Pit Bull Myths

Pit Bull Myths - Dog Bite Lawyer San Diego1)     It’s the owner, not the breed

This is a major debate that highlights the environment as the deciding factor in pit bulls’ aggressiveness. In a way this statement intends to protect the owners, but it resolutely ignores the genetic history of pit bulls. Many courts have identified a set of genetic traits found in pit bulls: unpredictable aggressiveness, tenacity, high pain threshold and the signature “hold and shake” bite. What’s curious and horrifying is the fact that half of the fatal mauling incidents inflicted by pit bulls form 2005 to 2014 victimized family members and a pet pit bull. And a significant portion of pit bull attacks happen to the owners themselves.

2)     Pit bulls can’t be identified

Pit bull is a class of dogs which was selectively bred by combining several close breeds. Even though pit bull owners commonly argue a common man cannot correctly identify a pit bull, this isn’t true. Pit bulls have a recognizable head shape, jaw size and posture that are difficult to ignore. One more reason why it is easy to recognize a pit bull is the rising trend in promoting a positive image of pit bulls through specialized TV shows.

3)     Man-biting pit bulls have been culled

Some breeders may have done this, but it’s almost certain this wasn’t enough. More than 100 years ago, an individual pit bull was described not as a man-biter, but as a man-eater. In the second half of the seventies, there was the “leakage” period. In these years, gang members and criminals influenced the breed to develop as they wanted a tough dog, the toughest possible. Human attacks hit the headlines in the early eighties and it’s because of this leakage period that it’s not possible to say with confidence man-biters were culled.

4)     Fatal pit bull attacks stats are false

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study that investigated fatal attacks inflicted by pit bulls in the period of 1979 to 1998. Pit bull supporters claim that the authors of the study miscounted the fatalities because of the extensive media coverage of such incidents. However, the five authors of the report, who are against breed-specific laws, concluded that it’s much more probable that fatalities by pit bull attacks were underreported.

5)     Pit bulls get too much bad rap in the media

In the period from 2005 to 2014 pit bulls mauled 203 people to death. That means 1 person every 18 days. Pit bulls undoubtedly have the biggest disposition and frequency to cause severe mauling injuries in comparison to all other breeds. Media does capitalize on this, but they also report on maulings and severe attacks by any other breed.

6)     Pit bulls are predictable

Even though pro-pit bull groups constantly reiterate pit bulls are not unpredictable, evidence and experience show otherwise. Humane groups have extensive evidence that fighting dogs are selectively bred and intentionally trained to hide signals that would warn about the attack. This is necessary if the dog is to excel in fighting. This means a pit bull will often attack viciously without provocation and without baring its teeth, growling or lowering its ears. They are also notorious for ignoring submissive and appeasing gestures.

Experienced dog behaviorists report that pit bulls are great liars. They can demonstrate playfulness and lunge for the victim’s neck the very next second.

7)     Pit bulls don’t have a locking jaw

Pit bull advocates often stress that the term “locking jaw” doesn’t apply to pit bulls. Their jaw may not physically lock, in the most literal way, but fighting dogs are selectively bred to hone their biting style which is characterized by holding and shaking indefinitely. Attack records and reports often state the dog wouldn’t let go. Again, tenacity is a prized trait in a fighting dog. Various aids have had to be used to make the attacking dog disengage including shotguns, hammers, bats, pipes and crow bars.

8)     Pit bulls used to be the most popular US breed

Pro-pit bull groups often claim unjustifiably that by World War I pit bull was America’s favorite dog. However, Animal People publication explored this through newspaper archives from 1900 – 1950. They investigated classifieds advertising 3.5 million of dogs of stated breeds. Only 1 percent of these accounted for pit bulls, even considering other variant names this breed was named.

9)     Pit bulls successfully pass the American Temperament Test

This test was developed in late seventies as an attempt to have a standardized test for dog temperament. Every year only 0.001 percent oa all the US dogs are tested, without a scientific sampling of breeds. In other words, the statistical value of this test’s results is non-existent. Other factors that should be considered is that the dog owner is always present during this 10-minute test and what is not being observed is dog’s behavior upon seeing another dog.

10)  Punish the deed, not the breed

This takes us back to the first myth and it’s also there to protect the breeders and owners. The biggest fault with this myth is that there has to be a deed, i.e. a new victim, for the punishment to take place. And that is another thing – owners of man-biting pit bulls often go unpunished and slip through a loophole. There have been many cases in which civil and criminal recourse was impossible for the injured party. And finally, a significant percent of the attacks are extremely severe or fatal and in that situation no punishment or compensation can restore the victim’s quality of life or bring them back from the dead.


Pit bulls are the most associated dog breed with dog attacks and maulings. If you or someone you love has been attacked and injured by a pit bull, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced and caring attorney at the San Diego Dog Bite Attorney Group who will offer you a free review of your case.