Why do Pitbulls Attack their Owners?

Pitbulls are often in the news for biting or attacking people, oftentimes even their owners.

They have a bad reputation for being aggressive, and they are even banned in some countries. But many pit bull owners will tell you that Pitbulls are some of the most loveable dogs out there. So why would Pitbulls attack their owners?

The reasons why Pitbulls attack their owners stem from how the Pitbulls are bred. They are inherently not aggressive and don’t become aggressive, violent, or mean without any reason.

Bad ownership and the wrong kind of breeding are mainly the reasons why Pitbulls attack someone.

Also, attacking their owners is not just restricted to Pitbulls. Any dog can attack its owner under certain circumstances. It depends on the way it is trained and the environment and situation it is in.

Pitbulls have got a bad reputation hence they are mostly at the forefront when it comes to dog attacks. Indeed, an attack by any other dog breed is termed as a “dog attack”, while an attack by a pitbull is specifically termed as a “Pitbull attack”.

Here are some reasons why Pitbulls can attack their owners:


Fear is one of the main reasons why Pitbulls turn on their owners. If the dog has been ill-treated in the past or has any kind of bad history, it is usually wary of everyone. This instilled fear makes it defensive and it can consider anyone a threat.

This is why it is important that you raise your Pitbull with love and care and make sure it is well-trained with good manners so that it feels loved and does not feel threatened by just anyone.

When a Pitbull does attack its owner out of fear, it does not intend to hurt or kill its owner, but it can happen due to its sharp teeth if the owner is not sensitive to its body cues to take the necessary actions.


If a Pitbull gets stressed, anxious, or startled by something, it can go into a panic mode and start acting impulsively. This can lead to them attacking or biting anyone who is nearby.

This rarely happens when the dog is well-trained and cared for, but external triggers can make it act in this way. This is true of all dogs, not just Pitbulls.

Territorial defense

Dogs are inherently territorial animals. They want their own space and they will defend it from anyone they do not consider a part of it.

If you do not interact much with your Pitbull or let it interact with others, it becomes very isolated and used to its own space, and naturally very territorial about it.

So, in a situation like this, if you or anyone else walks into its space, it will feel the need to defend itself and its space and might become aggressive and hostile.

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Redirected aggression

If your Pitbull is in pursuit of something that it considers a prey, and someone interferes with the process, the aggression towards that thing can be redirected towards that person.

If they feel like they are being held back, they will snap at anyone who is too close or anything that moves.

Although it happens very rarely, it is one of the possible reasons why a Pitbull would attack its owner.


Pain and discomfort can make anyone feel distressed. Not just animals, humans, too, feel agitated when they are going through pain. But while humans can just speak up, animals unfortunately cannot speak to us about what is wrong with them.

It is possible that you do not realize that your pit bull is hurt, and you may put pressure on any of its sore points, or just try to play with it while it is in pain.

At that time, your dog has no other way to tell you except by snapping at you or biting you to tell you to stay away.

This is not done out of anger for you, but because that is the only way it can communicate with you.


Any kind of sickness that your pittie might be going through can also make it aggressive and likely to attack its owner.

If you have a pit bull that has been used for dog fights or the like, it has probably never been medically assisted or even vaccinated at all. It may have been exposed to a lot of germs, bacteria, diseases, and unhealed wounds.

Common illnesses that can make your dog aggressive are rabies, liver disease, and brain tumor.

Food aggression

This is one of the reasons that dogs can often attack their owners.

Some dogs are very possessive about their food. If someone tries to touch their food or pet them while they are eating, they can instantly turn aggressive and go into attack mode.

This can especially be a problem with children, as children do not understand and might just be trying to play with the dog.

Predator instinct

All dogs are born with the predator instinct. They will always go into defense mode when they encounter any situation that feels threatening or scary to them.

This instinct is more prominent in Pitbulls, knowing their history.

Pitbulls used to be trained in such a way that every other animal would seem like prey to them. Not only that, they were taught to chase down that prey and grab, injure or kill it.

While Pitbulls have evolved now, they have also adapted those traits during the evolution. That is why Pitbulls are seen as a threat more than any other dog.

Lack of training

Pitbulls are not born vicious; they become vicious as a result of a bad environment. For your Pitbull to be well-behaved, it is very important to provide it with good training.

Proper training will reduce the aggression in him. It will also make it easier for you to control your dog if it misbehaves.


If your Pitbull has faced abuse in the past, it will show in its behavior. Pitbulls do have a bad history of being trained for fights and being used to cover up illegal drug operations.

It is natural that such kinds of Pitbulls will be extremely aggressive and hostile towards the slightest hint of a threat to them. They will always try to defend itself by attacking or injuring the source of threat.

It is possible that in the panic they could attack their owners as well.

Some myths about Pitbulls

Myth: Pitbulls are born to fight.

Reality: Pitbulls are not born violent. They are actually extremely loveable dogs. They are trained by some people to fight for profit and entertainment.

Sometimes, Pitbulls are made to fight to the death. If they are injured, or become useless to the owners, they are abandoned or killed by cruel methods.

Then, it is not the Pitbulls who are cruel, but the people who train them for such cruel practices.

Myth: Pitbulls have locking jaws.

Reality: This is one of the more popular myths, because once a pit bull bites, it does not let go very easily.

However, this is not true. A Pitbull jaw skeleton is not any different from other dog breeds. In fact, according to credible sources, there is no such thing as jaw locking in any dog breed.

Pitbulls have strong jaw muscles that hold on tightly without letting go, but that does not mean that they can’t let go, or won’t.

Myth: Pitbulls are naturally aggressive and dangerous.

Reality: No, Pitbulls are not dangerous. However, Pitbulls are very strong and powerful, and they need a lot of exercise.

If they do not get to burn off their energy, they may get agitated. It is also because of their strength that they sometimes can pose a threat to children, as even playfully, they could cause damage.

But Pitbulls are very loyal and gentle dogs and love people. They crave human attention. They are not dangerous until they are trained that way.

Pitbulls can turn aggressive easily if they grow in a bad environment, face abuse and neglect, or a lack of training.

If Pitbulls are loved and cared for and given proper training, they are some of the most loyal and loveable companions and are very less likely to exhibit any of the negative traits they have become known for.

They are even used as Service dogs.

Pitbull Breed information

Pitbull is not a specific breed of dog, but a mixed breed. It is a term used to describe several dog breeds that have similar characteristics which include American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, American Staffordshire bull terrier, or any pit bull mixed breed.

Because they can be a combination of many different breeds of dogs, Pitbull’s size can vary anywhere between 30 pounds to 120 pounds.

Even their color will differ according to the combination. One thing that is common, though, is that most of the bull terrier pit breeds have a very strong muscular build.

History of Pitbulls

Pitbulls have been specifically bred to be aggressive. They descended from the now-extinct Old English Bulldog.

This breed was used in a cruel sport called bull-baiting, where a bull was tied to a stake and angered. Then these dogs were let loose on the enraged bull and spectators would watch as the dogs tore the bull apart.

After this sport was banned, they moved on to ratting, where dogs competed to see who killed the most rats.

It is very surprising then, to know that Pitbulls are also called “nanny dogs” because of how affectionate they were towards humans, especially children.

After the cruel practices were banned, Pitbulls moved to the farms. Because of their loyal and caring nature, they have been used for protecting families and children, herding sheep and cattle, and guarding livestock.

Soon after, in the 1990s, dog-fighting became a popular sport, and Pitbulls were favored. Once more, Pitbulls earned the reputation of being aggressive and dangerous.