October is Pit Bull Awareness Month, so there’s no better time than now to talk about the crazy, ridiculous, and usually inaccurate things people think they know about Pit Bull-type dogs. This is especially timely in light of the recent Pit Bulls laws that went into effect in Montreal.
I often hear people say that “Pit Bulls are responsible for more human fatalities each year than any other breed of dog“.
Let’s chat about that statement for a moment. First, when the term Pit Bull is used, it rarely refers to just the American Pit Bull Terrier; it usually includes a number of different breeds that have all been dumped into the Bully classification. In many instances, the dog in question isn’t a “Pit Bull” at all.
It’s sad but the truth is, most people are simply unable to accurately identify a “Pit Bull” – can you? That being the case, how can we accurately talk about dog bite statistics and fatalities?
But let’s be honest. When you take all the different breeds that get dumped into the Bully classification, that adds up to a whole lot of “Pit Bulls”. And when “Pit Bulls” out-number all other breeds by a landslide, doesn’t it just make sense that they’d be responsible for more attacks than other breeds? That’s basic math, not rocket science.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Take a look at this infographic about shattering Pit Bull myths, and then we’ll chat some more below.
A commonly held belief is that Pit Bull-type dogs are more aggressive than other breeds. But in standardized temperament testing, they actually scored better than the majority of the other 121 breeds tested.
Look at the American Temperament Test Society‘s report on Pit Bull-type dogs, from February 2014. They tested 1,656 American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Of those dogs, 87.33 percent of them passed the test. You’ll be surprised to learn which breeds did not fare as well:
- Collies – 873 were tested, and 80.3 percent passed;
- Cocker Spaniels – 229 were tested, 82.1 percent passed;
- Beagles – 75 were tested, 80 percent passed;
- Golden Retrievers – 785 were tested, 85.2 percent passed.
How shocked would the average Golden Retriever owner be to know that statistically his dog is more aggressive than the feared Pit Bull?
Although I don’t believe that how a Pit Bull is raised is the final determinant of what kind of dog he will become, I do know that dogs that are owned by responsible, law-abiding citizens are typically not the ones causing the problems we hear about from the media. Dogs that are properly vetted, spayed or neutered, socialized, and loved are considerably less likely to become aggressive or violent.
It’s those poor dogs that are mistreated, neglected, and often horribly abused that are most likely to end up on the news.
How Can We Make a Difference for Pit Bulls?
In my opinion, the most important thing we can do in October to commemorate Pit Bull Awareness Month is to educate Pit Bull owners.
We must make them aware of the responsibilities that come with living with this breed, and show them that the world is watching everything we and our dogs do. It is our duty to do right by the breed by being responsible guardians.
It is also our duty to be better than those who have given our dogs a bad name; the dog fighters, the irresponsible owners who don’t properly care for their pets, and the thugs who want to own a “Pit Bull” simply because they think it makes them look cool or macho. We are better than those people, and it’s time we get angry about it and show the world how real Pit Bull owners care for their dogs.
So I ask you: what will you do this month to make the world a better place for Pit Bull-type dogs? And more importantly, will you continue to do it every month until we’ve enlightened the world with the truth about Pit Bulls?