Are Pit Bulls Dangerous?

They might smother you with kisses ❤️

People tend to see pit bulls in one of two ways: as snuggly BFFs who are obsessed with cuddling and toys, or as the most dangerous dog breed in the world.

While people with the former perspective are constantly trying to show the world just how amazing their own pitties are, those who believe the latter might still have some questions:

  • Are pit bulls dangerous?
  • Are pit bulls naturally aggressive?
  • Are pit bulls more dangerous than other dog breeds?

The Dodo reached out to Jenny Efimova, a dog trainer and owner of Dogminded, to find out more about pit bull-type dogs.

What is a pit bull?

Contrary to what some people think, a pit bull isn’t one specific breed. Instead, “pit bull” is a catch-all term for a number of different breeds.

These breeds usually include:

  • American pit bull terrier
  • American Staffordshire terrier
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • American bully

“For most lay people, however, ‘pit bull’ has come to mean any blocky-headed-looking dog,” Efimova told The Dodo. “This is obviously problematic since many breeds and breed mixes can fit that description, which is one of the reasons why visual breed identification is often inaccurate.”

Why do people think pit bulls are naturally aggressive?

There’s a lot of social stigma associated with pit bull-type dogs that lead people to think they’re scary or aggressive, which actually couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The media contributes to the fearmongering by covering sensational stories of dog bites by pit bull-type dogs,” Efimova said. “The headlines almost always call attention to the dog’s breed, something that we see almost exclusively with pit bull-type dogs, even though we know that all dogs can bite regardless of breed, and visual breed identification is often inaccurate.”

Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year, and yet the media only covers the few that involve pit bull-type dogs.

In fact, here are some dog bite statistics:

According to Efimova, there are also individuals and groups who produce and spread anti-pit bull propaganda under the guise of education on the internet. “It can be easy for people to take these sources as reputable,” Efimova said.

Because of these stories being shared on the internet, a person who might never have even met a pittie could be scared of them just based on all the false stories they see online.

Are pit bulls more dangerous than other dog breeds?

Pit bulls are absolutely not more dangerous than other dog breeds.

“All dogs are individuals, and their behavior is impacted by a combination of factors that includes genetics, prenatal development, socialization and learning history,” Efimova said. “For this reason, we shouldn’t make sweeping generalizations about an entire breed.”

How to train a pit bull

When it comes to training a pit bull, there’s no difference in how you would train her compared to how you’d train any other dog.

So when it comes to dog training in general, Efimova gave some expert advice on how to do it correctly.

Assess her before training

According to Efimova, you want to make sure that your dog is healthy, has adequate nutrition and has her basic needs met, including daily physical activity, mental stimulation and rest.

“These are often overlooked factors but are essential for our dogs’ long-term behavioral health and can greatly impact the effectiveness of our training,” Efimova said.

Use positive reinforcement

Using positive reinforcement training is always the best method when training a dog.

Positive reinforcement refers to rewarding your dog with something she loves when she does a desired behavior.“We always want to center a positive-reinforcement-based approach,” Efimova said. “We want to help our dogs navigate the human world by teaching them what we want them to do in a variety of contexts.”

When it comes to training, Efimova encourages her clients to:

  • Always look at the conditions and the environment and adjust them appropriately to help your dog be successful at every step of training.
  • Use valuable and desired reinforcement, such as a variety of delicious treats, playtime and toys.
  • Be generous and consistent with your reinforcement while your dog is learning new skills and throughout her life.

Make sure she’s properly socialized

One of the most common myths about pit bulls is that they aren’t good with other animals, but properly socializing your pit bull when she’s young will help her make friends with everyone.

Socializing your dog doesn’t just mean making sure she meets other dogs. Proper socializing means exposing her to all kinds of unfamiliar things, like new sounds, people, animals, environments and inanimate objects.

When socializing your dog, the process includes making a checklist of all the things your puppy should become familiar with — like being handled by you, meeting new people and exploring new environments — and checking them off one at a time.

The fact is that dogs are all individuals with their own personalities and characteristics who will be great family members if they’re treated like them.

With the right amount of training and love, a pit bull is just as likely (maybe even more likely!) to be the best friend you could possibly have — all with a side of Velcro snuggles and wiggly butts.