MYTHS AND FACTS
The term "pit bull" is not a breed but instead a generic term used to loosely describe a type (or category) of dog based only on its physical appearance (not on genetics or lineage) - resembling any medium-sized dog with physical traits from any of the numerous "bully-type" breeds that can include physical characteristics found in over 20 unique breeds and in even more mixed breeds. Attempting to assign any kind of bite characteristic to "pit bulls" in general (or even to a dog "type") is already a flawed and problematic proposition (even for a myth) due to the number of different breeds and mixes that can be classified as pitbull-type dogs.
MYTH: PITBULL-TYPE DOGS ARE "MORE DANGEROUS" THAN OTHER DOGS ACCORDING TO THE STATISTICS.
A 2000-2009 study that analyzed those years of incidents related to dog bite-related fatalities identified multiple factors associated with those incidents and specifically concluded that breed was not one of these factors. This study also concluded that media reports on bite-related incidents are prone to significant breed identification error rates of over 40% and that valid breed determination was possible in only 17% of all incidents. Furthermore, after analyzing a number of scientific sources and numerous peer-reviewed studies, the American Veterinary Medical Assoc. concluded that "Controlled studies have not identified this breed group (pitbull-type dogs) as disproportionately dangerous."
In PG county all dogs are temperament tested, it is more often than not the dogs assigned a "pitbull" label test more positively than the dogs listed as "adoptable" by shelter staff.
MYTH: PITBULL-TYPE DOGS HAVE LOCKING JAWS
No dogs (of any breed or type) have physical characteristics in their jaw that would cause or allow them to "lock" their jaws. Furthermore, pitbull-type dogs do not have a unique or morphologically different jaw structure from other dogs.
All dogs of all breeds can exhibit "bite and hold" and/or "shaking" behaviors when biting - these behaviors have been traced back to wolves (the ancestors of domestic dogs) and can therefore be found in all breeds. For example, many dogs display these behaviors when playing with toys such as ropes and stuffed animals.
MYTH: PITBULLS BITE HARDER THAN OTHER DOGS
While bite strength can vary greatly between individual dogs of the same breed, the average bite strength of pitbull-type dogs has been measured to be 235psi - 28% lower than the average bite strength of the breeds tested and fully in-line with other dogs of similar sizes and strengths.
Peer-reviewed studies have concluded that the strength of an individual dog's bite is directly related to its overall size and strength - not to its breed. Furthermore, none of the studies list breed as a relevant factor affecting bite force in their conclusions.
MYTH: SURE, A PITBULL MIGHT SEEM NICE NOW, BUT IT MIGHT SNAP ON YOU AT ANY SECOND.
A study conducted by the CDC that analyzed 20 years of dog bite-related fatalities (DBRFs) identified over 25 breeds associated with DBRFs and the majority (72%) of these incidents were attributed to non-pitbull type breeds - clear evidence that many breeds can unfortunately have unstable individuals that can bite without warning (aka "snapping") causing serious incidents or DBRFs. Furthermore, the study's data substantiates that the DBRF risk rate for pitbull-type dogs is fully in-line with the risk rates of other large or strong breeds.
A peer-reviewed study that analyzed canine aggression in different breeds concluded: "Comparing the results of non-legislated breeds and breeds affected by legislation (such as pitbull-type dogs), no significant difference in aggression was found - a scientific basis for breed specific lists does not exist." Another peer-reviewed study concluded: "It would be inappropriate to make assumptions about an individual animal's risk of aggression to people based on characteristics such as breed."
MYTH: MY DOG WANTS TO HAVE PUPPIES. IT WILL FEEL UNFULFILLED IF IT DOES NOT MATE EVEN JUST ONCE.
There is no evidence of any sort to indicate that either male or female dogs have an instinctive yearning to mate, or a maternal urge to have puppies. This comes from humans placing their emotions on to the animals.
Spay (removal of a female dogs reproductive organs) or Neutering (removal of a male dogs testicles) are both simple, safe procedures which can lengthen the life of your pet, calm your pet, and prevent thousands of puppies in a system already overcrowded with dogs.
Dogs who are fixed (spayed or neutered) are at lower risk for certain cancers, tumors and other medical conditions.