Are pit bulls actually dangerous?

asked 2019-03-14 14:20:31 -0500

critics say that pit bulls are inherently dangerous no matter how they're treated, because violence is in their DNA. is it?

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Not at all

Patty D.'s profile image Patty D.  ( 2019-03-25 01:01:32 -0500 ) edit

NO. It’s a learned trait. German Shepherds and Corgis nite more people than Pitties! I’ve had several friends with them and they’re the biggest babies and sweetest protectors you’ll ever meet! If they’re abused they can’t be to blame!

Kristen L.'s profile image Kristen L.  ( 2019-10-13 05:23:50 -0500 ) edit

In the 14-year period of 2005 through 2018, canines killed 471 Americans. Pit bulls contributed to 66% (311) of these deaths. Combined, pit bulls and rottweilers contributed to 76% of the total recorded deaths. They are certainly dangerous.

Steve D.'s profile image Steve D.  ( 2019-11-16 23:17:21 -0500 ) edit

@Steve D....you need to research if these %s are dogs that were trained to fight or attack. That makes ALL the difference in the world because when a dog of ANY breed is taught to fight or attack it's going to end badly for the dog.

Jessica S.'s profile image Jessica S.  ( 2022-01-31 10:55:05 -0500 ) edit

If Any Dog Is Aggressive Toward Someone That Is Because The Owner Of The Animal Trained The Animal That Way Bad Owner Bad Animal It Is Like When You Raise A Kid If You Have A Parent Who Is In A Jail More Then Likely The Child Will Follow In Their Kids How To Act

Jason & Tracy Y.'s profile image Jason & Tracy Y.  ( 2022-02-04 18:49:27 -0500 ) edit

Yes, their jaws and body are very powerful. I don't care if their sweet dogs. Even the sweet dogs can wreck the house and seriously hurt someone being "loving". They are too much energy and can knock a kid down. I've have roommates with pits and have been sitting for over 8 yrs. I no longer take pit

Monica M.'s profile image Monica M.  ( 2022-02-20 10:18:39 -0500 ) edit

All strong breeds can be dangerous. The debate between genetics vs environment is long over, this is a conversation straight out of the 50s. Genetics predispose animals to certain behaviors, but training and environment play a huge role in behavior. Few aggressive animals can't be rehabilitated.

Connor L.'s profile image Connor L.  ( 2022-04-02 00:08:50 -0500 ) edit

There are some that are. But I believe there are no bad dogs only bad owners. They are not aggressive as a pup, so it’s how they are raised. Training is the best.

Lindajo D.'s profile image Lindajo D.  ( 2022-04-06 22:52:32 -0500 ) edit

It's hard to believe Steve actually believes the root cause of deaths or injuries to humans by dogs is bec of genetics. Think about many of the macho uneducated financially challenged people who buy PBTs. It is the mindsets and behaviors of the HUMAN "owners" that are the cause.

Heather T.'s profile image Heather T.  ( 2022-04-07 08:34:30 -0500 ) edit

Absolutely not. Behavior is not in their DNA. A new study found that DNA does not determine aggression. You can train a poodle to be aggressive if you starve it and beat it and its only source of food is if it fights.

Joan W.'s profile image Joan W.  ( 2022-05-05 15:22:45 -0500 ) edit

no! it's all about the owner pitbulls are just like any other dog as long as you train them and love them you will be okay.

Liz M.'s profile image Liz M.  ( 2022-06-10 23:37:55 -0500 ) edit

No!! Pit bulls, like German Shepherds, get a bad rep because they were first used in wars and such. Though, yes, they are built for attacking, they are sweet.

Scott & Maria W.'s profile image Scott & Maria W.  ( 2023-02-01 09:33:30 -0500 ) edit

12 Answers

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answered 2019-03-20 17:10:14 -0500

I find them to be the sweetest and most loving breed of all! They are capable of doing a lot of damage, just like any other large dog or bully breed, so when they have the wrong owner an individual dog is absolutely dangerous, just like any large dog or bully breed. With the right owner, even pit bulls that used to be fighters or were horribly abused can be turned back into gentle sweethearts. The insurance and restrictions are frustrating and is definitely something to consider when owning any "vicious" breed, even though there is no such thing as an inherently vicious dog breed. If you rent, it can be difficult to find a place to live in most cities. But more and more policy makers and companies are coming around and relaxing restrictions. I find that there are more "mean" little dogs than big dogs, but that is because people are a lot more lax with small dogs because owners feel like they can just pick them up to keep them from biting. People who own more powerful breeds have a tendency to take pet parenting more seriously. Any breed of dog can be dangerous, either from biting or picking a fight with another dog that may not even normally fight. I use my pit bull to help with small dogs that go after big dogs because of the danger that the little dogs can provoke. She has zero reaction to posturing or attacks from other dogs and is able to help them learn to not be afraid. But most of the time, it is the owner that is causing the behavior, regardless of breed or the initial cause of behavioral issues.

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Right on point, especially the big dog vs. little dogs. I'll take a pitty over a chi any day. :D

Jennifer R.'s profile image Jennifer R.  ( 2019-06-14 13:53:27 -0500 ) edit

I have fostered a rescued pittie and she was the most gentle and affectionate dog I have ever seen. There is not such a thing as a bad dog, they have or had bad, cruel human owners.

Hedieh S.'s profile image Hedieh S.  ( 2019-06-21 05:00:23 -0500 ) edit

Your one experience does not equate for a breed overall. I've been around hundreds, I will never adopt a pit nor book a sitting with them anymore

Monica M.'s profile image Monica M.  ( 2022-02-20 10:20:34 -0500 ) edit
answered 2019-03-19 11:13:43 -0500

Pit bull advocates and some experts say the dogs get a bad rap. They say the dogs are not inherently aggressive, but in many cases suffer at the hands of irresponsible owners drawn to the dog's macho image who encourage aggression for fighting and protection. A well-socialized and well-trained pit bull is one of the most delightful, intelligent, and gentle dogs imaginable. However, owning a pit bull should not be taken lightly. Some cities and towns have banned the breed and many pet care providers won't accept them as a client. You also may face rising insurance rates or cancellation of your policy, difficulty renting, and the watchful eye of neighbors and passersby.

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I work for a small veterinary clinic. We don’t accept most pit bulls in our office because it is a small office. I have walked them and volunteered with them in shelters. It’s great to see the sound ones but it’s scary when you see the damage they can cause. And they don’t let go.

Tara F.'s profile image Tara F.  ( 2019-03-28 04:01:39 -0500 ) edit

They are not not bad dogs. Finding a sitter that is a trainer is key. All animals are God's animals.

Cheryl K.'s profile image Cheryl K.  ( 2019-03-30 16:58:56 -0500 ) edit

Cheryl, God didn't create pit bulls. They were created by mankind.

Steve D.'s profile image Steve D.  ( 2019-11-16 23:19:32 -0500 ) edit
answered 2019-04-01 15:59:15 -0500

The Pacific Standard Magazine had some very interesting statistics and opinions about dog bites to report in their 2014 article “The Tragedy of America’s Dog.” The following excerpt highlights that compared to the number of estimated Pit Bull types vs. bites reported, Pit Bulls were actually on the low end of those to be considered dangerous.

“…Between 1965 and 2001, there have been 60 lethal dog-attacks in the United States involving a Pit Bull. Compared to most breeds, that figure is indeed quite high. There were only 14 lethal attacks involving Dobermans, for instance. But taking into account the overall populations of each breed measured, the rate of aggression among Pit Bulls is comparatively quite normal. Even low. During that 36-year period, only 0.0012 percent of the estimated Pit Bull population was involved in a fatal attack. Compare that to the purebred Chow Chow, which has a fatal-attack rate of 0.005 percent, and consistently ranks as the least child-friendly dog breed on the market. Why don’t media reports of attacks involving Chows eclipse those involving Pit Bulls? Because there are only 240,000 registered Chow Chows currently residing in the United States. And frankly, the broad-skulled, wide-mouthed Pit Bull makes for a more convincing monster than the comically puffy Chow.”

They also test with a much more easy-going temperament than most dogs. The American Temperament Test Society is an organization that records the results of their standard temperament test for many dog breeds. The average pass rate for all breeds is 83%.

Yet 84.5% of American Staffordshire Terriers and 86.8% of American Pitbull Terriers pass the test. This means they’re slightly more likely to pass than many other breeds and second only to Golden Retrievers.

The facts are decidedly in favor of the fact that "Pitbulls" are much LESS aggressive and more likely to put up with abuse than most other dogs. They just happen to be THE most common dog breed / mutt in America, so of COURSE they have the "most" attacks on record.

Personally, I can attest to this because we rescued our buddy Tyrion just over three years ago and he has been bottom animal in the house from the get-go. He gets displaced from his bed by our two cats on a fairly regular basis (to which he responds by sitting next to it and giving me mopey eyes in the hopes that I will rescue him from the scary kitty - nevermind he has three others around the house) and even when they play, he's the one running from the cat, who can even pounce on /pick up his tail without fear of reprisal. He positively LOVES kids, and the only thing they need fear is that he might just plow right through them in his excitement (I'll admit he's definitely not high on the clever or agile scales for dogs). It's just sad to think that he's not welcome some places because they ... (more)

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AFAIK The Temp Test does not test a dog's reaction to another dog, only that of dog-human. A normal Pit Bull (or bully breed) should mesh well with people. But the dog, as it was bred, does not mesh well w/other dogs. Some will, but it's not what it was bred for.

Cindy & Stephen G.'s profile image Cindy & Stephen G.  ( 2019-04-09 16:17:53 -0500 ) edit
answered 2019-03-26 20:37:25 -0500

The other 3 answered perfectly, so this is less of an answer and more just my own 2 cents. Every dog has some capacity for aggression. Though some dogs, including Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, etc. were specifically bred to fight or guard. This means that they are more prone to violence if they have bad owners. I could argue that humans have an inherent capacity for violence, as well. If you are considering getting any large or extra-large breed there are things to consider, including all of the things that are mentioned in the other comments. But I've found that with the right environment and loving owners, pit bulls, American Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Boxers, Rottweilers, etc. can all be wonderful pets.

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Just to add on to that, if a dog possesses gameness, a loving won't eliminate it; a responsible home will manage it. We owned an APBT who was very game, He would try to go after any animal, and do it with an enthusiastic happiness. It's a different attitude than protection bred dogs.

Cindy & Stephen G.'s profile image Cindy & Stephen G.  ( 2019-03-28 12:50:51 -0500 ) edit

I think perhaps that's why people misunderstand the breed. People who fight dogs don't 'turn' the dog, they take advantage of a trait the dog already has and strengthen it. They have no use for the dogs that don't strongly have the trait that will make them money in the pit.

Cindy & Stephen G.'s profile image Cindy & Stephen G.  ( 2019-03-28 13:06:40 -0500 ) edit

In the 14-year period of 2005 through 2018, canines killed 471 Americans. Pit bulls contributed to 66% (311) of these deaths. So that's a lot of people that died because of misunderstandings. Any reason not assume these deaths will continue?

Steve D.'s profile image Steve D.  ( 2019-11-16 23:30:12 -0500 ) edit

Show your sources for that information, please.

Jessica S.'s profile image Jessica S.  ( 2022-10-20 08:33:25 -0500 ) edit

Steve D.....show your sources for that information, please.

Jessica S.'s profile image Jessica S.  ( 2022-10-20 08:33:47 -0500 ) edit
answered 2019-04-27 20:02:10 -0500

I've seen far more pits with the sweetest countenance of any dog, and I've also seen a few that scared the hell out of me. I've also been absolutely shocked by the level of aggression shown by breeds that never come up in this conversation, breeds that are usually seen as small cute little dogs. My neighbor's 9 pound terrier attacks everyone with a vicious rage, biting people and dogs alike. He's bit my other neighbor 3 separate times when he was out in his own yard, across the street.

My point is that a dog's aggression level isn't solely dependent on their breed. Although breed does come with inherent instinctual features, the other factors in play are far more influential in determining the level of aggression in any canine, such as their experience and exposure to aggression from other animals or humans. Essentially, you can raise a dog to be a total monster, or to be a sweet cuddle-pup.

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answered 2019-06-21 05:09:19 -0500

I have fostered a rescued pittie and she was the most gentle and affectionate dog I have ever seen. There is not such a thing as a bad dog, they have or had bad, cruel human owners.

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answered 2022-01-29 08:25:09 -0500

This is a myth. Norman Rockwell painted the pitbull, and the Little Rascals ran around with a pit constantly because he was the nanny dog. Pitbulls have a proclivity for children but it’s not in their DNA it’s just the way that they have been used and lived here in the US. They are in American bread. I just had pit DNA tested and she’s six kinds of dogs! I volunteer in shelters and we now test all the pitbull looking dogs because many of them are not even Pitbulls they are American bulldogs mixed with French bulldogs and boxers exactly the same as my Pitt looking dog.

Dogs become dangerous when they are neglected and mistreated by their owners. The number one cause of bites are actually small dogs because sometimes people neglect to train them because they’re so small.

It’s easy to research the DNA of dogs. There is no DNA that makes a more aggressive dog. There are brain malfunctions that make more aggressive humans in the prefrontal cortex but dogs do not have that. They don’t have the ability to plot against us. Look to the background to find out whether you might have to deal with aggression and make sure you keep yourself safe around any large dog. Pitbulls have no particular strength over other dogs. Some people purposefully make their Pitbulls dangerous because they think that will protect them. Those are the dogs who are likely a source of the attacks a very confused dog trying to please their abusive owner.

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Thanks for the information!

Corinne E.'s profile image Corinne E.  ( 2022-02-06 19:22:37 -0500 ) edit
answered 2022-03-06 10:58:43 -0500

As with any other large breed the answer is that they can be. Pitties have a high prey drive. Most of the accidents with this breed AND OTHERS happen when that instinct is triggered. For example running by or running away can trigger this. Man handling can also be a trigger. As a pet sitter I can't think of a reason you should be worried, unless you decide to reach for the dog during a reaction. Treat your Pitt with care, leash him or her when in public, and teach your kiddies how to behave around large dogs. Doing those things will protect you and your Pitt.

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answered 2022-02-18 18:29:36 -0500

Here's a website that can be used as a reference for the passing rate for various breeds. https://atts.org/breed-statistics/stati…

To help you understand, 85% is passing. While the American Pit Bull Terrier didn't get 100%, there are other breeds that have a MUCH lower passing rate and are considered "friendly" breeds.

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answered 2019-03-19 16:05:27 -0500

Pit bulls do not have violence in their DNA, and they are not inherently dangerous. Depending on how an animal is treated often depends on how they will react to people. It's hard to say what common traits are between pit bulls because every dog is so different. My pit bull terror for instance is extremely smart, stubborn, loving, and sometimes annoying with how much energy he has. Since he is stubborn, he is also dominant. He loves playing with other animals but often becomes annoying because his energy has no limits. He understands how to play softly with cats and rough with huge dogs that are also dominant. He learned how to wrestle from other dogs at the dog park, and sees almost anything as a fun competition. If he doesn't get enough exercise, he will probably chew something up that I don't want him to chew (even if he has 25 toys). It's all about getting to know a dog in multiple situations to see what their personality is like. What I have heard just from being in the pit bull community is that almost all pit bulls like to chew, they absolutely love snuggling, they are balls of energy for most of their life, and they're extremely loyal to their owners. Every dog is different, but I encourage you to meet a pit bull to learn more about them. I haven't gotten side glances from neighbors, most people think he's dang cute and sweet. I hope this helps!

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