DogsBite.org - An commenter recently left a message about the rarely used, but commonly known to pit bull owners, ATTS temperament test. We describe this test and the group's temperament data being objectively statistically unreliable in our Pit Bull Myths section (myth #9). Pit bull advocates frequently use this misleading data to point to the breed's good temperament and to advocate against breed-specific laws ("Pit bulls pass the ATTS test more often than beagles!")
Comment: "I would like to make an important point about the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) test, since it has become an urban legend promoted by the pro-pit lobby. Maybe this could go under "pit myths", or on a sticky.
The ATTS was NEVER designed to evaluate dogs to determine their suitability as family pets. It is designed to evaluate dogs for bitework...protection sports like French Ring and Shutzhund. It is commonly used to evaluate dogs that will be ultimately used as police canines. If you look at the number of dogs that take the test each year, German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) outnumber any other breed listed by a huge margin; this is because they still are the most common breed used in police work.
The ATTS test rewards boldness...they evaluate how the dog reacts to gunshots, a threatening stranger, etc. There is also a tracking portion of the test, where the dog is required to walk across a strange surface, like plastic and wire (think of a police canine chasing a suspect). Timid dogs do not do well on the test, naturally. Also, the test is subjective...aggression is checked against the breed standard; one can assume that a Golden Retriever would be held to a different standard than a Doberman. It is unclear how the ATTS evaluators are experts on the temperament standard for every breed.
An important ommission in the ATTS test is dog/dog aggression; the test does not evaluate the dogs reaction to other dogs. A dog could pass the ATTS with flying colors, even if it was dangerously dog aggressive.
The pro-pit lobby has deliberately confused the public into believing that the ATTS is equivalent to the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test, which is often used to evaluate dogs for therapy work. The ATTS is an excellent tool to evaluate dogs for Search and Rescue (SAR), protection sports, Police canines, hunting trials, etc. But it in no way indicates which breed is "safer" to have as a family pet."
05/01/08: Comment: Pro-Pit Bull People Intimidate Local Politicians
04/23/08: Comment: How Much Do Pit Bulls Cost All of Us?