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Clinic Corner: Pit Bull Type Dogs – Myths & Facts

Pit Bulls and other bully-breed dogs have been the target of misinformation and stigma for decades. Correcting these falsehoods and spreading the truth about these misunderstood dogs can save their lives. Across the country, Pit Bulls and bully-breed mixes are heavily overrepresented in shelter animal populations. There are currently more Pit Bull-type dogs in shelters than there are homes available to them. This is partially due to this stigma.

Below is a series of myths and facts regarding Pit Bull-type dogs that set the record straight about these amazing animals and show what a wonderful addition to a family they can be!

MYTH: Pit Bulls are more aggressive to people than other dogs.

FACT: Breed has little to do with the tendency for an individual dog to be aggressive or bite. A peer-reviewed study found that nearly 85% of dog bite fatalities were from unneutered dogs. Other factors that contributed to bites were abuse or neglect, tethering for long periods, and a lack of positive interaction with people and other animals. Dogs of any breed that bite people are typically anxious, frightened, or highly-stressed individuals and are in situations where the classic pre-biting warning signs are ignored. 

MYTH: It’s easy to identify a dog’s breed by looking at them.

FACT: Nearly 90% of shelter dogs visually identified as a particular breed are mislabeled when verified with DNA analysis. This misidentification becomes a huge problem when municipalities pass laws that restrict dogs of certain breeds. “Pit Bull type” dogs in truth encompass so many different breeds, and it is unreliable to tell just by looking at a dog what breed they may be. 

MYTH: Pit Bull Terriers have locking jaws.

FACT: There is no such thing as a dog with locking jaws. The physiology of a Pit Bull type dog’s jaw is similar to that of any other dog.

MYTH: Pit Bulls are not “family” dogs.

FACT: Every dog is an individual, no matter the breed! It is recommended that a potential adopter bring the whole family to meet any animal they are interested in adopting. Most adoptions of Pit Bull type dogs are amazing successes, and the adopter is not only adding a new loving family member to their household, but they are also saving a life!

At the York County SPCA, we recognize that Pit Bull type dogs are overrepresented in shelters, and we have established the York County Pit Bull Spay/Neuter program to offer subsidized spay/neuter surgeries to eligible families in York County. This program is made possible by a grant from Dogs Trust USA. Please visit our website under our Spay/Neuter Clinic page to learn more about this program here.

For a well-researched, trustworthy source of information on canine aggression, visit The National Canine Research Council at