Most people are aware of the Pit Bull breed. When it comes to discussing dogs, there are few more notorious. They are often at the center of disputes and portrayed negatively in the media. While the topic of biting and jaw locking is infamous with Pit Bulls, we have to question whether this reputation is fair or even accurate. Questioning this myself, I decided to research the rumor, and get to the facts.
So, do Pit Bulls jaws lock? Pit Bulls jaws do not lock; their jaws contain no type of locking mechanism that would allow for this to be possible. A Pit Bull has a jaw that is no different from any other breed anatomically. While there are rumors that Pit Bulls are famous for locking their jaws when they bite, this is entirely false.
Like all breeds, there is plenty to know and come to understand about Pit Bulls; especially for new owners and those unfamiliar with their typical traits and tendencies.
Whether it is from owning one yourself, a friend or family member having one, or just what you hear on the street, jaw locking is one of the most spread around myths about Pit Bulls today.
No breed of dog can actually make its jaw lock. So why is this question still floating around with no “in agreement” answer?
The biggest reason is simply lack of education on the part of the media and people in general.
There are many myths and untruths floating around about this special breed but let us read on to understand exactly what the truth is!
Are Pit Bulls Dangerous?
Whether Pit Bulls are dangerous is a common question and is controversial – it is often debated among organisations and groups.
For example, Marcy Setter of the Pit Bull Rescue Center (PBRC). Pit Bulls are not inherently more dangerous than any other breed.
Whereas, Colleen Lynn, president and founder of DogsBite.org states that Pit Bulls are more likely to be dangerous, due to the fact that they were initially bred to be more aggressive.
Taking both sides into account, and considering the reports of owners, what we can see is that the danger of every dog varies.
It does depend on the breed, but also a lot of factors including genetics, how they were bred, raised, socialized, and have been treated.
The truth is, just like any dog, Pit Bulls can be dangerous in certain circumstances. For example, if they feel the need to protect themselves or their owners they may act on it.
Regarding biting; the danger in a Pit Bull bite comes not from the bite itself, but from the fact that they grab and shake. They are, after all, terriers and this is a dominant trait in any breed from this category.
Once they have gotten a good hold, they do not bite and release, but instead shake from side to side. It is this that makes any terrier bite so dangerous.
When teeth go through the skin, all the shaking damages bone and tears away at tissues.
Any breed of dog can do a massive amount of damage when they are shaking their “prey”. Keep in mind that it is a natural instinct for dogs to shake their prey.
Watch how your pup plays with toys you have laid out for him and it is almost a certainty that you will see them exhibit shaking behavior.
This is not usually a problem, unless your pet is shaking their toy while showing an aggressive stance.
It is perfectly okay and normal for your dog to shake their toys, but you should never allow them to shake anything other than designated toys.
If your pup starts taking pillows or shoes and shaking them, you need to get them to drop what was in their mouth immediately and replace it with a toy instead.
There is one thing that is different about Pit Bulls. Their singular jaw is not like other breeds, and it give them the ability to perfect that amazing Pit Bull “smile”.
What Is The Jaw Strength Of A Pit Bull?
The jaw strength of a Pit Bull is 235 psi.
A particular dog’s bite, referred to as bite force, is measured in PSI, or pounds per square inch.
To understand that jaw strength of a Pit Bull, it is necessary to reference a few others. Humans have a bite force that is around 162 PSI.
Rottweilers, Siberian Huskies, and Akitas have bite forces in between 300-350 PSI. The dog with the strongest bite however is the Kangal at 743 PSI.
In the animal kingdom, the Nile crocodile is considered to have the strongest bite force with an incredible 3700 PSI.
By looking at these few examples, you can easily see that Pit Bulls are fairly low down on the bite force totem pole and that they do not possess the strongest bite amongst their canine brethren.
However, 235 PSI is still a fair amount of bite force and it is not something that you want to be on the receiving end of.
Are Pit Bulls Naturally Aggressive?
Pit Bulls are naturally aggressive, but only in response to other dogs they perceive as a threat. They are not commonly aggressive towards humans, or their owners. Unless of course, they have been trained to be so.
The media has long been reporting that the American Pit Bull Terrier is dangerous but are they really naturally aggressive? What you need to keep in mind is that they were bred to be fighting dogs.
This makes it logical that they may show some signs of aggression toward other dogs, but they were never bred to be human aggressive.
There are many things that affect the temperament and behaviour of a dog. Fear is a strong motivation in any dog breed, and just like a human, if they believe that there is a threat it is possible that they may launch a pre-emptive strike.
People have the same reaction. Fear aggression is not only limited to Pit Bulls, any dog breed is capable of it.
But because of how tenacious and strong they are, if an incident were to occur, there is a higher likelihood of a bad outcome.
The good news is that Pit Bulls will usually try to retreat when they feel fear. This is a problem that could come from your pup not being socialized well enough.
If your Pit Bull is a female, make sure that she is spayed. Some can become aggressive when they go into heat.
Males should also be neutered to reduce or completely avoid aggression issues.
Do Pit Bulls Suddenly Snap?
Pit Bulls will suddenly snap, but not in the way that you think!
Your Pit Bull could be fast asleep on their bed, upside down and snoring, but if they hear any reference to going for a walk or playing with a ball, they are fully up and awake in the blink of an eye.
Next thing you know they are doing zoomies up and down the halls and tossing toys around like a pro.
When you and your Pit Bull have been together for a long time, you are able to determine what behaviour patterns are normal, and when there is something just not right.
A happy and healthy pet will not just randomly snap at someone.
If there comes a time when snapping and biting at everything comes out of nowhere, this is a warning you should take seriously, and the first thing that comes to mind is a behavior problem.
There are several other reasons why your formerly cuddle-bug now snaps like a crocodile. Fear is an obvious cause, but there is a chance that your dog could be ill.
Older Pit Bulls may have dementia or some other type of cognitive dysfunction. There are also other issues that can affect not just the older dogs, but the younger ones as well.
Your Pit Bull may have experienced some trauma, have a brain tumor, or even a thyroid that is functioning incorrectly.
Injuries can also play a role in snapping. When dogs are in pain, they will often bite anyone who gets too close. Take your pup to the vet to make sure there is nothing serious going on.
Some Pit Bulls will also snap because of food aggression. This usually only occurs when it is a stranger coming to close to their food bowl. Some can also be quite possessive of their toys, with the same result.
What To Do When Your Pit Bull Snaps?
The best thing you can do is get your Pit Bull calmed down in a non-aggressive way.
You want to discourage the behavior, so it is very important to remove the dog from whatever situation is causing the problem.
From there, its imperative to be proactive and do all you can to prevent the cause from arising again.
Its also a good idea to book a checkup appointment with your vet. They may notice or identify a health complication which may be causing your dog to respond in this way.
What Do You Do When Your Pit Bull Locks Its Jaw?
Your Pit Bull will never lock its jaws, but it may refuse to let go of what it is holding in its mouth.
A Pit Bull is one of the most stubborn dog breeds out there and that is the main reason why they refuse to just let go.
Have you ever tried to play tug of war with your Pit? You will never win – NEVER.
There is a tool that you can purchase that will get your pup to release what is in their mouth. Its called a break stick, and you can get one for a great price on Amazon.
A Break stick is pushed behind the molars of the dog and used to force open the mouth.
There should be no need for a break stick if you have a Pit Bull that has been socialized properly and is thoroughly trained, though it does appear to come in handy with this breed.
Never try to stick your hand into the mouth because there is a high potential for injury, even though it would likely be accidentally.
Make sure that you start socializing and training your Pit Bull early so that nothing bad is likely to occur.
Most cities have trainers who specialize in Pit Bulls if you do not feel confident doing it yourself. They are also usually a good source of information if you are struggling with training on your own.
Pit Bulls jaws do not lock; it is not anatomically correct or even possible. This is true for any breed of dog.
However, Pit Bulls do hold on to things and shake their head to ensure they retain the item. This is common with toys.
Furthermore, there is no reason to assume that your Pit Bull will ever bite anyone. Especially if you take the time to give them plenty of love, affection, play time, and training.
These dogs do tend to be more naturally aggressive to other dogs, but they are loyal to their owners and do not tend to act aggressively to or around humans without a reason.
Adopting a Pit Bull from a reputable breeder, raising them to a high standard and proactively doing all you can to ensure they are comfortable, confident and safe should ensure you raise a trustworthy companion.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.