Dear Miss Behavin’: I love how cute Pit Bulls look, and I’ve been considering adopting one, but I am very scared about their “Lockjaw.”  Should I adopt a different breed?

The American Pit Bull Terrier is a very loving, athletic, and affectionate breed of dog. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most misunderstood. Pit Bulls do not have locking jaws, in fact, no healthy dog does! There is a very serious Tetanus infection that can cause rigid jaw muscles and should receive immediate medical attention.

What Pit Bulls do have is a very strong bite, roughly equivalent to a German Shepard’s, and strong jaw muscles. The sad reality is that because of their muscular aesthetic and strong bite many people have bred, trained, and mistreated this breed to be used as fighting dogs. However, the world has been cracking down harder on these inhumane activities and most of the Pit Bulls that we see today have been bred for their companionship and friendly disposition.

Many Pit Bull owners (myself included) swear by the breed and how wonderful they can be when properly socialized. For the highest socialization success rate, remember to always spay/neuter your dog and instill strong bite inhibition. Training “leave it” and “drop it” commands are great tools to acquire. Ideally, start training at a very young age and use playgroups to let other social dogs teach yours how to control the strength of its’ jaws. Dogs are the best teachers of other dogs!

As we like to say here at Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA, “Don’t Be a Bully, Adopt One.”