Unfortunately, the media has singled out dogs classified under the category of pit bull, like the American Staffordshire Terrier, as being highly aggressive and dangerous. To fuel the media hype regarding these breeds, extraordinary claims have arisen regarding the ferocity of pit bulls, their terrible bite and their supernatural jaw strength. But are these claims real? Should people believe all they read in the news or hear on television regarding the inherently evil nature of these dogs? Incredibly, many of the claims that center around pit bulls amount to not much more than urban myths, perhaps as a justification as to why certain dogs do bad things; rather than put the blame on the owner or on the humans that bred the dog, the dog was singled out and has now become the convenient scapegoat.
One of the urban myths surrounding pit bulls is that these dogs have amazing jaw strength and that they bite much differently than all other breeds. A related myth is that once the pit bull bites down on his victim, his jaws lock and he is physically incapable of pulling away, unless his mouth is forced open by some brave human. Numerous studies have been done to analyze the bites of various dogs and NO study has found that pit bull breeds bite any harder than other breeds; in fact, no difference has been found between the jaw structure of pit bull breeds and the jaws of other breeds. This also means that the pit bull breed jaws DO NOT lock onto their prey. It seems that perhaps this claim originated from some dogs who were found dead from bite wounds after a round of dog fighting; the jaws of one dog were locked onto the neck of another dog and had to be pried open. This is NOT a characteristic of a pit bull breed, but a characteristic of death; rigor mortis had set in.
The media also claims that pit bulls bite much more frequently than other breeds. Again, this is a distortion of vague news reports. Many experts agree that bite statistics are unreliable indications of a breed's behavior. They do not take into account any external circumstances and are by no means unbiased. If a Chihuahua becomes overly aggressive and bites someone, that person is much less likely to report it than if he or she is bitten by a pit bull breed. The stigma surrounding the pit bull breed will make sure that a person immediately runs to report any suspicious pit bull behavior and so pit bull breeds may be extremely over-represented in the data. It has also been stated that even friendly pit bulls will suddenly and violently attack for no reason. Again, the data do not support this, and statistics are inadequate. What studies have shown is that dogs are often not properly trained and/or are provoked into feeling threatened and attacking. Because of the stigma surrounding pit bulls, these attacks are the ones most often reported. Lastly, people have been led to believe that pit bull breeds are inherently more aggressive than other dog breeds. Some quick research can show otherwise; indeed, the American Temperament Test Society reports that pit bull breeds often do better than gentle dogs like Golden Retrievers.