🦴 Updated on July 20th, 2023
I’m a dog lover who fell in love with pitbulls and wondered why they had such a bad reputation. I wondered why many people were afraid of pitbulls.
Leading me to ask, “What is the bite force of a pitbull?” I wanted to know how a pitbull’s bite compares to bites from other breeds.
I was pleased to discover the fear of pitbulls is unfounded because there are many other breeds with worse bites, and pit bulls are generally good family pets.
Let’s look at the average pitbull bite force and why the reputation pitbulls have as dangerous dogs is exaggerated.
How Is Bite Force Measured?
We measure a dog’s bite force in PSI, or pounds per square inch. Scientists have run tests involving dogs biting a computerized sleeve for the most accurate bite force measurements possible.
The PSI measurement of a dog is the average for a breed. Each dog will have a different bite force based on its size, jaw shape, and the strength it decides to inflict on the bite.
What Is the Bite Force of a Pitbull?
The pitbull bite force PSI average is 235, so 235 pounds of pressure per square inch. Think of how hard you could bite something to provide a comparison.
The average PSI of a human bite is about 120, so a pitbull can bite with twice as much strength and pressure as a person.
Can a Pitbull’s Bite Break Bones or Kill a Person?
First, any animal bite can kill a person if it cuts through an artery or causes enough blood loss to cause someone to bleed to death. A much smaller dog could bite someone in the right place to cause a life-threatening injury, though it’s rare.
Dogs the size of pitbulls or larger can inflict a life-threatening bite a little easier than smaller dogs. However, one bite will rarely be fatal unless the victim is a small child. Most fatalities from pitbull bites are mauling deaths, not because of one bite.
The PSI of a pitbull’s bite is strong enough to break a bone. However, it’s more likely to happen to smaller bones like those in the hands and fingers or children’s limbs.
How Dangerous is Pitbull Jaw Strength?
The pitbull bite PSI of 235 is not the strongest bite. Most retrievers have a PSI nearly the same, so the pitbull bite force isn’t the main reason people are wary of pitbulls.
Dogs with pitbull terrier genes cause most dog bite fatalities in the US. Pitbulls cause the most dog-bite injuries and fatalities of any breed, despite at least a dozen other breeds having much stronger bite PSI.
Pitbull Bite Force Compared to Other Animals
German shepherds have a bite PSI of about 238, stronger than a pit bull dog bite force. Rottweilers, another feared breed, have a bite force of 328 PSI, which doesn’t come close to the dogs with the strongest jaws.
The kangal, a mastiff breed sometimes called the Anatolian shepherd, is a large dog weighing up to 130 pounds. Kangal’s have a bite force of 743 PSI, nearly three times stronger than a pitbull.
Large English mastiffs have a bite PSI of 556, and Doberman pinschers have a 600 PSI bite force.
The English bulldog, a breed not known for biting, has a stronger jaw than pitbulls, with a bite force PSI of 305.
Pitbull jaw strength has less to do with people’s fear of these dogs than how aggressive the breed can be when provoked.
Factors That Affect a Pitbull’s Bite Force
What is the bite force of a pitbull? Its jaw shape, head, and body size will determine the exact reading. Though we know that the average pitbull biting pressure is about 235 PSI, each dog will have a different limit depending on its size.
Smaller pitbulls won’t have as much bite pressure, while larger ones can easily exceed the average. Therefore, the bite force of pitbull puppies will be much less than adults based on their size.
The dog’s aggressiveness also plays a role. If the pitbull means to nip out of annoyance, the bite pressure won’t be as much as if it feels the need to defend its territory or attack.
Are Pitbulls the Most Dangerous Breed?
If you look at dog bite statistics, pitbulls cause more injury and mauling deaths in the US than any other dogs. This statistic includes Rottweilers, who also cause injuries and deaths, but not in the same numbers despite being larger dogs with a stronger bite PSI.
A closer look at the statistics reveals some interesting facts that make me feel less worried about these dogs despite the impressive bite pressure of a pitbull.
Pitbulls come from English dogs bred to bite large animals like bulls and bears in the face and neck to hold them still. Unfortunately, many people also bred pitbulls to dogfight and purposefully made them aggressive.
While there’s no need to think that all pit bulls are genetically aggressive, the results of random breeding can create unpredictable patterns of behavior in dogs.
Pitbulls that are properly trained are often gentle, loving family pets who don’t show aggression toward people or other animals. The breed isn’t even one that bites the most often.
Jack Russell terriers and Chihuahuas are the most likely to bite, but they have small jaws and bodies that keep them from inflicting significant injuries.
Training and gentle treatment are crucial to keep any dog from being aggressive. Those things are especially important with dogs that can cause severe injuries like pitbulls and rottweilers.
How Dangerous Is the Bite Force of a Pitbull?
A bite force of 235 PSI can do a lot of damage, but it’s less the strength than the tendency to bite in multiple places that pose the greatest danger from pitbulls.
If a pitbull attacks, it’s more likely to bite in multiple locations than many other breeds, resulting in what’s known as a mauling. Dogs that maul will bite, hang on, shake or drag, then bite in a new place and repeat the action.
Unfortunately, most of the dog bites that occur in the US each year happen to children. And because of the size of children, their heads and necks are a natural target for an agitated dog to bite, making it more likely to be fatal than the same bite on an adult.
Never leave a child with a dog unsupervised would cut down the number of non-fatal and fatal dog bites. How strong is a pitbull bite? It’s definitely strong enough to cause serious injury to small children.
What Causes Pitbulls to Bite?
The same things that can prompt any dog to bite can also cause a pit bull to bite. However, because of the pitbull dog bite force, those bites more often result in serious injury.
Dogs should be introduced to new people and other pets as a puppy for proper socialization. Proper socialization helps prevent a dog from becoming territorial or aggressive when encountering new people, animals, or situations.
Other people around the dog, especially children, must be taught how to interact with the pet properly. For example, if a toy dog doesn’t like having its tail pulled and turns to deliver a nip, there will be tears and not much else.
If a child is allowed to smack, taunt, or pull the ears or tail of a pitbull that gets fed up and decides to bite, the pitbull jaw strength can cause a severe injury. Small kids should never be left alone and unsupervised with any dog.
A child who tries to take a dog’s food or toy can sometimes prompt the dog to bite to retain it, resulting in a serious injury.
Protectiveness With Puppies
The gentlest dog can be defensive and protective if anyone approaches her puppies.
Defending a Territory
Whether the dog is at the fenceline defending its home or going after another dog, interfering in this situation can result in a bite. One should never reach through a fence to pet a dog or physically get between an attacking dog and another animal because the risk of a bite is high.
Neglect and Abuse
Any dog mistreated by neglect, underfeeding, being kept in poor conditions, or abused is prone to being easily triggered and might be more likely to bite.
Mythbusters: Pitbull Edition
Some common myths about pitbulls give the dogs an unearned bad reputation.
Myth: Pitbulls have jaws that lock or clamp into place when they bite.
Fact: Pitbulls’ jaws don’t lock when they bite. Most dogs will bite and hold on, so they’re no different than other breeds.
Myth: Pitbulls are inherently vicious dogs.
Fact: In tests of temperament designed to test a dog’s tolerance to new situations, pit bulls passed with 82% or higher. The average for dogs, in general, was only 77%.
Myth: Pitbulls are aggressive toward people.
Fact: While bred to be aggressive with large animals and they’re sometimes more aggressive with other dogs, pitbulls are generally non-aggressive with people.
Myth: Pitbulls are a single breed of dog.
Fact: What we call pitbulls are actually four general breeds, including:
- American bully
- American Staffordshire terrier
- American pitbull terrier
- Staffordshire bull terrier
Myth: Pitbulls will go crazy one day and attack their owners.
Fact: Anytime a pitbull or any dog bites, it’s because of a trigger. Interfering with a dog when it wants to run after another dog or small animal could cause a bite, for instance, but dogs don’t just become aggressive from one second to the next for no reason.
Myth: Serious injury and death from dog attacks are common.
Fact: Between 30 and 50 people die in the US each year from dog attacks. While serious injuries are more common because of the American bully bite force, your odds of dying from any dog attack are much smaller than your odds of dying by electrocution, a bee sting, sunstroke, or a storm.
Let’s look at some of the most frequently asked questions about the pitbull bite force PSI and whether the dogs should ever be kept as pets.
Are pitbulls too dangerous to have as pets?
Any dog can become aggressive and bite if subjected to poor training, abuse, or neglect. Nevertheless, properly trained and cared for pit bulls can be wonderful pets, though families with infants and small children might want to err on the side of caution and avoid having any large dog around a child.
Should pitbulls be banned as pets?
Some places have banned them so that people living there can’t keep pitbulls as pets. In places where they’re not banned, responsible and caring pet owners can have pitbulls for their entire lives without incident.
Is it better to get a pitbull puppy?
If you get a pitbull as a puppy, you can gently train it early on to teach it good behaviors. But each dog has its own personality, and some puppies will take to training better than others. Adult dogs are typically consistent in their behavior. This consistency gives you the benefit of knowing what to expect.
How can I avoid getting bitten by a pitbull?
You can avoid getting bitten by any dog by not making sudden or aggressive moves near it, never shouting or smacking a dog, and not approaching a dog you don’t know. Never try to break up two dogs fighting or a dog attacking an animal, or you risk getting bitten.
What’s the Bite Force of a Pitbull: Final Thoughts
The most important question isn’t, “What is the bite force of a pitbull?” but “What causes a pitbull to bite?”
Properly socialized pit bulls with good shelter, adequate food, and kind treatment are no more likely to bite than any family pet. The breed doesn’t make the dog more likely to bite or attack, but the individual dog’s personality and environment play a part.
Pitbulls can be sweet family pets that are good with children as long as the owners are gentle and responsible as they would be with any other dog breed.