Re: Potentially dangerous dogs in cohousing
From: Linda Hobbet (
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2021 14:58:55 -0700 (PDT)

I feel like there has been a lot of misinformation or information out of context presented on dogs and pitbulls here. First of all, pitbulls are not a breed but a type. It includes American Pit Bull Terriers, American Stafforshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Bull Terriers, and, overwhelmingly, mixes that look sort of like pitbulls. Many of these mixes have no actual pit bull ancestry. Labrador mixes often result in the general blocky look most people think of as pitbulls, as do other combinations.

Most veterinarians will tell you they would rather treat pitbulls than many other breeds because they usually have stable temperaments and are people-friendly.

Any statistics about dog bites need to be relative to the population of that breed/type. In addition, people often misidentify breeds. I used to have Airedale Terriers and the misidentifications I got from people were amazingly varied and off the mark. Pitbull types are very common, certainly in the millions. Most are randomly bred. Individual dogs vary widely in temperament. The type of person who wants to appear manly and tough often get pitbulls and encourage them to be aggressive. If you adjust for population, pitbulls are not the most likely to be involved in deaths or bites.

The CDC no longer records bite statistics by breed because of the unreliability of reports. From a CDC report with data up until 1996,

"The findings in this report are subject to at least two limitations. First, because death-certificate data were not available, the two sources used for case finding in 1995-1996 probably underestimated the number of DBRFs (Dog-Bite-Related Fatalities and may represent only 74% of actual cases (1,2). Second, to definitively determine whether certain breeds are disproportionately represented, breed-specific fatality rates should be calculated. The numerator for such rates requires complete ascertainment of deaths and an accurate determination of the breed involved, and the denominator requires reliable breed-specific population data (i.e., number of deaths involving a given breed divided by number of dogs of that breed). However, such denominator data are not available, and official registration or licensing data cannot be used because owners of certain breeds may be less likely than those owning other breeds to register or license their animals (3)."

There are a lot of myths about pitbulls. They do not have locking jaws, though they do tend to hold on. They do not have the strongest bite force. Bite force is mostly related to size of the head.

Pitbull types are probably more likely to be dog aggressive but this is common in many breeds. It's not all in how they are raised. They are not born as blank slates. Temperament is largely genetic, though how a dog is raised, trained, and managed has a lot to do with how well it behaves.

Spaying and neutering is not a cure-all. Studies that have specifically focused on the effect of spaying and neutering on human-focused aggression indicate that spaying increases human-aggression and altering males has little affect either way. In addition, many studies indicate that altering, especially before physical maturity has negative effects on canine health.

Here at Village Hearth, a little more than a year since we moved in, we have currently have 10 dogs in 28 households. At first, several of them were pretty snarky with each other and would snarl and lunge on leash. Now none of them are reactive towards each other. Parallel walking, where you take walks with the dogs side by side but not so they can make contact, helped enormously. We have had not issues with people not cleaning up after their dogs. I hope that would be the norm in community-oriented living.

I am rather appalled by the lack of knowledge around dog behavior these day, even by those with pet dogs. Too much furbaby and thinking of them as humans in dog suits. They need to be respected and understood as dogs. (Sorry, rant off)

Cohousing has some special requirements. We are asking people and dogs to live in unusually close conditions and that needs to be considered. If it is a multi-generational community, I hope children would be taught how to behave around dogs. I agree with Katie, breed bans don't make sense. Dogs need to be evaluated individually.

Linda Hobbet

On 10/13/2021 4:40 PM, Katie Henry wrote:
What exactly is a pit bull? Pretty much any mutt with short fur and a blocky 
head is referred to as a pit mix these days.--
coho [at]

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