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  #1  
Old 01-19-2013, 11:44 AM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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Are pit bulls more dangerous than other dogs?

For some reason I got involved in a Facebook battle about this. My position is that because they were specifically bred for fighting, they have an inherent tendency toward aggression. Now every pit bull I have ever met was the sweetest dog in the world, but as I understand it, even the sweet ones are still a risk of totally losing their shit and killing something. I found a citation that said 1/3 of all dog bite deaths are from pit bulls.

My friend argued that they have no inherent tendency toward aggression, and anything bad they do is just a result of poor socialization. Therefore, apartment bans on pit bulls and other pit bull-related restrictions are discriminatory. She gave me a lot of references to websites that were very obviously pro-pit bull so I hesitate to accept those statements as fact.

I really have no dog in this fight (har har har) so I am pretty open minded to whatever the facts are.

Actually, I'm asking two questions here:
1. Are pit bulls more dangerous than other dogs?
2. Is this most likely a genetic trait or a result of poor socialization?

Thanks,

Christy
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  #2  
Old 01-19-2013, 11:58 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Oh. dear. God.

What's the over/under on how long this lasts in GQ?

Remember, no true pit bull is dangerous.
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  #3  
Old 01-19-2013, 12:01 PM
Michael63129 Michael63129 is offline
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From the statistics I have seen, the answer to the first question is undoubtedly yes; for example:

Quote:
38 U.S. fatal dog attacks occurred in 2012. Despite being regulated in Military Housing areas and over 600 U.S. cities, pit bulls contributed to 61% (23) of these deaths. Pit bulls make up less than 5% of the total U.S. dog population.
not only that, they are also much more likely to kill adults than other breeds; in fact, they kill more adults than children - especially adults in their prime, which you'd expect to be able to fend off attacks:

Quote:
In the 21-54 age group [from 2006 to 2008], pit bulls were responsible for 82% (14) of the deaths. The data indicates that pit bulls do not only kill children and senior citizens; they kill men and women in their prime years as well.
(and if you're a man, you want to be especially careful of pit bulls, although maybe this is because men are more likely to have such dogs, but I'd also think they would be able to fight them off better)

ETA: According to the same site the about cites came from (DogsBite.org), the history of pit bulls likely is the main reason for them being so overrepresented in fatality statistics; maybe not so much temperament, but they were bred to have especially strong jaws, meaning bites are worse:

Quote:
Through selective breeding, pit bulls have developed enormous jaw strength, as well as a ruinous "hold and shake" bite style, designed to inflict the maximum damage possible on their victims.

Last edited by Michael63129; 01-19-2013 at 12:06 PM..
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  #4  
Old 01-19-2013, 12:09 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Pit bulls were bred for animal-aggression and have a high prey drive (the same can be said for many other less commonly owned breeds). That, coupled by the fact that they are overwhelmingly owned by people who are not responsible dog-owners leads them to top the most common biters of all breeds. So it's not a case of them "losing it" or "suddenly tuning on people", it's a combination of the typical traits, plus a boatload of irresponsible owners who do not properly train/socialise/manage/contain their dogs.

There are many breeds who fit the pit bull profile (relatively large and/or strong, animal aggressive/high prey drive) but they are not as commonly owned. Off the top of my head: Fila Brasiliero, Tosa Inu, Rottweiler, Tibetan Mastiff, Airedale, Belgian shepherds, Ovcharka, Anatolian shepherd, Karelian bear dogs. If any of these dogs were as commonly and casually owned at pit bulls, they'd be right up there.
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  #5  
Old 01-19-2013, 12:48 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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They are not as dangerous as a lot of other dogs. Like those little teacup poodles for instance.

In every era there is a greatly feared dog, something fairly large, and popular. When I was a child it was German Sheperds. They're 'police dogs' you know, they look like wolves too. Then it was Doberman's, because they just look mean. Then it was Rottwiers, "My God! Look at the size of that thing!". Now it's Pits.
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  #6  
Old 01-19-2013, 01:06 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Anecdote: For several years, I worked closely with a rescue based in Flint, Mich - for most of that time I was vice president and so, very involved. I have no cite but while the ownership of pit bulls in the US as a whole might be about five percent, in poor ghetto-ish cities like Flint, I'd guess pit bull ownership is closer to 90 percent.

Anyway, the rescue I worked with did $10 vaccination clinics, usually right before dog licences were due and always in the "poor" parts of the city. You have to show valid rabies shot records to get a dog licensed, so it was both a benefit for the rescue and for people with limited funds to get their dogs vaccinated and licensed.

So, the vast majority of the dogs we saw were pit bulls. Often terrified (because they were not used to being off a chain/off their property) and often ill-behaved and untrained. On quite a few occasions a volunteer and a vet would have to go out to the owner's car to administer the shot because the dog was too unruly to come into the PetCo/PetsMart that we held the vax clinics in.

We did five clinics that I helped with and they were well-attended; maybe about 2,000 or so dogs all told.

Of those, there were only two occasions of overt aggression towards humans. One was a husky mix who was utterly uncontrollable with utterly idiotic owners. That dog went for me and ripped a hole in the sleeve of my sweatshirt but thankfully missed my arm. The other was a poodle with painted toenails, cradled the whole time in the arms of its owner, that attempted to bite me, the vet, the vet tech and anyone else who came near it. I shit you not, the thing was a nasty little pirhana.

Not one of the pits or pit mixes were a problem although several tried to go after other dogs but we were pretty good about managing that sort of behaviour.

I've had Rottweilers in my life since 1985 and IMHO, like pit bulls, they are generally NOT dogs for people who want an "easy" dog or who don't plan to put in quite a bit of time training, socialising and working with their family pet. While there are lots of exceptions (same with pit bulls), in general I would not recommend them to people who want an easy-going family dog. I've fostered quite a few pits and pit mixes and turned down a fair number of potential adopters because I didn't think they were prepared to own a drivey-type dog.
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  #7  
Old 01-19-2013, 01:10 PM
Tarwater Tarwater is offline
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Are they more dangerous than other dogs? Yes. Are they more dangerous than all other dogs? No. Are they more violent than all other dogs? No. Is there something hard-wired in pitbulls that makes them aggressive? Yes. Are they the only dogs that have it? No, not even close.
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  #8  
Old 01-19-2013, 01:15 PM
Michael63129 Michael63129 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
They are not as dangerous as a lot of other dogs. Like those little teacup poodles for instance.

In every era there is a greatly feared dog, something fairly large, and popular. When I was a child it was German Sheperds. They're 'police dogs' you know, they look like wolves too. Then it was Doberman's, because they just look mean. Then it was Rottwiers, "My God! Look at the size of that thing!". Now it's Pits.
Say what you want, but the fatality statistics speak for themselves; a dog that represents 5% of the dog population but causes 2/3rds of fatal attacks isn't "not as dangerous as other dogs".

That said, do I think that pit bulls can't make good pets and are inherently aggressive? No, but that doesn't change the fact that they can inflict far more damage than a toy poodle, not just because they are bigger but because they were bred to have especially strong jaws and inflict maximum damage. A lot of those attacks may very well be provoked; any dog will bite if you tease it enough.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:21 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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There are actually two different things one might consider "dangerous":

1: Are pit bulls more likely to attack than other dogs?
2: In the event of a dog attack, is a pit bull more likely to cause serious injury than other dogs?

The answer to 2 is pretty clearly yes: Pit bulls are larger than average (though still not by far the largest dog), and their jaw muscles are extremely strong, so a pit bull is physically capable of doing a great deal of damage, if it so chooses. By comparison, the meanest, cussedest chihuahua in the world probably couldn't kill a human, no matter how hard it tried (and many of them do). So in that sense, a pit bull is clearly more dangerous than a chihuahua.

Question 1 is more complicated, though. Who's keeping the statistics, and how are they determining breed? Often, if a dog attacks a human, it's declared to be a "pit bull" or "pit bull mix", with the evidence for such breed being entirely composed of the fact of the attack itself: "Oh, it attacked a human, it must be a pit bull, since they're the only ones that attack". And even if that's controlled for, is it because of the breed itself, or because of indirect factors? There are unfortunately a large number of people who want the dogs they own to be tough, mean, and nasty. Such people will tend to choose pit bulls (or other "scary" dogs like rottweilers or German shepherds) because of their reputation, and such people will also tend to train their dogs to be vicious. If the pit bulls they raise then become vicious, can that really be blamed on the breed?
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  #10  
Old 01-19-2013, 01:43 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Just to correct a common myth - pit bulls do not have super-duper jaw strength, although they tend to be muscular, strong dogs (so are many other breeds, such as Boston and Jack Russell terriers). Terriers as a group tend to be drivey dogs with a tendency to hold onto prey. Or toys with great enthusiasm.
http://www.realpitbull.com/myths.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9...ubmed_RVDocSum

And they're not all that large - the UKC standard is between 30 and 60 lbs, smaller than most Labradors or Goldens.

It is true that pit/bully breed/pit mixes are often incorrectly identified as "pit bulls" when they might not be pit bulls at all, or a mix where the other breed/s in the mix predominate.
See how well you do with identifying the pit bull in this chart.

I totally concur that many people choose "scary" breeds in order to intimidate others or appear more manly or tough. And these owners typically own the dogs that end up as bite statistics. As a long-time Rottweiler owner and someone who knows quite a few people that own "scary" breeds, from my own experience there are many, many responsible owners out there that make a big effort to present their dogs as good canine citizens.
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  #11  
Old 01-19-2013, 02:33 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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From the CDC: (.pdf)

Note that this wiki link has "pit bull type" listed frequently, meaning that dogs who are mixes, or simply look like pit bulls regardless of breed are listed.

Quote:
Although fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem (pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers), other breeds may bite and cause fatalities at higher rates. Because of difficulties inherent in determining a dog’s breed with certainty,enforcement of breed-specific ordinances raises con-stitutional and practical issues. Fatal attacks represent a small proportion of dog bite injuries to humans and,therefore, should not be the primary factor drivingpublic policy concerning dangerous dogs. Many practi-al alternatives to breed-specific ordinances exist andhold promise for prevention of dog bites.
Note that the dog who savaged the French woman who got the world's first face transplant was a Labrador retriever. Also,
Quote:
Results—During 1997 and 1998, at least 27 people died of dog bite attacks (18 in 1997 and 9 in 1998). Atleast 25 breeds of dogs have been involved in 238 human DBRF during the past 20 years. Pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers were involved in more than half of these deaths. Of 227 reports with relevant data, 55(24%) human deaths involved unrestrained dogs off their owners’ property, 133 (58%) involved unrestrained dogs on their owners’ property, 38 (17%) involved restrained dogs on their owners’ property, and 1 (<1%)involved a restrained dog off its owner’s property.
Considering that animals in general, and pit bulls in particular, are at vastly greater danger from humans than the other way around, I am biased WRT the pearl-clutching that surrounds the whole pit bull thing. I'm in no way intending to be a breed apologist and fully acknowledge that some dogs need very responsible owners.

Dogs are carnivores and have teeth. A Lab-Golden mix almost killed a child. A black Lab kills a child. (Note that dog was chained up, not an uncommon scenario.) Dashunds and Pomeranians have killed people. So have malamutes, huskies and Weimereiners and Goldens and a Jack Russell terrier and Great Danes.

It's like the gun debate. Just about any dog can kill a human. Whether or not they do usually hinges on the responsibility of the owner.

A woman named Karen Delise has written a couple of excellent books on the facts behind dog bite statistics.
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  #12  
Old 01-19-2013, 03:21 PM
DrCube DrCube is offline
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The problem is cultural feedback. In the 80s, Dobermans were considered ferocious, vicious dogs. So that's what the assholes who wanted an "attack" dog bought. In the 90s, it was Rottweilers. Now, it's Pits.

Now, lets assume statistics indicate that Pit Bulls currently cause the most problems. But is that because of the dog, or because of the owner? The question is just theoretical until they start making breed specific legislation. Recently a town near me (Festus, MO, I think?) started confiscating every Pit Bull and euthanizing them. Should you give up your sweet puppy just because a few assholes have trained that breed to be vicious? Would you?

I personally have experience with several Dobermans and Pit Bulls, and because their owners weren't ignorant, gangster, Mike Vick wannabes, those dogs were mild mannered lap dogs who would run and hide when strangers showed up at the door.

Long story short, don't trust any statistic that doesn't control for how the dog is raised and trained.
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  #13  
Old 01-19-2013, 03:34 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
...I'm in no way intending to be a breed apologist and fully acknowledge that some dogs need very responsible owners.
Then why did you bother to list 3 instances of non-pitbull fatal attacks? Has anyone claimed that no people have ever been killed by non-pitbulls?

I don't really care whether a dog who has killed a person is all pitbull or pitbull mix. Is someone really going to claim that it's the non-pitbull portion that drove the attack?
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  #14  
Old 01-19-2013, 04:28 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
Then why did you bother to list 3 instances of non-pitbull fatal attacks? Has anyone claimed that no people have ever been killed by non-pitbulls?
I don't really care whether a dog who has killed a person is all pitbull or pitbull mix.

Just for balance. And to reinforce my point that dogs are carnivores,have big sharp teeth, and even if not-pit bulls, can maim or kill people.

Quote:
Is someone really going to claim that it's the non-pitbull portion that drove the attack?

Nobody has claimed that, as far as I can see. Did you miss the part I posted about totally NOT pit bulls killing or critically injuring people?
Again, and slowly: Dogs are carnivores. Dogs have teeth designed for ripping, shredding and killiing. Dogs are in part a product of their environment and in part a product of human selection.

If you are afraid of dogs and animals generally, that is OK and I respect that. But unless you are a dedicated vegan, animals have a lot more to fear from you than the other way around.

In fact deer are responsible for more animal-related deaths than any other mammal; except for humans:

Quote:
The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that white-tailed deer kill around 130 Americans each year simply by causing car accidents. In 1994, these predator deer had a banner year, causing 211 human deaths in car wrecks.
Eliminating a certain breed of dog will not result in fewer human deaths (although it will most certainly result in more slaughter of dogs by humans, but that is par for the course.) People killed by pit bulls in the USA annually: about two. TWO. Pit bulls killed by people in the USA annually; about 2.5 million. People killed by falling branches, their parents or guardians, falling coconuts, car accidents, lightning, swimming pools, five gallon buckets...in the hundreds every year, each. And of course deer are responsible for more deaths than dogs of all breeds, every year, by the hundreds.

So, if you are afraid of animals in general and pit bulls in particular, that is your prerogative. Just be informed and argue with facts, is all.
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  #15  
Old 01-19-2013, 04:51 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
The problem is cultural feedback. In the 80s, Dobermans were considered ferocious, vicious dogs. So that's what the assholes who wanted an "attack" dog bought. In the 90s, it was Rottweilers. Now, it's Pits.

Now, lets assume statistics indicate that Pit Bulls currently cause the most problems. But is that because of the dog, or because of the owner?
I have no idea about the op question but this comment is the key issue in interpretation of the statistics. In fact an article in 1982 found the greatest number of deaths were associated with German Shepherds. Bullterriers were 4th, also behind Huskies and St Bernards.

The most dangerous dogs are owned by people who treat them in a manner that encourages aggression, either by intent or by neglect. If a breed has an image as being a dangerous dog then those owners will acquire them and that breed will be over represented in the fatal dog attack stats.

The CDC's take on somewhat more recent trends:
Quote:
Another concern is that a ban on a specific breed might cause people who want a dangerous dog to simply turn to another breed for the same qualities they sought in the original dog (eg, large size, aggression easily fostered). Breed-specific legislation does not address the fact that a dog of any breed can become dangerous when bred or trained to be aggressive. From a scientific point of view, we are unaware of any formal evaluation of the effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in preventing fatal or nonfatal dog bites.

An alternative to breed-specific legislation is to regulate individual dogs and owners on the basis of their behavior. Although, it is not systematically reported, our reading of the fatal bite reports indicates that problem behaviors (of dogs and owners) have preceded attacks in a great many cases and should be sufficient evidence for preemptive action. Approaches to decreasing dangerous dog and owner behaviors are numerous. The potential importance of strong animal control programs is illustrated by our data; from 1979 through 1998, 24% of human DBRF were caused by owned dogs (typically more than 1) that were roaming off the owners’ property. Some deaths might have been averted through more stringent animal control laws and enforcement (eg, leash laws, fencing requirements). Although the bite prevention effectiveness of such animal control ordinances and programs has not been systematically evaluated, freeroaming dogs and dogs with menacing behavior are problems that need to be addressed even if they do not bite (eg, causing bicycle or car crashes).

Generic non–breed-specific, dangerous dog laws can be enacted that place primary responsibility for a dog’s behavior on the owner, regardless of the dog’s breed. 17 In particular, targeting chronically irresponsible dog owners may be effective. ...
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  #16  
Old 01-19-2013, 05:02 PM
BMax BMax is offline
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I had a pit bull for 13 years until he died last summer. He was a sweet, loving dog all his life. When he was young he was a very energetic, strong, driven, athletic dog.
I was told that he came to the fence and barked aggressively at my friends if they came to the house while I was out. He never showed aggression to a human in my presence. He was very friendly and sometimes jumped on people in an effort to play with them.
He was aggressive to other male dogs, less so after age 7. By age 10 he was calm around all dogs.
He was a handful, always pulling on the leash, and I didn't have the time to give him the attention he wanted. When he died I sent his companion dog to live with a friends who have another dog already. That way she doesn't have to be alone.
Based on my experience, I wouldn't recommend a pit bull to a first time dog owner. They are too energetic, get bored easily, have a high prey drive and are 'mouthy' when young. Some of them have a very high aggression towards other dogs. They are very social animals, and will need a second dog for company when the people are gone.
If you look at the dog pounds in my area, more than half the dogs there are pit bulls and pit mixes.
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Old 01-19-2013, 05:30 PM
EmilyG EmilyG is offline
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I don't know if this really helps, but I'll say it anyway.

My friend was looking after a pit bull. I went to my friend's house, and when she opened the door, the pit bull jumped on me in excitement. Now, the dog was not mean at all - she was greeting me in what she meant to be a friendly way. However, this was a big, strong dog, and had I been smaller and weaker I might've been knocked over. I'm wondering if similar things have happened with other people and pit bulls, and if this was perhaps misconstrued as the dog attacking?
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:08 PM
dstarfire dstarfire is offline
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I think your question could best be answered by finding answers to the following questions:

1. How long does it take for selective breeding to spread a desired trait throughout an entire breed?
2. How long has viciousness/aggressiveness been a desired trait in pitbulls? or How long have pitbulls been a separate breed?

If the answer to 1 is greater than the answer to 2, than aggressiveness could not be considered a standard trait of the breed.

Alternatively, rethink the question in terms of 'is a pitbull with a responsible owner any more dangerous than another breed with a responsible owner?'. That'll get you past the statistics (innately skewed by the unknown proportions of responsible to irresponsible owners), useless anecdotes, and emotional controversy.
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:34 PM
foolsguinea foolsguinea is offline
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I have had the misfortune of keeping a dog--an aggressive bitch--that is probably a pit bull mix. I didn't know how to train her, and she bit people, and I got in trouble over it.

Bite and hold on? To other dogs, yes. This is infuriating, but she seems to have done it as a control move: She would grab the loose skin of the neck, avoiding the arteries. Still bad, but not necessarily lethal.
Bite and shake? Maybe to small non-dog animals.
Humans she has nipped at, broken skin, but not latched onto.

I think dogs that actually attack humans trying to do grievous bodily harm are quite rare.

And I suspect "breed personality" is a little exaggerated. As a generalization, smaller dogs tend to have more leeway from their owners; past that it's probably more individual owners' personalities and individual dogs' personalities.

Last edited by foolsguinea; 01-19-2013 at 06:36 PM..
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  #20  
Old 01-19-2013, 07:22 PM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
It is true that pit/bully breed/pit mixes are often incorrectly identified as "pit bulls" when they might not be pit bulls at all, or a mix where the other breed/s in the mix predominate.
See how well you do with identifying the pit bull in this chart.
Pit bulls have become the victim of the current wave of dog-hating hysteria, especially in the media. Any dog that has a short snout gets labeled as a pit bull now.

How well did y'all do with identifying the pit bull in that chart that chiroptera linked? For the answers, see these charts:
Journalists Guide to Pit Bull Identification
Journalists Guide to Dog Breed Identification

When I go out walking in the neighborhood or parks or hiking in the hills, I always stop to pet every dog I meet, and that seems to include a fair number of pit bulls. I haven't gotten eaten alive yet. Not even once. Pit bulls, in particular, seem to be quite high on the gregarious people-friendly scale. Some of them want to knock everyone down and slobber in their faces, but that's not the same as being vicious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
Eliminating a certain breed of dog will not result in fewer human deaths (although it will most certainly result in more slaughter of dogs by humans, but that is par for the course.) People killed by pit bulls in the USA annually: about two. TWO. Pit bulls killed by people in the USA annually; about 2.5 million. People killed by falling branches, their parents or guardians, falling coconuts, car accidents, lightning, swimming pools, five gallon buckets...in the hundreds every year, each. And of course deer are responsible for more deaths than dogs of all breeds, every year, by the hundreds.
And guns. Lots and lots of people killed by lots and lots of guns. Pit bulls with guns.

According to this recent article (video included of pit bulls that got rescued),
Quote:
It’s not easy being a pit bull in Southern California. In fact, it can be downright awful. Two hundred pit bulls are euthanized every day in Los Angeles County alone.
And people need to be afraid of pit bulls?
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  #21  
Old 01-19-2013, 07:25 PM
Jim's Son Jim's Son is offline
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A few years ago I asked this question to a relative who is a veterinarian. She said that pit bulls had an unfair reputation and they were often the sweetest dogs. If you train it wrong, it can be dangerous though.

The breed that she was most afraid of, that caused her the most problems? Cocker spaniels.
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Old 01-19-2013, 07:40 PM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is offline
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Intrinsically more dangerous? No.
Likely to be owned by someone who wanted to raise a dangerous dog? Unfortunately yes.
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  #23  
Old 01-19-2013, 08:20 PM
foolsguinea foolsguinea is offline
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Heh. I've had cocker spaniels, and they were pretty harmless to anything larger than a pigeon--or maybe a cat. I don't really buy into breed personality.
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:27 PM
Simple Linctus Simple Linctus is offline
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In the UK, believe it or not, they're actually banned (well, for all intents and purposes). Mind you the act involved is regretted by many MPs involved in it. It should be obvious from reading the link just how bloody silly that legislation is. A practice for the Blair years, I guess.

Yet there's still plenty of maiming going on. The funniest thing is the Staffie. To the untrained eye, it looks like a pit bull. I learned this running away from one once and finally realising that it did just want to play - pathetic as it sounds I just thought it was a vicious beast.

Now I was young enough then to drink under official UK health guidelines, but too young to have sex according to the law. So I was quite young

So I have no experience with pit bulls as such. All I can say is that I have read some popular science books which have done the research and cite real papers and things. And sorry, but the truth is that pitbulls have been shown to be OVERALL vicious buggers.

And it's for exactly the reason Chronos has mentioned. They don't attack humans a great deal, it's basically middling. It's all about the bite. And it ISNT a myth. No doubt there are other dogs with similarly strong bites (see the Staffie and other terriers - my extended family has loadsa terriers) but it's the combination of the two that fuck em up.

Sorry but the stats don't lie.

Olives, while it is not focussed upon this issue at all, it's just a minor thing, I know you're an animal lover and I also know you'll love this book: "Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals .

Now you must recommend me a book. About psychology please, I know you know about that

Last edited by Simple Linctus; 01-19-2013 at 08:30 PM.. Reason: add commentary on how silly it is
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  #25  
Old 01-19-2013, 08:46 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyG View Post
My friend was looking after a pit bull. I went to my friend's house, and when she opened the door, the pit bull jumped on me in excitement. Now, the dog was not mean at all - she was greeting me in what she meant to be a friendly way. However, this was a big, strong dog, and had I been smaller and weaker I might've been knocked over. I'm wondering if similar things have happened with other people and pit bulls, and if this was perhaps misconstrued as the dog attacking?
I don't think many people confuse jumping up with attacking. On the other hand, it is hard to interpreting biting, tearing and rending of flesh as anything other than attacking.

I don't fear individual pit bulls out in public who appear well-behaved. I've made friends with them (with the owner's permission). I'm much more wary around small dogs who feel threatened easily and can be snappish.

Thing is, if little Muffin the poodle or Dolly the cocker spaniel are from bad stock and ill-trained, you can get a nasty nip. When a pit bull or other aggressive breed loses it, the outcomes are often a lot worse.
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:52 PM
Simple Linctus Simple Linctus is offline
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  #27  
Old 01-19-2013, 09:36 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Simple, pit bulls are banned in some US cities and Canadian provinces, too.

Originally bred for bear and bull baiting as well as dog fighting, aggression towards humans was always regaqrded as undesireable, since handlers had to be able to interact and control their dogs in very high-stress situations. The fact that so many people own them now as "mean" or "guard" dogs speaks only to the ignorance and ineptness of humans. Properly bred and raised, APBTs are sweet and friendly towards humans; the problem is, they are very often poorly bred and poorly raised. That's a human fault, not an inherent fault with the breed. Unfortunately you combine a strong, athletic breed of dog with a typically high innate level of animal-aggression that's popular with unwitting, irresponsible owners who do not socialize, train, exercise or understand it and you get a high level of bite incidents. Same thing happens with toy poodles and Chihuahuas (both notoriously snappy breeds), but of course they're tiny dogs and rarely cause much harm when they go after people so their aggression goes largely unreported and is even thought to be cute by some owners.

Pit bulls DO tend to be aggressive towards other dogs, especially those of the same sex. And, being terriers, their high prey drive means they are not always safe around smaller dogs and other anmals. (The same can be said for greyhounds and other sighthounds, which often tend to chase and kill smaller animals.) This is not a "fault" though. Just something that a responsible owner understands and manages.

The UKC recognises APBTs (American Pit Bull Terriers) and says this about temperament:

Quote:
APBTs make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their love of children. Because most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog. The breed’s natural agility makes it one of the most capable canine climbers so good fencing is a must for this breed. The APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable
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  #28  
Old 01-20-2013, 07:42 PM
EmilyG EmilyG is offline
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chiroptera, I think you're correct. Though maybe I'm biased, because I like pit bulls.

Last edited by EmilyG; 01-20-2013 at 07:42 PM..
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  #29  
Old 01-20-2013, 10:47 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Woof, indeed. We've been over this a lot, there's a LOT of threads on this topic in the SDMB. I'll try to limit myself to a few observations:

Quote:
Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
For some reason I got involved in a Facebook battle about this. My position is that because they were specifically bred for fighting, they have an inherent tendency toward aggression.
Quote:
Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
My friend argued that they have no inherent tendency toward aggression, and anything bad they do is just a result of poor socialization.
You're both wrong. So to speak.

Because pit bulls were bred for aggression toward dogs, and from bulldog stock bred for aggression toward bulls, they can be aggressive toward dogs and livestock (although it varies widely from dog to dog). That no more makes them aggressive toward humans than your Lab, bred to be duck aggressive, or your Dachshund, bred to be badger-aggressive, or your cat, bred to be mouse-aggressive. Everyone takes it for granted a dog can smell parts-per-million of smuggled drugs, but for some reason some people think pit bulls can't distinguish between a human and a Weimeraner.

I've seen and evaluated at least one dog, a pit bull mix, whom I would say was unqualifiedly, intolerably dog aggressive -- and she was super sweet and submissive around humans. She knew the difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
Now every pit bull I have ever met was the sweetest dog in the world, but as I understand it, even the sweet ones are still a risk of totally losing their shit and killing something.
No more than any other breed of equivalent physical capabilities. They are not "psycho;" their brains don't "grow too large for their heads;" they don't "snap," they give the same warnings other dogs do; they have the same jaw structure other dogs do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
I found a citation that said 1/3 of all dog bite deaths are from pit bulls.
And I found the Time Cube webpage. The CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association have both said it's not possible to generate scientifically useful bite statistics. Here's one citation for that (warning, .pdf):

Quote:
Originally Posted by avma.org
Which dogs bite?

An often-asked question is what breed or breeds of
dogs are most “dangerous”? This inquiry can be
prompted by a serious attack by a specific dog, or it
may be the result of media-driven portrayals of a specific
breed as “dangerous.”12,13 Although this is a common
concern, singling out 1 or 2 breeds for control can
result in a false sense of accomplishment.14 Doing so
ignores the true scope of the problem and will not
result in a responsible approach to protecting a community’s
citizens.

Dog bite statistics are not really statistics, and they
do not give an accurate picture of dogs that bite.7
Invariably the numbers will show that dogs from popular
large breeds are a problem. This should be expected,
because big dogs can physically do more damage if
they do bite, and any popular breed has more individuals
that could bite. Dogs from small breeds also bite
and are capable of causing severe injury. There are several
reasons why it is not possible to calculate a bite
rate for a breed or to compare rates between breeds.

First, the breed of the biting dog may not be accurately
recorded, and mixed-breed dogs are commonly
described as if they were purebreds. Second, the actual
number of bites that occur in a community is not
known, especially if they did not result in serious
injury. Third, the number of dogs of a particular breed
or combination of breeds in a community is not
known, because it is rare for all dogs in a community
to be licensed, and existing licensing data is then
incomplete.7 Breed data likely vary between communities,
states, or regions, and can even vary between
neighborhoods within a community.
Quote:
Originally Posted by avma.org
Dog bite costs to a community

Costs associated with dog bite injuries cannot be
readily measured, because so many intangible quality
of life issues are involved. This makes it more difficult
for community councils to justify the time, effort, and
expense necessary to institute a bite reduction program
when compared to a new fire truck, street paving, or
city park.
Bolding and color mine, for easy reference.

Since this is such a hot-button topic for some people, I'm going to re-emphasize this: scientists and veterinarians have said, for the record, there are no accurate "dog bite statistics" by breed, because they're not possible. Again, to sum up in my own words:

1. Bite reports are not rigorously collected. They only come to our attention when people who were bitten bother to report the bites. An unknown number of other bites go untracked.

2. Breed Identification in these reports is notoriously unreliable. Most people cannot identify dog breeds, especially pit bulls. Additionally, even if they could, there's an incentive to describe one's own bite incident in the most dramatic way possible. Few people want to admit to having been maimed by a Miniature Poodle; everyone thinks you're a stud if you tell them you survived a vicious pit bull attack.

3. No one knows how many dogs there really are in the United States.

4. No one knows how many pit bulls there are as a subset of that number of dogs.

Entirely leaving aside the fact that the reports are unscientifically tallied and tend toward bias, how can we determine whether pit bulls bite disproportionately to their presence in the population if we don't know how many dogs there are, period, and what proportion might be pits?

This isn't new -- it's been presented on the web before. Hell, the date on my JAVMA citation is

Quote:
JAVMA, Vol 218, No. 11, June 1, 2001
Therefore, someone who presents statistics that pit bulls -- or any breed -- bite with any claimed frequency is simply spreading unscientific ignorance. Period. They have an agenda.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
Remember, no true pit bull is dangerous.
I don't think anyone's ever said that in these threads. Why do you keep posting as if someone has? The point is, they are no more nor less dangerous than other dogs of equivalent mass.
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  #30  
Old 01-21-2013, 12:08 AM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
They are not as dangerous as a lot of other dogs. Like those little teacup poodles for instance.
I can stomp a poodle dead while reading a book. They simply don't have the jaw structure or tenacity of a pit bull.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
In every era there is a greatly feared dog, something fairly large, and popular. When I was a child it was German Sheperds. They're 'police dogs' you know, they look like wolves too. Then it was Doberman's, because they just look mean. Then it was Rottwiers, "My God! Look at the size of that thing!". Now it's Pits.
I'm over 50 and it's ALWAYS statistically been pit bulls doing the greatest amount of damage. I've told a number of pit bull owners their dog was going to cause serious problems (based on the dog's behavior) and as sure as the sun rises in the East they ended up having to put them down. These are not dogs that simply bite and release in fear. Once they attack they don't stop and that's made worse by a fairly strong jaw.

but someone will be along shortly to explain why people are stupid for not recognizing the signs of a frightened dog. All dogs can and will bite. Pit bulls will shred your arm on a good day and kill you on a bad day.

Last edited by Magiver; 01-21-2013 at 12:09 AM..
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  #31  
Old 01-21-2013, 12:17 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
They are not as dangerous as a lot of other dogs. Like those little teacup poodles for instance..
Well, now, see the Op asked which breed was the most dangerous. Now a Pit Bull is actually a rather sweet tempered breed, as opposed to many nasty little rat dogs. BUT when one of them nasty little rat dogs goes after you, you laugh it off.

You don't laugh off a Pit Bull attack. They have a very nasty bite, about the worst of any common breed.

And, altho a Pit Bull raised as a family pet is no more dangerous than any other breed, there are a LOT of Pit Bulls out there raised as a Fighting dog, and those are more dangerous. It's also not hard to train a Pit Bull for fighting, as opposed to a few breeds where it'd be very hard indeed.

So- your chance of running into a pit bull trained as a fighting dog is higher than just about any other common breed, And a Pit bulls bite is way up there also.

So yeah, a Pit Bull is more dangerous than other dogs.

But again, a Pit Bull properly raised as a pet is no more dangerous than any other powerful dog in their size class. Thereby they are fine as pets. If you would have a German Shepherd, A Collie, Husky, etc, then a Pit Bull is also a good choice.
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  #32  
Old 01-21-2013, 06:15 AM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth View Post
You don't laugh off a Pit Bull attack. They have a very nasty bite, about the worst of any common breed.
I don't believe this is true. Pit bulls are relatively small breeds, in the 30-50 lb range IIRC. They can be dangerous for sure, as any dog in that weight range can be. But there are plenty of larger dogs that by their sheer size are more dangerous than a pit.
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  #33  
Old 01-21-2013, 07:26 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Then it was Doberman's, because they just look mean.
That plus popular media - I think the highest incidence of Dobermans being the pariahs (heh!) would map nicely with the popularity of Magnum P.I. and The Boys from Brazil.
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  #34  
Old 01-21-2013, 07:52 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
I don't think anyone's ever said (no true pit bull is dangerous) in these threads. Why do you keep posting as if someone has?
There have been numerous posts in these threads denying media reports of pit bull attacks on the basis of breed misidentification or that the dog involved is a mix and not a purebred pit bull.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailboat
Breed Identification in these reports is notoriously unreliable.
Exhibit A.
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  #35  
Old 01-21-2013, 07:54 AM
elbows elbows is offline
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No dog maulings since they were banned in this province. And if you have one from before the ban you are required to carry a large insurance policy. I realize it's as much or more the owner than the breed, in a lot of ways. But legislation was enacted to protect innocent children, without regard for the tender feelings of the owners. I feel people were able to endorse it because after every horrid mauling, there stood the tearful owners with clear honesty saying, 'Garsh but he's just never, ever, ever shown any such inclination. We are baffled!' If the people who own the animal, love the animal, know it better than anyone, are shocked and taken aback it sends the message that owners are useless at judging the dog's nature or predicting his behaviour! It makes it very hard to give credit to those arguing, " But I have had many, they were all sweet and good natured..."
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  #36  
Old 01-21-2013, 08:18 AM
crucible crucible is offline
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One person killed by a dog is too many. Clearly, we could live without dogs. Many of them perform wonderful service and can be trusted with your very life, though. Since Pits and their allied breeds have a life style that centers on being the protector of their 'family', any person who somehow triggers the protection at all costs brain cell that pits have is in danger for their life. If up to me, I would make breeding of pit and their allied breeds illegal. We can live without them, and the 20 or so people they kill every year for no apparent reason? Hey, they will live and not die a horrible death.

Isn't that easy? Human life vs. some potential dog sometime in the future? Banning pits will save lives as surely as you breath. Can you really think of a reason to continue that breed? Don't kill the existing ones, just neuter them and stop breeding new ones.
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  #37  
Old 01-21-2013, 09:08 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Define 'pit bull'.
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  #38  
Old 01-21-2013, 09:32 AM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crucible View Post
Since Pits and their allied breeds have a life style that centers on being the protector of their 'family', any person who somehow triggers the protection at all costs brain cell that pits have is in danger for their life.
While popularly believed, pretty much everything you wrote is either incorrect or applicable to all dog breeds. Pits were specifically selected to reduce their aggression towards humans.
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  #39  
Old 01-21-2013, 09:43 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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We could certainly ban all dogs. But how many lives would that cost? You don't have to go very far to find accounts of dogs saving humans' lives. Assuming the statistics posted by other folks here are accurate, there are a total of 30-ish humans killed by dogs each year in this country. Do you really think that the number of humans saved by dogs is less than 30?
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  #40  
Old 01-21-2013, 10:03 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
I'm over 50 and it's ALWAYS statistically been pit bulls doing the greatest amount of damage.
First of all, there are no statistics. There's no way to know how many of each breed of dog there is out there, and dog attacks and bites are under-reported and rarely investigated to determine any factual data. Most of the time that a dog harms a person there days it is attributed to a Pit Bull, even if that Pit Bull happens to be a hamster.

Secondly, even if you're talking about reporting this can't be true because Pit Bulls were barely recognized as existing until the 70s, and it was well into the 80s before they reached their current level of popularity, and ignomy. Popular conceptions about the danger of dogs is based on media enhanced image intended to instill fear.

All dogs can potentially be dangerous to humans, and that danger increases with size. And pound for pound Pit Bulls are high on the potential danger list because a greater proportion of their weight is in the their jaws as opposed to other dogs, and they are somewhat more muscular than many dogs for the same height or length. But there's still no evidence that Pit Bulls are more dangerous to humans than any other dog of similar size. It is out of the ordinary for any dog to attack a human being, and it is usually the result of poor training, or worse intentionally bad training.
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  #41  
Old 01-21-2013, 10:09 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
We could certainly ban all dogs. But how many lives would that cost? You don't have to go very far to find accounts of dogs saving humans' lives. Assuming the statistics posted by other folks here are accurate, there are a total of 30-ish humans killed by dogs each year in this country. Do you really think that the number of humans saved by dogs is less than 30?
I don't know what the actual statistics are, but I feel safe in saying I am far more concerned about being attacked or killed by another human being than any dog. And indeed there are countless acts of heroism performed by dogs who have saved the lives of many humans, with a level of selflessness most of us humans could only hope to display.
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  #42  
Old 01-21-2013, 10:18 AM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elbows View Post
No dog maulings since they were banned in this province. And if you have one from before the ban you are required to carry a large insurance policy. I realize it's as much or more the owner than the breed, in a lot of ways. But legislation was enacted to protect innocent children, without regard for the tender feelings of the owners. I feel people were able to endorse it because after every horrid mauling, there stood the tearful owners with clear honesty saying, 'Garsh but he's just never, ever, ever shown any such inclination. We are baffled!' If the people who own the animal, love the animal, know it better than anyone, are shocked and taken aback it sends the message that owners are useless at judging the dog's nature or predicting his behaviour! It makes it very hard to give credit to those arguing, " But I have had many, they were all sweet and good natured..."
Rottie attack in October doesn't count?
http://www.torontosun.com/2012/10/13...dogs-improving
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  #43  
Old 01-21-2013, 10:23 AM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrFidelius View Post
Rottie attack in October doesn't count?
No true maulings.
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  #44  
Old 01-21-2013, 11:25 AM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
First of all, there are no statistics. There's no way to know how many of each breed of dog there is out there,
The statistic is that every dog mauling/death I've heard about involved a Pit bull. The statistic is that every owner I've come across has had to have the dog destroyed. That's what I've learned in 50+ years.

If you don't like what I've experienced I don't care. Seriously, I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR OPINION. I know what I've seen, and the people who didn't listen to me had to suffer for it. Live your life how ever you see fit and adopt 100 pit bulls. Nothing would make me happier.
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  #45  
Old 01-21-2013, 11:57 AM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
The statistic is that every dog mauling/death I've heard about involved a Pit bull. The statistic is that every owner I've come across has had to have the dog destroyed. That's what I've learned in 50+ years.
This is General Questions. The facts are that people are awful and identifying dog breeds, and the press generally over reports pit bull attacks or misidentifies the breeds. Your 50+ years of personal observations are relevant, but not determinative. What statistics we have don't support your general observations.
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  #46  
Old 01-21-2013, 12:39 PM
elbows elbows is offline
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That attack was more than one dog. Any breed in pairs or larger group can obviously be potentially dangerous. Sorry I was not clearer. I was thinking fatalities when I wrote 'attacks', my bad.

But I think my point still stands, when those who love the animal, and know it best cannot predict it's behaviour, as is clearly the case with every stunned owner of a dog that has attacked who later appears on the news, then I believe the state is justified in enacting legislation to protect the vulnerable.

Given the choice between: owners who can't get one particular breed of dog, and no more innocents maimed or killed, well, I think for most people it's a no brainier. The province doesn't seem to suffer any consequences from the ban, whereas children ARE safer!
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  #47  
Old 01-21-2013, 01:18 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Researcher and author Karen Delise has written two excellent and heavily-cited books about the statistics behind dog bites.

http://www.fataldogattacks.com/

In a nutshell, what she found was that breed (Rottweiler, pit bull, Chow, etc) was really not the determining factor in whether a dog would bite. The determining factor was owner characteristics - and these sorry-assed owners disproportionately tend to own high-drive dogs.

In other words, almost without exception, strong, high-prey drive dogs were disproprtionately owned by people who:
Never socialised the dogs as pups.
Never did one iota of formal training.
Did not exercise their dogs off their property.
Disproportionately owned intact, chained-up dogs - that over months and years of being chained up and given zero opportunity to learn how to be properly social dogs, are practically insane with frustration and pent-up energy, so when they escape or have opportunity, tend to behave very aggressively.
Owners of such dogs were disproportionately low-income, in high crime neighborhoods, and furthermore did not get routine veterinary attention and/or grooming for their dogs.

The millions of people who own pit bulls, Rottweilers etc who train, socialize, work and compete with them were and are utterly absent from the bite/mauling statistics. elbows I maintain that whatever owners you saw who claimed that they had no! idea! their dog could do such a thing, and "it just snapped!" are by definition, clueless.

As a long-time Rottweiler owner and frequent pit/pit mix foster home, I am more than willing to acknowledge that high drive, strong dogs (regardless of breed) need extra-responsible, savvy owners. Because yes, with dogs like this (regardless of breed) there is potential risk with your average owner who wants a coffee-table dog.

And, what Telemark said. The statistics are skewed because a: the general public as well as veterinarians and animal control officials are not much better than the average Joe at determining dog breeds, and b: anything that might be, or might be a pit bull mix, or looks vaguely bully-dog-ish, is invariably reported as a pit bull in news stories or reports.

Absolutely, pit bulls are over-represented in dog bite and fatalities, but it is NOT because of an inherent issue with the breed. It is ALL about an overabundance of idiot and ignorant owners.

I have lived for almost 30 years with "killer" Rottweilers. I have fostered about a dozen pits/mixes. I have professionally trained dogs, and put CH titles on a few. And I work in people's homes for my IRL job, often around hinky dogs. My only animal-related injury in over 30 years? A cat that attacked me out of then blue and shredded the shit out of my leg, causing a really nasty infection.

And dogs that have bitten or attempted to bite me - despite living with Rottweilers and having extensive experience with pit bulls and dogs in general: Maltese, miniature Schnauzer. toy poodle (more than one), Australian shepherd, German shepherd, Daschund (more than one), Husky.
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  #48  
Old 01-21-2013, 01:29 PM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elbows View Post
The province doesn't seem to suffer any consequences from the ban, whereas children ARE safer!
I haven't seen any evidence that this is true. Breed based bans don't have evidence to support that they are effective at reducing dog attacks. There may be many other factors that have reduced dog attacks (better enforcement, higher awareness), it may simply be poor reporting/tracking, or the number of attacks is so low that any change can be attributed to random chance.

And has been said multiple times in every pit bull thread, irresponsible owners who want untrained and anti-social dogs simply move on to a new chic breed like they have in the past. The actual breed of dog doesn't really matter; most 40+ lbs dogs can become dangerous if treated and trained improperly.
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  #49  
Old 01-21-2013, 02:55 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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As is obvious from my previous post I think breed specific bans are ll-advised and agree that the dangerous owner will just switch to another breed that has the potential to be a dangerous dog. A well socialized and well trained Pit is no bigger risk than a well trained and socialized St Bernard or a Huskie.

But that does not mean that some dogs are not more easily made into dangerous dogs than others. And that is not only a feature of size and jaw strength. It is much easier to make some dogs aggressive than others; breeds do have predispositions to certain temperaments. My greyhounds have a predisposition to chase after small fast furry things, for example.

Are Pits, compared to other dogs of their size and jaw strength, more easily made into dangerous animals? Does it take more effort to adequately train and socialize a Pit as a family pet in a chaotic household, than it does to adequately train and socialize, say, a St. Bernard?
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Old 01-21-2013, 03:25 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSeid View Post
Are Pits, compared to other dogs of their size and jaw strength, more easily made into dangerous animals?
More than many, yes.
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