Canine Myths 27

A myth, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon. A myth is an unfounded or false notion.

In the canine world, there are many tales about dogs that become myths through oral tradition and are now accepted as truth. Many of these myths revolve around the breeds of dogs in the pit bull family. Often, the lore can be extended and applied to other breeds of dog. Each myth must be addressed and challenged as they often lead to the public being ill informed to make educated decisions about their personal safety as well as the welfare of their family and their community. 



The Myth:
When a fighting breed injures or kills a human or pet, advocates say “it’s not the breed, it’s the owner.” They claim that dogs only act aggressively if abused or mistreated.

The Reality:

  • Many breeds of dogs suffer a lifetime of pain and mistreatment without behaving aggressively. Examples include laboratory Beagles, cart-pulling dogs (pre-20th century), and the millions of street dogs living today all over the third world.
  • About half of dogs that kill humans are indoor, middle-class family pets with no history of being abused or neglected. Most police investigations conclude that the owner did not contribute to the dog’s aggression through mistreatment of any sort.
  • As a rule, dogs involved in violent incidents act very differently from abused dogs. Abused animals have a tendency to avoid conflict. They usually only bite when they are cornered and perceive that they have to defend themselves. This is called “fear biting”. They rarely inflict damage worse than a puncture wound. They do not escape from leashes, scale fences, or jump off of second floor balconies to launch an attack. They do not chase people or animals down to bite or maul them. Behaviors associated with abuse are actually considered “bold” behaviors that are rooted not in abuse, but in the dog’s own genetics.

Current research shows that animal behavior is primarily guided by instincts predetermined by their genetic profile or inherited traits.  Socialization and training account for only a fraction of how a dog will react to strangers or family members. Nevertheless, using non-harsh training techniques remains one of the first lines of defense against generating aggression in a dog that would otherwise be okay.



Puppy with blackboardThe Myth:
Many people believe that puppies do not have formed traits or personalities. They are balls of clay that can be molded into any dog the owner wants them to be. Many people believe that “starting with a puppy” is the best way to ensure a safe family pet.

The Reality:
Dogs are born with a combination of genetically bred traits and individual personality.  Often behavior can be shaped by the dogs’s experiences, both good and bad. In many cases, no amount of training and socialization can overcome certain hard-wired genetic traits. Nature is much more in control of what a dog becomes than the nurturing owner.  In other words, breeding is a larger determinant of behavior than environment.

Most dogs will not exhibit their true behaviors and personalities until they reach maturity, which is usually 1-3 years of age, depending on breed. Just because a puppy is raised with children, does not mean it will tolerate children as an adult.  As the dog matures it may demonstrate that it does not possess a disposition suitable for infants and small children. Sometimes, even puppies are not safe with our toddlers or kids. Pit bulls as young as 4-6 months of age have mauled, and even killed humans.

Of course, the vast majority of puppies, even those from fighting breeds, will not grow up to kill humans. However, there have been at least two recent, unrelated cases where pit bulls were purchased as puppies and raised as beloved indoor pets with the owners’ children. At the ages of 8 and 9 years old, these dogs—neither of which had a bite history—each killed a child. In the 2013 case, the dog decapitated the owner’s toddler while the mother was briefly in the bathroom. No noises were heard from either dog or child. Our strong position is that bringing a dog into the home as a puppy and raising it with children is definitely not a guarantee that the dog will be “safe.”

Before bringing a dog into your house, we recommend:

  • Educate yourself about the history of the breed.  Give serious consideration to the breed’s safety record. Just like with consumer goods, not every individual has to be dangerous for a recall to be initiated. If you are a parent, would you choose a recalled crib model for your child when much safer models are readily available? Remember, you are bringing in another member of your family for a long period of time.
  • Evaluate the dog’s parents or other relatives, if possible. For instance, the mother of the dog described above had been euthanized prior to the arrival of the second child due to aggression. Yet the owner still believed her own dog to be “safe,” because she had raised it from puppyhood with her children.
  • Performing a standardized temperament test such as the one in Sue Sternberg’s book “Successful Dog Adoption.” This test is more stringent and more predictive of future behavior than many of the abbreviated tests used by animal shelters. This test can be easily done by any adult, and most of it can be performed while you stand outside of the dog’s kennel.



The Myth:
There is an assumption that showing a dog love, affection and compassion will eliminate behavioral issues.

The Reality:
Having a loving relationship with a dog can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience, but it does not prevent or eliminate behavioral issues that are predetermined by their DNA. There are many things that can be done to control or maintain behaviors. However,   affection and training plays a lesser role. It is important to show love to your dog, but keep your expectations realistic. Maintain appropriate emotional boundaries and remember your dog is not a human being and does not possess human emotions.



The Myth:
Even if a dog has aggressive tendencies, these can be overcome or prevented with proper training. In other words, you can “train it out”.

The Reality:
Canine temperament and behavior is mainly the result of breeding and genetics, rather than training. Anyone with enough experience with dogs will eventually observe that many under-socialized and poorly trained dogs turn out to be great with people and other pets, while other dogs with the “perfect” socialization and training history grow up to be aggressive.

With hundreds of hours of training, an aggressive dog may be under enough control to come to the owner and lie down, rather than bite a visitor. However, the training has not changed the dog’s genes. Once the owner walks out of the room, the dog is likely to follow his innate aggressive pattern. For example, if the visitor stands up, the dog may growl and pin him against the sofa. Training can temporarily redirect an unwanted behavior, but does not eliminate it.

Many pet dogs receive no overt socialization and no obedience training, yet never go on to harm another living creature. Conversely, some dogs were raised “right,” but have still harmed people or pets. When considering which dog to bring into your home, genetics is more important than the amount of training the dog will receive. Any dog that has once shown it will deliver a serious, uninhibited bite is at risk of doing this again in the future. Training might decrease the likelihood somewhat, but it will never “cure” this behavior once it has been shown. This is true regardless of whether the biting is a result of genetic predisposition or of abuse.



Aussie HerdingThe Myth:
Today, there really is no difference between breeds with regard to behavior. Breeds have lost their instincts. Now, they are bred just for “looks.” Therefore, no breed is more dangerous than any other breed.

The Reality:
The physical appearances of dog breeds may have changed and evolved selectively over the years. However, the majority of dogs were bred for specific abilities and behaviors.  Phenotype or “looks” were of secondary consideration. These historical traits, both physical and temperamental, are still inherited by dog breeds today. Here are a few examples:

Siberian Huskies: Bred to pull dog sleds in cold climates, these dogs usually have a high energy level, great endurance, and have a passion for cold temperatures. They have fur designed to withstand the cold because they were used as sled dogs in geographical areas that experience harsh winters. Even today, these dogs are not well suited for hot environments and can overheat easily.

Border Collies: Structured to allow them to move for extended periods in a crouch, while using their “collie eye” (a directed stare) to control livestock. No other breed, including other herding breeds, uses this combination of traits to move stock.

Beagles: Originally designed to assist hunters by locating and chasing rabbits while giving voice, their vocal ability is still seen in pets today. Beagles also have an extremely advanced sense of smell that is used to track prey. Even the white tips of their tails were originally designed to let hunters easily follow them as they track.

Labrador Retrievers: Designed to retrieve game from the water and be the ideal hunting companion for humans. The Lab coat has insulating qualities that protect the dog when swimming in cold water. Their retrieving skills can often be seen in the home environment when playing fetch or gently carrying toys in their mouths. This is an inherited trait that is not trained for the breed,



The Myth:
“There’s no such breed as a pit bull.” “Pit bulls aren’t a breed; they are just a ‘type’ of dog.”

The Reality:
The term “pit bull” in lower-case letters refers to three closely-related breeds. The original breed was the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a dog bred for pit fighting in the 18th and 19th centuries in the UK. After importation to the U.S. in the late 19th century, they continued to be used for fighting, but were bred to be taller and heavier. These larger cousins were then registered in the UKC as “American Pit Bull Terriers” (1898) and in the AKC as the “American Staffordshire Terrier” (1936).  Note that these are identical breeds under two different names, and many individuals hold conformation championships in both registries.  In addition, some of the original, smaller dogs were reimported from the UK and were recognized in the AKC as the original “Staffordshire Bull Terriers” (1935).

A 2013 ASPCA double-blind study revealed that shelter workers were able to correctly identify dogs with significant ‘pit bull’ blood (‘pit bull’ = the 3 breeds above) 96% of the time, as confirmed by DNA tests. (click here to see the study).

The American Pit Bull Terrier is actually one of the purest and oldest of registered breeds. The second-largest national kennel club in the world, the UKC, was originally founded in 1898 for the express purpose of registering fighting pit bulls. For approximately the first 50 years, a pit bull not only had to be purebred, but had to win 3 dog fights in order to be registered with the UKC. Today, these dogs’ descendants compete to win prizes in conformation, weight pull, and other sports. Thousands have earned the title of UKC Conformation Champion.

Verdict: The three “pit bull” breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, are just as purebred as St. Bernards, Schnauzers or Dalmatians.



The Myth:
No one can correctly identify a pit bull. Fighting breed advocates claim that most people shown a collage of dog photos online can’t tell which one is the pit bull.

The Reality:
Many pit bull advocate groups post a collage of dog pictures online and ask the public to “identify the pit bull”. What the public does not know is that the majority of dogs pictured are shot from camera angles deliberately designed to mislead. In addition, they show heads only, so size cannot be considered—this would not be the case when seeing the dog in real life. They also feature many rare breeds that are related to pit bulls, but which are extremely uncommon in the United States (e.g., the Dogue de Bordeaux, Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog, and Ca de Bou). And one of the dog breeds that is included is an American Staffordshire Terrier which is the exact same breed as the American Pit Bull Terrier, but registered with another organization. Click here for an in-depth, illustrated article about this misleading test.

It should also be noted that many humane societies offer discounts on spaying/neutering of pit bulls. If pit bulls are so difficult to identify, then how do shelter workers identify who qualifies for the discount? There are also many pit bull rescues with the term “pit bull” in the organization name. How do these groups know which dogs to rescue?

See also: Pit Bull Breed Identification



The Myth:
Fighting breed advocates often erroneously claim that other breeds (Chihuahuas, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, etc.) bite, and even kill, more often than fighting breeds.

The Reality:
The statistics vary depending on breed popularity in a particular area. However, Chicago IL, Las Vegas NV, and New York NY all verified that pit bulls were the #1 breed for reported bites in 2013.

We believe that the focus shouldn’t be on the number of bites, but on the severity as well as the fatalities. Dog “bite” victims usually endure a brief attack lasting seconds, while dog “mauling” victims often endure lengthy attacks should they survive. One of the longest dog attacks on record was in Cary, Illinois and involved 6 peopled being mauled for an hour and half total. Nationwide, pit bulls rank as the #1 breed whose attack is likely to result in the victim’s death.

Unfortunately, many communities do not record the severity of reported bites. Both a single shallow puncture from a Chihuahua and a fatal mauling by a 100 lb. Cane Corso are officially reported as a “bite.”

It is important to understand that fighting breeds have a completely different bite profiles than most other breeds. They are bred to bite down, clamp and shake, causing severe tissue damage. Many attacks can go on for 10-30 minutes, even as passers-by try in vain to remove the attacking dog by choking it, kicking it, beating it with shovels or baseball bats. There are cases of fighting breeds continuing to maul their victim even after the police have shot the dog multiple times at point-blank range.


Pit bull sits

“Pit Bull Terriers Score Exceptionally Well On Temperament Tests”

The Myth:
Pit Bulls have high scores on the American Temperament Test (ATT). and are therefore good candidates to become family pets.

The Reality:
This test is not the typical temperament test used in animal shelters, animal control agencies, or private rescues. The most common temperament tests administered to shelter animals is the ‘Assess a Pet’ test designed by Sue Sternberg and the ‘Safer Test’ designed by Emily Weiss. The ATT is a private test that owners themselves register their pets to take. The dogs compete with scores against other dogs in their breed category. The owner is present for the test and the test evaluates the animal’s behavior when in “everyday” situations such as passing strangers. Dogs being comfortable or exhibiting bold behaviors receive positive scores. The dogs are not tested on how they relate to other dogs or animals. The ‘Asses a Pet’ and ‘Safer test’ are completely different and put value on other aspects of dog behavior. Temperament tests used in sheltering situations can be an excellent tool for predicting future behavior and aggression issues if administered correctly by unbiased handlers. There is not a temperament test that can be administered with 100% accurate results. Dogs that do pass temperament tests can go on to cause injury to humans or other animals.



The Myth:
There is an assumption that the media only reports pit bull incidents and fatalities.

The Reality:
The media reports incidents with all breeds. As recently as December 2013, the media reported the death of an infant cause by injuries sustained from an attack by two Shiba Inus. Pit bulls are in the media more because they are the most common offenders for severe attacks on animals and humans. Since 1982, pit bulls have accounted for 67% of dog attacks resulting in bodily harm. As pit bulls have become more popular as pets, this number has begun to rise.

The media merely reports news of an occurrence based on facts or observations given to them by witnesses and investigators. If anything, the media has a tendency to under-report the breed associated with the incident or attack due to lack of detail regarding the incident. Pit bull attacks have become so frequent in the U.S. today (one lost body part every 5.4 days and one fatality every 2 weeks) that many attacks never make it to the media. The occurrences that are reported in the news often get minimal coverage.  “Man bites dog is news, dog bites man is not.”



The Myth:
To explain vintage black and white photographs that depicted children and pit bulls together, a story was created that back in the Victorian age the pit bull was the “nanny dog”. These so-called nanny dogs were said to be so good with children parents relied on them to babysit and protect them.

The Reality:
One fighting breed advocate created this “legend” in 1971 to distance her breed from its fighting origins. This mention was picked up by a newspaper in 1987 and has since been promoted as historical “fact.”

At no point in history were pit bulls ever “nanny dogs”. There has not been any proof ever given to make this myth a reality. The pit bull advocacy group “BADRAP” (Bay Area Dog Lovers Responsible About Pit Bulls) recently admitted that pit bulls were never nanny dogs and that this myth was dangerous to children. The retraction of the “nanny dog myth” has been highly publicized. Despite the retraction, the myth has lived on and pit bull advocates still repeat it regularly

“Did you know that there was never such thing as a ‘Nanny’s Dog’? This term was a recent invention created to describe the myriad of vintage photos of children enjoying their family pit bulls (click this link for details about vintage photos). While the intention behind the term was innocent, using it may mislead parents into being careless with their children around their family dog – A recipe for dog bites!”



The Myth:
Most people believe that a “dangerous” dog is a dog that barks, growls or tries to bite consistently and predictably.

The Reality:
Some dogs that bark and lunge at people are actually anxious or fearful. In most cases they are bluffing until they can safely find a place to run and hide. These dogs may inflict a minor bite or grab a pants cuff, but are not known for initiating serious attacks.

The “obviously aggressive” dogs who deliver multiple puncture wounds in their first year frequently result in euthanization by the owner, a shelter, or Animal Control.

As with human serial killers, the most dangerous dogs are the ones who lead apparently normal lives and interact normally with 99% of people they meet. These dogs may visit the dog park every day for years with no incidents, then suddenly grab a small dog at a picnic and shake it to death. Or the dog may be a repair shop mascot who greets children all day, but then launches an unprovoked attack on the owner’s visiting niece the same evening.



The Myth:
Some owners think it’s funny when their dog curls a lip at them or growls at their kids. Others believe that growling is a sign of restraint and tolerance in a dog, and indicates that the dog will not bite.

The Reality:
Not all dogs warn before biting, but when the dog is giving a warning signal, it should always be taken seriously and potential victims should be removed from reach.

Owners often have two reactions to their dog’s aggression issues: denial, or trying to “manipulate” the dog behavior. Owners who are in denial often recognize that their dog is aggressive, but think it will blow over. They may be defensive when others point out the dangerous behavior. Others try to reason with their dogs by saying things such as “Don’t growl at mama.”  We must remember that dogs are animals and as such do not have a human’s extensive vocabulary or complex emotions.

Another group of owners is simply uninformed about the signs and progression of aggression. These owners believe that that growling and snapping are “funny,” and are unlikely to ever escalate into an actual bite. There are numerous YouTube videos showing parents filming and laughing while their child—who is out of their reach—risks a disfiguring bite. In some videos, a baby may approach the family dog on the sofa and attempt to pull a rawhide from the dog’s mouth. In others, children are encouraged to surround and hug the family dog in hopes of making a cute video. In these videos, the dogs frequently show multiple signs that they are uncomfortable and at risk of escalating to a bite. They avert their eyes, curl a lip, growl, lick their mouths anxiously and even snap towards a child’s face. Meanwhile, the parents continue to laugh and film.

Don’t let yourself, a visitor or a child become the next victim. Signs of aggression are a warning to remove children and get everybody out of the dog’s reach. Click here to visit our page on Identifying Dangerous Behavior.



A look around the Internet will find many sites claiming that fighting breeds were beloved “nanny dogs” in the past, and have only recently become vilified in the media. A look at historical articles, advertisements and even political cartoons shows that the opposite is true. Throughout the 1800’s and most of the 1900’s, these breeds were considered extremely dangerous. Only in the past 30 years or so—after dog fighting became illegal in most U.S. states—did people suddenly begin promoting fighting dogs as “ideal family pets.”

Those who actively promote these breeds have created several justifications for why these dogs were never dangerous, or are no longer dangerous. This section will examine each of these myths.

Note: “Fighting breeds” can be defined as breeds of dogs that were developed for hundreds of  generations—sometimes up to the present day—to kill other animals and to attack people. For purposes of this article, fighting breeds include the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier (these three breeds being collectively referred to as “pit bulls”), the American Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Dogo Argentino, Cane Corso and Presa Canario.  Some of these breeds are closely related, and others aren’t. However, they all fight by means of gripping and extended shaking of the victim.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

27 thoughts on “Canine Myths

  • JJ

    My 8month old daughter was bitten in the head and face by a Golden Lab, unprovoked and without reason. her skull was punctured, almost lost her eye, and has a scar across her nose and cheek.

    This dog was ill-trained, and excitable, She was left with a family member-babysitter, and crawled to pet the dog in the living room while under the supervision of said family member.

    Where was this aggressive behavior stemming from?

    On the contrary we had a GSD from police line that was “excitable” and ADHD like (I also have ADD) and the dog was fiercely loyal, affectionate and loving towards my daughter.

    Stats are stats, but how can you say experience, training and environment do not affect a dogs behavior?

  • Brandy

    The Cane Corso and Dogo Argentino (which is an incredibly NEW breed) were never fighting dogs. Where is this info coming from?

    • Lisa

      If you click the link to the individual dog pages you will find a list of references. In addition to this while the dog breed may have been recently recognized, it doesn’t mean that the dog itself is new.

    • Susan Baskin

      I agree that dogs should be neutered, but it has no effect on their actual temperament. That’s hard-wired in their brains. They’re worse if they’re not neutered, but neutering does not make them safe.

    • Krista Ortiz

      Actually it doesn’t make a difference an aggressive dog will always be aggressive. Fixed or not fixed. There are ways to help with aggression such as obedience training. Learning how to work around your dog’s needs. If this sounds like to much then you don’t belong owningredients any animal period. Don’t get your digital fixed because someone said it’s make them better when you can be extremely disappointed to find out there’s no difference.

  • S.

    Another myth is how safety advocates are ‘ignoring’ all of fatal dog attacks not involving pit bulls. I think that might make a nice article, and it would help to have something like like to use in discussions. Thank you so much for the postings. I use them.

    • Susan Baskin

      Pit bulls are responsible for 82% of FATAL dog attacks in the US. That doesn’t include severe disfiguring maulings, hospitalization, and killing of other animals like horses and cattle, and other dogs. There have been fatal attacks involving other breeds, especially Rottweilers, but pit bulls are breaking records.

  • Aly

    Although my dog breed isn’t mentioned in this article, I suppose you would also call it a “pit” type. (It’s a miniature bull terrier).

    However, I wanted to say something from an owner point of view.

    It saddens me that so many pit bulls are in fact aggressive towards other dogs. Other breeds also often are ( which I guess IS the laziness of owners, bcos an aggressive golden retriever…. ugh?!) I don’t see what they are for in the modern day. I think that aggressive dogs (aggressive towards other pets) should be kept on a leash and muzzle, and strictly controlled. (I know I wouldn’t want any stranger dog to bite mine!) Any dog that is aggressive to a human being for no good reason (like being kicked) SHOULD be euthanized.

    But at the same time, I’ve met plenty of english bull terriers, staffordshire bull terriers who are super friendly with anyone, including same sex dogs. And IMO, that’s just some kind of dog racism to think that all dogs belonging to the same breed will bite. My dog is 5 years old now, a male, super friendly with any other dogs. I’m just saying, just because I’ve had experience with friendly dogs of these breeds, doesn’t mean they’re ALL friendly. But it also doesn’t mean they all bite or will attack in the future. These dogs were NEVER bred to attack humans, quite the opposite.

    I’ve been bitten twice, once by a collie, other time a ridgeback. Both times for no reason. But it doesn’t mean all dogs in those two breeds must be killed. As it doesn’t mean other dogs of these breeds will bite me in the future. (Unless they have a strong anti-Aly policy, hmm.)

    I think the only way to control the situation is to make strict rules about people who get large, muscular type of dogs who can do a lot of harm to anyone if they’re aggressive, and people who breed them, and of course control all the dog fighting rings (which is absolutely terrible and cruel.) I also want a breed to have a good name, but an owner who doesn’t recognize his dog’s aggressive behavior, lets it slide, is a bad owner. And it’s not just about pit bulls. It’s about dog ownership in general. (One can dream, right?)

    The other interesting thing here is that the media often reports dog attacks by the wrong breed. Unfortunately not all journalists know their breeds and a chocolate labrador can be easily called a pit bull. Even my dog is called a pit bull quite often by people who “heard something but didn’t know what it was but are scared.” Fortunately, most of them change their opinion after communicating with my dog.

    • Daxtons Friends Post author

      In upholding Denver’s pit bull ban in 1991, the Supreme Court of Colorado wrote, “The city, however, is not required to meet its burden of proof with mathematical certainty of scientific evidence,” when identifying a pit bull.2 Death investigation reports prepared by police and medical examiners are sufficient to determine dog breed.
      Source: The Colorado Dog Fanciers, Inc. et al. v. The City and County of Denver, 820 P. 2d 644 (Colo.1991)
      The term “pit bull” in lower-case letters refers to three closely-related breeds. The original breed was the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a dog bred for pit fighting in the 18th and 19th centuries in the UK. After importation to the U.S. in the late 19th century, they continued to be used for fighting, but were bred to be taller and heavier. These larger cousins were then registered in the UKC as “American Pit Bull Terriers” (1898) and in the AKC as the “American Staffordshire Terrier” (1936). Note that these are identical breeds under two different names, and many individuals hold conformation championships in both registries. In addition, some of the original, smaller dogs were reimported from the UK and were recognized in the AKC as the original “Staffordshire Bull Terriers” (1935).
      A 2013 ASPCA double-blind study revealed that shelter workers were able to correctly identify dogs with significant ‘pit bull’ blood (‘pit bull’ = the 3 breeds above) 96% of the time, as confirmed by DNA tests.
      In Ohio the Supreme Court wrote a decision in the state of Ohio v. Anderson that used the words over and over “a dog owner of ordinary intelligence can identify a pit bull.”
      Here is a quote ” In sum, we reject the appellee’s contention that the phrase “commonly known as a pit bull dog” is so devoid of meaning that R.C. 955.11(A)(4)(a)(iii) is unconstitutionally void for vagueness. Pit bull dogs possess unique and readily identifiable physical and behavioral traits which are capable of recognition both by dog owners of ordinary intelligence and by enforcement personnel. Consistent and detailed descriptions of the pit bull dog may be found in canine guidebooks, general reference books, statestatutes and local ordinances, and state and federal case law dealing with pit bull legislation. By reference to these sources, a dog owner of ordinary intelligence can determine if he does in fact own a dog commonly known as a pit bull dog within the meaning of R.C. 955.11 (A)(4)(a)(iii). Similarly, by reference to these sources, dog wardens, police officers, judges, and juries can enforce the statute fairly and evenhandedly. Consequently, we find that R.C. 955.11(A)(4)(a)(iii) is not unconstitutionally void for vagueness. ”

      Toledo v. Tellings covers the ID issue as well as constitutionality, this is also a state Supreme Court ruling.
      Pit Bull ordinance back under the microscope
      A Pit Bull is defined as a Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog, the American pit bull terrier breed of dog, the American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog; any mixed breed of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, or American pit bull terrier as to be identifiable as partially of the breed Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, or American pit bull terrier, or any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier; and other breeds commonly known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs, or pit bull terriers, or a combination of any of these breeds.
      Read more:
      Pit bull ban stands in Camdenton, pet owner must relocate bulldogs

      Spree Hilliard – Posted Nov. 19, 2014 @ 8:22 am
      Camdenton has an ordinance banning pitbulls inside in the city limits that dates back to the late 1980s.
      Even though Brown provided paperwork stating that the two dogs, Karma and Chaos, were registered American Bulldogs, not pitbulls, city officials say they display ‘characteristics of pitbulls’ so therefore she is in violation. In 2011, the city made an addendum to the ordinance that includes banning dogs that have similar physical characteristics to pitbulls. If a dog matches five of the eight physical characteristics, it can’t be within city limits.

      Read more:

  • Toni P.

    Dear Ms. Fordham,

    I would commend you on the “wonderful things” you have done to protect animals, but judging by your posts, especially your last comment, your ego is big enough that you have no problem patting yourself on the back. Just because one is realistic about animals, does not mean they can’t do “wonderful things” for them. I have also been involved in advocacy against wild animals in the circus and in private ownership. I have a deep passion for those animals, but at no point would I tell someone it is safe to interact with one. It is alright to acknowledge the dangers of pit bulls, as well as other breeds, with no ill will. I do not advocate dog fighting or any abuse them. At the same time, I do not advocate that they are safe to own, or that anyone should own, or that they should be allowed near children. In my opinion, pit bulls should be spayed and neutered until they are no longer in existence. This is the most humane option to solve issues such as the lack of adequate homes for them, their high euthanasia rates, and the risk they pose to public safety.

    As for the information in the “Canine Myths” section, I find it to all be true. Just because you do not like the information, does not mean it is false. The information was written by me as a result of my training and experiences working in the animal field. I spent many years studying dog behavior and had a position where I was professionally assessing dogs. I could post my resume, but I already know that it would not change your opinion. It is extremely difficult to change opinions based on pure emotion. I realize that the myth section angered you because it is what many animal advocates know to be true, whether some admit it or not.

    I can assure readers that I have a minimal ego and I recognize that no one knows everything about dogs. All the information written was presented to my associates in the animal field, including those I consider my mentors, before it was published on this website. My goal is to give readers the best information on dogs that I possibly can. There is not a motive or any benefit for me to present false information. I am not being paid or compensated in any way. I am also a dog owner, and to be honest, one of my dogs makes the list of “Potentially Dangerous” dog breeds.

    With all that being said, I wish you the best of luck with your activism efforts. We share several animal related causes and even though we do not agree on this one, we might cross paths again someday as allies on another one.

    Thank you,
    Toni P.

  • Kim Fordham

    you’re just upset that I make sense and that I have done wonderful things to protect animals…..get over your bitterness and move on! I will continue to advocate for pit bulls, they are NOT a bad breed, people are! Done!

  • Kim Fordham

    First Thieu-Tiet Parsons, let me by start off by saying that you really shouldn’t comment on something you do not know anything about and to insinuate that I was a dog while writing this, well you should be ashamed! Let me tell you a little about myself and you will end up retracting your rude comments. I have founded and operated a very well known organization since 1999. In that time, my organization and my people have accomplished great things for animals such as helping to spearhead 2 anti-cruelty animal laws in S. Korea and 1 anti-cruelty animal law in Canada along with assisting a law banning crush videos right here in the U.S. which Obama signed into law back in 2010! We also helped to facilitate the lawsuit against Wringling Bros circus, in which they were found guilty and assisted in the lawsuit against the Craigslist puppy killer, in which he was sentenced 10-45 years in prison. We are also working to enact laws in China to ban the dog meat and fur trade. I, myself have worked alongside of Pit Bulls and Rottweilers specifically and have done many types of research on their history, genetics, their chemical make up in their brain, training, interviewing of breeders, veterinarians and so on of these breeds since I started my organization in 1999. For someone like this person to post a page full of untruths and so called facts that have been disproven over and over again, is really disheartening and to put it mildly, pisses me off. This person has not doe any research on pit bulls but pull what they see off the internet and post it as truth. The advocacy community is outraged by people like this because they have no clue what they are talking about. To spread fear based on unfounded myths among people is wrong and for someone like you to comment back on this issue is preposterous to say the least! Tell me what you know about pit bulls, their history, their genetic makeup? I would love to hear what you know! These breeds are the most gentle loving animals in the world! Remember at one time, there was backlash on the German Shepard, then the Doberman and so on? The backlash ended because it was found that those breeds are not genetically vicious and of course it’s time to pick on a new breed such as the pits. It is all in how people handle them and breed these dogs. Pit bulls are very strong, loyal dogs to their masters therefore people take advantage of these characteristics! Then they breed the one that more aggressive with another that’s equally aggressive to come out with a super aggressive dog then prance around with these “super” dogs they created to look and act cool, fight them for money, to look cool, whatever their reasons and it places a bad reputation on this breed. Their are bad seeds everywhere you go, not every pit bull bites or attacks, just like not ever cocker spaniel bites or attacks, but if provoked or trained or bred that way, you bet that cocker spaniel would be considered “vicious!” Just like there are people out there that murder, rape, steal and then you have people that are kind, loving, gentle. Well animals are no different, they have personalities and quirks just like people. Some dogs are less tolerant of kids than another dog, some are lazier than another, some want more attention and love than the other. I have two pit bulls and a Rottweiler myself and between the 3, they couldn’t have more different personalities and quirks within each other. They are all 3 very loving and gentle one pit wants affection all the time, the other, well she’s a loner and likes her space. That doesn’t mean she’s bad or vicious or she’s going to “turn” on us, that’s her personality. Think of some people in your life that are that way or very social, does that mean that person is going to turn on you and attack you one day?! Did you know that more pit bulls die at the hands of their handler because they are trying to get out of the pit, that’s right, they don’t want to fight and when that happens, their handlers kill them in very vicious ways! Now, who’s the vicious one? All I am asking is when you see stuff like this, ask yourself where did the information come from and why is this person posting things like this? This person has an agenda, their child was attacked and killed by a dog and now all dogs-all pits are vicious! That’s one dog, not all dogs or all pits, and why did the dog attack, was it provoked, was it trained to be that way, in that case, we need to look at the owner, not the dog! The owner should be charged held accountable. All too often when there is a dog attack by a lab or another breed, it’s not news worthy, the media is very biased. There are lots of attacks by other breeds that are not reported or recorded but when it’s a pit, then it’s mayhem and it’s all over the media. The lab has the highest number of bites than any other than comes the Chihuahua following right behind. For the past several years, pit bulls have been under attack just like the german shepard, the Doberman, the Rottweiler. What breed is next when people are exhausted of this attack on pit bulls?!

    • Daxtons Friends Post author

      Young people think the present level of dog attack violence is normal, because they never knew a time when it was not.

      From 1930 to 1960 the U.S. averaged less than one fatal dog attack per year. Pit bulls during that time killed nine people. Dobermans killed two, one in 1955 and one in 1960, and that was enough to create the lasting image of the Doberman as a dangerous breed.

      Since 2010 we have averaged 29 fatalities per year from pit bulls alone. From 1960 to 1985, the U.S. averaged about 600,000 bites per year requiring medical treatment, with a dog population of about 35 million. From 2000 to today, with a dog population of about 70 million, the average number of dog bites per year requiring medical attention has been between 4.7 and 4.8 million.
      What changed?

      In 1960 pit bulls were about half of one percent of the U.S. dog population. By 2000 they were about 4%, and now they are 6%.

      • Geri. Moore

        That was a wonderful time in the 40’s and 50’s when children, along with their pets can run free and play outside without having to look over one’s shoulder in case if someone let a pit bull out to attack one of us. We never heard of people or pets killed by these types of dogs. Thank you for the I formation on here to hopefully save lives.

    • Daxtons Friends Post author

      “The Nanny dog is NOT a myth and pretty much everything you said in your myth/fact blog is just plain BS full of untruths.”

      Your argument is lost after that statement.

      • Susan Baskin

        Nonsense. The only dog deserving the “nanny dog” label is the Newfoundland, because of the Peter Pan book, (the dog was called Nana), and the fact that Newfs actually rescue people rather than kill them.

  • Kim Fordham

    First of all, I am sorry for the loss of your son, but what MISINFORMATION you are spreading about Pit Bulls and dogs in general. Please read credible sources before posting a blog full of lies and crap that have not been proven. The Nanny dog is NOT a myth and pretty much everything you said in your myth/fact blog is just plain BS full of untruths. Everything you spoke about in myths has been proven over and over and your so called FACTS are ridiculous and causing widespread fear over your anger and misinformation!! Get your information correct and post the truth about Pits and dogs in general.

    • Thieu-Tiet Parsons

      Wow, if I didn’t know any better I’d think you curled your lip, licked your mouth and growled while writing your comments, Kim. You must be a pit bull lover or a parent who foolishly filmed one of those mentioned videos.

      Your attacking tone already discredits what you expressed, and hence confirms the article written here.

      Thank you Daxtons friends for your calm and factual reply. I am deeply sorry over your loss of Daxton and thank you for this website. My daughter and nephew — w/ very young children– need to read this blog.

    • C

      The nanny dog myth was abandoned for pitbulls bc of the attacks and deaths of the children and family members who housed and raised them. Nice try though.

  • Rescue Woman

    This information is critical in the effort to debunk the pit bull advocacy movement. Your dedication is needed to educate the public. The words Thank You are not enough.

  • Albert Schepis

    This is impressively comprehensive and focused on pit bulls and myths about aggression in dogs. Great work. For more about dogs overall from whom I consider to be a world authority, also look up Alexandra Semyonova’s extensive research and analysis of everything “dog”. Her research papers are exhaustively complete and beyond reproach, but it’s easier to find her condensed version in book form “The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs”.