May 30, 2018

Pitbull Statistics Will Surprise You

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Pit bulls have a bad reputation, but they are rated to be more patient of a stranger passing by than a Chihuahua. Does that shock you? It probably does because of the bad rap this "breed" has received over the years.

© Eli Christman (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Keep reading to learn the truth about pit bulls, their reputation, and the breeds you might want to watch a little closer.

Pit Bulls and Their Nature

Pit bulls are known as aggressive mostly because of the dog fighters who made this breed look bad. However, studies show that they are no more aggressive than many other dog breeds people have at home.

  • Are pit bulls naturally aggressive?
    According to the American Temperament Test Society, pit bulls have a temperament passing rate of 86.7%. This is lower than dogs such as the beagle, Border collie, and Chihuahua. A lack of discipline or training could make any dog, including the pit bull, dangerous, though.

  • What is the number one reason pit bulls bite?
    Just like any other breed, pit bulls that bite do so out of lack of training and socialization. This is more of an owner error than a dangerous dog issue. In fact, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, it is not within a pit bull's inherent characteristics to bite humans.

  • Do pit bulls have the strongest bite force?
    A bite force study conducted by National Geographic concluded that the pit bull had the smallest bite force compared to the other "bully breed dogs." On average, a domestic dog had a bite force of 320 pounds of pressure. As a frame of reference, humans have a bite force of 120 pounds of pressure.

  • Do pit bulls have a "locking jaw"?
    It's a common myth to believe that once pit bulls lock down on someone or something, they cannot let go. Their jaws work just like any other dog's jaw. The larger worry is about the dog's size and strength.

General Facts About Pit Bulls

It may surprise you to learn that the pit bull isn't an actual breed or that pit bulls are not "large dogs." Again, these are some of the myths that give pit bulls the "scary reputation" people give them.

  • Is pit bull a "breed"?
    Pit bulls are a member of the terrier dog group. The actual breeds are called American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. People use the term "pit bull" based on a dog's appearance rather than its actual breed.

  • What size dogs are pit bulls?
    Pit bulls are not considered to be a "large breed." If size is the worry, other breeds of concern should be the Doberman pinscher, German Shepherd, or Bull Mastiff.

  • How often are pit bulls put in shelters?
    Each year, pit bulls take the number one spot for the breed brought to the shelter most often. More shocking, however, is the fact that Chihuahuas still consistently take the number two spot.

  • How many pit bulls are in the United States?
    There are approximately 3.6 million pit bulls in the United States. Of those 3.6 million, an estimated 1.2 million will end up in a shelter.

  • What is the top breed regarding aggression towards humans?
    This may shock you, but dachshunds and Chihuahuas exhibit the largest amount of aggression towards humans. This includes both strangers and the dog's owner. Pit bull terriers are more known for aggression towards unknown dogs than humans.

Injuries and Fatalities from Dog Attacks

It's true that people have died from pit bull attacks, but they have also died from other dog bite injuries as well.

  • How many people die from a pit bull attack?
    From 1982 to December 31, 2017, there were 389 reported (or made public) deaths from a pit bull attack.

  • Are pit bulls the only type of dog to cause fatalities?
    In 2017, 12 different dog breeds caused fatalities, not just pit bulls. The breeds involved included Akita, Boxer mix, and German Shepherds.

  • What are your chances of dying from a dog bite from any dog?
    You have a 1 in 112,400 chance of dying from a dog bite, from any breed. This is the third lowest cause of death risk you face, with only legal execution and being struck by lightning falling below it.

  • How often do dog bites cause little to no injury?
    81% of dog bites cause little to no injury, meaning they could be cared for at home and without medical attention.

  • How many dog bite injuries don't require hospitalization?
    Of the dog bite injuries brought to a medical practitioner's attention, 19% are treated and sent home.

  • How many children suffer from pit bull bite injuries?
    A 5-year study conducted by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that 50.9% of the dog bites were from pit bulls. In total, there were 30 dog breeds involved in the dog bites during that time. The next most common occurrence was from Rottweilers at just 8.9% of the time.

Pit Bulls and Homeowner's Insurance

Homeowner's insurance protects you against liability, but if you own a pit bull, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise.

  • Do you pay more for homeowner's insurance if you have a pit bull?
    There isn't a specific law or ordinance stating that you have to pay more for insurance if you own a pit bull. However, many insurance companies have a "dangerous dog rider," which they require you to purchase to protect themselves against costly claims.

  • How much do dog bite injury claims cost insurance companies?
    In 2016, dog bite injuries cost insurance companies over $600 million in claims. They also made up one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims for that year.

  • How much is the average dog bite injury claim worth?
    On average, dog bite claims paid a victim $33,230, according to the latest 2016 data. This is $3,984 less than the average for 2015.

General Facts About Dogs

Pit bulls are just a small fraction of the dogs that bite each year. With almost 80 million dogs in the US, everyone should know proper dog safety.

  • How many dog bites occur each year?
    Approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Typically, around 19% of those people need or seek medical attention.

  • How many dogs live in the US?
    Approximately 78 million dogs live in the United States. There is also an estimated 85.8 million cats living in the United States.

Bottom Line

Pit bulls, like any dog, can be dangerous. It doesn't mean that they will be, though. Knowing your surroundings and understanding how to own a pit bull or any dog, if you decide to do so, is the best way to protect yourself.

Sources and References:

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