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American Pit Bull Terrier

Part Three: Frequently Asked Questions


American Pitbull Terrier
Photo courtesy of Rich

Complete text copyright ©Marji Beach.
Photos copyright ©their original owners.

Do American Pit Bull Terriers or American Staffordshire Terriers have locking jaws?

Hopefully, this myth has been relegated to an urban legend where it belongs. No canine has a locking jaw - it is a physical impossibility for dogs.

Do American Pit Bull Terriers have incredible bite pressure, greater than any other breed of dog?

No! No! No! There is no accurate test to measure the PSI (pressure per square inch) of a Pit Bull or any other breed of dog. It has been shown that other breeds of dogs actually may (as there still is no conclusive test) have a harder bite. So, then why is it sometimes difficult to get a Pit Bull off of another creature? Well, the short answer - that is what they were bred for. The breed was bred to hold on, at all costs. Imagine if a bull-baiting dog suddenly let go of the bull’s nose (which immobilizes the bull) that would leave the bull free to kill the dog and kill the dog the bull would.

American Pit Bull Terriers do have muscular neck and shoulder muscles but so do American Bulldogs, Boxers, Jack Russell Terriers, Dogo’s and a variety of other breeds of dogs. It is not the neck muscles that determine the strength of a dogs bite - 75% of that bite is coming from the rear legs, and by immobilizing the rear portion of the dog’s body, a person can take away 75% of that bite from the dog! Certainly a bite from a Pit Bull is more devastating than, say a teacup poodle, but no more devastating than a well placed bite from a Beagle that hits a key nerve in the face of a child, rendering that child’s face paralyzed.

The take home point is this - ANY dog can inflict serious damage to a human being, especially a child and it is the responsibility of ALL dog owners to socialize and prepare their dogs for the “real” world.

Can Pit Bulls do well around cats and other smaller animals?

Yes and no. A dog is a predator, and it is nave for any dog owner to think that Rex will get along with cats because Rex gets along with the housecat, Mittens. Yes, Pit Bulls can get along with cats and some can get along with smaller animals. Some Pit Bulls get along with the house cat but not with the neighborhood cats - that is because the dog owners have taught the dog to be accepting of the housecat but no such training occurred for any other cat.

It is not aggression when a dog chases a cat or smaller animal or even a child - it is predatory instinct and should be taken as such. Proper socialization and training will curb that behavior and can create Pit Bulls who may want to chase a cat but has been socialized and trained not to chase a cat. But, as a responsible APBT owner (or dog owner for that matter!), no APBT should be left alone with a smaller animal, especially rabbits and rodents.

How do I get a APBT to stop fighting?

At some point, in every dog owner’s life, one of their dogs will either initiate or be subject to an attack by another dog. If that dog is an APBT, one of two things will happen. The APBT will walk away (my dog does this) and “play for another day”. The more likely reaction is to defend itself, which can lead to an APBT literally hanging on for dear life. This method of separating a dog fight can be used for ANY dog fight and is not particular for any breed of dog.

This is assuming that spraying water has been ineffective. Although yelling may sometimes break up a fight, yelling can actually encourage the combatants to continue and hitting or kicking the dogs is a surefire way to escalate the fight into a full-blown “war” between the two dogs. Each owner should have a break stick or a comparable piece of wood or pole available. Okay - each dog owner straddles the rear end of his or her dog. As stated earlier, 75% of that bite hold is coming from the rear of the dog. At the same time, each owner grabs the skin on the neck (near the shoulders) of his or her dog - now the dogs ability to bite effectively has been eliminated as well as the chance that the dog will turn around and bite the handler. With the other hand, simply insert the break stick (or wood piece, etc) into the gap in the dog’s mouth (this is easy to see when your dog as a toy or rawhide in their mouth, if your dogs have been properly trained around toys/rawhides and are not possessive practice the break stick maneuver at that time). Pry the dog’s mouth open. This should take no more than five seconds!! Voila! The dogs are separated. The break stick is NOT PAINFUL, no teeth are ever chipped and the jaw is never strained or injured in any way. Most dogfights never escalate to the point of “kill or be killed” but every APBT owner should know the break stick maneuver.

  • Part 1: History
  • Part 2: Yesterday and Today
  • Part 3: Frequently Asked Questions
  • Part 4: What About Other Dogs?
  • Part 5: Pit Bits
  • Part 6: What is BSL?

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