Other myths and misconceptions about Pit Bulls

In our ongoing effort to educate and advocate on behalf of bully breeds, I want to respond to some more of the myths that drive many of the comments and questions I get on a regular basis because Piper is a Pit Bull type dog.  As always, this is a pit bull friendly blog so we ask that the conversation remain respectful and fact based. I’m happy to answer questions and address concerns.

Pit Bulls come in all shapes and sizes

More Myths & Misconceptions

Blank4Pit Bull is a breed of dog
The term “Pit Bull” has become a bit of a misnomer in that there is no single breed of dog that is a “Pit Bull” and the term generally includes any dog with a blocky head and muscular body type. Most commonly the term includes American Pit Bull Terriers, Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.  Frequently, American Bull Dogs and other blocky headed dogs are included under the “bully breed” label as are many other mixed breed dogs making blanket statements about behavior and visual identification that much more difficult and unreliable.

Pit bulls come in all shape and sizes

Babette & Luke (Photo Credit: @Landdolphins on IG)

Blank4You can accurately identify a pit bull by visual observation alone.
As mentioned above, because “Pit Bulls” aren’t a single breed, visual identification is considered extremely unreliable. In fact, studies are showing that visual identification is highly inaccurate, even among animal care professionals. Just look at images of the dogs mentioned above and you will see a wide variety of colors, markings and body types. A 2012 study found “a wide disparity between DNA and visual identification of the predominant breeds comprising a dog. It also indicates a low level of agreement among people regarding breed composition.”

Dispelling the myths about Pit Bulls

Blank4Pit bull owners are thugs and criminals.
This is perhaps one of the most damaging of the myths because it is tied to deep socio-economic and racial stereotyping. Contrary to popular belief, the owners of Pit Bulls do not fall into a single category of owner and we do our communities, and these dogs, a disservice if we ignore this important fact. If you have not heard of The Majority Project, please visit their site and see the wonderful diversity of Pit Bull owners and the dogs they love. 

I am a website designer & dog blogger. I am a “pit bull” dog owner. I am the MAJORITY.

Pit bull owners come in all shapes and sizes

Piper Photo Credit: Emily Tronetti from Heal to Howl 

You’ll have to take my word for it but I am neither a “thug” nor a “criminal”

(Discussing the socio economic realities of  breed discrimination is obviously a conversation that requires more than a bullet point. I HIGHLY recommend reading Bronwen Dickey’s incredible book: Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon to learn more about the history of breed discrimination. I had the privilege of interviewing Bronwen Dickey about her book. See my review and interview with Ms. Dickey)

Pit Bulls & Their Owners Come in All Shapes & Sizes. Dispelling More Myths About Pit Bull Type Dogs. Click To Tweet

Blank4A Pit Bull that is aggressive toward other dogs will also be aggressive toward humans.
In actuality dog-aggression and human-aggression do not go hand-in-hand. These are two very different traits and should not be confused. In general, pit bull type dogs are extremely loving, loyal and friendly companion animals. History, physical and mental health, socialization, training and environment all contribute to ANY dog’s behavior towards other dogs or humans.

My crew includes two labs and a “pit bull.” I am very careful with all three of my dogs because they are dogs, which means they can’t “use their words” to tell me when something is scaring them or irritating them. It’s my job to be aware of our surroundings and to learn to read their body language and assess the environment so that we can avoid any issues. 

I’m not suggesting for one second that all pit bull type dogs are angels any more than I would suggest that all little dogs are yappy or all labs love everyone. I am saying that Pit Bull discrimination is a human-created problem and all dogs are individuals. We can all do better in how we have the conversation about breed stereotyping. 


PLEASE READ Bronwen Dickey’s incredible book: Pit Bull: The Battle Over and American Icon to learn more about the stereotypes and socio-economic realities that contribute to the misconceptions and misinformation surrounding pit bull type dogs and their owners.

Other installments in the Changing the Conversation series:

Educate, Advocate, Don’t Berate

Myths & Misconceptions: Bronwen Dickey Changing the Conversation About the Misunderstood Pit Bull

My Pit Bull Story

Stop Asking Pit Bull Owners These 6 Questions


What other questions do you have about Pit Bull type dogs? 

About the Author:


  1. Tonya Wilhelm December 7, 2016 at 9:22 am - Reply

    Great points. It sounds like Pit Bull is kind of like Spaniel or Retriever. No, I don’t think you are a thug. Lol

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 1:15 pm - Reply

      Thanks! I think you raise a good point about differentiating between an actual breed and a general term that can refer to many different types of dogs.

  2. Rachel December 7, 2016 at 9:25 am - Reply

    These are great myths to dispel and I hope it reaches the people who need to know this. I would love to adopt a pitt bull type dog in the future.

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 1:13 pm - Reply

      Thank you! When you are ready to bring a pit bull into your life, let me know and I will connect you with a great rescue in your area πŸ™‚

  3. Nichole December 7, 2016 at 9:28 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for doing this wonderful series! <3 I miss my sweet, lovable Zeus every single day. He was only part pittie, but he had the pittie heart of gold!

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 1:04 pm - Reply

      Thank you for reading and sharing the series. Once you’ve had a pittie touch your heart, you’re never the same.

  4. Amy Shojai, CABC December 7, 2016 at 9:29 am - Reply

    This is a GREAT post. I’ll have to look up the book you mention. Actually, I also wrote a book about the American Pit Bull Terrier (TFH Publications https://www.amazon.com/American-Pit-Bull-Terrier-DogLife/dp/079383600X), and interviewed a number of breeders as well as rescuers for the book.

    I’m not paid for book sales, either…only reason I mention it here *s* and no problem if you’d rather deleate that. Because of the misconceptions, there probably is even MORE care taken in the socialization, training and breeding of these lovely dogs.

    Dog-on-dog aggression can be a problem but is NOT universal, and the breed is almost without exception incredibly human-friendly. Thanks for being such a great advocate for the dogs!
    Amy Shojai, CABC recently posted…Panera Bread Book Signing: Paw-tographs for GiftsMy Profile

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 1:03 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Amy! Bronwen’s book just made the NPR top 300 on their staff picks of recommended books. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I would love to chat with you about your book and perhaps do an interview and giveaway on the blog if you’d be interested. Let’s connect soon!

  5. Kelly December 7, 2016 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    First of all I just love this picture – pure love. And you’re right that many people believe that owners of pit bulls are “thugs” as you say. This stereotype needs to be changed and more need to be educated.

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      Thank you!! I think wherever possible, we have to give voice to the voiceless. If pit bull owners are supposed to be thugs, I’m doing it wrong πŸ˜‰

  6. Dash Kitten Crew December 7, 2016 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    As inspring and brilliant post that had me cheering. It’s like saying all women should have model figures or all men are bullies, labels are ugly. Really Ugly!!!!

    I love the bottom picture, that gentle loving face just made me melt!
    Dash Kitten Crew recently posted…My Shining Year The Most Unusual Gift for BloggersMy Profile

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much! You are so right, labels are ugly and so damaging.

      Yeah – that picture of me with Piper is definitely one of my favorite <3 <3 <3

  7. Sonja December 7, 2016 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    I still don’t understand how we went from “Nanny dog” and “the little rascals” to the current tone. *sigh* I have a Chihuahua. THE #1 biting breed. ’nuff said.

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      I HIGHLY recommend Bronwen’s book It is a fascinating explanation of how we’ve gotten to this place where these once embraced dogs have become so stigmatized. She talks about the myth of the Nanny dog and the socio economic realities fueling anti-pit bull rhetoric.

  8. Denise Gruzensky December 7, 2016 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    I can testify that you are not a thug. You have amazing points and insight into the world of pit bulls. Thank you for advocating for those that cannot speak for themselves!
    Denise Gruzensky recently posted…Help Your Dog Find Traction with Dr. Buzby’s ToeGripsMy Profile

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Denise! Maybe I should start using the hashtag #notathug on all my pit bull posts! πŸ˜‰

  9. Ruth Epstein December 7, 2016 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    These are myths like many others and the time has come to get rid of them, Layla plays with pit bulls in the park and it does not worry me at all, I know the owners so well which also helps a lot. Like they always say ” Don’t judge a book by its cover” and that is how I live

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      So many myths and so much misinformation that leads to so many issues. I’m glad that Layla has some good pit bull buddies πŸ™‚

  10. Carol Bryant December 7, 2016 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Wigglebutt Warriors, the fundraising arm of Fidose of Reality, did a fundraiser this year to benefit a rescue group that deals with pit bull rescues primarily. I fell in love with so many dogs. There are so many misconceptions and you are helping so much. I am tweeting now.

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      Some day, I hope you’ll get to meet Piper in person πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for all that you do and for sharing the post πŸ™‚

  11. Beth December 7, 2016 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    What a great post! I was so sad to see that the Pit bull ban went into effect in Montreal. It feels like we are regressing as a society.
    Beth recently posted…Engaging Tails: Annabelle, Ricochet and MaceyMy Profile

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad you liked the post. Thank you so much! We were pretty disappointed about what happened in Montreal as it seemed like things were looking up with the legislative stay. We just have to stay diligent in advocating on behalf of these dogs.

  12. Paul Kirhagis December 7, 2016 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    Amen! I have 4 bully type dogs and have fostered nearly 200 over the last 2.5 years. Stereotypes of the type are extremely destructive and wholly false. I admire and look up to you for the effort you put into dispelling these and other myths about our breed!

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 9:05 pm - Reply

      The admiration is mutual, my friend! πŸ™‚ I know how hard you work for our bully type dogs and I am honored to be in such good company when it comes to advocating on behalf of the voiceless.

  13. The Daily Pip December 7, 2016 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    “I am very careful with all three of my dogs because they are dogs, which means they can’t β€œuse their words” to tell me when something is scaring them or irritating them” WHAT A GREAT LINE and so true. Sadly I think many people forget that their dogs are actually dogs!

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      Preach!! I think it’s one of the biggest problems I see. I can’t remember where I saw this quote earlier today but it fits: “Telling a dog to stop barking is like taking the batteries out of a smoke alarm”

  14. Rebecca at MattieDog December 7, 2016 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Babette and Luke are just adorable – and what a compelling piece, full of reasons to route on this beautiful, often mislabeled breed!!
    Rebecca at MattieDog recently posted…Pressure Cooker Beef Stew Recipe For Your DogMy Profile

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      I will let their human know you said so πŸ˜‰ I appreciate the feedback on the post. Thank you.

  15. FiveSibesMom December 7, 2016 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    Excellent post! Thank you for your advocacy and information on the misunderstood Pit Bull. My best friend has two rescued Pitties and they are just sweethearts!
    FiveSibesMom recently posted…Thanking a Friend on a Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • SimonDawg December 7, 2016 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      So glad you liked the post! It is my absolute pleasure to advocate for pit bull type dogs πŸ™‚

  16. Tenacious Little Terrier December 8, 2016 at 12:34 am - Reply

    In Portland, the stereotype seems to be that a lot of hipsters own Pit Bulls. They’re fairly common and there’s several breed rescues here.
    Tenacious Little Terrier recently posted…Does the Best Dry Food for Dogs and Vacuums Make Good Gifts for the Holidays?My Profile

  17. Kelsie | It's Dog or Nothing December 8, 2016 at 9:14 am - Reply

    Words cannot describe how much I love this series. There are so many misconceptions out there, so it’s great to hear people speaking out!

    • SimonDawg December 9, 2016 at 2:54 pm - Reply

      Thank you! It’s obviously a topic close to my heart but it means a great deal to hear that others are finding the information helpful.:-)

    • Lenise April 12, 2018 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      I feel the same as you. I recently started studying about dogs and I feel like I have a lot to learn.

      It is very interesting to follow this series because I can see things that I had no idea they existed. Finally “open your eyes” is being excellent.

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge! This blog is beautiful!

  18. Sweet Purrfections December 8, 2016 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    This was very interesting. I admit I’ve believed some of the myths in the past.

    • SimonDawg December 9, 2016 at 3:00 pm - Reply

      You are not alone. Years ago, I too believed some of the myths. It’s been an incredible learning experience. Thank you for reading the post with an open mind. πŸ™‚

  19. Malaika Fernandes December 11, 2016 at 6:03 am - Reply

    Thank you for creating awareness in India people have the same opinion about Rottweilers. As a Canine Behaviorist i know only too well that there is no such thing as a bad dog but only bad owners that get their dogs from breeders that dont believe in ethical practices or that do not invest training and time on the dog
    Malaika Fernandes recently posted…Bingo The Drool PuppyMy Profile

    • SimonDawg December 11, 2016 at 7:35 pm - Reply

      It does sometimes seem like an uphill battle to educate and advocate on behalf of bully breeds. So much misinformation and so many myths swirling about and, as you point out, so many irresponsible breeders and owners who don’t do right by their dogs when it comes to training and socialization.

  20. Gilberto Cotrin June 26, 2017 at 5:12 am - Reply

    In Brazil the pitbull image is very poorly disseminated by the media. Many treat this breed as killers.

    Who has to know that when well cared and treated are very docile.

    • Alison Reder
      Alison Reder June 27, 2017 at 11:38 am - Reply

      Unfortunately, the myths and misconceptions about pit bull type dogs are global. So much education and outreach is needed for people to understand that they are dogs like any other dog and that it is a combination of environment, training, health, socialization etc. It’s the deed not the breed.

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