Owning a Pitbull can be a rewarding experience. Yet, there is a lot of concern about how strong is a Pitbull bite and whether they can actually lock their jaws and do some serious damage.
We have researched everything that you need to know about a Pitbull bite, from the bite force compared to other breeds to the determining factors that will affect how much bite force a Pitbull will put out.
There are a lot of myths that surround Pitbulls and their bites, so we are going to break down all of the facts for you and help separate reality from myth.
How Strong Is A Pitbull’s Bite Force?
Let’s start off by looking at how strong is a Pitbull bite. When put in perspective, a Pitbull’s bite is not really that strong.
The bite has a force of about 325 pounds of pressure, which might sound like a lot, but when you look at other breeds, you will see it is not that much.
In fact, the breed with the strongest bite force is the Kangal, which has been shown to have a bite force of 743 pounds, which is three times the strength of a Pitbull.
If you are wondering why Kangals do not come up in discussions of dangerous dogs, it is because that despite their heavy bite, the dogs are not known to have any aggression.
When looking at breeds that better-known than the Kangal, the German Shepherd has a stronger bite psi than Pitbulls do.
Compared to the 325 psi of a Pitbull, German Shepherds have a bite force of 328 psi. It might not be much more, but considering the bite reputation that Pitbulls have, this should put things in perspective.
How Is Bite Force Measured?
A dog’s bite force is measured in PSI, which stands for pounds per square inch.
This is a non-metric unit used to measure pressure in many situations, including tire pressure, so not just for dog bite strength.
A way to think about it is looking at the amount of pressure occurs per everything square inch of every pound.
PSI is not a metric unit of measurement, however, so you might also see bite force measured in the International System of Units system called Newtons.
This is normally also measured with the abbreviation SI. The difference in a Newton measurement is that they are looking at the amount of force that is required to move a kilogram of mass one meter per second squared.
No matter what unit that you are using to measure a dog’s bite force, we are looking at the amount of pressure that a dog’s jaw can produce when it is closing on itself.
There is no universal dog bite force as it is really affected by the dog breed, the dog’s size, what they are biting into, and what is the situation in which the dog is currently biting.
What Determines A Pitbull’s Bite Force?
A Pitbull’s bite force is not a given based solely on the fact that it is a Pitbull. Instead, the bite force can be affected by the dog’s size, head size, jaw size, and breed makeup.
When it comes to looking at a Pitbulls’ bite force due to size, there is something more interesting about Pitbulls that makes it even harder to determine their bite force.
American Pitbull is a newer dog breed, but there are several different types of dog breeds that are often called Pitbulls or a bully breed. Because of this wide variation in the breed, there is a huge variety in size as well.
If you think about it, a Pitbull is a medium-sized breed regardless, so if you have one that is on the smaller size, say a 25-pound petite Pitbull, that dog is not going to have as much bite force as a Pitbull who is pushing 80 pounds.
The size of Pitbulls, on average, is between 30 and 90 pounds. The bigger the Pitbull, the stronger the bite force that he will have.
This also means that the PSI that we gave above is strictly based on averages, since there is variety within the breed itself as far as size and bite force goes.
Head And Jaw Size
In addition to a dog’s physical size determining the PSI for a Pitbull’s bite force, there is also the head and jaw size to consider.
It has been shown that there is a correlation some of the time that head size can help determine a dog’s bite strength.
If you have two Pitbulls who are each 40 pounds standing next to each other and one has a much larger head and jaw, you can bet that the dog with the larger head will have a stronger bite force than the other dog.
Pitbulls have a notably larger, square-shaped head and a bigger jaw, giving them a better chance of having a more powerful bite force.
Health Of The Dog
It is sad to say, but the health of your dog and the state of his jaw and teeth will also affect his bite force.
If it is a dog that has been in poor health and does not have healthy teeth, then the dog will be unable to physically bite down heard, even if he tries.
There are some medical conditions, including TMJ, which is a jaw disorder, dental decay, jaw muscle atrophy, and even just having crooked teeth that can affect a dog’s bite force.
Conditions such as these will inhibit a dog’s ability to bite at his full strength, resulting in a much lighter bite force.
A dog that is also in poor physical health will not have the strength or stamina to put out a high bite force.
You might not be aware of this, but dogs can be taught from the beginning of puppyhood to not bite strongly.
This is called bite inhibition training. It has been proven that Pitbull puppies that go through this training will be much less likely to bite anyone when they grow up.
If a dog does bite something after he has gone through the bite inhibition training, the bite will also be much lighter and carry a much less significant bite force than dogs that have not gone through the training.
The makeup of a breed can also determine the bite force of a Pitbull. The term Pitbull is often thrown about, but the reality is that it refers to several different types of terriers or bulldogs.
Some of these breeds have a stronger bite force than others, so it can be difficult to simply state that all Pitbulls have the same bite force.
It really depends on the size of your dog, but it also can be affected by which bully breeds go into your individual Pitbull.
The situation that your dog is in can also dramatically affect his bite force. Just because a dog has a strong jaw does not mean that he will use it in all circumstances.
If a Pitbull is feeling stressed or angry, the bite force that you will get out of a dog in that situation will be much stronger than the bite force of a dog that is simply playing tug-of-war.
Situations are why it is difficult to accurately get a good read on a bite force as scientists measuring bite forces would have to create the negative situation for the dog to react to, which is not easy to do.
A dog who is threatened will have a more forceful bite than one who is playing, but creating a situation that puts a dog in the mentally that he is threatened is pretty unethical.
Jaw Locking Myth
A common myth that is associated with Pitbulls is that they have a built-in jaw-locking mechanism, so that when they clamp down onto something, they can lock their jaws to prevent being forced to let go.
A Pitbull’s ability to hang onto something is related more to the shape of their jaws rather than some kind of un-canine-like locking jaw.
They just have very strong jaws that allow them to hold on and resist any kind of escape attempts their prey might pull on them.
In fact, all dogs can show a bit and hold, or even a shaking behaviour while they are biting. You see it most often with dogs and toys.
Playing tug-of-war with a dog can show you just how determined any dog can be to hang onto something. Pitbulls are just really stubborn about it.
Because their jaws are so strong, it is suggested that all Pitbull owners carry what is known as a break stick. This is something that can easily be purchased online or from pet stores.
A break stick works by being inserted behind a dog’s molars to help open his jaw.
It is extremely useful if you have more than one dog and the risk is higher of playful biting turning into a bought of stubbornness without end.
Of course, not all Pitbulls have any aggressive or stubborn tendencies, but keeping a break stick handy just might give you peace of mind.
Why Are Pitbulls Targeted?
So if Pitbulls do not have the strongest bite force, you might be wondering why the breed is targeted.
Even the argument that they are just a more aggressive breed has been debunked as the CDC identified that 72% of dog-bite-related fatalities were associated with breeds not related to the Pitbull.
Instead, the explanation as to why Pitbulls have been repeated targeted as the most aggressive and dangerous dogs has been a media campaign.
In the 1980s, the American Pitbull breed was only just becoming a breed.
People who ran dog fights were breeding Pitbulls to be aggressive and powerful for fighting. As this was covered on the news, it became assumed that all Pitbulls are strong, aggressive, and dangerous.
In a peer-reviewed study that ran an analysis on 140 serious dog bites, they discovered that there is no difference in treatment following a dog bite attack, meaning that a Pitbull’s dog bite is not any more or less harmful than other breeds that also carry the stigma of being dangerous, which includes Rottweilers and German Shepherds, as well as breeds who are not commonly associated with danger, such as Labrador Retrievers.
In truth, any dog that has been mistreated and trained to harm can kill and do extreme damage. Pitbulls just became the public image for aggressive dogs, despite their normally happy and goofy personalities.
Are Pitbulls More Likely To Bite?
Another myth about Pitbulls that comes up is that Pitbulls are more likely to bite humans and other dogs than other dog breeds are.
This is completely untrue. They have been identified in biting accidents of course, but so have many other dog breeds, including Labrador Retrievers and Jack Russell Terriers.
Yet Labs and the smaller terriers are not deemed as dangerous as a Pitbull is.
This all goes back to the unfair reputation that Pitbulls have following them around. They are not any more likely to bite a person or a dog than any other breed.
Their response and use of their bite force is entirely based on the situation and how safe the dog feels in that moment.
Is A Pitbull’s Bite More Severe?
Along with the assumption that Pitbulls like to bite other dogs and people, there is another thought that a Pitbull’s bite is more likely to be lethal.
That is not founded in any real logic. And while 30% of human fatalities come from dog bites do come from Pitbulls, it means that 70% of fatal dog bites are from other breeds.
So, no a Pitbull’s bite is not more dangerous than other dog bites. As we said earlier, the situation that the dog is in before biting can determine how much damage that he does when he bites so the strength of the Pitbull’s bite can be determined by the dog’s emotional state before he bites.
When it comes down to looking how how strong a Pitbull bite is, the most important thing to remember is that any dog, under certain circumstances, can attack and bite.
Pitbulls have the reputation that they have based on the humans who have been breeding and raising them rather than the actual danger the dogs themselves pose.
A Pitbull’s bite force is strong, but not as strong as other breeds, such as a German Shepherd, Kangal, Rottweiler, and even the English Mastiff.
They do not have a locking jaw mechanism that allows them to latch onto their prey without release. This is a myth that has been repeatedly debunked.
So, if you are thinking about owning a Pitbull or even if you already own one, as long as you are kind and train your dog well, the bite force should not be a big concern.
All the same, it is good to have a break stick on hand, just in case your stubborn Pitbull does grab something that he will not let go of.