The Fighting Truth About Pit Bulls

Cute Pit Bull

I Love a Pit Bull Smile

I’ve had a number of dogs of various breeds  in my life. One special dog was a Pit Bull/Mastiff named Squash (because of his orange color). His previous owners kept him in the back yard tied with a thick and short chain around the tree. When they moved, they just left him there. So my mom took him in. Squash understandably had a few issues due to his life tied around that tree, but with care and understanding he turned out to be a great family dog. I remember walking him as a girl and everyone being afraid of him. Some people couldn’t believe my mom would let me and my little sister be around such a big, strong, and mean-looking dog. But Squash would never hurt us. Because of his sweet nature, he was one of the most memorable dogs of my childhood.

pit bull terrier puppy

This isn’t a photo of Squash, but you get what I mean about the orange color.

With that being said, let me present to you this article about Pit Bulls. This is an article written by Randi Adams. Randi is a blog-from-home mother of three from California.

It’s easy to see golden retrievers adored as loving, family-oriented companions or chihuahuas as cute accessories that are dressed up and toted around. It’s called breed generalization, and pit bulls are victims of sweeping unfair generalizations such as “dangerous,” “a community menace” and “unpredictably aggressive.” Dog stereotypes and breed generations do originate though somewhere, somehow. Media attention that sensationalizes a tragic story involving a pit bull, or even the Michael Vick illegal dog fighting case disservice the breed that typically has a good nature.

The Fighting Truth

Pit bulls have been historically bred to be a fighting dog, and as a physically powerful, “high drive” breed, they have been traditionally trained to be an aggressive threat against other animals, as the ASPCA reveals. Because of the breed’s long history with fighting, the pit bull has a naturally strong propensity to react to other dogs. Pets for Patriots emphasizes that dog breeds of all kinds can exert aggressive behaviors, but a pit bull can end up inflicting more serious injuries and damage because of its size and strength.

Dog fighting was certainly more common one hundred years ago, and the American Pit Bull Terrier was bred to be a friendly and gentle dog, explains Pets for Patriots. At one time, the pit bull was one of the most popular dogs for American families. The pit bull image was even represented on World War One posters as a symbol for bravery and reliability.

Human Fault

ASPCA, the non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of animal cruelty, asks “why the bad rap?” First, pit bulls can be a macho status symbol because of their intimidating appearance. Breeders irresponsibly and carelessly breed pit bull puppies for people who excite over the pit bull’s tough image. Dog owners also have their fair share in perpetuating the pit bull reputation. Dog owners may encourage the negative pit bull archetype by raising their puppy to be aggressive and domineering.

Just like humans can reinforce the violent association of pit bulls by using their pet as a tough guy accessory, humans can also negate the fear of pit bulls. The ASPCA describes the breed as “one of the most delightful, intelligent and gentle dogs imaginable.” Like all dog breeds, the dog just needs to be well-bred, socialized and trained. Despite the pit bull’s connection to dog fighting, pit bulls make good dogs for therapy and search-and-rescue. A pit bull puppy can grow to be a well-mannered, beloved member of the family, loyal to their owners. It’s just the owners responsibility to provide consistent training, gentle guidance and good socialization with humans and other animals when the puppy is as young as seven weeks old. A pit bull also needs healthy living conditions, adequate exercise and room to roam. A pet door, for instance, can provide a dog with the independence for exerting excess energy, as PetSafe mentions.

Myths Debunked

Any pit bull lover and advocate will tell you the following:

  • Pit bulls have strong jaw muscles and a determined hold, but definitely not locking jaws.
  • A dog with aggressive behaviors toward other dogs is no more likely to be aggressive toward humans – pit bull or not.
  • Pit bulls are easygoing dogs, but shouldn’t be unsupervised around other animals.
  • Not all pit bulls are meant to socialize at the dog park. Pitt bulls are muscular and high-energy dogs that can get overwhelmed in a dog park environment.
  • Owners who spay or neuter their pit bull can improve their dog’s health and behavior, as well as prevent unwanted, homeless pit bulls. Learn more about spay-neuter surgeries and other frequently asked questions by visiting our Spay/Neuter FAQs page.

There it is, that’s the article. What do you all think? I agree with most of it, although I’m not too sure about some of those myths. How many of you have Pit Bulls who do just fine around other animals? What about the dog park situation? Thanks for weighing in.

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14 Responses to “The Fighting Truth About Pit Bulls”

  1. Joanne Says:

    Good points Dawn and so true. I am of the opinion it is human fault from experience. Pitbulls and Staffys have this negative’image’ in the UK which we help to dispell by supporting Staffy Rescue Scotland – no longer do they sport chain collars and hard biker type uncomfortable studded harnesses, any more than they are ‘mean’ looking dogs – humans have made them look mean with these items of apparel !! Our Staffys all are kitted out with comfy fleece dog harnesses and collars that are comfy too with proper ID.

  2. peacelovenwhiskers Says:

    Some good points. Not sure about the dog park thing as I’ve seen pit mixes at dog parks. But I’ve never had a pit myself. Squash sounds like he was a sweetie, that’s awesome of your mom to take him in.

  3. marina kanavaki Says:

    Beautiful beings greatly misunderstood.I wrote a small post about them back in October for the “Pit Bull Awareness Month” [] I think [hope] people are gradually learning…
    Thank you for this excellent post, Dawn. 🙂

  4. Clowie Says:

    I’ve never had an opportunity to meet a pit bull in real life, as they are banned in the U.K. and much of Europe. I have heard some lovely stories of the bravery of some individuals and imagine that most problems are caused by humans.

    • Nature by Dawn Says:

      Banned throughout the UK or just certain towns? Joanne above is from the UK and has a shop there. I assumed from what she said about fitting them with fleece harnesses that she’s had them in her shop. Perhaps she’s only shipped them out to Scotland or something. That’s so sad if they’ve been banned from entire countries! I know certain towns have banned them here in the states. But many towns, including the one I live in, have not.

      • Clowie Says:

        They are banned throughout the UK. But it is possible to have an exemption certificate. This would mean that the dog has to wear a muzzle at all times in public places. I believe it has to be neutered.

        Now dogs of pit bull “type” are also banned – so any cross-breed that looks like a pit bull can be seized. “Type” is based on measurements and appearance – there’s a certain height and broadness of the head taken into account.

        The Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the Bull Terrier are allowed.

      • Clowie Says:

        P.S. Lennox was of “type” – he was a Labrador cross. He was in Northern Ireland, part of the UK.

      • Nature by Dawn Says:

        I heard of poor Lennox. But I had no idea these dogs were banned throughout the UK. How awful!

  5. 2browndawgs Says:

    But pit bulls aren’t a “breed” per se are they? Aren’t they really a label of a type? I do like that there is some honesty about the characteristics of pit bulls. I think where pit bull advocates loose me is where they seem to suggest they can be just like a golden or a lab, when in fact that is seldom true. They have to be approached with knowledge of possible problems or maybe a better word is differences in temperament. I agree with the the dog park comment. We don’t take our Chessies to dog parks for the same basic reasons. They are not meant to be socialized in a dog park, so we don’t. That is what I mean by recognizing differences in temperament.

    • Nature by Dawn Says:

      No, they aren’t a breed, per se. Clowie pointed out that all dogs of a pit bull “type” are banned. So they are banned based on the fact that they look like a pit fighting type dog.

      I agree that pit bull types are very seldom like a Lab. Breeds exhibit certain characteristics, so it would probably be a heck of a lot more difficult and frustrating if you were to try to train my Pierson to retrieve ducks or try to train your Chessies to to herd sheep. With that being said, a mistreated Labrador is less likely to exhibit aggression than a mistreated pit. Of course, there are always exceptions either way.

      We have pit bull type dogs that visit our dog park regularly. I haven’t seen any problems. But I think proper socialization is what has made a difference for them. I completely agree that some dogs, based on their individual temperament, should not be allowed at the dog park. I do not take Pierson because of how he is with other dogs.

  6. New Olympic event - FrogDoggin' | Says:

    […] 6 – Pierson, from the American Dog Blog […]

  7. 25castleson25clouds Says:

    I hate to admit but I do worry about letting my two interact with strange bull breeds, mainly because I know they are so strong if something was going to happen. However since having BD with his issues I am more wary of letting them interact with any dogs which is a whole other issue!!

    • Nature by Dawn Says:

      I think some herding type dogs have issues when it comes to interacting with other dogs. Pierson and BD are a lot alike. Pierson has done okay with some dogs, but most other times he can be a complete brat.

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