Exactly How Strong Is a Pitbull’s Bite?

Pitbulls descended from bulldogs and terriers, though its breed’s history is still ambiguous. Even though the widespread belief is that Pitbulls are a vicious breed of dogs, many people disagree with this statement. There is no solid proof to justify or reprove these claims. Pitbulls are known for their strength and vigor, including their bite.

The American Pitbull has a bite strength of 235 psi. While this is quite strong, it is not the strongest among dog bites. However, when you combine that bite strength with their muscular body, you will struggle to win a tug-of-war with them. And they can cause severe damage to anyone who they take a dislike to.

In this article, we will discuss just how strong a Pitbull’s bite is and whether it can prove fatal to the receiver. Additionally, we’ll analyze the Pitbull’s bite strength from a scientific point of view to better understand its damage. So let’s dive in!

How Strong Is a Pitbull’s Bite Force?

A dog’s bite strength is calculated in “pounds per square inch” or psi. Also, a dog’s size is usually equivalent to how strong its bite would be. Though Pitbulls aren’t known as large dogs (like St. Bernards), they still fall under the medium dog breed category.

Bite force comparison

While a psi of 235, there are other dog breeds that have a stronger bite force.

Dog BredBite Strength (psi)
Kangal 734
English Mastiff556
American Bulldog305
German Shepherd238

A Pitbull’s bite force is 235 psi, which is a little more than a Doberman’s force, and a little less than a German Shepherd’s, which is 238 psi. Consequently, they are currently the strongest dog in their size category.

Being the strongest dog for a medium-sized dog breed, Pitbulls have killed 284 people in 13 years.


In addition to their strong bite, they are a highly athletic breed and have muscular bodies. Initially, like many dog breeds, they were bred to guard and watch over livestock. This explains their creation by crossbreeding a bulldog with a terrier, creating a powerful and agile animal.

Fighting breed

Pitbulls featured in such sports as bull-baiting and bear-baiting due to their fierce and strong bites.

Now eliminated, these games still serve as excellent examples to explain the ferocious history of the Pitbull.

How Strong Is a Pitbull’s Jaw?

Pitbulls have a broad face and powerful jaw, which is their primary source of defense. While German Shepherds deliver one of the strongest bites, this does not make the Pitbull’s bite any less frightening.

One of the reasons Pitbulls are more feared for their bites is because they tend to hold on to their bite for a long time.

As a result, many people have gone as far as describing this as a ‘built-in locking’ mechanism. Just how much do they hold on? Check out the slow-motion video below of a 5-month-old Pitbull.

In reality, Pitbulls don’t have any physiological structure that allows them to lock their jaws. They have strong jaw muscles, which give them the ability to hold a bite and resist any escaping tactics used by their victims.

One example of Pitbull’s persistence took place in Alton, where a police officer fell prey to the attack of a Pitbull. To save the officer from its iron-clad grip, the Pitbull was shot. What was most astounding was that the Pitbull’s jaw remained clenched even after it died.

This was never seen in attacks involving other dog breeds. This is why Pitbulls stand out for their strength and fierceness.

So how do you make a Pitbull release something from its jaw? The most effective device which has been successful, thus far is a break stick.

Every Pitbull owner should carry a break stick. This stick will come in handy during sudden attacks, with both humans and other dogs.

You can also use a break stick to break a tug of war game between a Pitbull and another dog should the game get too rough.

how strong is a pitbull bite force

If you’ve never heard of a break stick before, you can look at one of the most popular brands on Amazon, which is made exclusively for Pitbulls: Kuntrona Pitbull Break Stick.

Can a Pitbull’s Bite Break Bones?

By now, you’re probably wondering how much pain and damage a Pitbull’s bite can inflict. Like any medium-sized dog, a Pitbull’s bite damages the flesh and tissue of a human’s body, but can it break your bones?

Well, the answer is yes and possibly. While not all Pitbull bites can break your bones, if the Pitbull shakes its head during the bite, there’s a high chance of damaging a few bones and joints.

Also, keep in mind that we’re talking about the bones of a full-grown adult here. If a Pitbull bites a child’s arm, its jaw’s strength and force are most likely enough to break the child’s bones.

It takes a lot of effort for the Pitbull to actually snap the bone of an adult, and only when the bite involves violent and aggressive shaking. This is why there aren’t many reports of Pitbulls (or any dog) having broken or shattered a person’s bones with their bite.

Can a Pitbull’s Bite Kill a Person?

And finally, the most important question of them all is: Can a Pitbull’s bite kill a person? As mentioned earlier, a statistical study over 13 years of fatal attacks by dogs in the US shows that Pitbulls were responsible for 66% of the total fatalities, with the Rottweiler and German Shepherd coming in second and third.

In another study conducted over 10 years, Pitbulls were responsible for either killing or maiming 3,569 people in the USA and Canada. During the attacks, most deaths are a result of intense bleeding and head injuries.

Since we know how strong a Pitbull’s jaw bite can be, it is no surprise that victims can rarely escape its jaw’s grip.

Thus, the only way a victim can escape a Pitbull’s grasp is if a third person intervenes and breaks the jaw grip. If this doesn’t happen, the victim can and will die of blood loss.

This is why most fatalities are caused by Pitbulls, even though there are other dogs that attack humans.

Summary of What We’ve Learnt

This article analyzed the strength and force of a Pitbull’s jaw and bite. Here’s a quick recap of the entire article below:

  • How strong is a Pitbull’s bite force? A Pitbull’s bite force is 235 psi, and they are currently the strongest dog in the medium-sized dog breed category.
  • How strong is a Pitbull’s jaw? Pitbulls have a powerful jaw and an iron grip that enables them to hold on to their victims for an extended time. But, they do not have a special ‘locking’ mechanism as people tend to believe. The most effective way to release a victim from a Pitbull’s bite is with a break stick.
  • Can a Pitbull’s bite break bones? A Pitbull’s bite can break an adult’s bones, but only if it shakes its head aggressively when it bites. Otherwise, it might damage the flesh and tissue with its bite but won’t break bones.
  • Can Pitbulls kill people? Yes. If the person does not escape, they can die of blood loss.


The purpose of this article was to make you aware of the incredible strength of the Pitbull breed. The intent was not to convince you that all Pitbulls are aggressive or bad dogs. That could not be further from the truth. They are loving, sweet, and loyal dogs. It comes down to their human owners. If trained to be aggressive: they will be.

Pitbulls make a great companion dog for hikes. You can read an article I wrote here.


Michelle loves enjoying the outdoors with her dogs. She grew in a big house near the beach with German Shepherds. Nowadays, Michelle has down-sized her dogs, proving small dogs can enjoy the outdoors too! Lucy loves playing fetch with her ball and frisbee. Max loves swimming and could walk forever. Latte's life is simple: follow Lucy and Max and fun will happen. Michelle and her 3 dogs enjoy escaping the city limits to hike, camp and swim.

Recent Content