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Are Pitbull Mixes Dangerous? Important Info for Potential Owners

Written by: Kit Copson

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Dogster Team

pitbull and golden retriever mixed breed

Are Pitbull Mixes Dangerous? Important Info for Potential Owners

Many are suspicious of Pitbulls because of the negative media coverage these dogs get, leading some to wonder if a Pitbull mix would be “safer”. The answer? Quite simply, as with any breed or type of dog, some Pitbull types are aggressive—often due to poor socialization and other factors—but most are friendly and peaceful dogs, something several experts have attested to.

There are a lot of factors that go into molding a dog’s behavior and personality, so instead of jumping to conclusions about dogs because of their breed or type, we should look at what dogs are like as individuals. In this guide, we’ll break down some myths and misconceptions about Pitbull-type dogs and share what experts have to say on the matter.

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What Is a Pitbull?

Blue brindle pitbull on the grass
Image Credit: Zanna Pesnina, Shutterstock

Before we go any further, we should first clarify what a “Pitbull” is as this is something that’s often misunderstood. “Pitbull” is not a breed or official term, but a word people use to describe dogs that look a certain way.

Physical traits associated with dogs described as Pitbulls include a medium-sized, muscular body; almond-shaped, deep-set eyes; floppy ears; a short, smooth coat, and a long, slim tail. Many dogs fit this description, which is why it’s so hard to pinpoint exactly what constitutes a Pitbull. It also means that a wide variety of personality traits are possible.

Some recognized breeds like the American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Pit Bull Terrier are sometimes referred to as “Pitbulls”, but many Pitbulls are, in fact, mixed breeds.

There are a huge number of possibilities when it comes to Pitbull mixes. Some mixes consist purely of Pitbull types and breeds sometimes referred to as Pitbulls, whereas some consist of these and non-Pitbull types like, for example, Labradors, Huskies, and Border Collies.

Are Pitbull Mixes Less Aggressive?

Image Credit: Ipek-Morel, Shutterstoc

To answer this, we need to discuss a few misconceptions about Pitbull aggression. Pitbulls have a reputation for being “inherently aggressive”, and the media often lumps all Pitbull types into one category—the “dangerous dog” category.

However, as we touched on above, a wide variety of behavioral and personality traits are possible in Pitbulls. The same goes for any breed and type of dog, but especially Pitbulls because they’re so diverse. On that basis, it would be unreasonable and incorrect to assume that all Pitbulls are dangerous.k

Many organizations (including the ASPCA) and shelter staff attest to the importance of viewing each Pitbull as an individual dog. Samantha Nelson, policy specialist for companion animals at the Humane Society of the United States explained to PetMD that “You will be most successful at finding your perfect match by viewing each dog as an individual.”

Based on this information, there’s no way to know if an individual Pitbull or Pitbull mixed with a non-Pitbull type is aggressive or not without getting to know that dog and their story. Bear in mind that socialization, past experiences, and genetics can all play a role in determining how a dog behaves and interacts with people and other dogs.

For example, a Pitbull that has been well-socialized around people and dogs is likely to be a non-aggressive, friendly, and fun-loving companion. A dog that has been poorly socialized and trained, on the other hand, is more likely to get into trouble.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, it’s a good idea to ask questions to shelter staff to learn as much as you can about the individual dog and figure out if they’d be a good fit for your home and lifestyle. We’ll discuss this in more detail further down.

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Are Pitbull-Lab Mix Dogs Aggressive?

Pitbull Mastiff
Image Credit: NivCube, Shutterstock

Labradors are famous for their even-tempered and friendly dispositions, so some may wonder if a Labrador-Pitbull mix would produce a mellower dog than Pitbulls are reputed to be. As with any dog, it all depends on socialization, genetics, and experiences, so again, we can’t judge these dogs as a whole but only on an individual basis.

One thing we know for sure is that both Pitbulls and Labradors are often friendly and loving dogs, so a well-socialized, trained, and properly cared for Pitbull-Lab mix is likely to be a fantastic companion.

Can Pitbull Mixes Make Good Family Dogs?

Absolutely. As explained to PetMD by Rena Lafaille, director of administration and promotions for the New York ASPCA Adoption Center, the media often fails to balance its negative portrayal of Pitbull-type dogs with the “thousands of successful Pit Bull-type dog adoption success stories.”

Lafaille goes on to say, “In reality, most adopted Pit Bull-type dogs are living peacefully with their families and historically have been popular family pets, noted for their affection and loyalty.”

Samantha Nelson, a policy specialist for companion animals at the Humane Society of the United States consolidates this by saying “There are millions of Pit Bull dogs who live happily with their families without incident.” Some Pitbulls even contribute to the community by working as therapy dogs.

How to Choose a Pitbull or Pitbull Mix

Curios pitbull puppy sitting and looking up at camera
Image Credit: sophiecat_, hutterstock

The best way to find your Pittie friend for life is to learn as much as you can about the dog and provide shelter staff with as much information about your needs and lifestyle as you possibly can. Factors to consider and ask about include:

  • How well does the dog get along with people in general?
  • Does this dog get along well with other dogs and pets?
  • If you have kids, is the dog known for being good with children?
  • How does this dog react to strangers?
  • What is the dog’s personality like?
  • Has this dog been rehomed before?
  • Has the dog encountered any type of abuse or neglect?
  • Does the dog have any known behavioral issues?
  • Does the dog have a history of aggression?
  • Does the dog have any health issues?
  • What are the dog’s energy levels like?
  • Approximately how much exercise does the dog need?
  • Is the dog housetrained?

By spending time with the dog and asking these questions, you’ll get a clearer picture of whether or not you’d be a good fit for one another.

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Final Thoughts

Many people have reservations about Pitbulls and aren’t sure whether or not adopting one would be a good idea. These fears are often quickly put to rest after heading to a shelter and meeting lots of lovely, big-hearted, and goofy Pitties. For this reason, it’s important to keep an open mind and liaise closely with rescue organizations to find the right dog for you, no matter their breed or type.

Featured Image Credit: Chivachuck, Shutterstock

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