Unless you have been living under a rock, you have no doubt heard a news story about a Pit Bull mauling a human. It seems that these stories frequent the news broadcasts and make headlines in newspapers. The story nearly always begins with something like “Pit Bull Attacks….” Followed by something about how many stitches it took to sew up the victim’s wounds and some derogatory remark about the dog itself and its owner.
I realize that dog attacks can be fatal. They can cause tremendous damage and serious, permanent scarring. I am fully aware of the damage such an attack can cause. However, I say that it has more to do with the dog’s background, his environment, and his owner than with the breed of dog itself.
Pit bull’s get more press than other breeds that commit the same offense simply because these dogs are stronger than most other canines. When an attack occurs by this breed, the result is much more devastating than with other breeds. They are stronger and more muscular than most other breeds. This was the intent of the origin of the animal.
During the early 1800’s in Great Britain, a sport called Bull Baiting was very popular. Bull Baiting is simply defined as “The act of worrying or tormenting a chained or confined animal by setting game dogs upon it for sport.” The bull’s snout was filled with pepper to infuriate the animal. The bull was then placed in a hole or “pit” in the ground and specifically trained dogs were set loose to attack the bull. A dog attack was considered successful if the dog was able to fasten his teeth deeply into the bulls pepper filled snout” This “sport” led to the breeding of a strong muscular dog. When Bull Baiting was deemed inhumane in around 1835 Pit Bull owners of the time began dogfights.
These dog owners made the best fighters heroes. Through selective breeding, the trait for aggression toward other dogs was bred in their genetic make-up. To be certain that handlers would not be bitten during the fight, a bite inhibition toward humans was also bred into the pit bull’s bloodlines. This allowed handlers to reach into the middle of a dogfight without receiving a redirected bite. Due to this selective breeding, the Pit Bull became widely known as one of the most loyal, trustworthy, and loving dog breeds in existence.
Immigrants brought the first Pit Bulls to America. They quickly became protectors of homesteads, family farms, and hunting partners. They were constant companions to children. This dog was one of the most valuable resources an early American settler could have. After coming to America the Pit Bull was bred less and less for fighting and more and more to be the “family dog”. Pit bulls are impressively loyal, bold, and courageous animals. They are naturally clownish, alert, and intelligent. The pit bull of today suffers the stereotypes of its ancestors.
Currently my family owns three pit bulls. I am in no way concerned for the safety of anyone in my family. However, these dogs are protectors. They are loyal to their owners and should a stranger be found on our property our dogs will do their job.
These dogs require lots of love and attention. When you return home after being gone most of the day these dogs will shower you with affection. They are full of energy and want to be loved and petted. These dogs are very smart and learn quickly, I have trained them to sit, lie, and roll over at a very early age. I am not a big animal lover, and I have never trained a dog before in my life. These dogs are just intelligent enough to understand commands after very little prompting.
One of these few things generally causes the problems that arise out of the breed today: Owner Neglect (to include fighting the dogs), Lack of proper care, or provocation. These dogs are like people, there are some genuinely good and some rotten to the core. However, any breed of dog that is mistreated, neglected, or provoked, is just as capable of an attack as a pit bull. The difference is when a pit bull attacks. the damage done is, more often than not, worse than other breeds, due to the dog’s stature and muscular build.
When one hears the words “pit bull”, certain myths come to mind. Myths like:
Pit Bulls are mean and vicious: This is just untrue. They are no more mean and vicious than a beagle or a basset hound. In recent temperament, testing pit bulls scored as high or higher than dogs like Labradors or beagles.
Pit Bull’s jaws lock when they attack: Pit bull’s do not have locking jaws. Their jaws are designed just like any other dog’s jaw. They do have very muscular jaws that you may find hard to open.
Pit Bull’s are dangerous around children: Dogs that are socialized, petted, loved, and properly raised are no more dangerous to a child than a kitten. The only concern with small children is that the dog could knock them over. These dogs are large and could cause a young child to take a tumble.
Pit Bull’s don’t like cats: Ok, this one is NOT a myth, but what self respecting dog does like cats. It is in their nature. DOGS CHASE CATS.
If you are considering a pit bull as a family pet, make sure that you are prepared to give the dog lots of attention. Make sure that you are educated on the breed, its history, and care requirements. If you can do these things, you will have the most loyal pet you have ever owned and it will quickly become part of the family.
Pit bull’s have gotten a bad rap over the years, a very undeserving reputation. Treat these dogs as they should be treated and you will find, as I have, they make the perfect pet.