Pitbull doing head tilt
Dabl At Home Dec 2020
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Dabl at Home

Are Pit Bulls Really Dangerous? Here Is What The Internet Thinks.

People on the internet weigh in on if pit bulls are really the dangerous and aggressive dogs their bad reputation suggests.

It’s no secret that pit bulls have a bad reputation. While some people absolutely adore these big bully dogs, others see them as violent and aggressive. In an effort to settle this ongoing pit bull debate once and for all, we took to the internet to search for answers. We found ourselves on an interesting thread in the No Stupid Questions Reddit forum where a now-deleted user asked “Are Pit Bulls actually dangerous dogs?” about a year ago. Some of the responses they got might surprise you. 

One vet tech argued that it all comes down to misunderstanding the dogs.

“As a vet tech, I can say that it's all about body language. If I get a pitbull in and I can read that their body language is on the defense I will muzzle the dog but for the most part, I get bit/attacked by tiny dogs (chihuahua, Maltese, bichons, etc) more than pit bulls. They're alpha breed dogs but also have a teddy bear nurturing side to them. So half and half.” - IntriguingTales

Based on this post, one could argue that pit bulls attack seemingly out of the blue because their owners are misinterpreting their body language. Before dogs attack, they usually give subtle clues that show they are feeling threatened or uncomfortable. However, the untrained eye may miss these cues. Instead of taking measures to prevent a violent outburst, unknowing pet owners could potentially make their pup feel even more uncomfortable, resulting in a painful dog bite. Knowing that vet visits can be stressful, this tech said she could interpret her patients’ body language to take appropriate measures to keep everyone safe. Even so, she still noted that pit bulls can be very sweet dogs!

Some people were very clearly on team anti-pit bull. 

“Pit bulls pose extreme danger to everyone in a community and their pets. They are a lottery in terms of whether they will ever kill a pet or a human. We see pits raised in loving family homes who one day decide to kill a family member - most often a child.” - SmeggingRight

There is a widely-held belief that pit bulls will be wonderful pets for their entire lives only to suddenly turn on their owners without warning. According to FETCH by Web MD, pit bulls are no more likely to suddenly attack than any other dog breed. But because these dogs are so big and powerful, we may hear about negative altercations more frequently because pit bulls are capable of doing much more damage than other dog breeds. This Reddit user was most concerned about the harm a pit bull attack could do to a child. 

“Frequency of an attack =/= strength of an attack. I’m not a dog expert, but I think a chihuahua bite is not as bad as a pit bull bite.” - eo_tempore

This person added that the frequency of the dog attacks doesn’t equate to the severity and danger associated with the aggressive behavior. Because pit bulls can do much more harm than other dogs, such as small chihuahuas, the dogs are inherently more dangerous. Based on this post, it seems this Reddit user feels that it doesn’t matter if other dog breeds are known to bite more simply because it only takes one pit bull attack to potentially end someone’s life or leave them permanently disfigured.

Some pet owners were undecided on if pit bulls were dangerous or not.   

“Think of it like a gun. A gun isn't dangerous if it's not loaded. Just like a pit bull isn't dangerous if it is a sweetheart. However, if a gun is loaded, it can kill you. And if someone is holding a gun, you can't tell if it's loaded.

When I see a wiener dog, I know that the worst thing that could happen – if it turns out to be a wild killer – is some minor puncture wounds and a rabies shot. I'll be fine at the end of the day. If I see a pit bull – or any big, strong dog bred to kill animals – the worst-case scenario is a grisly death.

You don't see news stories about guns kept unloaded in a safe. You don't see news stories about friendly pit bulls.” - apollo_reactor_001

We’re noticing a recurring theme here where the people of the internet continue to point out that pit bulls are more dangerous simply because they have a higher capacity to do harm than other breeds because of their strength and size. This user has a point when he notes that a pit bull attack is much more likely to cause severe injury or death than a tiny dachshund going rogue. 

However, this poster doesn’t seem to think all pit bulls are inherently evil. He does say that many pit bulls can be sweethearts, but that dog lovers don’t always know the disposition of the dog they may be interacting with or bringing home. This idea may connect back to pet owners misinterpreting their dog’s body language. 

Lastly, this poster brings up an important thing to remember about media coverage of these animals. As they say in the news industry, “if it bleeds, it leads.” For all the vicious pit bulls we hear about on the news, there are many others that are as sweet as can be! 

“It's a bit of both. When people say they're not actually that dangerous, what they're referring to is the fact that pit bulls have a fairly good temperament rating (chihuahuas having the worst or near the worst). The issue arises when a specific pit bull does not have a good temperament, because their body type is what makes them dangerous. They have thick, solid muscles and are incredibly strong and hard to fend off. So yes, if a pit bull does attack you, you're in for a very bad time. But unless they're trained to fight or are raised poorly/neglected/abused, they're generally fairly docile.” - sharonna7

While pit bulls can be dangerous, this person pointed out that the breed is actually known to have a kinder disposition than many other breeds with better reputations. They acknowledge that pit bulls can be quite gentle and docile family pets. This user says problems arise when a specific pit bull doesn’t have that good disposition. But the actions of a few pit bulls don’t necessarily determine the behavior of every dog of that breed. All dogs are still individuals. 

“Pit bulls are strong as [expletive] and when not trained yeah it’s dangerous. All dogs are. A lot of people buy pits from shelters who are already untrained and don’t bother socializing them. Most dog bites tend to be little dogs because people don’t bother training them. But a common dog that does just as much damage is a German Shepard, those guys are police dogs.” - Mothbo1

According to Mothbo1, the way dogs are trained makes a big difference in how they behave. Dogs who are trained and socialized properly are much less likely to exhibit unwanted behaviors, likely making them safer companions. But as this user mentioned, this can be true of any dog, not just pit bulls. Yet for some reason, pit bulls get a worse reputation than even other dogs who can do just as much damage when provoked. 

And, of course, we can’t talk about pit bulls without diving into nature vs. nurture. 

“Pit Bulls have powerful jaws and are well muscled. So if you want to raise them as an attack dog or fighting dog they are one of the best breeds for that. But this is both nature and nurture. If you raise a pit bull as a family pet it's going to act like that.

I've volunteered at a shelter for pit bulls and there were some dogs anyone could interact with because they were sweethearts. And a small handful of dogs that had strict handling requirements since they had been trained for violence which is hard to ‘train out’ of a dog. It's a dog, they are very moldable. So yes a lot of dog attacks feature pit bulls and they are very dangerous in that situation. But its also very much a symptom of how some people choose to raise them.” - mikey_weasel

This volunteer believes that the way pit bulls behave comes down to how they are raised and trained. As this poster says, dogs “are very moldable.” They can be taught and corrected with the help of a qualified dog trainer and staying consistent with obedience commands. Ultimately, this user says pit bulls who attack were most likely taught to do so and even suggests that violence can be “trained out” of the dogs with hard work. 

“Dog breeds have certain traits bred into them. A herding dog will chase something that runs. Often they will nip heels to ‘drive’. This is not a taught response. Pitbulls have been bred to fight to the death and once they get ahold of something they don't let go. They might never be in a situation where that behavior kicks in. But I believe it's always there.” -  Beary_h

On the flip side, some Redditors believe that the drive to attack and fight is simply in a pit bull’s DNA. Users like Beary_h argue that the killer instinct is simply part of their nature and there is not much people can do about it. If that is true, then pit bull owners just have to hope that instinct never kicks in. 

What do you think? Are pit bulls as vicious as their reputation suggests or are they really sweet, misunderstood dogs? Let us know on our social media! 

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