By Sarah Grace McCandless, Animal Planet
Where were you when you heard your first bully breed urban legend? We’ve all come across at least one: A story about a bully that “just snapped” and attacked a person or another dog without warning. Often, these stories come complete with colorful descriptions of bully breeds’ supernatural strength, locking jaws, or inability to feel pain. Many times, the tale has come to you by way of a “friend of a friend” or a “friend’s neighbor who saw it happen to someone a while back.” Almost always, the dog at fault is described as a “pit bull,” with no additional details as to its specific breed or background.
These may seem like innocent rumors to pass around, but over the years, they’ve led many people to avoid adopting bully breeds. In some cases, those myths and assumptions about the dogs’ supposedly aggressive natures have even led to regional bans on bully breed ownership.
But according to groups like the ASPCA and Pit Bull Rescue Central (PBRC), bully breeds — including the American pit bull terrier, the bullmastiff and the American Staffordshire terrier, among other breeds — can make for great family pets when they’re properly trained and socialized. And there’s plenty of research to back that up. So before you buy into the scary stereotypes, read on to learn the truth behind five common bully breed myths.
Myth #5: Bully breeds are naturally aggressive and mean.
With Breed Specific Legislation banning bully breed ownership in certain areas, it’s easy to understand why people assume anecdotal evidence about the dogs’ aggressive tendencies is true. But the facts tell a different story. According to the American Humane Association, on tests conducted in 2009 by the American Temperament Test Society, bullies scored better than several breeds that are rarely associated with aggression, including beagles and collies.
Additionally, research conducted in 2000 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that no specific breed of dog is inherently vicious. And National Canine Research Council director Karen Delise says that, in most cases, any dog that has a tendency to attack is responding at least in part to owners who have either neglected the pup or failed to give it proper socialization and training.