Few dogs come with as much history and controversy as the pit bull terrier.
Opinions have always been divided on whether or not this breed is friend or foe. Those in support of these muscular medium-sized dogs swear by their good nature and friendly orientation - if raised right.
And those that have been against pit bulls have cited instances where pit bulls have attacked and mauled adults and children.
So rather than take sides, we’d like to highlight the facts around the pitbull terrier and help you come to an informed decision - one way or the other.
Dog Fighting - Their Dark Past
Pit bulls were bred in the late 19th century in the United Kingdom by peasants who wanted a strong, yet agile dog that could provide entertainment.
By cross-breeding dogs with terrier and bulldog ancestry, they were able to develop a mut fierce enough to take on a bull, yet obedient enough to sit by their owner's side, watching the evening fire crack on.
Early settlers brought this new dog type to the US from Ireland and England and used them as working farm dogs. But they soon found a new use for them.
Pit bulls were soon enlisted as fighting dogs, with onlookers betting on which dog would prevail in a fight to the death. And pit bulls excelled at this bloodsport.
With a pre-programmed, natural drive to tackle and fight just about anything in their path, pit bulls made light work of other dog breeds with a less tumultuous past.
Fortunately, dog fighting has since been banned in the US, but the reputation of the breed lives on, which is why many activists will protest to have these dogs banned from American homes.
Pit Bulls - Great Family Pets
Despite having a fighting spirit, pit bulls can also (under the right circumstances) make excellent family pets.
Terriers in general are great with families, being able to adapt to different environments and situations. And pit bulls are no exception.
They’re big and self-sufficient enough to make good outdoor dogs, able to guard your yard against intruders, and eager to please their owners.
But they’re also not too big so that they can’t live inside. Many families keep their pitties indoors, making a space for them in the living room or in another communal space where they can flourish.
They have short coats and don’t shed more than any other standard dog, so you don’t have to be overly worried about allergies.
But when it comes to being a family dog, I have to stress the importance of proper training. Untrained dogs are dangerous dogs - no matter the breed!
With a good training and socializing schedule you can ensure that your pit bull gets along with other family members and your children - of all ages.
They love to play and have copious amounts of energy that they’re all too eager to expend to keep their owners entertained.
An outright pit bull ban would rob families that have taken the time to train their pups from the young of a loving member of the family who would never do anything to hurt them.
A Loyal Dog Breed
Pit bulls are also known to be extremely loyal.
And that’s an attribute that makes them even more endearing to their owners who need a companion. Pit bulls have been known to stand up for their owners in the face of danger, and in some cases even to the death.
Whether you’re out for a walk around the neighborhood or going for a stroll on the beach, rest assured that your pit bull will stand by you if anything were to happen.
Their loyalty also makes them very loving to their owners. This breed will stay by your side when you’re feeling sick or depressed.
Why Are States or Cities Banning Them?
So if pit bulls are really so great, why are people going out of their way to ban this beautiful breed?
Well, a lot of it has to do with misunderstandings. People are afraid of what they don’t know or understand. And people don’t understand that which they don’t experience.
Here are a few reasons that some groups will site when picketing for breed-specific legislation in different cities on an outright ban on pit bull terriers:
They’re fighting dogs
Well, yes, pit bulls are fighting dogs.
Unfortunately, some people still keep these beautiful dogs for these purposes. But truth be told - they’re not the only dogs used for dog fighting.
Most breeds that fall into the mid-sized, lean, and muscular body category are targets for the dog-fighting world.
Pointing dogs point. Herding dogs herd. Dogs that have been bred to fight… fight.
But again, being part of the dissolution and not the problem would mean that rather than protest for pit bull-type dogs to be banned completely, individuals who endorse dog fighting should be held accountable for their practices, not so?
Misconceptions And Myths
There are also many half-truths and whole lies, misconceptions, and myths about pit bull mixes that confuse many people.
Some say that these dogs have an aggressive temperament and that they can’t ever be trusted around children. The truth is that they respond extremely well to dog training and develop strong obedience toward their owners.
These dogs can and will learn to accept others into their territory if training and socializing start from an early age.
Another myth is that they have locked jaws.
People think that when they bite they are physically unable to open their jaws again and let go of their prey.
That’s completely untrue.
If you were to inspect the skull and jaw skeleton of a pit bull and compare it to any other dog breed you’ll notice that there is no difference.
But keep in mind why these dogs were originally bred.
They were meant to grab a hold of strong animals like bulls and not let go. So pit bulls, like all other terriers, have extremely strong jaw muscles. This enables them to hold on to whatever their target is and simply not let go.
BSL And Public Safety
The basis for people using the BSL to ban pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs is public safety.
But it's unfair to paint the whole breed with a broad brush based on the actions of a few. While certain breeds may have certain characteristics, we need to remember that a dog's behavior is often a reflection of how they're treated by their owner.
Pitbulls, like most dogs, can become aggressive if they are treated poorly or raised in an environment that encourages aggression. So why not focus on the root causes of dog bites and attacks, such as irresponsible ownership and illegal dog fighting, rather than singling out a specific breed?
Enforcing breed-specific legislation is just not the answer.
So… How Do We Solve The Dog Bite Problem?
Unfortunately, outright breed bans are just not the answer.
In some areas breed specific legislation doesn’t ban pit bulls, but it does put certain restrictions on pit bull ownership to try and control how these dogs are kept and raised.
These restrictions help to weed out bad owners who simply aren’t able to act responsibly in caring for their dogs. This way of thinking is more balanced as it focuses on responsible ownership, and leaves innocent dogs out of the equation.
Another potential preventative measure would be to train pit bull owners on how to train their pit bull terriers - if that makes sense.
To illustrate - any firearm in the wrong or uneducated hands would be lethal. The same goes for one of these majestic animals. An untrained Pit Bull can be extremely dangerous as it simply has an inherent drive to show aggression towards whatever or whomever it doesn’t know.
Compulsory socialization during the puppy's early formative months is another way that we can teach these dogs to play well with others. Training can start as early as 8 weeks, but socialization can start earlier.
Scheduling play dates with different dog breeds and their owners will help reduce dog bites in the long run.
Show Your Pit Bull Some Love
Showing love and affection to your pit bull terrier is one of the first and most important steps you can take to make them feel content and happy.
Treat your dog by splurging on some premium dog clothes that aren’t only fashionable, but functional too. Sparkpaws has a wide variety of the best hoodies, jackets, and even onesies - for those indoor pitties out there.
There are also collars and harnesses that not only look good but are made to last. A control harness will help you keep tabs on even the strongest pit bull while an anti-pulling harness will keep even the most excited pit bull from pulling you over while out on a walk.
Yes, Pit Bulls are big, strong dogs.
But so are many other dogs, like Golden Retrievers, Chows, or Rottweilers (who, by the way, can be just as lethal if not raised right)
They can show as much aggression as any other breed, but that is often the owner’s fault. If you’re thinking of adopting one of these beauties, don’t hesitate. With the right socialization and effective training methods, these dogs can be extremely loving and loyal to their owners and their family members.