The Great White Shark vs. the “Pit Bull” — The Showdown
Last week I came across a bulldog sitting on a sidewalk outside a gas station. I went in to find the owner who apologized because he thought the dog was bothering me. I told him I was just making sure she belonged to somebody and that I had gone right up to the dog and petted her. He went on to tell me about the horrific life this dog had endured at the hands of dog fighters; how she was starved and had her teeth ground down. Then he casually told me that dog fighters like “pit bulls” because “they exert 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch when they bite.”
This man’s recitation of “pitbull” urban mythology didn’t bother me much since I’d been hearing the same lie for over 20 years. But I did challenge his logic. I said “Did you know the Great White Shark exerts 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch when it bites?” He looked confused and certainly wasn’t getting the point. I explained and asked, “How can a dog exert 2,000 pounds per square inch of pressure when it bites when the Great White Shark exerts 1,000 pounds per square inch pressure and has a jaw 10 times the size?” He said, “No really ‘pit bulls’ exert 2,000 pounds. I read it somewhere.” A quizzical look came over his face and I left him alone with his thought.
I wondered as I walked away where in the world someone would read something so conspicuously false? I didn’t have to wait long for my answer: the newspaper! According to the Daytona Beach News Journal dogs exert 900-1,100 pounds of pressure per square inch when they bite. So I guess since “pit bulls” are “devil dogs” that means that whatever the average dog would exhibit characteristically a “pit bull” would exhibit doubly which is how my friend at the gas station must have arrived at the 2,000 pounds figure. When I tried to find the News-Journal’s source for these statistics the article simply said, “News-Journal research.” Where were they researching? Apparently a Time magazine article from 1987 that stated with feigned authority that “pit bulls” supposedly bite with a bite force of 1,800 pounds per square inch bite pressure, which again is laughably false.
So let’s get down to the facts because apparently you can’t trust the media any longer to do that for you. Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin, Ph.D., who is a Senior Research Scientist at the Savanna River Ecology Laboratory and an expert in training, handling, behavior and the anatomy of bully breeds testified in the Tellings case last year that,
“pit bulls do not have locking jaws. Based on actual dog dissections and measurement of their skulls, the evidence demonstrated that pit bull jaw muscles and bone structure are the same as other similarly sized dogs. No evidence was presented to demonstrate that a pit bull’s bite is any stronger than other dogs of its size and build . . . C]ontrary to information relied upon and perpetuated by earlier case law . . . and law review articles . . . assertions that a pit bull can bite with a ‘force of 2,000 pounds per square inch’ have absolutely no basis in fact or scientific proof. The testing of dog bite strength has never been done, and would be difficult if not impossible to perform.”
Additionally, Dr. Brisbin testified that in order to,
“measure bite strength, a dog would have to bite on a steel plate connected to a machine which would then register the pressure
exerted. This type of test was conducted with alligators, but the inherent problem was knowing whether the animal was exerting full force, or, as the trial court stated, was just being ‘a slacker’.”
It is already well known just based on physiology and anatomy that bulldog breeds’ jaw strength is comparable to other breeds of the same size. But since some people appear to prefer a lie to the truth, I guess the myth will continue regardless of just how ridiculous it is because the myth allows those behind breed-specific bans to continue banning breeds.