October is Pit Bull Awareness Month, and as such, we'd like to share more information on pit bulls! We have quite a few pit bulls at our shelter, ranging from wiggly, playful goofballs to snuggly, calm couch potatoes, all of whom would love to be your new best friend. According to Best Friends Animal Society, the breeds commonly referred to as pit bulls include American bulldogs, American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, and English bull terriers. The pit bulls in shelters may be a combination of these breeds, plus any number of other dog breeds.
Pit Bull Myths
Unfortunately, the stigma attached to the breed and dogs with a similar appearance means that these dogs often wait longer in shelters awaiting their forever homes. Pit bulls are among many breeds that are overbred, and size/breed restrictions in certain neighborhoods can prevent residents from adopting them.
However, the myths about pit bulls being inherently aggressive and unpredictable may deter some adopters from considering a pit bull. For anyone who lives in a neighborhood without such breed restrictions and is considering adopting a medium-to-large sized dog, we encourage being open to considering pit bulls whose personalities and activity levels match your lifestyle.
The Data on Pit Bulls
Anyone who works or volunteers with shelter dogs knows that every pit bull has an individual personality. These personalities vary widely among individuals, just like they do among individuals of any other dog breed. Applied research on pit bulls shows that their performance on behavior tests is comparable to that of breeds commonly perceived as universally friendly.
The American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) is a reputable organization that conducts behavioral tests on dog breeds. The ATTS test includes "different aspects of temperament such as stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness as well as the dog's instinct for protectiveness towards its handler and/or self-preservation in the face of a threat." The organization reported that 87.4% of American Pit Bull Terriers passed the test. To compare the performance of pit bulls with two breeds with a reputation for friendliness, the pass rate for golden retrievers is 85.6% for Golden Retrievers and 92.2% for Labrador Retrievers.