How Pit Bulls Got Singled Out as Dangerous Dogs

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You've probably heard nightmarish stories about Pit bulls and their supposedly dangerous natures. You may even have friends who own dogs but still believe that Pit bulls are unsafe and to be avoided. As animal lovers, we know by now that Pit bulls are not "killer dogs," or monsters more dangerous than any other breed. But it's frustrating to see so much misinformation persist. How did Pit bulls go from being a trusted breed years ago to one that is hated, vilified and feared today?



According to an article on Alternet, it wasn't long ago that Pit bulls not only weren't feared, but with their friendly and patient temperaments, were actually considered to be a perfect "nanny breed" for children. But in the 1980s, the breed began to develop a terrible reputation. It's not clear where the cycle started, but at some point, Pit bulls became the dog breed of choice for the criminal element, or those looking for dogs to threaten, guard, intimidate and generally look scary. This led to many owners abusing their Pit bulls into becoming vicious, mean attack dogs. The breed's reputation worsened, thus encouraging more people in the market for "mean" dogs to adopt Pit bulls, and the catch-22 was in place.

Of course, there's no hard evidence to support the idea that Pit bulls are naturally more aggressive or dangerous than other breeds. Myths about their super-powerful bite force and dangerous "locking jaws" are likewise utterly fabricated. Pit bulls don't even have jaw strength as powerful as other breeds like Mastiffs, whose jaws clamp down with much greater force, but somehow haven't cursed them with an image as killer dogs. The real facts show that Pit bulls are actually docile compared to other dogs. A study of dog breeds was conducted to gauge temperament by measuring skittishness, aggression and ability to differentiate between threatening and non-threatening humans. The results showed what Pit bull lovers of the past knew: the "nanny breed" was among the friendliest and least aggressive. Aggressive Pit bulls are almost always the products of abuse, neglect or both. It is irresponsible breeders and owners who are to blame for the breed's negative image.

But the Alternet article points out that the media's ongoing willingness to sell out Pit bulls doesn't help matters. News outlets are quick to support the belief that Pit bulls are dangerous, because it allows for sensationalized stories, stories that won't go over if their audiences don't believe the misleading "facts" on which they are based. In a way, since the Pit bull's negative reputation is essentially an invention, it exists as a cultural meme, a persistent urban legend. Other breeds have trended similarly in the past. Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers to some degree still deal with this. In the 19th century, it was Bloodhounds who were considered inherently dangerous. If that seems absurd to us now, it's because the idea then was based on the same lies that haunt Pit bulls today. It's gotten so bad that when dog attacks happen, the media will often identify the breed as a Pit bull even when it's not the case. And when Pit bulls do attack, it is often much more widely reported than similar attacks caused by other breeds.

Pit bulls' bad reputation has been so deeply ingrained in our culture that a kind of racism has developed against them. Mistrust leads to suspicious attention, which leads to the breed being implicated in more negative activity than other breeds, which worsens and perpetuates the breed's reputation. Governments and lawmakers, by creating absurd breed-specific bans, only serve to cement misinformed and bigoted beliefs. Even popular entertainers like Kelly Ripa are taken in by the media's portrayal of Pit bulls as bloodthirsty attack dogs, and in turn worsen the problem by perpetuating the stereotype.

But there's always hope, and increasingly, a growing backlash against Pit bull bigotry has more and more people learning that Pit bulls are perfectly safe and even very loving, loyal dogs. As Cesar Millan of "The Dog Whisperer" has grown famous for his canine expertise, his love of and support for Pit bulls has gone a long way to convincing a general audience that the breed's negative image is completely undeserved. Other popular shows like Shorty Rossi's "Pit Boss" add to the wave of positive Pit bull PR. And for every person who adopts a Pit bull and learns of its true nature, an entire network of family and friends in turn learns the truth. It's up to each of us to spread the real facts about Pit bulls.

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nala2014

I have had 2 pitbulls, and they were the kindest, most loyal dogs I ever had. I sti have one and shes so sweet and ppl friendly. They are MISUNDETSTOOD and have been lied about by the news, media, social networks, papers, internet etc. Pitbulls are good loving dogs. How a owner treats their dog reflects on their personality just likehumans. If we are treated poorly we can become bitter and mean. Same for them! Get to know them before you judge their kind!

April 13 2014 at 12:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
A.G. Midland

Pit bulls are different because they have a jaw that locks and they kill and injure much quicker. They are a dangerous breed that should be controlled as they are responsible for most dog killings of both other animals and humans in the U.S. Those who want to pretend that pit bulls are just misunderstood are not dealing with reality. It is offensive to all those who have been killed or seriously injured by pit bulls.

March 15 2014 at 8:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rajesh sabharwal

pit bulls not as dangerous as they seems to be and for your kind information i know one breed that can kill pit bull in just seconds and that breed name is (TIBETIAN MASTIFF)
if you dont believe then browse on google you will find the answer.

January 31 2014 at 6:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard S. Drake

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that pit bulls kills - but WHO is to blame?
Any dog can be trained to attack can kill, and pit bulls have been chosen because they are so powerful. But if they are not owned by buffoons, they are loyal, intelligent animals.

November 12 2013 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Squiffybroom

I don't agree with this argument, I had a six year old, 12 pound peek-a-poo that was killed by a pit bull this morning. My dad was taking my dog on a walk when the pit bull attacked (for no reason either). The dog picked her up with it's jaw and shook her around until she died. Now I hate pit bulls.

October 21 2013 at 12:36 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
E Van De Bogart

Wow I really love how so many people that commented on this article obviously know only the false information the media likes to blow up about pitbulls. If you take even a little time to do actual research into the topic you will discover that pitbulls have been tested time & time again & prove to be 1 of the most least aggressive breeds of dog. Yes if treated badly they can be violent but so can & will any other breed of dog. They also do not have a extra strong bite compared to other breeds & oh yeah the 'lock jaw' thing happens to be a myth.

October 10 2013 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mbrothers22

Pit bulls attack and kill more than any other breed. That is a fact that cannot be argued. When are you SHEEP going to realize this? Sure, not all of them are bad, but more of them are bad than other breeds. Wake up.

September 30 2013 at 10:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mbrothers22's comment
jinxy70

I believe you perceive this to be true because they never portray a nice pit on the news, or write stories about a faithful family member. Pits used to be considered a great family dog, today they are used for rehab dogs, as a matter of fact 3 Pitts worked tirelessly at the site of the 9/11 bombings searching for survivors, the media tend to leave those stories out, not sensational enough. There image didn't get tarnished till around 1976, when dog fighting started. They are the most abused and misunderstood of all breeds. Perhaps the "SHEEP" are the ones who get spoon fed news reports and believe them.

November 08 2013 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Debbie Jean Adams

I LOVE PITTBULLS AND PEOPLE ARE SCARED BECAUSE THEY HAVE A BAD RAP.I USE TO BE LEARY OF THEM IN THE PAST,UNTIL ME AND MY EX GOT A PITTBULL NAMED DESTINY LOVED PITTBULLS EVER SINCE.NOW I RESCUED ONE ON THE STREETS SHE IZ MY SAVIOR I WAZ GRIEVING THE LOSS OF MY GIRL PEANUT AND SOME PEOPLE SAY PEANUT SENT HER TO ME.I SAVED HER AZ WELL AZ SHE SAVED ME,SHE IZ A BRINDLE MORE BLACK THEN BROWN KEPT SHE LOVES ME TO PIECES AZ WELL AZ I LOVE HER TO PIECES SO PEOPLE BACK OFF PITTBULLS ARE NOT BAD THEY HAD BAD OWNERS WHO MADE THEM MEAN.I LOVE PITTS

September 26 2013 at 3:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
umpire

My mom and step dad own rotwillers and there sweet has heack. I never seen or been scared of this dog. there harmless there big but thre so funny. I remember the old dog before they had to put him to sleep (cancer in his butt) he didn't like people leaving! It was the most adorable thing I admire in thunder. They go Torri-fatty girl and Cash- big head boy. -he whines for his daddy. No joke one of the days I went to see my mom. As I was already up there for other things, I stop by and he talk to me. and trun his whole body on the feet cliner so he could put his head on my knee

September 03 2013 at 5:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mdenvee

A ridiculous topic to even debate. Pit Bulls are uniquely gifted animals at fighting, biting and have a temper which is less easy to control than most dogs. For that reason, they are potentially a loaded weapon. Few people own Pit Bulls because they are such wonderful dogs- so are Retrievers and Black Labs and Collies. They own them because they have the strength and technique which can tear someone's head off if needed- they are owned for dog fighting or personal protection. If owned for protection, they should be licensed like a gun since they have such a potential to kill (yes, kill, unlike Cocker Spaniels and Poodles) and once unleashed they are unusually hard to control. This breed (and Rotties) should be banned. I love dogs more than most peoples, but these 2 breeds are lethal and the issue is no longer how they are trained- the issue is that they ARE commonly trained to be vicious and that won't end. And the issue is that they have the POTENTIAL to be trained to kill. This is why they are so popular. I rarely see Shepards or Dobermans anymore, which were the prior attack dog. The reason? Those are "guard" dogs, meant to guard. Pit Bulls are meant to fight. Ban them, just like banning a machine gun. Yes, all dogs bite, but Pit Bulls and Rotties are popular for ONE reason over other reasons- killing potential.

June 14 2013 at 7:59 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
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