Sometimes, it is good to review the statistics. These numbers come from the American Temperament Test Society, Inc.
Their methods can be found Here. They test a dog’s “ability to interact with humans, human situations and the environment.”
Their statistics are Here. The test is pass-fail, with the percentage being the number that pass. Pay close attention to the number of animals tested in comparison with their score. Anything over 90% usually indicates a small testing pool. Exceptions to this are the Labrador Retriever, and two of the “pitbull” breeds: Staffordshire Bull Terrier and and the Bull Terrier.
Let’s take a quick look at some popular breeds and their attendant scores as compared to the popularly maligned “pit-bull” breeds. Not many people read this blog, and maybe the ones who do already know the mantra “punish the deed, not the breed.” Then again, I’ve been surprised before at how many educated and intelligent friends of mine have simply never been exposed to the truth about “pitbulls.”
Australian Shepard: 82.2%
Border Collie: 81.5%
Cocker Spaniel: 82.1%
Dachsund (Standard Smooth): 68.8%
German Shepherd: 84.8%
Golden Retriever: 85.2%
Jack Russell Terrier: 84.1%
Labrador Retriever: 92.0%
Mixed Breed: 86.6%
Rhodesian Ridgeback: 84.3%
Saint Bernard: 84.6%
Siberian Husky: 87%
Standard Poodle: 86.6%
Common “Pitbull” breeds:
American Pit Bull Terrier: 86.8%
American Staffordshire Terrier: 84.5%
Bull Terrier: 90.1%
Staffordshire Bull Terrier: 90.7%
Now, I’m not here to condemn any breed. Dogs are dogs, and every time humans are in contact with an animal, there are risks. For that matter, any time we interact with each-other there are risks. Personally, I’ve been bitten by one dog, a Dachshund, and almost attacked (a chain was all that saved me) by a Rhodesian Ridgeback. The first was a case of small child and small dog not mixing well. The second was a case of a dog that had been chained up all her life, which would make me crazy angry too.
I’ve been around pitbulls all my life, including one that was half-lab and very protective of his family. I have never felt threatened by any of them. Not once.
I hear stories from people I know, people I trust, about how dangerous pitbulls are. What seems to escape most people is the fact that there are extenuating circumstances. First off, even the experts cannot seem to identify a “pitbull” by sight. What makes us think we can? Any stocky, broad-headed, short-haired dog is assumed to be a “pit” and the media has been known to ignore little details like the fact that a dog involved in an attack is, say, a golden retriever, in favor of the more dramatic lie that it is a “pitbull.”
If you are curious, try your hand at “pit identification.”
Then there is the self-perpetuating problem. Pits are thought to be vicious. They are, therefore, sought out by people who want vicious dogs. People who want vicious dogs, make their dogs vicious, either intentionally or through neglect.
That Rhodesian Ridgeback who attacked me? If she had not been chained up alone outside for years, the chances of her charging me would have been slim.
I am ranting on this because some legislators in my state are trying to pass an amendment to an otherwise acceptable bill, to push through breed-specific legislation against pitbulls (by which they mean any dog someone thinks looks like a pitbull). Legislation of this sort has been proven, time and again, to be as ineffectual as it is blind. Most of my readers aren’t, I think, from Tennessee, but if you are, please make yourself heard: http://www.capwiz.com/bestfriends/issues/alert/?alertid=62506026#.UUMnGhSzRhM.twitter
No dog is 100% safe, but as the facts go, the maligned “pitbull” breeds are no more dangerous than any other dog their size. In fact, I would trust all the “pits” I know over my own dear Jack-Rat.
The website linked in my sidebar, A Boy and His Dog, is very biased, but raises a lot of good points, like the fact that for most of U.S. history, “pitbulls” were our darlings, known for their loving nature and loyalty. If you are curious, please check it out.