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SergeantQueen's avatar

Why are pit bulls a "controversial" breed?

Asked by SergeantQueen (12874points) March 13th, 2017

I saw a facebook post that linked an article, talking about a man who was mauled by two pit bulls. Police officers shot the pit bulls dead. Scary as heck, but he was walking past a neighbor’s house who had gone on vacation, saw the pit bulls in the yard, and took them in. I don’t want to be blaming the victim here, but he really shouldn’t have just taken the dog in. He assumed the owner was bad and abandoning the dog (the owner was in Pennsylvania), and maybe he had real reasons, but I still think taking in a random dog that isn’t yours without permission is a bad idea, and now that owner gets to come home to hearing his two dogs are dead.

I saw a comment on the Facebook post that said that pit bulls are a very dangerous dog breed, and they attack children, etc. I personally own a pit bull, and I have only been bitten minorly. Never just attacked without reason. I could be biased because I’ve never had a mean pit bull, but stats that I’ve seen say that only 3% are used for fighting/ violent reasons and that they score above average on temperament tests. Along with the fact that they are not bred to be mean, it isn’t hereditary.
I think the assumption that all pit bulls are bad is stupid. We think it’s wrong if we assume an entire race or religion is bad because of a few people, so why is it okay to do that to dogs?
I said that they are a controversial breed because of the views people have on them, and because of the BSLs that have been passed against them.
I get the obvious answer to this question, that they are controversial because of attacks and things, but if there are stats that prove they aren’t terrible and have better temperaments than most dogs, why do people still dislike them?

(A BSL is a breed-specific legislation that bans certain kinds of dogs based on behaviour commonly associated with that breed.)

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20 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

No dog I’ve ever had has ever bitten me, not even “minorly.” That fact that yours did should help answer your question.

ucme's avatar

It’s in their name, an anagram being pull bits as in “they can pull bits off of you”
This could of course be pure coincidence, or more likely a steaming pile of crap, but still…

zenvelo's avatar

I am not very dog knowledgeable, but I am familiar with the common beliefs about pit bulls.

There is a belief that they have been bred to lock their jaws once they bite, so that they will win a dog fight. There is also a belief they are bred to be aggressive and bite first. And animal control agencies agree with these assessments, so ordinances against them are common.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

A lot of people buy pitties for the intimidation factor, and some of them train the dogs or abuse them to be aggressive and even dangerous.

So they are more dangerous but it’s not inherent in the breed, it’s the owners.

Long ago the American Pit Bull Terrier was THE family dog, like the Our Gang dog Pete the Pup.

Sneki95's avatar

From the Wiki:

”[...] Many of these breeds were originally developed as fighting dogs from cross breeding bull-baiting dogs (used to hold the faces and heads of larger animals such as bulls) and terriers.”

There are several breeds of pit bull, that is what “many” refers to.

In other words, those dogs were originally bred to fight and be aggressive. Owners not taking special measures to train the dogs not to attack also contributes. It’s both nature and nurture that are the problem.

Either train them to be nice or, better yet, chain them/ put them in the box.

That any animal can go berserk at any moment and attack someone goes without saying.

SergeantQueen's avatar

I have two dog bites, one was caused by a different dog, and the other my pit bull. We were playing catch, and he jumped up to grab the ball and bit my hand with it. There was no aggression there and he’s never bitten anyone out of anger. Or in general. (I realize in a different question I asked about getting rid of scars I state that one scar is on my arm, that is incorrect, I typed it up wrong. It is on my hand.)

Every dog breed can turn violent if trained by owners.
Despite being bit, I have no grudge against him. I still love him the same as always.

As a reply to @Sneki95, when pit bulls were bred like that, it was probably a means for survival. Now it’s just for fun. It’s a status symbol for some to have a big scary dog.

Zaku's avatar

Pit Bulls have a reputation for killing and mutilating people. Unfortunately, like most reputations, they get lazily applied.

There are statistics to go along with the reputation, but as this article goes into a bit , just using statistics can’t give a fair picture, for example because it just goes by dog breed and not by other factors, such as type of dog owner.


Pit bulls attack kids walking to school bus stop in Atlanta, killing one, injuring two

Neighbor recounts deadly pit bull attack on children walking to school

Man Killed By Pet Dog: Fatal Attack By Owner’s Pit Bull On Christmas

Son saves mom from pit-bull attack but dies of injuries

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t know why people are so adamant that aggression isn’t inherent in the breed, yet turn around and readily agree that other traits ARE inherent in other breeds. Border collies are supposedly the smartest dog out there, and people have no problem agreeing that intelligence is inherent in them Except for not my border collie! Actually, she actually is quite smart, but we’ve never worked with her. And she’s up against our German shepherd, Dakota is who so smart she makes humans look dumb.
Mastiffs are quite placid. Again, it’s inherent.
Big cats, like mountain lions, do not make good pets because of their inherent aggression.
But suggest that aggression is inherent in a pit bull and everyone loses their damn mind. Never mind all of the evidence that shows they’ll attack with no provocation, especially children.

The fact that you can train a dog to become viscous raises a question for me, too. The guy we got Dakota from worked for two years to make her viscous. It never worked. That’s not saying she can’t or won’t throw down, because she sure as hell will, if she feels it necessary but it’s a decision she makes, not a mindless reaction.

SergeantQueen's avatar

If every single dog or the vast majority of dogs in a certain breed have a specific trait, it might be considered a hereditary thing.
If a minority of the dogs have it, and it’s almost always caused by human training and abuse, it wouldn’t be considered hereditary.
If I am trained to something by an owner, but my parents were not like that, it isn’t passed down to me.

Sneki95's avatar

^ Good one. Now give evidence that it’s the minority of pit bulls that is violent, and that that violence is caused solely because of treatment of their owners.

cinnamonk's avatar

Nearly every news story about a fatal dog mauling I have ever read about, has been due to a pit bull (or pack of pit bulls).

Last year a nine-year-old boy in my home state was mauled to death by his older sister’s pit bulls. There’s no evidence that the dogs had been abused or that the boy provoked them into attacking him.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’d never get a pit bull, ever. I’d never get a rottie or a doberman,either. Or a chow or a husky. I would never have gotten a German shepherd, but Rick just brought Dakota home without telling me. My heart just melted when I saw her, so scared, so worried. So beautiful. LOL! He brought her to the mower shop we owned. I took her in my office and put her on a leash tied to my desk. She just laid there so quietly. A little later I was behind the counter at the front of the shop, and my son came in. He didn’t see me at the counter, and took an immediate right into my office. A split second later he came back out, eyes wide as saucers and said, “Did you know there is a wolf in your office?” ROLOLL!!

Look at These reports, especially starting in 2003. I think that’s about when pits started becoming more popular and people were getting them just to prove a stupid point, that they’re not really dangerous.

YARNLADY's avatar

Your question refers to “controversial”, so I will answer that part. Some people say their pit bull is sweet and kind and gentle, and other people say pit bulls are vicious. In other words, there are two opposite sides to the story, creating a controversy.

johnpowell's avatar

We had one when I was little. We also had a cat that had a litter in our crawlspace. One day I found kitten parts all over our backyard. So that pretty much put me off the breed.

It is kinda like when everyone you knows hates you.. The problem is you.

cinnamonk's avatar

there are so many lovely dog breeds in the world, why anyone would take their chances with one that has a reputation for killing children is beyond my grasp.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Having seen first hand the after effects of a pit bull attack -they go for the neck and twist and shake hard enough to decapitate the victim) quite frankly I’m not surprised they’re controversial. And the owners always say how lovely their dog was and how surprised they are that their dog has just decapitated the kid next door

Dutchess_III's avatar

“He had never shown any aggression,” until he killed a woman’s 9 year old grandson. She had left him home alone to got to work. She got home and he was just mangled.

@Lightlyseared when did you see a pit bull attack?

rojo's avatar

Pits have a bad rap. For the first part of the 20th century they were the family dog to have. So, what happened? During the 80’s dog fighting became more prevalent and the pit was the dog of choice and subsequently became the dog of choice for gangs, drug dealers and those who wanted to be considered bad ass. But, remember, any dog can be made vicious and most times it is the owner, not the dog that is to be blamed.

They are an extremely loyal breed but they are also extremely protective of those they consider their own. Training is the most important feature for any breed, particularly one that has the potential to cause bodily harm. (seriously, a bug eyed pug is not that big of a threat, just annoying).

Lightlyseared's avatar

@Dutchess_III while working in the emergency department

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Rojo I would have agreed that any dog can be made vicious…except that 2 years of training and abuse failed to make Dakota vicious. She’s so special.

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