How Strong Is A Pit Bull’s Bite? 5 Myths You Probably Believe

Have you ever wanted to get a Pit Bull but heard about how brutal their bites might be? Well, you have every right to be curious, but don’t let these rumors wan you from your decision to get your four-legged buddy.

How strong is a Pit Bull’s bite? A Pit Bull’s bite strength is around 235 pounds per square inch (PSI) which is a significantly weaker biting force than several larger dog breeds. Pit Bulls do not have the strongest bite force like some believe, nor do they have locking jaws either.

Keep reading to learn more about how strong a Pit Bull’s bite force is and the factors affecting it.

How Strong Is A Pit Bull’s Bite Force?

a photo of pit bulls biting on a stick to show a strong a pit bull's bite is

Dogs have always been humans’ best friends for so many years. They help people do many tasks, hunt for food, and even support them emotionally.

Having such a lovely companion comes with many perks; however, you have to choose wisely which breed would suit you well, as they come in many sizes and shapes. You can pick a ginormous dog with a gentle, loving aura for your family, or you could pick a ferocious one to protect and hunt for you. 

One of the most important things you have to learn about your dog is its bite force so that you can take better care of it and be the best dog owner out there.

A Pit Bull’s bite force is around 235 pounds per square inch (PSI). The bite force of Pit Bulls is, contrary to popular belief, considerably weaker than that of numerous larger dog breeds, and it is roughly identical to that of other breeds of the same size and weight.

Although it can be challenging to measure a dog’s bite force precisely, there are many different tested ways to try and get an approximate number for each dog.

How to Measure a Dog’s Bite Force?

Before we start discussing how the measurements are made, let’s clear up some things first about the measuring units and the measuring method used.

Measuring Units

The units used to express force or pressure are newtons and PSI. Sometimes, they are wrongly used interchangeably without taking the conversion rate into consideration, which could be what first led to some of the myths surrounding Pitbull bites.

PSI, which means pounds per square inch, is more common in America, and it is used to measure pressure at any given spot. People primarily use the PSI scale to measure pressure on the square inch of each pound.

They often use it for routine chores like measuring the pressure in car tires, but it can also be used to determine how much force a dog’s jaws can produce.

Newtons; however, are used more internationally as they are part of the International System of Units, and are used to measure the force required to accelerate one kilogram of mass at a rate of one meter per second squared in the direction of the applied force.

Both units can be converted to each other as 1 newton equals a PSI of approximately 0.22. Accordingly, depending on which part of the world you live in, a Pitbull’s bite force could be either 1,045.33 newtons or 235 PSI.

Methods to Measure Your Dog’s Bite Strength

There are four methods to try gauging a dog’s bite strength:

Geometrical AnalysisResearchers examine the dog’s skull geometrically and try to determine the maximum force the dog’s bite could apply, theoretically.
So it definitely provides useful information.
This method isn’t efficient because, in a real-world situation, a dog will almost certainly never apply the absolute maximum pressure its skull could handle. 
If it did so, it would likely result in torn jaw muscles, broken teeth, or perhaps even a broken jaw.
Electrical StimulationResearchers stimulate sedated dogs’ jaws, which are scheduled for euthanasia for humane reasons, to test their jaw’s strength.This method is also faulty because the sedated dogs were not also actively trying to keep their teeth, jaws, and jaw muscles; therefore, the measured forces are likely to be impractically high.
ElectrodesResearchers place electrodes on their jaws while they chew to measure the force with which their jaw muscles contract, while they chew.Dogs surely don’t chew with their full force while eating, so the measurements are not exact.
TransducerResearchers wrap transducers, which are used to measure force, in a treat.The same cons as the electrodes method.

These methods used together could provide an approximate measurement of a dog’s bite strength, but they don’t provide an exact measurement.

Moreover, the act of biting or chewing in any living being involves using different parts of the jaw with varying forces, which complicates the whole measuring process more.

Obviously, measuring a dog’s bite strength in a practical sense is nearly impossible because we can’t simply ask a dog to do as we say and bite down as hard as it can without injuring itself.

So, we’ll have to rely on the approximate measurements these methods give us while bearing in mind that a variety of factors can influence the force with which a Pit Bull (or any dog for that matter) can bite.

What Factors Affect The Bite Force of a Pit Bull?

What exactly makes dogs’ bites as painful as they are? Well, the dog’s body weight and the size and shape of its skull are key factors that have a high likelihood of affecting the biting force. 

As we’ll cover in more detail later, the size of the dog as a whole rather than its breed really gives a better indication of its biting power.

Here are some of the internal and external factors that affect a dog’s bite. 

Body Weight

The number one predictor of canine bite strength is their body weight, which is a critical factor in determining the power of the dog’s bite. All the research we’ve looked at shows no link between certain breeds and biting strength.

Size and weight can vary greatly across members of the same breed, particularly within the Pit Bull family of dogs. They can weigh as little as 30 pounds and as much as 90 pounds! So as one might expect, a small 30-pound Pit Bull’s bite strength will be much less than that of another triple her size.

Despite the fact that we previously stated that Pit Bulls have a bite force of around 235 PSI, It’s crucial to remember that this figure is, in fact, just an average and an estimate rather than a precise measurement for all Pit Bulls.

Naturally, as one would conclude, an obese Pit Bull of the same build will not have more biting strength than one of a healthy weight. Therefore, the larger the Pit Bull, the more powerful the bite. Learn more about the Pit Bull’s muscular build here.

The Structure of Their Skulls

There is a correlation between the size and shape of the skull and jaw and the bite force to some extent. However, that is only limited to dogs of medium and big stature. 

That essentially means that if you were to wager on which dog would win between two of the same weight in the bite strength department, you could safely bet on the one that has the more oversized head and broader jaws.

Pit Bulls are widely known for being goofballs with wide toothy grins, which means they will, more often than not, have a stronger bite than a dog of a different breed that weighs the same but has a smaller head and narrower jaw.

Jaws and Teeth

A Pit Bull is less inclined to forcefully bite if he feels pain in his jaws or teeth when he bites down. A dog may refrain from biting with his full force due to medical concerns such as dental decay, TMJ issues, jaw muscle atrophy, and crooked teeth.

Bite Inhibition and Training

Something that can heavily influence whether a dog bites at all, and even if he does, how hard he bites, is training. 

Pit Bulls who, as pups, were taught bite inhibition in training are far less prone to bite unprovoked as adults and might even display a level of awareness of the force with which they exert while biting.

Chew toys can also play a huge role in training dogs on what is okay to bite and what is not, and you can check out our guide to the best chew toys for Pit Bulls for bite inhibition training here.

Situation and Motivation

Pit Bulls are the same as humans in the sense that they will bite with as much force as they believe required in a particular situation.

For example, a person wouldn’t chew something as soft and low fuss as oatmeal as they would beef jerky with the same enthusiasm and force.

This is one of the reasons that makes it particularly hard to assess the biting force in conscious dogs accurately. You can’t thoroughly test a dog’s full force bite without crossing ethical boundaries when he bites as hard as he can.

When a dog is threatened, provoked, or in pain in the real world, he is far more motivated to bite the threat hard than when he is calmly munching on food in the lab.

The Individual Dog

Finally, each dog has a unique temper that highly depends on the training he has undergone, especially as a young pup. 

To be quite honest, some dogs are just more likely to get upset quicker than others and may respond violently even when minimally provoked.

What Are the Myths About Pit Bull’s Jaws and Bites?

There are many misconceptions about Pit Bulls that unfortunately discourage many people from adopting them and providing them with a loving home. Some of these misconceptions attack their appearance, their behavior, and even their genetics.

One of the most famous myths is about the strength of their bites. Some say that they have the strongest jaws in all dog breeds, that they “lock” their jaws when they bite, and that they are more inclined to bite or even kill than the other breeds.

Let me assure you, though, that these are all just myths, so let’s debunk them.

Pit Bulls Lock Their Jaws

This is definitely wrong as Pit Bulls’ jaws don’t have any unique feature that “locks their jaw”. They have the same jaw structure as any other dog. What differentiates between the breed’s bites is the shape and size of their jaws; even scientific studies debunk this myth.

The reason this myth may have been easy to believe is that Pit Bulls can bite and cling to the thing for what seems like an eternity, such as when playing tug-of-war. However, this is not a Pit Bull-specific trait, all dog breeds have this dedication to winning the game, and it just proves their desire to have fun!

Pit Bulls’ Bite Is the Strongest

Another myth because Mastiffs exert 552 PSI, which is the officially measured strongest bite of any dog. A Pitbull’s average bite strength is less than half of that.

To put things into perspective, here’s a list of some other living beings’ bite strengths:

  • Humans: 120 PSI
  • Sharks and Lions: 600 PSI
  • Hyenas: 1000 PSI
  • Nile Alligators: 2500 PSI

You should know by now that the bite strength doesn’t depend on a specific breed, but depends on the overall structure of it. Pit Bulls typically are a medium-sized breed, so they don’t have the strongest bite.

Pitbulls Are More Inclined To Bite

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare Division (AVMA), Pit Bulls are not dangerous in an odd way compared to the other breeds.

However, they were highly reported in biting instances, but so were Spaniels, Jack Russell Terriers, and Labrador retrievers — none of which are likely to be regarded as “dangerous” breeds by the public.

Additionally, the term “Pit Bull” is usually used to describe any dog that has a muscly physique with a large head, so that leads to the misidentification of the breed and the stigma that a biting dog is a Pit Bull even if it’s not.

There are other factors that affect the occurrences of biting accidents, such as the high population of a certain dog in a single area, and so on. So, the belief that a breed has an inclination to bite more than other breeds is in fact wrong.

A Pit Bull’s Bite Is More Lethal

According to a study in Ireland, it was found that there was no substantial difference between legislated breeds (i.e Pit Bulls) and non-legislated breeds for both the type of bite caused and the medical care required.

Other studies found that breeds other than Pit Bulls are responsible for more than 70% of dog bite fatalities in humans.

The AVMA further points out that this information cannot be used to reliably prove the “dangerousness” of any breed because it would require including the total population of each breed of a dog residing in the US for each year of the study, which is not accessible.


Unfortunately, Pit Bulls’ history doesn’t give them any advantages when the topic of biting and aggression is on the table, as they were once bred to fight and guard livestock.

However, these practices are long gone and don’t affect the traits of a Pit Bull. There are more things that have a more considerable effect on them, like their training and socialization, so their old history doesn’t do much to their now lives.


Many people do not understand that breed standards and goals can alter and adapt over time.

Pit Bulls were once bred to fight, bait bulls, and hunt hogs hundreds of years ago. Nowadays, the word “Pit Bull” is almost more stigmatized than any specific breed of dog.

Fortunately, we can defend our big goofy buddies against these accusations by using science and facts.

PitbullsHome Personally-Tested Picks for Pitties:

Related Questions 

What Other Dog Breeds That Have Strong Bite Force?

  • Kangal: 743 PSI
  • Cane Corso: 700 PSI
  • Dogue de Bordeaux: 556 PSI
  • English Mastiff: 552 PSI
  • Dogo Canario: 540 PSI
  • Dogo Argentino: 500 PSI
  • American Bulldog: 305 PSI
  • English Bulldog: 210 PSI
  • German Shephard: 238 PSI
  • Dutch Shepard: 224 PSI
  • Malinois 195 PSI

Helpful Resources 

20 Dog Breeds With the Strongest Bite Force

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