Human Aggression, Animal Aggression, Culled Man-biters and The Desecration of Truth

There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his opinions are not rational, he becomes furious when they are disputed.
Bertrand Russell

"Back In The Ole Bulldog Days These Manbiters Were Eliminated Immediately."
I hear this over and over again, so let me just ask who, specifically, ever culled a game "man-biter" back in "The Ole Bulldog Days?"
Earl T never minded feeding man-biters, even though his wife's legs were covered with bite scars. Some of Tant's dogs would just as soon eat you as look at you. I understand Burns' dogs were even worse.
I'd like to see someone step foot on V Jackson's yard if he wasn't around.
Carver kept his share of "man-biters," as did many many other famed dogmen.
In most cases, if a dog was good enough to win, it was good enough to live, regardless of who it wanted to have for dinner.
ROCKY ALEXANDER, APBT historian and former APBT breeder

Pit bull advocates are fond of saying that the American Pit Bull Terrier is no more aggressive than any other dog, and in fact they are LESS aggressive towards humans than most other breeds. They claim pit bulls make horrible guard dogs, stating their pit bulls would lick a burglar to death. They attribute the pit bull's love and docility of humans to the dogman's need to handle them in the pit and after the match, if they earned medical care, therefore, any pit fighter that was aggressive towards humans was culled. Or so the story goes. There are two problems with this claim. First, it minimizes animal aggression and exculpates pit bulls when they randomly flex their genetic muscle on unsuspecting animals. And second, it is patently false. This blog will only address the claim's lack of validity.

The pit bull evangelists have a litany of factually challenged, emotionally charged slogans ready to use in their online war of disinformation, each more ludicrous than the other. One of their favorites is "the dogmen culled man-biters". In the Nanny Dog and the ATTS myths, there was almost a kernel of truth at the core of the myths. Yes, the Little Rascals' Petey did appear to be the primary care taker of a group of neglected, poverty stricken, mischievous children and yes, the pit bull does score higher than many traditional family breeds of dogs thanks to the sociopathic machinations of the pit bull apologia.

In contrast, the man-biters were culled and the pit bulls were not bred for human aggression myths were created from thin air, complete fabrications. There is not a sliver of truth in the myth that dogmen culled man-biters. Not only weren't human aggressive pit fighters NOT culled, but a talented man-biter was heavily bred, his stud services were in high demand and the stud fees commanded a premium. The progeny of man-biters are still sought out long after he or she has passed away. This Italian game-dog website lists their choice for the Best Ever fighting dogs, three of the five are known man-biters and the other two trace their origins to the others on their "Best" list. Some famous man-biters have their own facebook fan pages. If you happen to be a 10x winner with 3 kills and scratching on the carcass, people tend to overlook a little thing like the danger she poses to people and she is also likely to be nominated for the cover of this month's International Sporting Dog Journal. Some famous man-biters not only have a facebook fan page, they have their own promotional merchandise too.

BadRap, Karen Delise and other pit bull advocates like to lay the blame of the current trend of breeding human aggressive pit bulls for protection on the 1987 Sports Illustrated Magazine. They believe the magazine turned the pit bull from loving nanny dog into an unstable meth lab soldier, forever tarnishing his image. But pit bulls have always been used to guard/watch property. This is not new to the contemporary backyard breeders who are attracted to the pit bull's thug image. It has been done in America since the beginning. Ads placed in the early 1900's prove this. Even the treasurer of the APBT club was peddling a human aggressive pit bull. And the oldest, most respected name in the history of the APBT, Joseph L Colby wrote in 1936, "As a watchdog he is unexcelled. This book could be written five times on this one subject, in regard to the American Pit Bull Terrier as a watchdog."

But there are APBT facts and then there are the comfortable myths the pit bull apologia tell themselves and others to conceal the fighting dog's true image and hopefully improve it. The fact is, if a dogman liked what he saw in the pit, the dog lived and it was bred with the hope of producing more high performance pit dogs. I have not found a single account of a great fighting dog or even a potentially great fighting dog who was removed from the gene pool prematurely because of poor temperament and a tendency to bite the hand that fed it. I have not found a single account of a great fighting dog or a potentially great fighting dog whose owner elected not to breed because of an aggressive temperament towards humans. The media accounts of the most famous fatal pit bull attack are oddly silent on the subject of the man-killer's fate.

This 1976 match report acknowledges the existence of man-biters and recommends the use of muzzles, not bullets to manage the problem.
July-August 1976
4th Match C. Beasley vs Starsky & Hutch M65 Ref. B. Clouse
Beasley's red and white handled by Joe Alvarado. Hutch handling a black. At the scales, while weighing the red and white, who is a bad man-eater, Alvarado lost control of the dog and headed right for Earl Maloney and bit him in the chest. Bill Carr kicked him loose and was bitten himself, very bad, just above the rib cage. That big crazy dog then headed for the crowd with his mouth wide open. Some one could have been seriously hurt if Bill Carr hadn't intercepted again, this time getting bit on the leg, through his boot. They finally got the dog under control and the match was on. Alvarado got fouled out for some bad handling in his corner and the Winner: Starsky & Hutch's black dog.
It would be a good idea to muzzle know man-eaters to prevent something like this from happening again.
Reported by Bobby D. Smith

One aspect of this particular pit bull myth that I find especially perplexing is that the group of people who most aggressively promote the man-biters were culled and pit bulls are people lovers who will only lick you to death myth are often the very same people who go to great lengths to SAVE every man-biter from euthanasia. This bizarre phenomenon is currently playing out in Godfrey, Illinois with a pit bull named Precious. After one unprovoked attack on another dog and three unprovoked attacks on humans, the battle is on to protect this man-biter at all costs, including condemning the victim, her parents and further endangering the community.

"Earl T never minded feeding man-biters, even though his wife's legs were covered with bite scars."

Surely, if a dogman had a prized pit fighter that did not exercise discretion between human and dog flesh, they would take extra precaution with it to ensure that no yard accidents occurred, especially in light of Colby's freak accident.

Thanks to the dogman's need to boast, we can lay two more myths to rest. First, the myth of the responsible dogman. Second, dog aggression does not equate to human aggression.

The life and times of legendary pit fighter and known man-biter, Gr Ch Gambler's Virgil ROM has been well documented and provides evidence that these are myths.

Here is Virgil on the chain and posing with puppies, cats, women and children.

Virgil's heir and the heir to Virgil's legacy.

What do these photos say? These photos tell me that the line drawn between animal aggression and human aggression is an arbitrary one, as is the line drawn between irresponsible and responsible dogmen.

A quote from an interview with Diane Jessup in 2001:

Jessup believes that much of dog behavior comes from their genes. “I truly believe that a dog is about 90% genetics,” says Jessup. She believes that many of the aggressive pit bulls put down in the nation’s shelters are the victims of generations of indiscriminate breeding.

I don't know how the pit bull expert arrived at 90% or how accurate it is but i tend to agree that the number is high. Whether it is 75% or 95%, I don't know but it is my opinion that it is closer to 100% than 0%. Jane Berkey and Ledy Vankavage would like everyone to believe that genetically determined behavior of pit bulls hovers around the zero percent range. That is irresponsible, self-serving and just plain crazy.

Pit bulls have been bred for so long and so intensively for the pit, that their hard-wired violent tendencies don't always discriminate between dogs and people or dogs and cars or strangers and family members. Hard wired behaviors are true of many breeds of dogs, not just pit bulls and is probably best illustrated with the border collie. The border collie breed is not quite as old as the APBT, yet it is so hard wired to herd sheep, that if there are no sheep to herd, it will herd whatever is available. I have read accounts of border collies (and aussies, cattledogs, shelties) herding a variety of non-sheep animals and inanimate objects such as ants, cats, dogs, chickens, horses, rabbits, frogs, shadows, light, shoes, vacuum cleaners, tumble weed, leaves, snow, cars, carpet fuzz and HUMANS. No one is surprised when a border collie herds ants. And more importantly, no one tries to claim that it is the owner's fault for not properly training or socializing their border collie! The border collie's inability to refrain from treating children like sheep, often makes them a poor choice as a family pet, as they tend to nip while herding. The same cautionary approach should be taken with gripping dogs.

We recognize the border collie's hard-wired instincts to herd and it is dangerously foolish to deny the pit bull terrier's hard-wired instincts for violence.

"I will challenge you to show me the ped with no famous manbitters in it."
~ anonymous dogman

The following are a few pedigrees of known man biters and their first generation of REGISTERED offspring. As noted with the pedigree of human aggressive Lil Bit, not all offspring are registered, so the number of man-biter offspring is potentially much greater than indicated below.

Yellow John 66 registered offspring
Zebo 90 registered offspring
Art 63 registered offspring
Bolio 106 registered offspring
Angus (descendant of Spook & Eli) 9 registered offspring
Anderson's Spade 4 registered offspring
Mesquite Sam 1 registered offspring
Golden King's Silver 19 registered offspring
Zeljko's Yellow 3 registered offspring

Bullyson 129 registered offspring
The remaining man-biters listed below all trace their roots back to Bullyson.
Lil Bit
Virgil 336 registered offspring
Honeybunch 44 registered offspring
Buster 101 registered offspring
Tornado 9 registered offspring
Darla's Queen 7 registered offspring
Chinaman 189 registered offspring
* Chinaman sired the greatest producer of all time Frisco. It is irrelevant whether or not Frisco was a man-biter, he passed on Chinaman's (and Bullyson's) DNA on to his 1182 registered offspring.

Yacuza's Mr Indian 83 offspring
* Mr Indian is a pit fighter in the Balkans and his roots trace back to Bullyson, Bolio, Zebo and Yellow John. He is described as man-biter and a wall jumper.

Mr Indian

These 18 man-biters produced at least 1265 puppies.


Godfrey, Illinois


Diane Jessup 2001 interview

Pit Bulls by Gary Wilkes

Dogmen Conversations About Man-biters and Man-Eaters

Man Eaters by Gary J. Hammonds

Manbiter Discussion

Dogmen Conversationsions About Man-biters and Man-Eaters

Man Biters


Gambler's Virgil Stud fees

Dog Fighting and Pit Bulls

John P. Colby: the fountainhead of the American Pit Bull Terrier within the United States

1909 Dog Bite Fatality: John P. Colby's Fighting Pit Bull Kills Nephew

The American Pit Bull Terrier, Joseph L. Colby, 1936

Are Pit Bulls Different? An analysis of the pit bull terrier controversy - Randall Lockwood and Kate Rindy

Diane Jessup and man-biters

Tom Garner Kennels: Chinaman

Chinaman bloodline discussion

A few historical references to human aggressive pit fighters

1976 match report

Fairy Tales from the Pit


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