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 pounds per square inch. The bite from their powerful jaws will apply 300 pounds of pressure. This compares to a human bite of 120 pounds and the bite of a great white shark of 600 pounds of pressure.

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?

The American Pitbull bite force is 235 pounds per square inch (psi). This bite is rumored to be powerful enough to shatter the femur of a cow with a single bite.

How to Measure a Dog’s Bite Force?

A dog’s bite strength is calculated in “pounds per square inch” or psi. You might recognize psi as a way of measuring the pressure in your car tires. Tire pressure is around 32 pounds per square inch.

Psi is an approximation of the pressure of a dog’s bite when the dog closes their mouth on something. 

While a psi of 235 for the American Pitbull is strong, 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.

What Affects a Bully’s Bite Force?


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. American Pitbulls have the strongest bite amongst all dogs in the medium-sized dog category.

An American Pit Bull can weigh between 30 to 90 pounds as adults. They are a muscular and powerful breed. In fact, not only do they have the strongest bite but they are the strongest dog in the medium-size dog breed category. 

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

Head and jaw size

The amount of pressure a dog can apply with its jaws is related to the size of the dog’s head.

The American Pitbull has a large and wide head that can measure up to 25 inches.


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: athletic and muscular.

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?

Given their history as a guarding and fighting dog, Pitbulls have been bred with an enormous strong jaw. This jaw is capable of deploying that bite force of 235 psi.

In addition to a strong bite, impact of that bite is accentuated by 2 factors.

[pitbulls] inflicted more serious wounds than other breeds. They tend to attack the deep muscles, to hold on, to shake, and to cause ripping of tissues.

Source: Kory Nelson, Senior City Attorney for the City of Denver

Hold and shake

When Bully’s bite onto something, they hold and shake. Being a very muscular dog, the hold combined with a strong shake, maximizes the damage caused.

Don’t let go

One of the reasons Pitbulls are more feared for their bites is because they tend to clamp and 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.

But it’s a myth that Bully’s are equipped with unique jaw locking capabilities.

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 hold their jaws in place. 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.

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.

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.

Or you could use a more affordable alternative like a plastic stake/tent peg or nylon wood splitting wedge, as recommended by the Pitbull owner in the video below.

Can a Pitbull’s Bite Break Bones?

The Pitbull’s tendency to hold and shake their head means there’s a high chance of damaging bones and joints as well as flesh and tissue.

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

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.

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

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.

Want More Articles about Pitbulls?

If you love Pitbulls, have a read of these resources below:


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 to poodles, proving small dogs can enjoy the outdoors too! Her dogs enjoy playing fetch, swimming, and long walks. Michelle and her dogs enjoy escaping the city limits to hike, camp, and swim.

Recent Posts