Pitbull closeup
Cesar Milan
Presented By
Cesar 911

6 Facts That Prove “Vicious” Pit Bulls Are Not As Dangerous As You Might Think!

It’s time to give pit bulls a chance to redeem themselves as safe and loving dogs!

Cesar Millan often explains when he rehabilitates aggressive dogs, their outbursts are often a reflection of their past circumstances or in response to their owner’s behaviors. Cesar usually agrees with a commonly held sentiment in the pet owner community, which is that there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. And as we frequently see on “Cesar 911,” every dog Cesar encounters can be rehabilitated once the dog is taught new behaviors and the owners learn how to be pack leaders. 

But pit bulls don’t seem to get that extra chance to redeem themselves that other breeds do. Bully breeds like pit bulls are the only dogs that are believed to be born vicious and ready to attack. As Cesar says in his own words, pit bulls are deemed dangerous because they are thought to be “too territorial, too possessive, and too obsessive.” Ultimately, they are associated with being killers that can turn on their owners at a moment’s notice. 

baiting illustration

But pit bulls didn’t always have such a bad reputation and we’re not sure they really deserve it. Believe it or not, pit bulls were once one of the favorite and most beloved types of dogs in America. People gave pit bulls their bad reputation when they used the dogs in underground fighting rings and for the vicious sport of bear and bull-baiting, where the dogs were encouraged to attack other animals that were chained to a pole. Because of their size, strength, and gameness (natural willingness to engage where other dogs would back down), pit bull attacks and fights were particularly dangerous and severe when the dogs were provoked into fighting. 

In order to really grasp how pit bulls became America’s most feared dogs, we need to take a journey back in time to explore the history of pit bulls. Rather than being defined as dangerous fighting dogs, pit bulls could redeem themselves as loving companions if they were given proper exercise and a better job to do instead of violence. Learn how the once loving and devoted pit bulls became known as scary and dangerous pit bulls in this interesting video. 

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The above video is extremely insightful. While there have been some pit bull attacks that led to severe injury or death, the majority of the pit bull’s bad reputation came from violent activities they were forced into by people. While not every pit bull is perfect, the majority deserve a second chance.  

Pit bull is a term, not a breed. 


You might be surprised to learn that pit bulls aren’t actually purebred dogs. Pit bull isn’t actually a breed at all, but rather is a term that’s been used since 1927 to group certain bully breeds into a category. Bully breed is also a generic term that identifies a variety of terrier-type dogs. Pit bulls and bully breeds aren’t exactly the same thing, but they are so similar that the terms are often used interchangeably. Generally, pit bulls and bullies are dogs that are recognized by their square-shaped heads and muscular bodies. Examples of these breeds include the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, and the Cane Corso. There are also a large number of mutts that likely have pit bull DNA included in their mix, but it may not be obvious. It’s very possible you could rescue a sweet mutt that is descended from a bully breed and never know unless you decided to DNA test your dog

Pit bulls aren’t as dangerous as you might think.

Pitbull snuggles with kitten

There is no denying that pit bull attacks can be extremely dangerous, and even deadly, because of this dog’s strength, force, and power. That said, pit bulls aren’t any more or less unpredictable than any other dogs, are not born vicious, and are no more likely to attack than any other provoked dog breed. Research confirms that a dog’s breed does not determine its propensity for aggression. Instead, how a dog is raised and trained is most important regardless of breed. In temperament tests, pit bulls ranked as the second most tolerant dogs next to Golden Retrievers. It was actually tiny chihuahuas who ranked as least tolerant and most likely to bite or attack. Any dog from any breed can develop aggressive tendencies, while other dogs behave perfectly throughout their entire lives. Pit bulls are no different. 

There is also a widely believed myth that pit bulls can lock their jaws when they attack, making pit bull bites all the more lethal. We can confirm that is definitely not true. Pit bulls do not have any special physical mechanism or enzyme that allows them to lock their jaws to avoid letting go of their victim. More likely than not, this myth stems from the pitbull’s inherent strength and determination that may help them clamp down on their victims longer than other dogs. 

Pit bulls used to be the dogs of choice for families with children.

Pitbull and toddler

Before pit bulls were used in vicious sports like dog fighting and bear and bull-bating, pit bulls were seen as the ideal family dogs. They were originally bred to help herd farm animals, but pit bulls' duties shifted to taking care of the children. In fact, pit bulls were nicknamed “nanny dogs” and were often trusted to look after the children while the adults worked the farm. Pit bulls were beloved family dogs and this highly intelligent category of dogs is still very people-oriented and eager to please their owners today. 

Pit bulls have become beloved celebrities!  

Celebrity Pitty

During the 20th century, many pit bulls were actually beloved celebrities, such as Pete The Pup pictured in the above photo. Pete the Pup was famous for co-starring in the “Our Gang” comedies with The Little Rascals. Meanwhile, other pit bulls were used as the stars of advertising campaigns, such as for Buster Brown Shoes. Another famous pit bull, named Sergeant Stubby, was considered a war hero and won medals for bravery after saving many lives on the battlefield. Other pit bulls were celebrated simply because they were owned by celebrities and influencers like Teddy Roosevelt. 

Pit bulls have adorable smiles! 

Smiling pit bull

Last but not least, pit bulls have some of the sweetest smiles of any dog around! How can a supposedly vicious pit bull have such a sweet expression? Pit bulls smile when they are feeling relaxed and happy, and often as a way to return their owner’s smiles. No matter how you feel about pit bulls, you’ve probably stumbled upon viral videos of pit bulls in cute pajamas smiling and snuggling. Clearly, these dogs can’t be all bad! 

There are lots of pit bulls who would love to come home with you! 

Man and loving pitbull

Because of their bad reputation, pit bulls and pit bull puppies can have a hard time getting adopted. There are many pit bulls in animal shelters that would make wonderful pets if they were given a chance with the right family. People often think it’s dangerous to adopt pit bulls from animal shelters or rescues, but there is also no extra risk in adopting a pit bull from a shelter versus adopting from a breeder. Even if you don’t know the pit bull’s full history, you can evaluate if they are the right fit for your family by judging their current personality and behavior. Before putting the dog up for adoption, responsible animal shelters and rescue staff should have also temperament tested the dog to make sure he is suitable for adoption and that the pit bull is placed in a home where he will thrive. This is something you can ask about before making the decision to adopt a specific pit bull. 

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