Are PitBulls an Aggressive Breed? – The Truth About Pit Bulls

Pitbulls have a long history of violence that still haunts them. People are still afraid of this dog breed because it is known as an aggressive breed. But is that all true?

American Pitbulls are a loyal breed, and they are far from the aggressive image we have of them. Today I have brought facts to debunk all the myths and lies about the aggressiveness of Pitbulls, so let’s get to it.

Are Pit Bulls an Aggressive Breed?

American Pitbulls are not an aggressive breed by nature, and our negative image of the breed is based on myths and lies. I am a Pitbull owner, and believe me when I tell you, the American Pitbull breed is one of the most loving dog breeds of all!

I did my research to find out if, overall, the breed is aggressive or not. So I asked my friends and other people who own a Pitbull to answer questions about the behavior of their Pitbull with other dogs, children, friends, and strangers.

The answer? Well, everyone said their dog is so loving and affectionate that they cannot leave it alone to guard the house because it will befriend any stranger.

A similar study was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania students, including 30 breeds and 15,000 questionnaires for one year.

The study found that Chihuahuas and Dachshunds are the most aggressive toward humans and dogs, whereas Pitbulls are not aggressive toward humans and owners but somewhat aggressive toward other dogs.

However, there are some cases reported of dog bites, and in most cases, Pitbull is the culprit, and there is an explanation for it.

What Causes Pit Bulls to Be Aggressive?

First, let me state that no matter what dog breed, if you provoke it, it will react aggressively. To answer the question, Pitbulls are not an aggressive breed towards humans, and what causes them to be aggressive solely depends on their training.

So let me explain why Pitbulls are aggressive in detail:

Aggressive Owner

In most cases, if Pitbull attacks, the owner is known to have a violent history and has never trained and socialized the Pitbull. Now some people may say that the reason Pitbulls were bred was to attack and kill their prey.

While that is true, it does not explain the whole situation. People who choose dogs because of their appearance must understand what they were bred to do. 99% of what dogs do is based on their breed and what that breed initially intended to do.

Purpose of the Breed

Hounds seek out, follow and alert the hunter to prey. Bird dogs like poodles and retrievers are bred to bring the prey the hunter has killed back. Herding dogs do just that; they herd flocks.

Then you have the working dogs. They might be guard dogs, they might be bred to rescue humans, and they might pull carts. As far as pit bulls go, they belong to the terrier group.

Pit bulls are one of the largest Terriers in existence. Terriers are the only dog group that is bred to kill their prey. That doesn’t mean that pit bulls are always in kill mode.

That means they are highly driven, more so than other breeds, because it is a life-and-death battle when they are in the field. Breeders raised very few dogs as pets. Each dog breed has a specific purpose.

There are companion breeds, dogs that were bred to lay around and hang out with you, but because most dog breeds are several hundred years old, people still need to be made aware of the necessity of a dog breed. That makes for a dangerous situation when it comes to Pitbulls.

Insufficient Activity

Pitbulls are among the sweetest, most intelligent, funny, and playful animals worldwide. But, if they are not adequately trained to do what humans expect, they revert to their heritage.

If a dog has nothing to distract it, if it’s not been given a task to do, it will do what it was bred to do. If a pitbull feels like it is being threatened or its property is being threatened, and that dog has not been trained, the outcome can be very, very bad.

Different Types of Aggression in Pitbull

After understanding the reason for the aggression in Pitbull, let’s talk about the types of aggression:

1. Territorial Aggression

Pitbulls develop this aggression with sexual maturity as male dogs are instinctive to protect their territory and people.

This territory-guarding instinct can lead to aggression towards other dogs, intruders, or strangers like the postman. Territorial aggression is common in poorly socialized dogs.

2. Possessive Aggression

Some Pitbulls can develop resource guarding over food, toys, or their bed. This can lead them to act aggressively towards people or animals who try to take these items or approach them.

Possessive aggression is common in dogs with a dominant personality who may use this aggression to exercise power over others.

3. Maternal Aggression

Maternal aggression is usually temporary when a female dog displays protective aggression over her puppies to prevent people or other animals from getting near them. This is a normal phenomenon and passes as the puppies grow.

4. Pain Aggression

Pain aggression is shown when a dog is in pain from illness or injury and lashes out when people inadvertently increase that pain by touching the painful spot. This aggression is instinctive; many injured or sick animals, not just dogs, display it.

5. Predatory Aggression

Predatory aggression is often found in hunting dogs or working dogs with a high prey drive, such as German shepherds and huskies. This type of aggression is relatively rare in Pitbulls.

6. Redirected Aggression

Redirected aggression is one of the significant causes of aggression towards people, especially people breaking up dog fights or pulling dogs off prey.

These dogs may become momentarily frustrated at a human who interferes and lash out instinctively at them with high levels of aggression.

7. Sexual Aggression

Sexual aggression is typically aggression shown to dogs of the same sex, so it often occurs between two male dogs or two female dogs. This aggression is usually the result of sexual competition and gender-based social dynamics.

8. Fear Aggression

Fear aggression is described in the section of this guide on socialization. Unlike possessive aggression or territoriality, fear-based aggression is defensive and rooted in insecurity.

Knowing why and what type of aggression your Pitbull is displaying can go a long way towards helping you solve how to stop those aggressive behaviors.

At What Age Do Pit Bulls Show Aggression?

Like humans, dogs also go through the teenage phase, where they can develop bad habits if adequately trained.

Pitbulls commonly start developing signs of dog aggression between 8 months and 2 years. Before this age, you have to socialize with them so that they do not develop aggression towards strangers or possibly towards you later on.

The best way to stop that is to start training them, so let’s talk about that.

How Do I Stop My Pitbull from Being Aggressive?

If you have brought home a Pitbull puppy and want to raise him so that he is a happy and loving dog, not an aggressive one, you can train them. The same can be applied to older dogs that may already be aggressive but might take some time.

Here are a few ways you can stop your Pitbull from becoming aggressive:

  1. Socialize with him when young.
  2. Train him to obey at all times.
  3. Make sure he is not the dominant one in the household.
  4. Provide plenty of exercises.
  5. Keep him healthy and well-fed.

Obedience Train

Obedience training your dog as soon as you bring her home. This is obvious, but only some dogs that cause problems are untrained.

If you do not know how to train your dog, learn now, and start as soon as you bring her home, so she responds to your hand signals and voice without hesitation.

When I walk my dog, I always put her in a “down-stay” when approaching anyone else on the beach. The people can see what a well-trained and obedient dog she is; thus, she acts as an “ambassador” for other pit bulls.

Socialize Them

Socialize your dog from an early age. There is a lot of disagreement on how early this should be done since young dogs are more susceptible to contagious diseases before their last vaccines.

Based on my experience, socialization needs to happen in the sensitive period (up to 16 weeks of age) before a dog is through with her vaccines. A well-socialized pit bull will enjoy human company.

Be the Leader

Whether or not you believe in alpha dogs and dominance theory, there are a few simple exercises you should always practice at home.

Feeding your dog after making him sit, keeping your dog off of the couch, having your dog sleep in his bed instead of your bed, and teaching your dog to wait for your okay before going through a door.

Even if your pit bull does not need this training, it will become a standard part of her life and make her a better-behaved pet.

Exercise Them

Provide your dog with plenty of exercises. It is another cliché, but a tired dog is well-behaved.

Almost all of the stories I read about pit bull attacks happen from people who always leave their dogs in the house, keep their dogs chained up all day or do not know how to interact with a large athletic dog.

You should not have a dog if you want a pit bull to keep him chained up in the yard and show off to the neighbors.

Keep Them Healthy

Keep your dog well-fed and in good health at all times. Yes, these things can affect his behavior.

A starving dog is more likely to bite; a dog suffering from a painful illness will have a short temper and be more likely to snap when bothered by a family member or stranger.

Keep your pit bull in good shape; if something is wrong, take him to your veterinarian for an examination.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Pitbull Considered an Aggressive Breed?

Unofficially it is considered an aggressive breed by people who have never had a chance to interact with the breed. But for those who have interacted, Pitbulls are the best breed that loves to please their owners and play with children.

Some have even said their Pitbulls are unsuitable for guarding because they befriend any stranger they meet.

The UKC states that the Pitbull breed is “of amiable, loyal, affectionate, children loving and owner pleasing breed and if properly trained will never attack any human or animal.”

Why Would a Pitbull Turn on Its Owner?

Pitbulls are a dog breed, and any dog will turn on its owner if the owner is mistreating, abusing, threatening, or otherwise making the dog feel frightened, insecure, nervous, and in danger. A dog will not turn on its owner the first, second, or third time but after repeated abuse over a long time.

Pitbulls are known for their loyalty, and they will never attack their owner, but if that ever happens, you have to look at the owner, and in 100% of the cases, it’s the owner’s fault.

What Are the Signs of Aggression in Pit Bulls?

Aggression in Pitbulls often brings out bad behavior such as barking, growling, baring teeth, snapping, lunging, chasing, and biting.

An aggressive Pitbull will show these signs if he is agitated by a child, animal, stranger, and, in irregular cases, its owner.

What to Do if Your Pitbull is Aggressive?

First, remain calm and understand why your Pitbull is aggressive and his type of aggression. After determining that try to socialize him, retrain him, and teach him obedience. Take him out to interact but with a leash on and ask for the professional help from a trainer.


Pitbulls are not an aggressive breed by birth, but circumstances may turn them that way. Sure, they were initially bred to be fighting dogs, but that was on humans, and things have changed now.

Now almost nobody enjoys dog fighting and wants their dogs to cuddle with them, so they train their pups as such.

If you want to bring a Pitbull puppy, go ahead because I am sure you will love it. And if you are skeptical of him, I hope this article has changed your mind.

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