Do American Bullies Have Lock Jaws? The Reality !

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If you are an American Bully owner like myself, you already know that this loving ball of muscle is always surrounded by various types of myths, among which one myth is that they have the ability to lock their jaws. 

But is it true?

Do American Bullies have lock jaws? No, they do not have a lockjaw. They do not have any type of unique mechanism to lock their jaws when they bite.

In this article, we will discuss this in more detail, exploring the anatomy of your American Bully’s jaws and debunking myths.

We’ll even touch on the lockjaw syndrome.

So, let’s uncover the truth!

Do American Bullies Have Lock Jaws?

american bully looking sideways

Lockjaw is a common term circulating in the dog world, and you might have also heard of it. 

According to this myth, dogs with locked jaws have the ability to lock their jaw when they bite something and will only release it when they want to. 

This special power is often associated with many bully breeds, including the American Bully.

Many people believe that American Bullies possess this superpower of locking their jaws, and this misconception has contributed to fear surrounding this breed.

However, it is a myth that lacks any truth. Scientifically speaking, according to Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin of the University of Georgia, no breed of dog, including the American Bully, has a physiological mechanism that allows their jaws to lock.

Another study conducted in 2003 by T.E. Houston, titledBite Force and Bite Pressure Comparisons of Humans and Dogs,” found that there is no special jaw structure in bully breeds. It has been proven that the jaw structure of the American Bully is not significantly different from that of other breeds.

So, why do people think American Bullies have the ability to lock their jaws? 

It may be due to the breed’s determination. If they set their mind on something, they will persist until the task is completed. 

They are highly driven, and this determination applies to everything they do. When they bite, they do it with unwavering determination and may not release their grip easily, leading some to believe they have a lock jaw.

Furthermore, the American Bully’s bite force is not exceptionally powerful when compared to other bully breeds.

It’s worth noting that the myth of a “lock jaw” has not only surrounded American Bullies but also other bully breeds such as Pitbull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, American Bulldogs, and many other dog breeds that are often perceived as aggressive. However, this myth holds no truth at all.

The History of the Locking Jaws Myth: Where It Came From

american bully chewing


The origin of the jaw-locking myth in American Bullies might be the result of their connection with pit bulls, as these dogs were aggressive and were used in bull-baiting. 

However, there is no concrete evidence, but many experts still believe that this concept might have originated from the historical role of pit bulls, which was bull-baiting.

Bull Baiting History

Bullbaiting is a gruesome sport that originated in England in the 19th century where pit bulls and other dogs like terriers and various other bulldogs were used to participate. 

They put these dogs into the pit or ring against a bull where the dogs would attack the bull, attempting to immobilize it by biting and holding onto its nose, ears, or other sensitive areas. They were used for bear baiting as well.

Bull baiting was the sport of determination, dogs used to bite down on the bulls and used to hold onto them while the huge bull ran and tried to get rid of them very ferociously.  

Maybe their determined bite and strong jaw muscles led to claims of them possessing a ‘lockjaw’ mechanism.

In 1835, England passed a law called the Cruelty to Animals Act, which was a big step towards banning it. 

By the mid-1800s, bull-baiting was pretty much stopped, and it was officially made illegal in England.

Despite scientific evidence debunking this myth, it continues to persist today.

The Anatomy of American Bullies’ Jaws

As already discussed, the anatomy of an American Bully’s jaw doesn’t include any feature that would allow them to ‘lock’ their bite. 

Their jaw structure, in fact, is no different from other dogs. It consists of the mandible, the lower jaw, and the maxilla, the upper jaw.

These two parts work together to allow the dog to chew food and hold objects. The strength of their bite relies on the masseter and temporalis muscles, which control the opening and closing of the jaws.

It’s the determination, tenacity, and sheer strength of these dogs that might give the impression of a ‘lock jaw.’

What Is Lockjaw Syndrome

Lockjaw syndrome, also known as tetanus, is a rare but serious condition that can affect dogs. 

It is caused by a bacterial toxin and results in muscle stiffness and spasms, leading to a rigid and “locked” jaw, among other symptoms.

In simple words, It’s a condition marked by muscle stiffness in the jaw, making it difficult to open or close the mouth.


Lockjaw in dogs is usually caused by a bacterium called Clostridium tetani. This bacterium is often found in soil and animal waste.

It can get into a dog’s body through injuries like deep cuts, bites, or puncture wounds. Once inside, this bacterium releases a strong toxin that affects the dog’s nervous system. This can result in stiff muscles and spasms.


Tetanus symptoms can vary from dog to dog. Here are the following symptoms that you can examine to determine if your American bully might be suffering from lockjaw syndrome:

  • Facial Paralysis
  • Stiffness in the head, neck and face
  • Hypersalivation (excessive drooling)
  • Face may get swelled
  • Difficulty in speaking due to rigid jaw
  • Difficulty in breathing. 
  • Fever 
  • Stiffness in the body.
  • Decreased hunger or difficulty with meal consumption.
  • Muscle spasms
  • Ear infection 

It’s important to note that these symptoms can develop gradually or appear suddenly, varying from case to case. 

If you observe any of these signs in your American Bully, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care immediately to confirm a diagnosis and commence appropriate treatment.


  • First, a tetanus antitoxin is administered to neutralize the toxin produced by the bacteria. 
  • Antibiotics are then used to control the infection, while sedatives and muscle relaxants manage the spasms. 
  • In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary for respiratory support
  • Vaccination is the best prevention method.
  • Regular vet check-ups are also essential for spotting and dealing with issues early on.

Note- The treatment can vary significantly; the treatment I have mentioned is provided to give you an idea about it.


Are American bullies more prone to suffering from Lockjaw syndrome?

No, American Bullies are not prone to suffering from Lockjaw syndrome. In fact, this disease is quite rare in dogs in general.

Final Thoughts

After reading this article, it is clear that the idea of American Bullies having a “Lockjaw” is just a debunked myth (not talking about lockjaw syndrome which is a medical issue), similar to many other myths. American Bullies do not possess any special type of jaw; it is the same as the jaws of other dogs around the world. 


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