Do Pit Bulls have locking jaws?

A) No. Their jaw is anatomically no different to other dogs. There is no ‘locking mechanism’ and they do not have this infamous ability lock their jaws when biting. In fact, the Pit Bull does not even possess the most powerful bite in the domestic dog world.  Here’s some light reading, further dispelling the Pit Bull locking jaw myth:

Dr. Brisbin, as well as the other experts, testified that pit bulls do not have locking jaws. Based on actual dog dissections and measurement of their skulls, the evidence demonstrated that pit bull jaw muscles and bone structure are the same as other similarly sized dogs. No evidence was presented to demonstrate that a pit bull’s bite is any stronger than other dogs of its size and build. He stated that, contrary to information relied upon and  perpetuated by earlier case law  and law review articles, assertions that a pit bull can bite with a “force of 2,000 pounds per square inch” have absolutely no basis in fact or scientific proof. The testing of dog bite strength has never been done, and would be difficult if not impossible to perform.


In fact, a locking jaw in any dog is considered a cause for veterinary intervention. The notion that certain breeds such as Pit Bulls can perform this function is plain wrong.

Once celebrated as a great all-American pet, pit bull type dogs started getting a bad rap in the 1980s, largely due to misinformation, which spawned prejudice. Fast forward to today, and pit bulls are now the most abused, most maligned and most abandoned type of dog in the United States, with approximately 1,000,000 put to sleep in shelters yearly.

Some Facts & Myths About Pit Bulls

* Pit bulls are just dogs (a type of dog, not a breed).
* They do not have locking jaws, as covered above.
* They do not bite differently than other large breeds.
* They are not more aggressive than other breeds (source: American Temperament Test Society).

Like all dogs, they feel pain, love, fear and joy. The media has played a large role in spreading erroneous information and creating hysteria about pit bulls: National Pit Bull Awareness Day is a chance to for the media to help set the record straight.

National Pit Bull Awareness Day is the perfect opportunity to tell a positive story about America’s dog Pit bulls are the most abused, most euthanised, most maligned and most misunderstood type of dog in America and across much of the world today.

The media has been a big part of this problem—sensationalizing negative pit bull stories, spreading myths and inciting hysteria. Now, you can also be part of the solution. October 22, 2011, is National Pit Bull Awareness Day.

The organisers (and K9 Magazine is happy to join in) are asking you to take this opportunity to focus on the positive attributes of this all-American dog. Here are some story suggestions:

Facts About Pit Bulls

1. Pit bulls are therapy dogs, service dogs, search and rescue dogs and, most famously, loving family pets (including pets to many celebrities). Tell the story of one such everyday hero in your community. We’ll be happy to help provide contacts and leads.

2. Highlight a National Pit Bull Awareness Day event going on in your community.

3. Take the opportunity to dispel many of the common myths: Pit bulls do not have locking jaws, do night bite differently than other large breeds, do not “suddenly snap,” are not “bred to fight” (the vast majority are bred as pets, like any other dog), and they do feel pain. Like all prejudicial thinking, judging a dog simply by how it looks only leads to negative actions and reactions.

Understanding that certain myths created about particular breeds can lead to innocent dogs losing their lives is something that, happily, many thousands of people have been able to grasp since the Worldwide web has been able to educate. However, there are still politicians who need to learn. Hopefully National Pit Bull Awareness day will have a positive impact on the minds of those who are happy to see certain dogs lose their lives having never done a single thing wrong.

The next time you hear or read someone espousing the ill-informed myth about the Pit Bull’s locking jaw, feel free to send them here 😉

Or click here to spread this message and tell people the truth about Pit Bulls

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  1. Re: Locking jaws. When a dog will bite and continue holding its victim to the point that the victim cannot be freed even when the dog is
    beaten unconscious,
    shot and stabbed repeatedly,
    burned with a gas torch,
    stabbed thru the head with a garden pitchfork,
    shot in the skull with nails from a nail gun,
    honest, sane, logical humans, those whose intent is NOT to deceive, agree that pit bull jaws do lock. The sadistic, sociopathic pit men who bred the pit bull even invented the tool to unlock the pit’s locked jaws, the BREAK STICK. This is a breed specific tool, too, for pit bulls only.

    If you actually cared about dog welfare, or even PIT welfare, you would educate the public and pit owners and explain that pits do, in fact, have locking jaws. You would say that all responsible pit owners, first responders, caring neighbors and friends should acquire and practice using break sticks, with which to free the pit’s victim and in many cases (!), save the pit’s life.

    Recently a pit bull attacked a Pomeranian, biting one of the small dog’s ears. Despite attempts to free the victim by both the pit owner and the police, which included pepper spray that naturally, had no effect on the “good” pit, when the pit carried the small dog away to continue mauling it, the police officer shot and killed the pit.

    Pit bully people know that they cannot be honest and monger pits at the same time.

    They are deceitful (or at least very gullible). You mention that pits pass the ATTS Test with high scores 83-90 % for AST, SBT, APBT, American PIT Bulldogs.

    But this is not a test about lack of aggression, and not a predictor of future safety. While the test says it should simulate “a casual walk through a park or neighborhood”, it was created as a test to weed out dogs not brave enough for police/Schutzhund work. IQ tests do not test for safety either.

    No part of the test includes a child, say one in a stroller, wheeling by, 30 feet away, on a public sidewalk.
    No part of the test involves another dog, for example, one sleeping on a lawn chair, inside his own fenced yard.
    No part of the test includes an elderly neighbor standing still at her mailbox.
    All these are examples of victims of unprovoked pit bull attacks by pits who simply went “pit bull”. Good pits do not need to be angry or mean to attack, just as a beagle is not angry or mean when it chases rabbits, although the rabbit runs for its life.
    The pit bull rushed out and attacked the child, ripped her out of the stroller and shook her with such force the infant was scalped.
    The sleeping dog was killed on its own property, by a “good” pit bull who broke into the victim’s yard.
    The elderly woman was attacked silently from behind, by a pit bull doing exactly what he was created to do: attack for no reason.
    Oh, the test does include an umbrella, a noisy bucket of rocks, weird plastic and wire the dog must walk over, and a part that I am certain most dogs I know and trust would fail, part #4.
    At part four, a starter pistol is fired 3x, at close range, behind the dog. Dogs that panic fail the test. Pits often do well during this part. But this tells a thinking person that if a pit bull is attacking, you will be forced to shoot to kill, as warning shots won’t stop 83-90% of the pits.
    In fact, more pits ARE shot, stabbed, beaten to death by neighbors, police, Good Samaritans trying to stop a pit bull from killing than pass the misleading ATTS test!
    Most pits that just mauled a visiting kid or killed a neighbor’s leashed dog could pass the ATTS test.

    Why even mention this worthless test? Because pit mongers know that 99% of the gullible humans will NOT look up the test, so here’s the link.
    Naïve or deceitful.

    1. You are obviously speaking from 2nd hand or even 3rd hand accounts of these dogs and how they act. Are all dogs the same? No. Do we train all types of dogs the same? Nope. Not even a little. Pit-bull type furbabies deserve a chance to be the great dog they are. QUIT HATING!!

    2. No dog breed has jaws that can LOCK. There are dogs, not breeds, that won’t let go of something easily and make it very DIFFICULT to get whatever it is out of their mouth. I have a beagle basset hound mix that will hold something in it’s jaw for dear life that it wants until I almost break my fingers off to get her to let go. THAT’S the closest to a “locking” jaw that ANY dog of ANY breed gets.

  2. Debbie Bell,,,,, you are so full of crap,,,,, I have had pits since I was a kid and you have proven that you know absolutely nothing about them that is factual or true.

  3. You have no clue to real facts. How many of these dogs are actually American Pit Bull Terriers, not a pit-mix or MUTT? My dog is a trained Service Dog. He is terrified of a gun. He can see a pistol and you can see that he wants to be no where near it. What about the yappy dogs not on leash that attack my Service Dog (who in fact lays down when approached by another dog) who is on leash working? Why do I have to pick my “pit bull” up off the ground and hold him and I get bit by the yappy dog whose owner is too lazy to walk out and get it. I guess since I do conceal carry, I should have just shot her dog since mine was now in need of stitches in his ear? Then who would be the bad guy. But after repeated warnings to the owner and I got bit, I just rated back and punted his yappy butt away from me. She wasn’t happy when I presented her with my vet bill for the attack on my “pit bull”. There are many responsible owners out here with these dogs that are getting a bad rap. If an owner is responsible, their dog would not be in a situation to attack to start with. So, don’t lump us all in one group. Also, many of the dogs you showed in your pictures are not American Pit Bull Terriers. There are many Mutts, Bully Breeds, etc. DON’T lump them under the term “Pit Bull”

  4. I realize this is an old article with old posts however …..I am SO SICK of the ignorance of people thinking pits or bullies are some magical dog that has some power to bite down and lock. MY GOD the article explains this and that they aren’t even the strongest in bites! Instead of attacking the breed go after why a certain dog did something, how was it trained, treated, WHAT did a kid do to provoke an attack (yes many if not most kids DO SO – tease or whatever and sorry but ANY DOG will attack when treated as such). My mom (God rest her soul) felt the same as YOU Debbie, until she met ours and changed her tune to the point of being a strong advocate for them. I’ve run into MORE Chihuahua’s that were meaner! But at least with them, they are small enough you can kick them off of you!

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