How Strong Are Pit Bulls Compared to Other Dogs?

Adrienne Farricelli

How strong are pit bulls compared to other dogs has been something many people have been wondering about.

How strong are pit bulls compared to other dogs is something that has been debated for some time. People even seem to challenge one another on forums and discussion boards as if there is some type of contest going on with a big prize going out to the strongest and toughest dogs. Truth is, when we look at strength, we need to consider several parameters. What really makes a dog strong? Its use in history? Is it the dog's size? Level of muscle mass? The level of bite pressure? And what about temperament? You can't have a wimp type of dog who backs away rather than confronting competing as "top strong dog." Maybe the strongest dog in the world has a combo of all these traits, but let's not forget individual factors.

A Look Back in History

If we take a glance back in history, we will learn that pit bulls were crafted by crossing bulldogs and terriers. The goal of such crossings was producing a powerful dog combining the best of both worlds: the strength of the bulldog and the agility of the terrier.

The dogs produced from such crossings were destined to being used in the bloody sport of bull-baiting and bear-baiting, which were popular in the United Kingdom back in time. Both of these sports required pit bulls to torment and attack animals much larger than them, such as bulls and bears. Of course, this required strength, courage and tenacity.

Fortunately, such gruesome blood sports were officially banned in 1835 once animal welfare laws were instituted. Yet, pit bulls were still employed in dog fights after that, which were cheaper and easier to conceal from the law compared to bull- or bear-baits. Such dog fights took place for decades persisting particularly as clandestine activities (often involving gambling) in Britain and America.

In America, pit bulls were also employed as catch dogs, in the early 20th century. As catch dogs, pit bulls were used to hunt and immobilize large animals such as semi-wild cattle and hogs.

While all these tasks required a lot of strength, we must admit that there were also many other dog breeds employed for similar catch dog tasks. Other strong dogs that come to mind are Cane Corsos, Dogo Argentinos, Perro de Presa Canario and Rottweilers just to name a few.

A Matter of Size

Of course, size does matter when it comes to strength. A larger dog is expected to be much stronger than a smaller one like say a Yorkie or Pomeranian. Pit bulls though aren't really that impressive when it comes to size.

The first time one of my acquaintances met a pit bull in person she remarked: "That's it? This is supposed to be that tough dog every body fears? Heck, my Great dane looks more impressive!" Of course, it didn't help that this pit was the sweetest thing, licking her all over and wagging its tail! Gotta love these dogs!

According to the American Kennel Club standard, an American Pit bull terrier is expected to measure anywhere between 17 and 19 inches at the withers (depending on sex) and weigh between 40 and 70 pounds.

Of course, there are many taller and heavier dogs breeds out there that will can make a pit bull look a bit silly in comparison. For example, get a pit bull and place it next to a powerful Kangal dog standing around 30 inches at the withers and weighing between 90 and 145 pounds.

Sure American pit bull terriers are described as being stocky and muscular, but they mostly give the impression of having great strength for their size, as their standard mentions. There are many other dog breeds who are muscular, stocky and much larger and powerful. However, not all are agile and tenacious as pit bulls, so we must also keep this into account.

Level of Bite Pressure

Many people base the strength of a dog as the level of bite pressure it can exert. Do pit bulls really have the strongest bite? Well, first of all, let's debunk a common myth: pit bulls do not have locking jaws. There is no evidence whatsoever of this dog breed having a locking mechanism of the jaws.

If you are looking for bite pressure statistics, consider that these are measured by psi (pounds per square inch ). In a measurement of bite forces presented by Dr. Brady Bar on National Geographic aired on 8/18/2005, the top position for strongest bite pressure was held by a Rottweiler topping the group with 328 pounds of bite pressure, followed then by a German shepherd and then third place came the American pit bull terrier.

The Bottom Line

Sure, pit bulls are very strong dogs. They are stocky, have big heads and muscular bodies, but their strength is overrated considering that there are stronger dog breeds out there.