know. I don’t allow any of my dogs to fight no play fighting of any kind. I have one that I call Angel, when I got her she was 12 weeks old, she is now a year and a half old. When I first got her my Husband worked on a semi and was gone all the time, my husband didn’t care for her much because he was scared and didn’t like her type of breed. But as she got bigger she was determined to get him to like her, and she did . She has one blue eye and one green eye. Her eyes get him everytime, he will tell her no about something and she will stand in front of him and pat her two front paws and look him straight in the eyes and he gives in to her no matter how mad he is at anything. Her eyes do it everytime. Now he loves her so much that if anything ever was to happen to her he would go nuts.He no longer works on a semi he gets to spend alot of time with her and he wouldn’t trade her for the world. People have a bad look on pitbulls, but the truth be known I love pitbulls and I believe they can be really good dogs. My dogs don’t bite people and they are not allowed to fight at all. They are very friendly. People that have met my pitbulls can’t believe how friendly they are. I don’t let very many people around my dogs so they really don’t know alot of people but when new people do meet them, they can’t believe how friendly they are. They are like big teddy bears. Angel is my baby, she is just like a child to me. She is like my shadow. She follows me everywhere
I have a pitbull mix named lexus. She’s amazing with the kids. We take in stray kittens and she nurses them yet she’s only 10 months old. She would never harm anyone. I guess dogs will adapt to their owners characteristics. We love cats and so does lexus. She sleeps with us in our bed and awakes with us. Can’t imagine a day without her.
The lovely pitbull piece of garbage landed me in the hospital with broken hand and mauled ear . my poor service dog also was mauled .. I wish I had something to put him down with but I don’t carry a weapon. Anyone that owns these killer Pit bulls should be put in a cage with them and mauled to death. All u pitbull lovers should really think a million times over if u have children and own this killer breed. They are evil killer dogs that need to all be put to death.
Carole Edwards-Warren
I’m sorry that you got bitten, but would you say what you did if you were bitten by a German Shepherd or Lab or Husky? My guess is probably not. Here is some advice for you, get over your hate. In the long run it will do much more damage to you then the bite you suffered. Have a good life!
Your probably lying…I have two pitbulls and they sleep right next to my son…no problem… everyone I know owns pits and have never had problems…
And if you really did get attacked…maybe it’s because your service dog is an a**hole and started s**t with the pitbull…
Deonte Toliver
Ive been bitten too by a pitbull but then i got a chance to know the owner and watch him raise another pitbull..i would say it had more to do with the owner than the dog
Jody Gabriele
Did you ever think of blaming who was at fault,the dogs owner!
I was attacked by ur so called breed a pitbull he mailed me and my dog . they are evil
That sounds like a you problem. And why are you even on this website.
only because of us in humanity we are the one that makes them like that and they are lovley dogs if you try to not just decide to touch one without asking they wont hurt you
I have so many questions! Where did he mail you? Did he send your dog to the same place? How many stamps did he need? Maybe you mean he mailed a package to you and your dog, which is incredibly thoughtful, SUCH a PB thing to do. My PBs get mail all the time bc I use them as my username, my dogs get a ton of stuff from ebay.
Omg lmao holy Crap I’m doubling over I can’t breath I’m laughing so hard slice I was thinking same thing I’m a proud owner of a beautiful pitbull hazel her name.
Catherine Celaya
Do you know the damage pitbulls do in an attack? Do you know the pitbulls who do attack are usual living digs until that moment? Do you know that people have disabilities or other issues that affect their typing skills? You are the epitome of the classic pitbull owner. If your dogs attack hopefully it is you and not some innocent person or dog who doesn’t choose to own a dangerous dig. Oh and if I typed the wrong word consider it because I have rheumatoid arthritis in my hands. Shame on you
Of ALL dog breeds- Pitbulls have the highest incidence of lethal dog bites- by far- and its a statistically significant landslide. And when u break down the facts- they are virtually the ONLY breed known to have the ability- or tendency- to kill ADULTS (kids are most often killed among all lethal breeds). Comparing Pitbull biting deaths to tylenol overdoses is irresponsible. When choosing a dog breed- one should understand that- in general- if u buy a Pitbull there is a small chance it will kill you. If you buy ANY other breed- you are significantly reducibg that chance and most breeds have a zero chance! Good to know!
Carole Edwards-Warren
First of all, get your facts straight before you post them. Tylenol is not asprin. Duh.
If you buy a car, there is actually a pretty decent chance that will kill you. Pretty much everything else you say is factually inaccurate or a misrepresentation. Good game.
That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard… you should be ashamed of yourself…
If it was up too you…you would kill all the pitbulls…
Where did you get this stat?
BobbieJoe Kenny
The list of “Bully Breeds” is absolutely false. Bully breeds are compiled of approximately five breeds, depending on reliable sources, it may fluctuate between 4-6. Brachycephaly type dogs do not even remotely resemble a pit style dog. Pit bulls have very dominant physical characteristics and are easily recognizable due in part to all the truthful negative publicity they receive.
BobbieJoe Kenny
If this weren’t a biased pro-pit article, I’m sure my comments would be displayed. Weird how there are abusive pro pitters spewing garbage but anti pit comments don’t need make the cut! Dang. Sounds like censorship and a media platform with an agenda!
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Your comments were in moderation. We typically moderate comment Monday through Friday first thing in the morning. All of your comments were made after moderation on Friday, so they were in the que during the weekend. The reason we don’t allow every comment to be published immediately is to prevent spammy comments and attacks towards other commenters. We do not censor comments by only publishing those that have a certain view.