FACT: Pit bull type dogs are no more or less aggressive than any other type of dog. Many of the behaviors we expect from and encourage in dogs, including hunting, tracking, guarding, and even playing, are actually modified forms of aggression.
Although pit bull type dogs have a reputation for aggression toward other dogs, in fact, many other breeds and types of dogs are also known for such aggression. Dog-to-dog aggression is actually a very common behavior and is not limited to pit bull type dogs. Pit bull type dogs may be aggressive toward small animals, but again, this is common with all breeds and types of dogs. Dogs are essentially domesticated predators. Many dogs will exhibit predatory behavior toward small animals that they consider prey. A few pit bulls may be aggressive toward people, but again, this is not unique to pit bulls. All breeds and types of dogs may be aggressive toward people.
Aggression is an individual trait that varies from dog to dog, and has a lot to do with a dog’s environment and owners. Aggressive behaviors are common and normal in dogs of all breeds and types. Pit bulls do not exhibit any aggressive behaviors that are unique or extreme when compared to other breeds or types of dogs.
Veterinarians will confirm that vicious dogs of all types and breeds exist. Reasons for this include under socialization, abuse, neglect, or congenital disorders. Another factor in dog aggression is the human’s lack of ability to manage or recognize the issues described above.
American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS) performs temperament testing on over 5,000 canines which represent over 240 breeds, including a mixed breed category. “The test takes about 12 minutes to complete. The dog is on a loose six-foot (6′) lead and three ATTS trained evaluators score the dog. Majority rules. Failure on any part of the test is recognized when a dog shows panic, strong avoidance without recovery or unprovoked aggression.”
The breeds that are commonly referred to and legislated as pit bull type dogs all scored It the 80-90 percent (in 2013, Am Pit Bull Terrier, 86.8%, Am Staff Terrier, 84.5%, and Staff Bull Terrier, 90.7%). In addition, if one takes into account that many dogs that are considered pit bull type dogs are actually multi-generational mixed breed dogs, the mixed breed dogs tested in 2013 scored 86.7% on the ATTS test. (2)