Pit Bulls have a reputation in society as being inherently aggressive, dangerous dog breeds. Many people cross the street to avoid walking near a Pit Bull or panic if one approaches at the dog park.
Some apartment complexes and even entire cities have banned Pit Bulls due to assumptions that they are prone to attack.
But are these stereotypes about Pit Bulls rooted in reality?
New data from the American Temperament Test Society’s temperament exams challenges these preconceived notions and shows that Pit Bulls act friendlier than even America’s most beloved canine – the Golden Retriever.
Statistics released this year from the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS), which conducts standardized temperament tests on dog breeds, reveal that American Pit Bull Terriers pass the test at a higher rate than Golden Retrievers.
The results provide objective evidence that the negative assumptions about Pit Bulls are simply untrue.
Well-trained and properly socialized Pit Bulls have friendlier temperaments than some promoters of breed stereotypes would have you believe.
The American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) is a national non-profit organization that promotes uniform temperament evaluation for purebred and mixed breed dogs. They developed a standardized temperament test to objectively evaluate different aspects of a dog’s personality and behavior.
The ATTS temperament test focuses on measuring a dog’s stability, shyness, aggressiveness, protectiveness, and friendliness in a series of simulated everyday situations. Trained evaluators administer the test and score each dog according to its reactions to various stimuli and scenarios.
The test takes about 10 minutes and consists of 10 subtests categorized into groups assessing reactions to strangers, auditory and visual stimuli, tactile sensations, and threatening situations. The Pass/Fail standards are adjusted for each breed based on that breed’s typical characteristics.
The ATTS temperament test provides an objective assessment of breed behavioral traits. By comparing passing rates between breeds, we can gain insight into relative temperament differences.
Here is an example of the ATTS test:
American Pit Bull Terrier vs. Golden Retriever
According to the latest statistics from the American Temperament Test Society, American Pit Bull Terriers and Golden Retrievers both exhibit excellent temperaments based on their high passing rates.
However, contrary to the assumptions about these two popular breeds, American Pit Bull Terriers passed at a slightly higher rate than Golden Retrievers.
As of this writing, according the latest test results, American Pit Bull Terriers passed 87.6% of the time, while Golden Retrievers passed 85.9% of the time.
Both passing rates are above the average for all breeds, which is currently 84%.
Other Pit Bull breeds including the American Bully, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier all passed at above average rates as well.
Considering Golden Retrievers are renowned for their friendly, eager-to-please personalities, it is notable that American Pit Bull Terriers exceeded their passing rate.
This suggests that well-bred, trained American Pit Bull Terriers have comparable or potentially more stable temperaments on average compared to America’s family-favorite Golden Retrievers.
The data indicates that despite their reputation, American Pit Bull Terriers displayed friendlier behaviors and reactions than Golden Retrievers when placed in the standardized test scenarios. This objective testing casts doubt on subjective breed stereotypes.
Training and Socialization Matter More Than Breed
While breed traits and tendencies do exist, proper socialization and training from a young age can shape a dog’s temperament more than its genetic background. A well-socialized and trained American Pit Bull Terrier is likely to be an excellent canine companion.
All dogs, regardless of breed, should be appropriately socialized to people, other animals, and various environments beginning in puppyhood. Ongoing positive training and reinforcement of desired behaviors is also key to nurturing a friendly, confident dog.
Owners have a responsibility to provide their dogs with the experiences and guidance needed to become stable and sociable. An untrained, unsocialized dog of any breed can develop problem behaviors.
In the case of breeds with guarding instincts like American Pit Bull Terriers, early socialization reduces unwanted aggression and builds trust in their surroundings. Owners of breeds with negative reputations must be extra diligent regarding training and counterconditioning.
While the ATTS results show breed tendencies, proper rearing has more influence than genetics on an individual dog’s personality. With dedicated owners who emphasize socialization and training, even misunderstood breeds like American Pit Bull Terriers can exceed temperament expectations.
The Importance of Objective Breed Assessments
The ATTS temperament test data highlights the need to objectively assess breed traits rather than rely on popular assumptions or reputations. While perceptions of aggressive Pit Bulls persist, the reality as evidenced by testing shows excellent temperament potential in the breed.
Standardized temperament evaluations like those conducted by ATTS provide factual breed information using controlled tests and scoring. They measure breed tendencies without the bias or subjectivity that shapes public opinions on certain dog types.
Of course, no test can account for all representatives of a breed or guarantee individual behavior. There is variability within breeds as with any animal. However, aggregated test data over hundreds or thousands of dogs gives a credible view of breed-wide temperament.
Before forming judgments on a breed, the public should consult objective assessments from reputable testing organizations. Shelters, landlords, insurance companies and legislatures may also benefit from referencing unbiased breed data when establishing policies.
While breed prejudices can be deeply ingrained, empirical temperament testing helps counter stereotypes with facts. As the Pit Bull example illustrates, reality does not always match perception when it comes to dog breed temperaments.
It’s Time to Rethink Pit Bulls
The recently released temperament test results from the American Temperament Test Society should prompt a re-evaluation of assumptions about Pit Bulls.
Despite the prevalent stereotypes portraying them as inherently aggressive, Pit Bulls demonstrated better temperament on average than Golden Retrievers. Their high passing rates contradict the biased reputation of the breed.
For those unfamiliar with the breed, the truth about Pit Bulls can be surprising. This data provides credible evidence that Pit Bulls are not the dangerous dogs they are often made out to be.
When properly bred, socialized, and trained, they exhibit exceptional temperaments. These findings reveal that the sensationalized portrayal of Pit Bulls has no factual basis.
Of course, responsible ownership and early socialization is vital for any breed. But it’s clear that Pit Bulls have the capacity to be gentle, friendly, and affectionate companions when raised in a caring home.
It is time to let go of unfounded breed discrimination and give Pit Bulls a fair chance to be evaluated as individuals.
With a dog, as with humans, it is unwise to judge a book by its cover. Breed labels do not determine behavior. As the ATTS results emphasize, it’s time to see beyond the stereotypes and recognize Pit Bulls for what they truly are – one of the most human-loving dogs known to man.