Locking Jaws

"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth will make you mad."
Aldous Huxley

Pit bull advocates are fond of the misleading expression "they're just dogs". This erroneous claim is delivered with the intent to minimize the unique danger that fighting dogs present. The naive and the dishonest claim that pit bulls do not possess a distinctive bite style but honest and experienced dogmen know the truth, and that is why they recommend that all pit bull owners always have the proper tools close at hand in the event they need to disengage their pit bull from another dog.

It is a fact that pit bulls were bred to grip dogs, hogs and cattle and it is also a fact that they continue to be bred to grip dogs, hogs and cattle. Pit bulls are reluctant to release their prey, whether it is a rope, a hog, a dog or a person. They grab and hold, or in other words, they grab and lock.

On occasion you will see a more elaborate locking jaw myth, "Pit Bulls can hold on with their front teeth while chewing with their back teeth." I have not been able to track down the origin of this myth but I suspect its author was a pit bull advocate trying to further bury the truth in the absurd.

There is no physical locking mechanism in the jaws of a pit bull, their jaw physiology is no different from any other breed. What is different about pit bulls is their psychology, which is why you can not train even the most biddable dogs like border collies or the easy peasy lab to hang on a rope. The jaws of a pit bull do not technically lock but pit bulls often grab hold of their target and refuse to let go - sometimes even after they have expired. They are hard-wired for this behavior.

The gripping reputation of the bulldog is as old as the bulldog. President Abraham Lincoln used the bulldog's tenacious grip to describe General Grant, "The greatest thing about him is cool persistency of purpose. He has the grip of a bulldog; when he once gets his teeth in, nothing can shake him off." Ralph Waldo Emerson " 'T is the bull-dog bite; you must cut off the head to loosen the teeth. " Jack London described the bulldog grip in White Fang as the "clinging death". And Oliver Wendell Holmes referenced the unique bulldog bite style in a poem.
Stick to your aim; the mongrel’s hold will slip,
But only crowbars loose the bull-dog’s grip;
Small though he looks, the jaw that never yields
Drags down the bellowing monarch of the fields!

Here is what pit bull breeder, expert, advocate Diane Jessup has to say on the unique bite style of bulldogs.
There are aspects of ring sport which put the bulldog at a disadvantage when competing against sheepdogs like shepherds and malinois. The sport requires the dog, at times, to bite and then quickly release and retreat - something no true bulldog is willing to do. Also, biting the leg, which is considered preferable, takes more training for a bulldog who will naturally shun the extremities in favor of the more "courageous" bites to the body. A bulldog is bred to grip the head of its prey - whereas a sheepdog nips the legs. Therefore sheepdog breeds have a natural advantage in this regard.
It is not uncommon to have to resort to lethal means in order to stop a pit bull from attacking. Each month, the media reports one incident after another of pit bulls attacking other dogs, horses, livestock and people and refusing to let go even after being, kicked, beaten, stabbed, tased, pepper sprayed and shot. In October 2009, a pit bull had to be given a lethal injection after it killed one small dog, injured another small dog and then hung on to the owner's hand for 20 minutes. In August 2010, shelter staff were forced to give a pit bull a lethal injection when they could not stop it from attacking another shelter dog. In Alton, IL a pit bull was shot when it attacked a police officer serving a warrant. Its jaws had to be pried off of the officer's foot AFTER it was killed. In 1891, a bulldog redirected on a little boy and it had to be killed to stop the attack and loosen the grip. In May 2012, police fired 2 rounds into a pit bull during an attack on another dog. The pit bull was not fazed, the police fired another dozen rounds killing it. In Malaysia, a bull terrier bolted from a house and attacked a jogger. A good samaritan driving by saw the attack and stopped to assist the 74 yr old man. He beat the pit bull with an umbrella until it broke and still the animal remained undeterred and kept its jaw locked on Yip's neck. And the dead game little female pictured below had to be pried off of her opponent, after she died.

Those of us who have first hand experience of their locking jaws know the truth. Anyone who follows pit bull attacks in the media and still believes their jaws do NOT lock is lying to themselves. Anyone who tells you that pit bulls are "just dogs" is either lying to you or is ignorant of the true nature of gripping dogs.

If pit bulls are just like every other dog, why do they come with these special handling instructions and tools designed exclusively for pit bulls and with warnings against their use on normal dogs?

Demonstration of break stick

*Notice how this large, healthy, strong man struggles to disengage his own dog from a toy. Now imagine how difficult it is for the average person struggling with an unfamiliar pit bull who is latched onto their screaming beagle.

Advice on the proper use of the break stick use

Proper Break Stick Usage
Keep in mind that most dogs fight differently than pit bull dogs. A pit bull's inherent reaction in the heat of a fight is the one of a Terrier with a prey. The pit bull will work to get a solid grip and then hold and shake. This is quite different than most other types of dogs who do a lot of random biting, growling and barking but will most likely quit when their opponent shows signs of submission. In many cases, a non-pit bull fight will be a lot of noise and snapping jaws, usually resulting in little damage. Since a pit bull will firmly grip and hold its victim, break sticks have been designed to break their grip. This is the safest, easiest and most effective way to stop a pit bull fight. NO responsible owner should be without one.

The way fighting dogs should be separated depends on the individual dogs as well as their typical breed characteristics. For example, pit bull specialists advise use of a strong "breaking stick" inserted into the mouth of bull-breed dogs, but not for other kinds of dogs.

Remember that Pit Bulls do not have any special mechanism or enzym that allow them to "lock their jaw", but they were bred to have an unmatched determination and to never give up.

Do not attempt to use a break stick on other breeds of dogs.

Do not attempt to use a break stick on other dog breeds.

Do not use a break stick on breeds other than the Pit Bull.

Please do not attempt to use a break stick on other breeds of dogs.

This item is not for use on average cur dogs, doing so may cause serious harm to both you the user and the dog your trying to use it on.

Break sticks are for breeds that grab and hold.
Do not attempt to use a break stick on other dog breeds.
Attempting to use a break stick on other breeds could result in serious injury to the person using the stick. Since other breeds will unpredictably snap and bite instead of getting a grip, you are far more likely to be bitten. You also should not attempt to use a break stick with other terriers. While all terriers grab and hold, pit bulls are far less likely to redirect their bite on an intervening human than, say, a Jack Russell Terrier. For the same reason, you also need to be very careful when separating your pit bull from another breed. Your pit bull will probably not bite you, but you might get bitten by the other dog.

The American Pit Bull Terrier
Cynthia P Gallagher
Wayne Hunthausen, D.V.M. Consulting Veterinary Editor

customer reviews 4.5 stars

Chapter 6 Training and Behavior p 107
Tips on Break Stick Usage
The following are some tips on how to use a break stick appropriately, without causing injury to yourself or your dog.

* Keep break sticks in a handy place that you can access quickly in the event of a fight, such as by the door to the backyard.
* Familiarize yourself with the break stick and how to use it before you ever need to use it. A real dog fight is no time for on the job training.
* Realize that if the fight is between 2 APBTs, the break stick may not succeed in disengaging them. Have alternate methods available, such as a garden hose to douse them water.
* Don't use a break stick on breeds other than the APBT. Their anatomy is different, and you might inadvertently injure the dog while trying to invert the stick.

So, according to THIS pro-pit bull author of this highly rated pro-pit bull book, pit bull anatomy IS different from other dogs. It should be noted that this author consulted with a veterinarian. So much for experts.

You can view examples of locking jaws in action at Staffordshires online and on craven desires, but be warned, these videos are graphic.



bite force video


Jewel Jade said...

I wonder how you could get that "tent steak" to go into the pit bull's brain through his eyeball? Hmmm, I'd like to try that.

april 29 said...

Excellent research!!!!

Another pit bull talking point bites the dust.

Meals on Wheels said...

I have to laugh at the thought that ANY other breed (cur) is more apt to bite when being dislodged from a grim gripper....these dogmen don't hide their disdain for other dogs breeds very well, yet those of us who want some regulations are called "racists".

snack sized dog said...

Fantastic resource here! Killed another one.

It is insane that in the last 2 or 3 years, since they've gone "they're just like any dog" that mentions of the break stick have disappeared.

"What is different about pit bulls is their psychology"
nail on head

Packhorse said...

Am I the only one who assumes the "tent stake" guy is a dogfighter? He brags that his dog is "game bred" in the comments, and states that he doesn't want to have break sticks lying around--incriminating evidence in that big bust?

Packhorse said...

..also, in the still on the Youtube video, he is holding his dog like a fighter ready to release his dog into the pit.

Rocky Alexander said...

Isn't this just a little silly? Pit bulls hold because that's what they've been bred to do for the past century and a half. Not letting go immediately after death is the result of a condition called cadaveric spasm, which commonly occurs during violent death, not only in dogs but in humans as well.

Breaking sticks don't work by prying jaws open. They work by creating an obstruction between the back of the jaws, causing the dog to open its mouth just long enough to attempt another hold without the obstruction. There is no prying involved, and practically no force is used whatsoever. It's a gentle rotation, easier than throttling a motorcycle.

The idiot who wrote in his book that the reason you only use breaking sticks on pit bulls and not other breeds is because of a difference in anatomy is a moron. There is no difference, and that is a scientific fact.
The people that wrote that a pit bull will not redirect while another dog will are also morons. A pit bull is liable to redirect as quickly as any other dog. You can use a breaking stick on any breed of dog, and it's universally effective. The reason most prefer to not use it on other breeds is because there are safer ways to break up dogs of other breeds that don't have the same tendency to hold as a pit bull. Yes, using a breaking stick can be dangerous. Period. Any time you're putting your hands that close to a dog's teeth while it's fighting is risky business.

I know my opinion isn't respected here, but I do happen to know what I'm talking about and I only wish to be helpful.

dawn james said...

in case it wasn't clear, i did argue that is what they were bred for, i reject the special locking jaw mechanism.

i had to google Cadaveric spasm.

Cadaveric spasm, also known as postmortem spasm, instantaneous rigor, cataleptic rigidity, or instantaneous rigidity, is a rare form of muscular stiffening that occurs at the moment of death, persists into the period of rigor mortis[1] and can be mistaken for rigor mortis.

An uncommon form of spasm that occurs at the time of death

A muscle spasm that causes a dead body to twitch or jerk.

rigor mortis occurring irregularly in the different muscles, causing movements of the limbs.

i am not saying that you are wrong but my interpretation of this is the relaxed muscle spasms at the moment of death. that does not sound the same as when the pit bull dies while gripping.

i may not agree with you 100% of the time but i do respect your willingness to speak the truth and reject the sugar coating of pit bulls.

Rocky Alexander said...

The definition of "cadaveric spasm" can be simplified with its interchangeable terms "instantaneous rigor," "cataleptic rigidity," or "instantaneous rigidity." All terms are indicative of an immediate stiffening or "freezing" upon death.

It's like a drowning victim who's hand "locks on" to that of a rescuer and remains that way after death, even if the rest of the body goes limp.

dawn james said...

this link states that it is a rare condition that typically involves the hands but on occasion the entire body. this link seems to support you in that it states it preserves the existing rigid condition.

Cadaveric spasm or instantaneous rigor: Cadaveric spasm [cataleptic rigidity] is a rare condition. In this, the muscles that were contracted during life bcome stiff and rigid immediately after death without passing into the stage of primary relaxation. As such, the change preserves the exact attitude of the person at the time of death for several hours afterwards. It occurs especially in case of sudden death, excitement, fear, sever pain, exhaustion, cerebral heaemorrhage, injury to the nervous system, firearm wound of the head, etc. the spasm is primarily vital phenomenon, In that it originates by normal nervous stimulation of the muscles. This is usually limited to a single group of muscles and frequently involves the hands. Occasionally, the whole body is affected as seen in soldiers shot in battle, when the body may retain the posture which it assumed at the moment of death. no other condition simulates cadaveric spasm and it cannot be produced by any method after death. very great force is required to overcome stiffness. It passes without interruption into normal rigor mortis and disappears when rigor disappears.

Jaloney said...

Great stuff.I have not heard anything about break sticks in a while. It is great to have this blog to access the TRUTH.