Some of the myths below are just hilarious, but the scary fact remains that a lot of the people who have not had any meaningful contact with the breed will believe that least one of them. Thanks to the media hype and general sensationalism, Pit Bulls have been the most persecuted dogs in the last century.
Here are some of the common myths that you will come across, if you haven't already;
Pit Bulls are inherently vicious
Talk about generalization. The dogs that you see in the media that have reportedly attacked someone are the result of bad breeding and socialization. A well-bred and well-adjusted Pit Bulls is a wonderful addition to any family, but a dog that is a result of a backyard breeder, a dog that has been mistreated and neglected, cannot be considered to be a true representation of the breed. The sad thing is that the general public is willing to believe and accept the worst based on the actions of a few. A Pit Bull that bites is an exception to the rule rather than the norm. The 2004 statistics from the American Temperament Test Association show that 83.4% of American Pit Bull Terriers passed the temperament test. This is higher than the Beagle (78.2%) and the Border Collie (79.6%). The temperament test consists of putting the dog through a series of confrontational situations - if the dog reacts aggressively or fearfully, it fails.
A dog that attacks an animal will go on to attack a human
Completely not true. Animal aggression and human aggression are twp completely different things, and dogs have the ability to differentiate between the two. While it is true that Pit Bulls do tend to have a genetic predisposition towards animal aggression, it is also a fact that they were bred NOT to be human aggressive. Human aggression was stringently bred out of them, and a Pit Bull that bites a human is an anomaly within an exceptionally human-loving breed. Any dog that bites should be taken to a behaviorist to see if they can be rehabilitated.
Pit Bulls have 1600 psi jaw pressure, and they can lock their jaws
This is one of my favorites! Not only is there no device in existence which could measure the strength of a dog's jaw, but if they had the ability to lock their jaws, they would have to be classified as another species. Pit Bulls are known to be extremely tenacious, and will not easily relinquish something that they see as rightfully theirs. However, their jaws have nothing unique about them to distinguish them from any other breed of dog.
Pit Bulls make great guard dogs
Now this one is a whopper! Pit Bulls actually make completely useless guard dogs - because of their love of all things human, they will consider strangers as friends as much as they consider family as friends.
The only way in which the Pit Bull makes a good guard dog is through its appearance and its much maligned reputation, which is not a good reason to get one. Though, in the past, they have been linked with disreputable people, such as drug dealers, this should not reflect on the dog. If a Pit Bull has a natural love of people, consider what these grotesques of human beings had to do to these dogs to make them aggressive.
A Pit Bull can be happy one minute and turn on you the next
I have personally come across this myth more than once. What you have to remember is that what most people are doing is regurgitating what they have seen on the television or read in the newspaper. Very few of them have actually been in contact with one of these dogs, so you have to forgive them for not being educated about the breed.
This particular gem is also completely untrue. A happy, well-loved and well-adjusted Pit Bull will no more turn on his owner for no reason than the average teenager will hack up his family with a meat cleaver. Strong image, I know, but effective!
A dog has to be watched for any physical or psychological changes. Dogs cannot talk to us, so we have to make sure that we keep an eye on them to evaluate them for any potential illness.
Pit Bulls bite more than any other breed
Again, untrue. Bite statistics are notoriously unreliable, firstly because most dog bites go unreported. Secondly, because there are over 10 other breeds of dog that the general public confuse with Pit Bulls. There have been stories on the news about Pit Bull attacks where the picture on the screen is definitely not a Pit Bull.
Thanks to the media and general sensationalism, the Pit Bull is a newsworthy dog. In this country, bad news makes the national papers and sells more than good news, which just tends to make the local papers. The media has transformed the Pit Bull from what it used to be - America's favorite dog - into the devil dog that it is today. No-one wants to see a story with the title 'Man bitten by Labrador' or 'Man bitten by Jack Russell'. Stories involving Pit Bulls are much more newsworthy, and unfortunately their popularity does not seem to be waning.