Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Pit Bulls

A Pit Bull enjoys a beautiful walk on a summer day

Junior — and Daddy before him — has served as Cesar’s right paw dog and ambassador for this very misunderstood and maligned breed. Here are Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Pit Bulls to help you learn the truth about Pit Bulls.

10 Things About Pit Bulls

Magazine Cover

Pit bulls are the only breed of dog to have appeared on the cover of LIFE magazine three times, and of course pit bulls — especially Daddy and Junior — were regularly featured on the cover of Cesar’s Way magazine over its five-year run. Other magazine depictions have not been as favorable, however…

Time Magazine Story

The negative change in attitude toward pit bulls began thirty years ago, with a Time magazine story called “The Pit Bull Friend and Killer,” which began with the premise that the breed is inherently dangerous and did its damage from there. Prior to pit bulls being considered the vicious breed du jour, Doberman pinschers, German shepherds, and Rottweilers had held that designation and were also subject to breed bans and breed specific legislation.

Budlight Dog Mascot

Ironically, 1987 was the same year that Bud Light introduced its hugely popular mascot, Spuds MacKenzie, during Super Bowl XXI. The campaign was not killed because of the dog breed, however. Instead, it was because of pressure from special interest groups that perceived the dog as encouraging underage drinking. Spuds was retired in 1989, although she (yes, the dog playing him was female) made a return appearance as a ghost during Super Bowl LI in 2017.

Music Artist “Pitbull”

You may not recognize the name Armando Christian Pérez — or, as he says Lady Gaga calls him, “Armando, formando escándalo” (“Armando, creating a scandal”) — but you’ll probably recognize him by his stage name, Pitbull, which he adopted because of the breed’s tenacity, as well as its outlaw status in his native Dade County, Florida.

Used as Nanny Dogs

Years before their reputation was tarnished beginning in the 1980s, pit bulls were not only considered safe with children, but they were often used as nanny dogs — and some of the most famous images of pit bulls from the 1920s and 1930s involve them with children, including as Petey in the “Our Gang” comedies and as Buster Brown’s sidekick Tige.

Pitbulls With Flowers

Photographer Sophie Gamand created a series of portraits of pit bulls with flowers in order to help soften the breed’s reputation.

Pitbull Band Members

Meanwhile, pit bulls Budgie and Basil front the grindcore band Caninus as vocalists, with a little human help from members of the group Most Precious Blood — which is not a reference to bloodhounds.

Pitbull Myths

There are many persistent myths about pit bulls. Some of the false ones are that they can lock their jaws, and that they bite much harder than other breeds. But the truth is that there’s nothing special about their jaws, and in a test against a German shepherd and a Rottweiler, the pit bull’s bite strength actually came in last place. (The winner in the animal kingdom is the Kodiak Bear, by the way, with a bite force nearly four times as strong as a pit bull’s.)


One of the reasons that pit bulls get so much of the blame in the media for attacking people is that dogs are often misidentified as belonging to the breed when they don’t. In one study using animal shelter employees in Florida, the number of dogs misidentified by people as pit bulls when DNA said otherwise was inflated by 55%. Out of 120 dogs, only 25 actually were pits or part pit, but shelter staff identified 55 dogs that way. Remember, too, these are people who work with dogs all the time making the error. In the case of police or reporters making the call, it’s reasonable to expect them to be at least as inaccurate, if not more so.

Dog Bite Fatalities

Cesar has always said that a dog sees itself as animal, species, breed, and then name, with the latter two fairly unimportant as far as the dog is concerned — and with breed having nothing to do with a pit bull’s temperament. While people still spread the rumor that pit bulls are inherently vicious, studies have shown that breed is actually not a factor in dog-bite related fatalities at all. Human error and their failings at training or socializing dogs, though, were the biggest factors.

Don’t miss previous installments in this series, covering Chihuahuas, pugs, German shepherds, and Shih Tzus, and let us know which breeds you’d like to read more about in the comments.

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