Pit bulls the very word being used in an everyday conversation can evoke a lot of emotions. You will have people get violently passionate about how evil the breed is, insisting that they are viscous beasts who are not like other dogs and should not exist.
Or a reaction like I got recently a woman telling me she disliked the breed because, “I have worked in a children’s hospital for 10 years and the only dog bites and mauling’s we have ever seen or that breed. Just saying”. The other reaction you get are the passionate defenders, who try to educate and tell people while they are at the wrong end of the leash.
I am one of those defenders and it was that comment (I am sorry M’am but I really have trouble thinking in 10 years in a city children’s hospital the only dog that has ever bit someone is a P it bull) that inspired me to write this article.
Now though I am a defender of the breed I understand why people are scared. The media has done a perfect job in only providing information when a pit bull does something wrong and often not when they do anything right. Humans as a whole have done a disservice in not understanding the breed and of course the vile people who train them to fight or to bring out aggressive issues.
This is not the first time that a dog breed has been in the spotlight as the “bad dog” the breed changes about every decade or so, it has been the German Shepard, the Rottweiler and the Doberman in the past, just seems to be the pit bulls turn. In this article I a going to dispel some of the myths that surround some of the breed and educate. If knowing some basic facts about this lovely breed of dog can help encourage even one reader to give this breed a chance then I consider my time perfectly spent.
Myth: Pit bulls
Yes there is the first big myth the very name by which these dogs are most commonly called. Pit bull has been used as a broad term for any of the bully breed dogs. While even I use the term as it is commonly accepted there is not an actual AKC registered breed called the pit bull and when talking dog breeds the AKC is the best resource for purebred dogs. The official list of bully breeds with the AKC are, American Staffordshire terriers, American Bulldogs and the Staffordshire bull terrier. Even most human society associations today will tell you that pit bull is simply a label being applied to dogs. Sadly due to BSL (breed specific legislation) a label that can sometimes be deadly.
Myth: Pit bulls have locking jaws
I cannot say how many times I have heard someone who is uneducated and slamming down the breed utter this myth. Saying they are so much more dangerous because their jaws lock when they bite. A fact of nature Pit bulls do not have any special physical ability or enzyme or jaw structure that makes their jaws lock.
When you look directly at the skull of a pit bull and compare it with the skull of any other dog breed on the planet you can see that both skulls are basically the same in bone structure and characteristics. There is a trait in the dogs themselves, however, not in the bones or the jaw, but the general make up of the dogs. Bully breeds are enthusiastic and they live to please people, so when they do something they get determined be it play, eating or yes when they bite. It is not a locking jaw, but an enthusiasm or even a stubbornness that keeps them from releasing.
Myth: Pit bulls are all born vicious
This is the biggest stereotype that has led to the dogs being labeled as killers. It is a bias and a label that has caused hundreds of thousands and maybe even more good dogs to be put to sleep over the years. There is an old saying that says there are no bad dogs, only bad people can be applied here. Due to the actions of a few bad eggs who purposely trained their bully breed dogs to be aggressive and bad the whole breed has been labeled this way.
Every dog no matter what the breed is should be evaluated on its own personal merits. Like people, dogs have different personalities and a singular label should not be applied to every dog in any given breed.
Myth: When a Pit bull is aggressive to other dogs it will always be aggressive to humans too
Another myth that has everyone who does not know better scared of this group of dogs. When in reality dog aggression and people aggression are two very separate traits that can happen in any breed of dog. For the most parts Pit bulls love other people, they truly are a loving, caring, loyal, friendly and dedicated breed of dog. It is only through bad breeding and bad training that you see aggression happen.
Even with that said Pit bulls like all dogs are DOGS, you should never leave a small child unattended with any dog. Dogs do not react to pain in the same way that people do and what may seem like a small nip in the dog world to say “hey, don’t do that, it hurts!” can indeed be a larger and a harmful bite to a human. The dog may not have meant to hurt the child, but it can happen, this does not mean the dog is people aggressive it just means that the dog is a dog.
Myth: Don’t adopt Pit bulls it is dangerous not to know their history or parentage
Going back to the fact that every dog should be judged on it’s own merits you can see why this should be dispelled. While history and genetics do have some part to play in how a dog’s personality comes through it is not the only factor.
A shelter or rescue that is responsible will evaluate all dogs in their care to learn more about what they can handle. I know I can speak from personal experience that a Pit bull who has been beaten, starved and used as a bait dog can still be one of the most loving companions any human could ask for. All that was known about my own rescue Pit bull was what bad things happened to her and since the day she came into my home as a foster (that ended up a foster failure) she has offered nothing but kisses, wiggle butts and snuggles.
Myth: You should only adopt a Pit bull puppy and never an adult
Puppies are cute, they have stinky breath that everyone seems to love and they are tiny balls of cute. However, like anything small and cute and cuddly they grow up.
The downsides to puppy adoption are that you don’t know how large the puppy will get and personality traits don’t usually develop until they get older. It is harder to tell is a puppy will be dominate or submissive until they are older.
If you have two dominate dogs in the house, of any breed there can be issues. Adult dogs are more of a you get what you see bargain, you know how large they are and the personality is in place so you know if they are dominate or submissive.
The real truth is that you should do your research and know what you want in a dog, then look for what will best suit you, no matter what age. Adults and puppy’s alike should be of equal value when you are adopting.