Some pit bulls are affectionate and amazing pets. Some are overt menaces. Others are ticking time bombs. Advocates will point out that it’s not a dog’s breed that leads to attacks, but how it’s raised.
Proper nurturing is undoubtedly important but doesn’t tell the whole story. “Nurture” is intertwined with “nature” (genetics). For example, some dog breeders focus predominantly on physical appearance, not temperament. Backyard breeders, puppy mills, and pet stores (frequently supplied by mills) don’t help either. Also, some pit bulls are bred too young, before aggressive dispositions become fully apparent. That trait gets carried to the next generation.
What is a Pit Bull?
The term “pit bull” encompasses three distinct, related breeds — American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, and Staffordshire bull terrier — along with mixes. Pit bulls are not more likely to bite than other dogs, but when they do, they make it count.
Pit bulls frequently target the head and neck. If they latch onto a limb, their teeth sink deep into muscle tissue and bone. Although their jaws don’t “lock” (a myth), a pit bull’s size, grip strength, and tenacity often result in permanent, disfiguring injuries ... and sometimes death.
Dog Bite Statistics
Fourteen peer-reviewed medical studies spanning 2011 to 2020 from level 1 trauma centers nationwide all found that pit bulls inflicted the most injuries of any dog breed. Injuries requiring surgical intervention were at five times the rate of the next-closest breed.
On average, 37 U.S. deaths per year are attributable to canine attacks. A 15-year study (2005-2019) conducted by dogsbite.org found pit bulls accounted for roughly 66% of fatal attacks; rottweilers were second at 10%. Nearly half of victims were under 9 years of age.