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A “pit bull” isn’t a very descriptive term. That’s because their are two types of pit bull. There is the typical pit bull that you see on the streets, which is really a mixed bred dog. Most pit bulls are a mix of several dogs. So, when you hear about a “pit bull” attacking some person or animal, you never really know what kind of dog is being referred to. The other type of pit bull is a purebred dog. This is typically a dog that has been bred by a breeder, and one where you can get the pedigree of the dog showing the last 3 to 5 generations of parents, grandparents, great grandparents and such. Thus, there is a HUGE range of traits, looks and behaviors in all the pit bulls you hear about.
The mixed pit bull is the one you mostly see in the articles in the news or in shelters. For example, if you look at Siberian Huskies, they all pretty much look identical. That’s because they’ve been bred to one another for many generations. They are essentially identical twins. But, when you look at pit bulls in news articles, or at a shelter, you will see that they are not identical twins at all. And because they are of mixed heritage, you can get dogs that range from very nice to unstable, because you never know what went into the breeding of that dog. One purpose of pure breeding is to make identical copies… same everything, including looks and temperament.
Regarding pure bred pit bulls, there are many pit bull breeds, and I have trained many pit bull dogs of various breeds. Bulldogs have been around for a very long time, probably for centuries. The bull breeds were often crossed with other breeds. One example would be the bull breeds used for big game hunting, sent in to grab and hold a large cat or boar after the game was located by scent hounds. Others were used as butcher’s dogs, sent in to grab a bull by the nose and hold on while the butcher clubbed the bull over the head to kill it. And some were bred to kill roaming feral dog packs that would menace homeowners. The term “pit” refers to the idea that some were put in bloody fights in an enclosed area (a pit) with other animals (dogs, horses, monkeys, big cats, etc.) for spectator gambling purposes. Some bull breeds were more successful at fighting than others. But in the end, particular kennels developed their own lines of pit bull, gave them a name, and sold them because of their special traits. That’s the way almost all of our pure bred dogs were created. Thus we know what a Cocker Spainiel is supposed to be, and we know what a German Shorthaired Pointer should be.
BULL BREEDS ARE GENERALLY KNOWN TO BE NICE DOGS when properly raised and managed. That is true of the mixed bred pit bulls and the pure bred pit bulls. So, for example, their are a variety of mastiff breeds. Most are friendly with other dogs and strangers, such as the modern English Mastiff or the Great Dane. Yet, in the past, the Mastiff wasn’t a friendly dog, nor was the Great Dane. So, when you cross a friendly breed, such as an American Pit Bull Terrier with a not so friendly breed, then you might get puppies that are not friendly. That’s just genetics, that’s the way it works.
Further, you will always encounter dogs of every breed, including the bull breeds, that are unstable. Good breeders typically don’t want to create unstable dogs. Who can build a successful business by selling inferior “merchandise”? But, backyard breeders, those folks that either purposely or negligently let their pit bulls breed, allow unstable dog genetics to filter into the puppies they create.
So, you get the same problems of temperament with pit bulls as you do with any other breed. Nice, stable dogs from reputable breeders and a serious risk of getting a not so nice, unstable dog from random breeding in the streets. The nice ones are typical of the pit fighting breeds that we read about. Some are more protective than others (protective isn’t the same as being unstable or vicious).
I’ve worked with a lot of pit bulls. The nasty ones are usually made unstable because of a ruined puppyhood (neglect, teasing, lack of socialization, abuse, etc.) or because of backyard breeding (poor/ questionable genetics). Most of the pit bull problems I encounter are a result of people making their pit bulls miserable through neglect, boredom or abuse. The dog would have turned out completely different in responsible hands. For example, you are a damn fool if you leave a pit bull in a back yard, month after month, with nothing to do, nowhere to go, never meeting strangers or kids or other animals. This wrecks any dog, and it wrecks pit bulls. And for some reason, there are more people willing to neglect pit bulls than most other breeds. Pit bulls tend to attract a lot of losers. I really don’t know why, but it is true. But, the media doesn’t want to blame these losers, because we all have to be nice to losers these days in the media, so we blame the dogs. These dogs are being abused, and thus they grow up where they have learned that they have to rely on themselves and protect themselves.
Normally, a properly socialized and trained pit bull dog, pure bred or a mutt, is a fine companion for children and adults AND IS SAFE TO OWN. I believe that almost EVERY pit bull attack can be prevented by a.) Knowing the breed traits involved; b.) Only purchasing a dog from a good breeder, or getting a good rescue from a reputable non-profit rescue organization; c.) Proper socialization of the puppies; d.) Proper training of the dogs; e.) Proper supervision by responsible adults; f.) Proper containment when not supervised… AND NOT NEGLECTING THEM AND MAKING THEIR LIVES MISERABLE. All pit bulls are WORKING DOGS, and they need to have a fun and active life, in your home and in public. How many sad cases of neglected pit bulls do we need to see to get this through to those losers who wreck it for the rest of us? How many people and animals have to be unnecessarily attacked by pit bulls which have been inhumanely stressed by their loser owners?
This is true for all dogs, however, and not just pit bulls. [PLEASE READ: Why Are There So Many Pit Bull Attacks?]
The typical problems I am hired to address with pit bulls mainly fall into the following categories:
a.) House Training Problems: I have had a surprising number of customers who had trouble house training their pit bulls. I usually hear from them after they have done everything wrong with the dog. If you don’t know how to house train a dog, then hire a professional NOW. What you are doing is just making the situation worse.
b.) Too Friendly: Most of the pit bull dogs I am hired to train are super friendly. In fact, so friendly, that they just won’t leave the guests alone, just wanting to be petted and loved to the point they are annoying. This is easily managed with proper training. I also get inquiries from people who want their pit bulls to be mean — these are the type of people I don’t want to deal with. They know nothing of the breed, and they want the dog to be the kind of dog that would hurt innocent people.
c.) Pulls Hard On The Leash / Doesn’t Listen To Commands: Pit bull breeds tend to pull on a leash. I have no idea why owners allow this, but I see these dogs being walked in harnesses all the time, which makes the problem even worse. A dog that pulls you down the street isn’t any fun to take for a walk, and a dog that doesn’t listen to commands is a pain to own, and you are teaching the dog that you aren’t the leader — which could lead to aggression later on. These dogs need obedience training.
d.) Aggression or Fear Biting: I see several types of situations when I get calls like this: THIS DOG’S NEEDS WERE NEGLECTED… The dog never goes anywhere, is always home, and has nothing to do; isn’t good with other animals; the dog isn’t good with strangers; and/or the dog isn’t good with family members. Some of these dogs are poorly bred dogs, from backyard breeders who were trying to make a fast buck off some cheapskate buyer. Some of these dogs weren’t properly socialized as puppies. Some are not trained, not properly supervised, and some are allowed to become spoiled. Some of these dogs were abused, teased or used as pit fighting dogs. Each of these situations require a behavioral evaluation to determine the right course of action. The same principles of behavior apply to pit bulls as they do to other dog breeds.
WHAT IS A PIT BULL TERRIER?
Most articles you read, when referring to a “pit bull” are referring to a mutt. This just shows the ignorance of the press regarding dogs, breeds and behavior. Given that, what is a pit bull terrier? It is just one form of pure bred bull dog. (Never forget: It is just a dog, not a monster or a weapon — it is a pet)
1. A cross between a bulldog and a terrier, and a copy of its parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. An individual dog should come with a written AKC pedigree
2. The Bulldog was used for it’s physical toughness, courage and tenacity
3. The terrier was used for it’s desire to fight, speed and endurance
4. Shouldn’t be fearful of people, other dogs or other animals — just like any other dog
5. Highly trainable
6. Generally good with people, other animals, and other dogs, PROVIDED that they were raised properly. I’ve seen many, many trustworthy pit bull terriers that were good with pretty much any animal or person.
7. They don’t have a double jointed, locking jaw. That’s just silly stuff made up by ignorant people.
8. Good with children — at least as good as any other working breed. But, kids and dogs need supervision, regardless of the breed. The term good with children always assumes responsible parents owning a well bred, socialized, trained dog and the parents enforce rules to ensure their kids are good and respectful with dogs.
9. People friendly breed
10. Loyal, active, intelligent, and highly trainable
12. Working Dogs: pit bull terriers should be bred to be a dog that will keep working at a command oriented task without quitting, such as at weight pulling, tracking, working obedience, etc. Many of the dogs I see aren’t workers. They are backyard bred dogs, so they are limited in their training potential. Yes, they can be pets, but they can’t go onto higher level training, which is really a shame. But, this is true of most breeds.
13.) Territorial: these dogs will guard territory just like any other dog
14.) Pack oriented: these dogs are stimulated by the motivation to work in groups.
Suitable for the following tasks
1. Companion dog
2. Therapy Dog
3. Search & Rescue [** WORKING PEDIGREE]
4. Dog sports like high level obedience competition, Schutzhund, or French Ringsport are good for this breed (but they are NOT suitable for true protection work) [** WORKING PEDIGREE]
5. Narcotics detection: many would be good for this kind of job [** WORKING PEDIGREE]
6. Boar/ wild hog hunting
7. Weight pulling competition
I DO NOT BELIEVE IT IS MORAL TO USE DOGS TO FIGHT IN A PIT. It is unnatural for animals of any kind to fight like this to the death. Pit fighting serves no useful purpose, either to mankind or to nature or the dogs involved. It is no different than trophy hunting. I have no problem with hunting, provided you eat what you kill. But to kill, for killing’s sake, is wrong. It is sick. It is unnatural. It is evil, twisted, perverted and pathological. It is one thing to let a dog become part of your family, and protect you from attack. That IS natural. But to force fights on animals like this is sick. We don’t even allow people to fight to the death, except in war, and that is only justified in very specific circumstances, otherwise it is considered criminal. SO, DON’T BUY DOGS THAT COME FROM PIT FIGHTING BREEDERS. YOU ARE FINANCING AN IMMORAL AND UNNATURAL BLOOD SPORT THAT IS RESULTING IN SOCIETY WANTING TO DESTROY THE PIT FIGHTING BREEDS and MANY OTHER BREEDS, SUCH AS ROTTWEILERS. IF YOU LOVE THE BREED, YOU WILL HATE THE BLOOD FIGHTING SPORT.
1. You are more likely to be hit by lightning that to be killed by a pit bull of any type
2. Too many good examples of the breed to ban the breed because of the few dogs that people wreck
3. It’s just a dog
4. If you ban the pit bulls, people will switch to another breed and wreck it (which is what is happening to the Rottweiler, Presa Canario, and other breeds) — are you then going to ban those breeds, too? Where will it stop?
5. If properly socialized and trained, they are great dogs, capable of great devotion, affection, and companionship
6. There is a difference between a pit bull, a Pit Bull Terrier, an American Staffordshire Terrier, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and a Pit Bulldog. One is a mongrel, the others are pure bred dogs. THERE ARE MANY PIT FIGHTING BREEDS other than these. If you destroyed every pit fighting breed in existence, it would be relatively easy to start crossbreeding dogs to create a new pit bull terrier. That is why it is folly to start banning the ownership and breeding of these dogs. People can and will either switch to owning other breeds, or will create new ones. How do you think these breeds were created in the first place?
7. Most pit bull terriers are never fought, and are just companion dogs, and good ones at that
The Best Way To Avoid Being Bitten By A Pit Bull Terrier:
DON’T NEGLECT THE DOG
Don’t be involved with people that treat their pit bulls as weapons instead of as companions
Don’t pet dogs that you don’t know to be friendly, the same rules you should apply to ALL dogs
Don’t tease the dog or make it people aggressive
Raise it as a companion dog: socialize, train, & supervise
Discourage unstable people from getting a dog of any breed