The Facts

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.”

“Non-pitbull” breeds:

Australian Shepard:  82.2%
Beagle: 80.0%
Border Collie: 81.5%
Boxer: 83.5%
Chihuahua: 69.8%
Cocker Spaniel: 82.1%
Collie: 80.3%
Dachsund (Standard Smooth): 68.8%
Dalmatian: 82.7%
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%
Rottweiler: 84.1%
Saint Bernard: 84.6%
Siberian Husky: 87%
Standard Poodle: 86.6%
Weimeraner: 80.7%

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:

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.

Manni post-surgery. Don't let the cuteness fool you!

Manni post-surgery. Don’t let the cuteness fool you!

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.



About jubilare

Just another tree in the proverbial forest. Look! I have leaves! View all posts by jubilare

15 responses to “The Facts

  • Rob

    We have a Pit-mix who looks a lot like the dog on the far right in the photo. She’s a strange one, but we’ve never felt threatened by her.

  • Stephanie

    I have a 4-5-month-old pit puppy – at least I thought he was a pitbull. Now I’m not sure. I wonder how you tell without doing an expensive DNA test?
    He likes to chew on people’s fingers, but in a playful/teething way, not in a violent way. Just have to figure out how to get him to stop – those tiny teeth are sharp!

    • jubilare

      If there’s a reliable way to tell, I don’t know it. There aren’t many brindle breeds, though, so if your pup is bridle he is probably part pit. …or greyhound. ;)

      Our husky used to chew on fingers as a pup. Unfortunately, I don’t remember how we trained her out of it. I could ask my dog-trainer friend if she has any advice. Puppy teeth are painful!

    • palecorbie

      Rub your hands with a dried chilli pepper?

      • jubilare

        You know, Asher ate Sriracha the other day… didn’t even seem to phase him.

        • Stephanie

          Spraying with Bitter Apple makes him stay away from the skin, but then he just goes for the clothes. According to the Dog Whisperer, he is chewing to assert his dominance, so we just have to show him who’s boss. I’ve been rolling him on his back more and rubbing his tummy and such.
          He’s black, with a white chest. So no clue there. : /

          • jubilare

            Well, whatever he is, you know he’s loveable, and that’s the important thing, eh?

            On a completely random note, because I need to smile, have Donald O’Connor tap-dancing. :D

          • Stephanie

            He is, indeed!

            Ahhh. Now I understand why I was never good at math or dancing. Though algebra class would have been much more fun had they given us tap shoes as well as calculators.

          • jubilare

            I think so, too. Not sure how the acrobatics fit in the equation, but I guess not having O’Connor do a flip or two would be a waste.

            We probably have a solution to two problems here… the abysmal national math-scores and childhood obesity!

          • jubilare

            I can’t be sure, of course, but I think a couple of my comments on your blog got shuffled into spam. :P

          • Stephanie

            Yes they did. I’m having problems with it; it’s even throwing MY comments into my own spam folder. I will try to investigate.

          • jubilare

            Hahahaha! Sorry, it’s just… wow. Having your own comments flagged as spam is pretty hilarious. I think the filter may be a tad over-zealous.

  • robstroud

    It’s a shame so many low-life criminals get pit bulls. I pity the precious dogs that find themselves in despicable hands. As for my border collie… she didn’t score higher because she only gives humans part of her attention; it’s torn between us and all those animals out there that she wants to herd!

    • jubilare

      Aye. It’s amazing that so many of them are able to rebound from abusive situations to become well-adjusted dogs, but no beastie should have to go through that.

      Ah, border collies are lovely, but so intelligent and energetic that I wouldn’t be able to keep one where I live now. I can barely keep my aged Jack-rat happy. Even at 12 or 13 he has more energy than I do.

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