Let's Talk Pit Bulls
Let's Talk Pit Bulls
Pit bull is a generic term that refers to any number of the bully breeds that include Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers (staffys), American Staffordshire Terriers (amstaffs) and the American Pit Bull Terrier.
Petey from the Little Rascals was an American Pit Bull Terrier, the Target dog and Spuds McKenzie were Bull Terriers.
The AKC (American Kennel Club) recognizes four bully breeds, the Bull Terrier, the Miniature Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier. Many of the pit bulls that we see out there today are not pure bred dogs, but any combination of the above bully breeds or a mix of a bully breed and another breed of dog.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier originated in England. They are often referred to as the "nanny dog" because of their love of children. The breed originated from a cross between a now extinct white terrier and a bull dog. They were originally bred to kill vermin during the days of the bubonic plague. Historically, pit bulls are great family dogs. If you look at photos of the 1800 and early 1900's, there were often pit bulls sitting right alongside family members for the family portrait. Helen Keller had a pit bull. Stubby, a pit bull was a decorated war hero who made many visits to the White House. Pit bulls are loving, loyal, tenacious, energetic and highly intelligent dogs. What was once a wonderful, loving family pet has now become one of the most vilified breed of dog in America.
Pit bull hysteria is fueled by a misunderstanding of the breed and the press that focuses on sensationalism rather than fact when it comes to the breed. The pit bull has gained, through no fault of their own, the same bad reputation garnered of German Shepherds and Rottweilers before them.
Currently the breed of choice for dog fighters, pit bulls are forced to fight, they do not choose to fight. Unfortunately, their use in dog fights only fuels the negativism about the breed and fuels a non-founded sense of hysteria that these wonderful dogs are man eating killers that should not be allowed to live in society. Pit bulls are a very adaptable dog. Most do well in urban settings provided they have enough personal attention, exercise, and positive outlets for the mental and physical energy. While some pit bulls are easy going couch potatoes, others need a job to channel their energy and drive. Some have high play/prey drive.
Hallmarks of the breed include strength, confidence, and a true zest for life. Although pit bulls are not for everyone, those who own the breed will be the first to tell you that they love the breed with all of their heart and would not trade their pittie for anything! Pit bulls are often the victims of K9 racism and discrimination. It is responsible pit bull owners and their dogs that will help restore the image of the breed, along with continued education about the breed that separates fact from fiction. Pit bulls are real rough and tumble dogs which makes them the perfect pet for families with children. They remain playful throughout their lives, and their sense of humor is a hallmark of the breed. Outgoing, loving and people friendly, even with strangers, pit bulls do NOT make good guard dogs. Human aggression, shyness, and fearfulness is not characteristic of the breed. A recent addition to the Cook County Sheriff's Dept. in Chicago is pit bull canine Elliot Ness. A rescue dog from Chicagoland Bully Breed Rescue, Elliot's human partner claims that the biggest problem with pit bulls are that they are just "too darn nice". It is not necessarily a hatred of other dogs that will cause pit bulls to fight. However, the "urge" to fight has been bred into the breed for many generations. Any canine can fight, but pit bulls were bred specifically for their drive, intensity and determination to win. Pit bull owners should NEVER TAKE THEIR DOG TO A DOG PARK! If there is a dog fight, even if the pit bull does not start the fight, they will be blamed for it. The pit bull may not start a fight, but they will finish it. The majority of pit bulls will at some point in their lives exhibit some degree of dog-on-dog aggression. It will not matter if the dog comes from the pound, a stray we pick up, or a puppy we buy from a breeder. It is very important to remember that this sort of animal aggression is completely separate from human aggression. A well socialized pit bull is very good natured with people. Pit bull owners more than any other dog owner must be well informed, responsible dog owners. A responsible pit bull owner will research and understand the breed, and will not put other people's pets at risk. They will keep their dogs leashed at all times in public places. They will clean up after their dogs (that means picking up doggie poop), and vaccinate and license their dogs. It is also important to spay and neuter their dogs and train them. Pit bull owners should always hold themselves to a higher standard when it comes to responsible dog ownership. Individual dogs of all breeds can experience aggression towards other dogs. Adult dog behavior is a combination of nature, nurture, and is also influenced by the dog's genetics, socialization, training and management. Some pit bulls get along with all other dogs, some with none. Each dog is its own unique self. Most fall somewhere in between and those will do best living as a single dog or with a companion dog of the opposite sex.
The American Temperament Test shows Pit Bull dogs achieving a combined passing score of 83.8%. Putting this into perspective, consider that of all breeds tested, 81.2% passed. 79.0% of collies tested passed, and 83.7% of golden retrievers passed. There is no documented case where a single, neutered household pit bull was the cause of a human fatality. The distinction is that a "household" dog is one that lives within the home and has extensive social contact with family members versus a "resident dog" which is a dog that is kept chained or restrained outside of the home. In addition, a tethered dog is 2.8 times more likely than an un-tethered dog to bite. 1 out of 4 fatal attacks involve a chained dog. More than 70% of all bite cases involve dogs that have not been spayed or neutered.