About Pit Bulls

Known for their intelligence and charm, Pit Bull-type dogs make excellent, loving companions despite the unfair press they receive. At San Francisco Animal Care & Control, they are designated (along with other breeds) to be adopted with Proactive Guardian Requirements because of their strong stature combined with an energetic nature, which requires a commitment to training and exercise from an experienced adopter.

The Truth About Pit Bulls

  • Like all dogs, Pit Bulls are of varying temperaments and should be judged on an individual basis.
  • Any large breed dog, like a Pit Bull, requires structure, ongoing socialization and training opportunities to be at their very best–providing for these needs may not be for everyone!
  • The term “Pit Bull” is used to describe multiple breeds including the American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier, and American Bulldog among others (ASPCA).
  • Pit Bulls have been family pets in the U.S. since the 1800s, have been war heroes, “nanny” dogs for families, and are favored for use as service and rescue dogs.
  • Pit Bulls are strong, well-muscled dogs that require regular aerobic exercise and activity.
  • Because of their reputation, owning a pit bull often requires educating those around you on their charm and good-nature.
  • Pit Bull-type dogs were historically bred for bull-baiting and fighting, however generations of indiscriminate breeding and domestication have lessened these traits, and most pit bulls are safe around other animals with proper socialization and management.
  • These dogs are too often the victims of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment by cruel and irresponsible humans.
  • Pit Bull play style is a full-contact sport! They play wonderfully with larger dogs that like this kind of socializing, but may not always be suitable for dog park play.

Myths About Pit Bulls

  • Pit Bulls do not have a “locking jaw”–this myth is prevalent and often cited as a reason to keep them from socializing with other animals.
  • Like any other breed, Pit Bull-type dogs are a product of their environment and need proper training, socializing, and exercise to minimize problem behaviors, including aggression.
  • Pit Bulls are not “most likely to bite”–several other breeds considered to be great family pets are ahead of them on the list.
  • Most pit bull type dogs are not innate “guard dogs” and in fact can be too friendly for such use.
  • Pit Bulls do not need a heavy hand, prong collar, or aversive training to learn. They should be trained the same way as every other dog, with positive reinforcement and humane equipment.

Pit Bull Ordinance

In San Francisco, it is illegal to own an unaltered Pit Bull or Pit Bull mix. Also in effect is San Francisco Health Code Section 44, which requires owners to obtain a permit from Animal Care & Control in order to breed their Pit Bull or Pit Bull mixes. If you have questions regarding these laws, call SF Animal Care & Control at (415) 554-6364.

The San Francisco SPCA generously offers free spay/neutering services to all San Francisco Pit Bulls. Call for an appointment: (415) 554-3030 or visit SFSPCA (External Link) for more information.

For breed specification, ACC uses the following guidelines:

For more information on Pit Bull type dogs, please visit:

Related Links:
Higher Risk Dogs