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11 Pitbull Facts That Might Just Surprise You

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on April 17, 2024 by Dogster Team

pitbull dog standing in the middle of bricked pathway

11 Pitbull Facts That Might Just Surprise You

Pitbulls are a bit of a controversial breed due to reports of attacks and aggression. That said, with the right training and upbringing, they are wonderfully loyal and gentle dogs. However, there are lots of other facts about them that might surprise you.

Let’s take a look at some Pitbull facts you probably didn’t know.

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The 11 Pitbull Facts

1. Pitbulls Aren’t an Actual Breed

You may be most surprised to learn that Pitbulls aren’t actually a breed of dog. In fact, they aren’t recognized by any kennel club. You cannot purchase a “Pitbull” from a high-quality breeder.

Instead, this is more of a type of dog breed. There are many breeds that may be put in this category, like the American Pit Bull Terrier. However, the exact breeds included vary widely depending on who you ask.


2. They’re From the UK

Many people believe that Pitbulls originated from America. Indeed, some breeds were further developed in America, which is how we got breeds like the American Pit Bull Terrier. However, this breed is actually from England, Ireland, and Scotland.

The “Pitbull” is a type of dog developed by mixing bulky breeds with terriers. This occurred most prolifically in England, and then the dogs were imported to America.

3. They Aren’t Inherently Aggressive

Despite their reputation, Pitbulls aren’t inherently aggressive. They’ve been bred as companion animals for over 100 years. Therefore, they’ve been bred to have traits wanted in companion dogs, like friendliness. No one wants an aggressive family dog.

In fact, temperament testing puts many Pitbull breeds at about the same stability as Labrador Retrievers—one of the most popular family dogs around. Therefore, these breeds aren’t inherently dangerous. However, how you raise them does matter. They’re big dogs and can be a bit hyperactive.

Pitbull Mastiff
Image Credit: NivCube, Shutterstock

4. They’re Easy to Train

Pitbulls can be a good option for new dog owners because they are pretty easy to train. In many cases, they are eager to please. They want to do what you say, which makes them far easier to train than stubborn dogs. However, these dogs can also be a bit energetic. Therefore, it’s important to exercise them properly. Otherwise, they can be prone to destructive behaviors and may be a bit too hyper for training.

When you train and exercise them properly, though, they are surprisingly intelligent and pick up on commands quickly.

5. Pitbulls Are Often Friendly

These dogs have often been bred to be companion animals. Therefore, they often remain friendly into adulthood, especially when trained properly.

However, some of them like people a bit too much. They can be hyper, and their larger size can make that a problem. Training and socialization are important to ensure that your dog controls themselves properly when new people show up.

Curios pitbull puppy sitting and looking up at camera
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

6. They’re Prone to Discrimination

Pitbulls are discriminated against often due to their perceived aggressive behavior. However, as we’ve discussed, Pitbulls aren’t particularly more aggressive than other dogs.

There are a few reasons these dogs may be discriminated against more than other breeds. First, Pitbull bites are more likely to be reported on by the media than a bite by another dog, like a Chihuahua, for instance. Second, they’re also more likely to be produced by backyard breeders and puppy mills. Therefore, poor temperament traits may be more common, though this can be avoided by purchasing from a quality breeder.

All of these issues pile up to lead to significant discrimination. However, much of this is unfounded. While it is true that some Pitbulls are aggressive, the same can be said for almost any other dog breed.

7. Pitbulls Can Be a Lot of Work

While they can be great family dogs, Pitbulls can also be a lot of work. They are part terrier, which makes them pretty active. However, they’re also pretty big, so exercising them takes quite a bit of work. They work best for more active families. Since these dogs are large and don’t necessarily understand their size, they aren’t recommended for families with younger children, though.

These dogs also require socialization. While these dogs are often friendly, that doesn’t mean that you can skip this step of raising a puppy. They must be introduced to many people, places, and other animals as puppies so that these things aren’t new and scary when they’re older. We highly recommend puppy classes for these dogs, as these provide training and socialization.

Socialization can take up a lot of time, especially when these dogs are younger. Be sure you can commit to it before you adopt a puppy.

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

8. Pitbulls Were Originally Bred for Farming Work

Originally, these dogs were bred for farm work. This might have included herding or keeping rabbits out of the garden. They were bred to be all-around farm dogs, making them a good choice for lower-income farm owners who wanted one dog who could do lots of things.

However, they were later bred for fighting purposes. Luckily, this was a long time ago, though, and was due largely to their bravery (a trait many terriers possess).

9. They Were Once Nicknamed “Nanny Dogs”

At one point, Pitbulls were the family dog. They were known for their loyalty and general friendly nature. However, they were also brave when it was called for. All of these traits led to them being thought of as protectors of children. It was very normal for families to trust these dogs to watch their children play in the backyard.

In this way, they were very similar to Rottweilers and other “nanny dogs.”

female pitbull alongside the man
Image Credit: CoreRock, Shutterstock

10. They Cannot Lock their Jaws

There’s a misconception that Pitbulls can “lock their jaws,” which supposedly makes them more dangerous. However, this isn’t actually true. They have the same jaw structure as other dog breeds, and their bite isn’t the most powerful out there. Rottweilers and German Shepherds rank higher in terms of jaw strength.

Sadly, this myth still exists today and often causes discrimination against this dog breed.

11. Most Dogs Called Pitbulls Actually Aren’t

Many dogs in shelters are mislabeled as “Pitbulls,” despite this not actually being a dog breed. One study found that shelter staff and vets mislabeled over half of all dogs called “Pitbulls.” Therefore, many dogs that are reported as “Pitbulls,” actually aren’t.

The media and victims of dog bites often do the same thing. Mixed breed dogs may be called “Pitbulls” only because they are aggressive, and many people assume Pitbulls are aggressive.

man looking sad hugging his pitbull dog
Image Credit: SvetikovaV, Shutterstock

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Pitbulls are easily misunderstood. There are many myths surrounding this breed, such as their aggression level and jaw structure. However, these facts can help clear up some of these misconceptions and help you better understand this breed.

That said, it is also important to treat every dog like an individual. While these traits are true for most dogs in this category, “Pitbull” is a very large category. The exact dog breed matters, as does how that dog was raised.

Just like with any dog breed, training, good breeding, and socialization can help ensure your dog has a stable temperament.

Featured Image Credit: Sophia Tr, Shutterstock

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