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.
More Myths & Misconceptions
Pit 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.
Babette & Luke (Photo Credit: @Landdolphins on IG)
You 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.”
Pit 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.
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)
A 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: