Pitbulls - Threat or Menace? Our blind spot when it comes to this breed

Hardly a month goes by without some story about a child or elderly person being mauled by a pitbull. If it were alligators or ostriches, there's be laws passed banning them and everything would be done to exclude them from contact with people.

It wouldn't be "It's not the alligator (or ostrich) that's the problem, it's the owner."

But when a pitbull kills someone's toddler, dog lovers will say "It's not the pitbull, it's the owner that is the problem."

Well gee, that mental bumpersticker sounds great but it's something you say after a dog has done something horrific.

The dog owners who say that never really follow the platitude up with a proposed solution. Why? Because none of the obvious solutions are possible as long as people will blindly defend a breed that has the instincts and hair trigger reactions this breed has.

What would be the negative consequence of this breed disappearing from the face of the earth? And, please, let's remember it's only a breed—a very recent and artificial one—not a species. If every pitbull were replaced with an Irish Setter or Yorkie, even if they bit, a lot less damage would be done.

Another problem is that all too often, the worst elements of society seem attracted to this and some of the other large, aggressive breeds.

If you're willing to admit that we have a problem here, what is your solution?

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The statistics don't support the notion that pitbulls are more aggressive than other dog breeds. Actually, pitbulls are one of the least likely dogs to attack people.

They are more dog-aggressive, that is, more likely to attack other dogs. but that can be carefully avoided. 

Golden Retrievers are a lot more likely to bite you than a pitbull is.

Pitbulls can be made mean, but it takes years of abuse. Any dog breed can be made mean with enough abuse. It is, as you said, a problem that large breeds perceived as aggressive attract abusive owners. 

These claims are mostly myths. Before these claims were about pitbulls, they were about Doberman Pinschers. And before that, German Shepherds. If we eliminated every breed the media currently accused of being aggressive, we'd run out of breeds. Keep in mind newspapers and TV News shows need to keep viewers and readers. If they lack an aggressive breed of dog, they will invent one.

I've owned several pit bulls. I've also owned several dogs of other breeds. I could always trust the pitbulls. I could always stop a dogfight by putting my hands in my pitbulls mouths. They would stop fighting immediately. I've known people with aggressive bulldogs, but they've always been people who shouldn't be allowed to own dogs.

See, this is what happens whenever the topic of pitbulls comes up.

For one thing, the subject subtley changes. Here it changed from dogs killing people to the idea that other breeds are more likely to bite, ignoring the fact that a bite from a chihuahua or cocker spaniel or even a golden retriever isn't like a bite from a pitbull.

I'll take a bite from a cocker spaniel or even a doberman over a pitbull any day of the week.

The instinct of a pitbull is to latch on and tear, and once something is torn off, to latch on again, and so on. They are also known for their "gameness" which means they are persistent, and they will continue to attack, refusing to be driven off their target.

You have also changed the subject to "mean" pitbulls. Sure, some pitbulls are mean, but ANY pitbull can respond to situations where they are presented with something that appears to be prey. Thus you have the phenomenon of the pitbull that attacks a family's baby or toddler, even though the pitbull has a long history of being safe around people. They can be ticking timebombs.

I'm aware there are other breeds which can inflict great bodily harm: rotties, dobermans, presa canarios, dogo argentinos, and others. However, pitbulls are more common than most of those are the most common ones to be involved in attacks.

I'm also aware there are lots of crossbreeds. The situation will take care of itself once we realize that we can't depend on owners to make their dogs safe.

What I'm really getting at here is how our brain stops working when we start talking about dogs. People here who are otherwise 100% rational about matters relating to religion, get all misty eyed when it comes to dogs and really stop thinking straight.

I don't care if chihuahas bite at twice the rate of pitbulls. That's irrelevant. What's relevant is saving HUMAN lives. We'd be better off as a nation of cat lovers.

I'm skeptical of your claims. 

Any breed of dog can be dangerous. Any breed can be gentle. It has a lot more to do with the owner than the breed. Pitbulls and Rotties and others tend to attract aggressive owners and breeders. 

If we want to do breed-specific laws, we should look into requiring licensing to own aggressive breeds, rather than bans. A good owner and trainer makes a huge difference in a dogs temperament. Upbringing and training have a much bigger influence on the danger of any dog than breed does. With breeds capable of being dangerous, I'd not be opposed to laws requiring the owner to be trained on how to best treat their dogs to avoid aggression. This would also reduce animal abuse significantly.

How's that for a run-on sentence?


So, we're back to the old saw "It's not the dog, it's the owner" which offers no solution whatsoever.


What you are saying is true, but jeez we could make dogs much safer by requiring all dogs to be small.

Once again, we have a special relationship with dogs and so we give them more latitude than we would for pet alligators or ostriches, animals we haven't made that special exception for that allows them into our homes as virtual family members. We feed them, keep them healthy, and they bond with us in a way that commits us to caring for them.

I'm reminded, there is a theory going around which says that, technically, dogs qualify as parasites. Very clever parasites. Read about it here.

Dogs has people figured out, much more than vice versa.


I didn't say "It's not the dog" I said, "It's not the breed".  I'm fully supportive of putting down specific dogs who attack their owners. But I'm opposed to wiping out a whole breed because of very few violent offenders. 

You are suggesting mass killing or mass maiming of an entire breed because 20-30 out of millions become violent. 

Overkill much?

I notice you converted 20-30 fatalities to 20-30 "become violent." In one post after another, you demonstrate my point that when it comes to dogs, dog owners have a blind spot and their brain goes on vacation.

Fair enough. You are still suggesting mass murder of dogs because a very small percentage of them become violent. Fear makes you pretty detestable.

I do not want Pit Bulls to disappear. And I absolutely agree it is the owner and not the dog. I own a Pit Bull and it is the sweetest most affectionate dog ive ever met. We've never had a problem with it. And the only reason Pit Bulls get such a bad reputation is because when they do attack it causes so much damage. But like Trouble said, they are not even close to being one of the most aggressive dog breeds.

Once again, the subject change to aggression rather than the damage they are capable of. You're just demonstrating my point.

An aggressive pitbull is far more of a threat than an aggressive Yorkie or Dalmatian. If a golden retriever attacks me, there's a pretty good chance I can drive it off. What are my chances with a pitbull.

Still, German Shepherds have a much more dangerous bite when they get aggressive. They have significantly stronger bites.

Pitbulls are far from the most dangerous breed of dogs when they become aggressive. They are simply the most hyped.

German Shepherds have worse bites. Here is the list of fatal maulings in the US. Can you support that claim still? 


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