Part Three – Stop Asking Pit Bull Owners These 6 Dreaded Questions

Below are some of the most common questions or comments that Pit Bull owners get, along with some suggestions for helping to change the conversation. I have been asked every single one of these questions. I try to use each encounter as an educational opportunity to change the conversation. 

If you wouldn’t make the comment or ask the question about another type of dog, you might want to ask yourself why you are asking this question of a Pit Bull owner.

the-family-aaron-amanda-ella(Please keep in mind that Sarcastic Dog is a pit bull friendly space. I am happy to respond to genuine questions or concerns but I ask that everyone respect the Rules of Engagement for this blog)

Pit bulls are adorable

Piper         Photo Credit: Sarcastic Dog

Piper was the only one at doggie daycare who LOVED dressing up. Go figure πŸ˜‰

Will she bite me?

When I first brought Piper home as a foster puppy at 12 weeks old, one of my neighbors asked me if Piper would bite her. She was genuinely concerned and I gently explained that while Piper was a puppy and that all puppies can be a bit nippy and are still learning bite inhibition (one of the main reasons for providing early and regular socialization), Piper was (and still is) extremely gentle. My neighbor has become one of Piper’s biggest fans.

It is extremely rare that any dog bites without warning. Dogs generally give many signals through their body language that they are unhappy or uncomfortable before they ever bite. 

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Have you seen any signs of aggression from her yet?

What’s most upsetting about this question is the foregone conclusion of the asker that aggression is inevitable. While it is possible that Piper (or, again, any dog) could become aggressive, Pit Bulls are not inherently vicious. The assumption that Pit Bulls will inevitably be aggressive is not rooted in any scientific facts or data. 

etta

What do you do when her jaws lock?

Nothing because Pit Bulls do not have β€œlocking” jaws. I repeat, they do not have the ability to lock their jaws nor do they have any unique functionality associated with their jaws. (Honestly. This is science, not opinion) Are their jaws strong? Yes. Can they be tenacious? Absolutely! However, when the skulls of various dogs are compared, all dog skulls share the same characteristics and basic bone structure. There is nothing “abnormal” in the skulls of Pit Bull type dogs. (Read more about the myths surrounding Pit Bull bite strength as compared to other dogs.)

Help change the conversation about Pit Bull type dogs. What not to ask Pit Bull owners. Click To Tweet

ramona

Don’t you worry that she’ll just suddenly turn on you one day and rip your face off?

Nope. Never. This is another one of those media-hyped myths that many buy into.  I have never been concerned that Piper will suddenly snap and become a vicious monster. While I absolutely believe that some dogs can be unpredictable due to any number of factors (fear, resource guarding, medical issues, etc.),  I am no more concerned that my Pit Bull will suddenly attack me (or anyone else) than I am that either of my Yellow Labradors will, out of nowhere, suddenly become aggressive towards me or others.

luke-alisha-franky-dino

 

But she’s so sweet. How did you get her to be so sweet?

I’m sure that this is meant as a compliment but really it just suggests that Piper is an anomaly as opposed to the norm. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and some are sweet, some are funny, some are shy, some are grumpy. Piper isn’t “sweet despite being a Pit Bull – she is sweet because that’s her personality. She’s also terrified of being in the car, hates loud noises, loves to snuggle at night, is stubborn and seriously smart. 

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Well, it’s all how they are raised, isn’t it?

While on the surface this seems like another compliment about my skills in raising Piper, this is actually one of the most damaging and misleading comments/questions.

If this were true, how do we explain dogs like the survivors of the Michael Vick dog fighting ring? These Pit Bull type dogs were rescued from the most horrific, violent, abusive, neglectful situation and one would expect that they would be completely distrustful of humans and other dogs. But most went on to be amazing family pets and/or therapy dogs? We need look no further than the Vicktory Dogs to see shining examples of  how resilient and forgiving these dogs can be in the face of truly reprehensible treatment. On the flip side, how do we explain dogs who grow up in great homes and who never experience trauma or abuse, but who are snappy or reactive or truly aggressive? Environment, health, history, trauma, socialization all contribute to a dog’s behavior.

beezus

Pit Bulls are just dogs & we need to treat them as such by not demonizing OR idealizing them Click To Tweet

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

Myths About Pit Bulls: Let’s Dispel Some More


If you have a pit bull, what are the most uncomfortable comments or questions you get about your dog? If you don’t have a Pit Bull, what’s a question you would like to ask?