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Top Ten Breeds Commonly Mistaken for “Pit Bulls”

December 31, 2009

It’s not quite the new year, and as I was posting about Scooter’s breed analysis results, I realized that many breeds are mistaken for pit bulls. The general public does not understand or even see the differences in these dogs. Sometimes, the dissimilarity is so wide, a dog lover such as myself (or, probably, as you are reading this, yourself) cannot believe people can’t tell the difference.

You wouldn’t believe the dogs people mistake for pit bulls!

The general public does not understand or even see the differences in these dogs. Sometimes, the dissimilarity is so wide, a dog lover such as myself (or, probably, as you are reading this, yourself) cannot believe people can’t tell the difference.

A psychology experiment regarding facial recognition was performed on college students. What was confirmed was the fact that people had a very quick and, generally, accurate recall of people faces. In a darkened room, projected slides of people faces were shown in pairs, first one, then a second one would flash on the screen. The study participant was asked to click “same” or “different” on a recording device. Even upside-down and backward people faces were recognized most of the time, and correctly identified when they were flashed very, very quickly.

People easily recognize people faces.

Then the experimenters went a step further and flashed dog faces. Generally, people performed very poorly on this part of the experiment. There was a distinct successful group of people, however. The psychologists discovered that people who worked with dogs such as breeders, vet technicians, veterinarians, and dog owners, recognized the dog faces whether they were upside-down, backward, or normal. Often, these people performed better recognizing the dogs than they did looking at people faces!

“Dog” people recognize dog faces even quicker and more accurately than they recognize people faces!

I take away this message from this study: we all have differing experiences and abilities. I can tell a dog breed by the sound of the bark in the kennel. I can remember my patients, even after I have not seen them for 5 years, and I am visiting the kennel and walk by their cages. “Hi! Lollipop!” But when I was asked to pick out a drug dealer from mugshots, even though I spent an hour consulting with him about his dog, I guarantee you, I could pick out his Doberman Pinscher to this day! The guy? Thankfully, another doctor at my practice picked him out. I could not have done it!

“I’m a dog person” is Doc Truli’s excuse for having lousy ability to pick a guy out of a lineup or mugshot book!

Be as understanding as you can about pit- bull public ignorance. Stay upbeat about your wonderful dog, don’t foist your dog on other people who may be phobic or terrified, and

protect your dog from the stupidity and ignorance of those we have not yet educated.

Let’s chuckle together over the list, and if your dog has been singled out, set a picture, and I’ll post it for the betterment of the world! Names changed to protect the innocent, of course!

Send in pix of your Mistaken Pit Bulls and we’ll all chuckle sympathetically…

great dane apbt and lab

Can you see the APBT?

  1. Boxer
  2. American Bulldog
  3. English Bull Terrier
  4. Mastiffs (Cane Brasileiro, Dogue de Bordeaux, Neopolitans, etc.)
  5. Chunky Labradors, especially Chesapeakes with their muscular heads
  6. Chow mix
  7. Rottweiler and mixes
  8. French Bullies
  9. Shepherd/Lab mixes, especially if they have those bulging masseter chewing muscles on the sides of their jaws.
  10. Once, people ran at the sight of my friend’s Pug, I mean, he was large for a Pug and manly, but, seriously, people!

Further Reading (if you don’t already have this bookmarked): Rio’s Pit Bull Kingdom

and ask your vet for the Wisdom Panel blood test for mix-breed dog identities.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. sheryce permalink
    September 1, 2013 3:49 pm

    Hi we have a sweet loveing pit but just found out we cane have her at the place we moved we havent the monie to move and cant stand to lose our babi girl what do u think we should do

    • September 1, 2013 3:55 pm

      Dear sheryce,
      How about you can get a relative or a friend to keep her until you can move again?

  2. Dr Betty Schueler permalink
    July 12, 2013 9:31 am

    I agree completely. I can’t believe how many shelter people can’t identify a dog’s prominent breed. Yesterday, one shelter had a lab on its “kill list” because they thought it was a pit bull. The dog was obviously a chocolate lab. It makes me so sad that uneducated people are making life-and-death decisions, about shelter dogs, when they don’t have a clue what they are doing.

    • July 12, 2013 10:07 pm

      What a shame.

  3. rachel permalink
    December 16, 2010 12:42 am

    i have a dog that is medium size and has the markings of a amstaff. but for some reason im quite sure that it is a basenji mix, most people think it is a pitbull and run. at least i know no one would try to rob me. but alot of people say it is a amstaff mix but he doesnt have a huge head and tecture of fur that an amstaff has, what should i think

    • December 16, 2010 7:56 am

      Hi Rachel!

      I know what you mean about seeing BASENJI. They have a distinct worried appearance and a super stubborn streak. I’d say they are the ultimate in civil disobedience. Like, you want to turn around and walk home, and they don’t. So a Basenji will just stand there, look at you, and lean against the leash in the direction they want to go. More than any other dog, they will not give in.

      Physically, Basenjis have a wrinkled, worried appearance to the center of their forehead that bulldog-types lack. And their fur is a little spiky, almost like the rougher-feeling Shar Pei texture. Basenjis have neat, small paws with finger-like toes, while bulldogs have strong, spreading paws with toes they use like fingers, but they are bonier, bigger paws.

      It’s definitely the Basenji spirit and “look,” that deep penetrating stare whilst they communicate with you through their eyes and their whole being, with an iron core of determination that will not give in that will set a Basenji mix apart from a Pit mix.

      Doc Truli

  4. Liz permalink
    July 26, 2010 2:48 pm

    My dog is half lab and half greyhound, and people often mistakenly think she is part pitbull because greyhounds have large rib cages like pits do.

  5. January 23, 2010 2:01 am

    Its good to see some good people keeping their site up, one of my other favorite sites quit working the other day for no appearant reason.

  6. Stephani permalink
    January 10, 2010 10:21 am

    A pug? Really? That’s too funny. My daughter and I are so Dog People~ if we are in the car and pass someone walking their pooch, we call out the breed!

    • January 17, 2010 6:41 pm

      My second date with my husband was to the Philadelphia Kennel Club dog show. By the end of six hours, the female Dobie won Best in Show and my future husband learned “Rhodesian Ridgeback”
      (“See the Ridge on that dog’s Back? What kind of dog is that?)


  1. Top Ten Breeds Commonly Mistaken for “Pit Bulls” « VirtuaVet |

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