Ask A Vet: The Truth About Pit Bulls


Welcome to our weekly 'Ask a Vet from the SF SPCA' feature on They've enlisted their Co-President, Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, to answer your questions every week. Got a question for Dr. Scarlett? Ask away in the comments!

Happy Friday!  This week, I'd like to open up a conversation about Pit Bulls: truths and myths; definitions of restrictions and mandates in San Francisco; and any other questions you may have. In March, the San Francisco SPCA is offering free spay/neuter for Pit Bulls and Pit mixes belonging to San Francisco residents.  Although the SF SPCA never euthanizes for space, in the city of San Francisco, over 60% of the dogs euthanized are Pit or Pit mix.  The population is tremendously overrepresented in our shelters.
Spaying or neutering is the best thing you can do for your pet's health - on average, spayed/neutered animals live 1-3 years longer. The surgery mitigates the risk of reproductive cancers, curbs the desire to wander away from home, and may help with behavior problems like marking.  If you have a Pit Bull, it is also the law.

Are Pit Bulls more likely to bite?  No.  According to the American Temperament Test Society, the three breeds most likely to bite were Dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Jack Russell Terriers, while Pitts and Rottweilers finished in the bottom half of the list.  Are these dogs innately aggressive?  These dogs are big and they are strong, but they are not generally aggressive. Like any dog, they benefit from positive-reinforcement training.  What dogs are considered Pit Bulls?  Pit Bulls are defined by the City and County of San Francisco as: "American Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers or any dog displaying the physical traits of any of the above breeds...".

What questions do you have about Pit Bulls?  Send them our way in the comments!

While we can’t answer all of the questions here, please feel free to ask us during our Friday Twitter Ask the Vet Chat.  If your animal’s problem is of an immediate nature, please call your vet or you can reach the SF SPCA at 415-554-3030 to make an appointment.

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