Why Do Pit Bulls Have a Bad Reputation?
Are Pit Bulls Responsible for their Reputation?
So who is to blame for the Pit Bull's bad reputation of late? Is it solely due to some ingrained and deeply bred aggression that makes these animals little more than weapons in the hands of babes or idiots? Or, could it be because of the owners they rely on to lead their pack? If something dire isn't done, such as enacting more laws to protect the human race from itself, or even simply exterminating the breed, will this ever change? Read more here to find out the realistic answer to all of those questions
Note: The cute and sad looking pup is my Pit Bull-Boxer Mix Eddie. He is in fact not sad, but preparing, in play of course, to apply a bone crushing bite to my arm. He is the perfect dog for me and my husband as we have no small children anymore, and rarely visitors due to our rural (much loved) lifestyle. However, as much as I LOVE Eddie, and know he is the perfect dog who understands English better than some people, he is also people and other animal aggressive. For this reason, Eddie, and others who have these types of temperaments, should NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, be bred for any reason. To do so would be the most irresponsible thing a Pit Bull owner could do.
Eddie is also an indoor dog, he only goes on a lead for the time it takes him to do his business. He is never allowed to roam at large, and cannot be trusted around neighborhood pets or children for any reason, the Pit Bull in him gives over to his aggressive-territorial nature (that never changed after he was altered) as well as the Boxer in him who are widely known for their "chase" characteristics, that can result in them attacking moving/playing children and/or domesticated animals. If you haven't yet made note, the point of this note, is to remind you to take note of what you have, what you are getting, and what will need to be done, watched out for, and monitored this pets entire life.
Read on for how irresponsible owners may play a part in the issues this breed is currently dealing with.
In the beginning, Bulldogs and Terriers were cross bred to produce a dog with the tenacity and the physical stamina to be capable of bull baiting, not for dog fighting as some may believe.
The bull baiting dog had the responsibility of grabbing a bull by the nose and holding them down while the bull was being castrated. And just like in this day and age, this dog's job sometimes took on the responsibility of sacrificing its life to save the life of a human, in this instance by preventing the human from being gored by the castrated bull. However, this breed quickly displayed a loyalty and some physical capabilities previously unseen in dogs that had gone before it.
And as always, there was an opportunistic idiot lurking somewhere nearby who decided this was the perfect way to make some quick cash. And just as expected, it was, so there were tons of other associated idiots who thought this was a great idea and ran to support it as quick as they could.
Some may say it is awful judgmental to decide they must be short-sighted idiots since I do not know how hard the 'times' they were living in were, and 'maybe that's all they had' as far as career opportunities. I am as 'live and let die' as just about anyone, and I still think anyone who uses this kind of power over a human or animal is not only a predatory individual, but a complete self-serving idiot.
Where Things Went Wrong
As if being entirely exploited nearly fresh out of the gate wasn't enough, things really went even more downhill from there. Because of this newly bred dogs incredible desire to please, as well as a its purely amazing physical strength, it quickly became a dog that was pitted against the bull in a fighting match. This is actually where the term "Pit Bull" came from in the first place. Not because they are 'bullheaded' or because they want to fight you in a pit, but back when someone thought watching a 2000 pound bull slam a 70 pound dog around a few times, before it gored it in a mad castrated rage, was a sport.
However, this 'sport' seemed to end two ways, one was where the bull quickly gored the dog to death, the other version ended in owners growing tired of watching this endless, and often sad test of strength and stamina, and either freeing the dog from the pit, or shooting it to save from having to treat its injuries.
With such useless outcomes to these fights, this so called sport was quickly outlawed. But among those who had seen this working dog pitted against the massive bull, there were those opportunist who thought that breeding this dog for fighting against each other would would be a very lucrative substitute for the original Pit Bull baiting game. And thus a gory history and a series of inhumane horrors visited on this breed had begun.
Note. The dog in this picture is in fact NOT attacking anyone. She is playing, so you can see just how difficult it may be to tell the difference between a Pit Bull-at-play, or an angry one. This is my recent rescue Pandora, a brindle Pit Bull mix who until she arrived at my home almost a year ago, had never been inside a home. We picked her up between two of the largest snow storms to hit the East Coast in years. It seems she wasn't "Pit" enough for someone.
Sounds like the stereotypical pot calling the profiling kettles black doesn't it? And now you see how just the idea of a Pit Bull actually perpetuates the exact opposite of what people REALLY need to know about this breed.
What's With the Hype?
Lets Talk about Stereotypes
Most people who have heard of Pit Bull attacks or even known of an aggressive Pit Bull in their area may not be aware that this breed was specifically and carefully bred to be friendly, outgoing and never aggressive towards humans. Unfortunately, their breeding can also often result in them being prone to dog aggression. But aggressive to humans? Not naturally.
The biggest problems are actually the humans. Those who have taken an incredibly loyal and protective breed and taught them to attack others, dog or human, are taking advantage of a very deeply ingrained and primitive relationship, one of a dog and its master. Although most dogs aim to please their masters, a Pit Bull most often lives and breathes for it. Indeed most accidents or attacks that involves Pit Bulls are a result of an irresponsible owner.
Since I am not one inclined to be a beater about the bush, let's just get it out there. There is a very open stereotypical idea of a Pit Bull owner. Thugs of all races and class tend to enjoy toting or tugging around a good stout Staffie Pit Bull around with thick tow chains around their necks. Closely, indeed overly, cropped ears are quite common. Pepper that in with a few direct or questionable "Pit Bull Attacks," and you once again have a recipe for disaster on a human, humane, moral and even a constitutional level.
How Are Owners Responsible?
It is in actuality the humans who continue to make a series of hasty or ignorant mistakes that are helping to perpetuate the bad reputation this breed has gained over the last decade or so. So how is this issue created?
- By pet lovers who adopt or buy a Pit Bull as a puppy or adopt an older dog without being familiar with what it takes to raise this energetic and sometimes stubborn breed.
- By people who buy or breed this working dog for the purpose of creating a guard dog. Pit Bulls can indeed be taught to be guard dogs, however, their lovable natures may lend itself to them only deciding to attack those who they perceive as dangerous. Others may just be begged for belly rubs.
- By disreputable individuals that want them for the purpose of dog fighting. Although some Pit Bulls are naturally dog aggressive, others are not, but will do most anything to please their owner, even if it is killing another dog.
- By owners who may see their family Pit Bull as nothing but a lovable baby that can be trusted with anything in any situation. Dogs are still animals and a Pekingese will also chase and bite a running child. The point is, small children or those who are helpless should not be left with any animal unattended.
- By irresponsible owners that just don't care and allow their Pit Bull, or worse, Pit Bulls, to roam freely. It is very important to remember that two Pit Bulls that are roaming freely together, regardless of how sensitive and sweet they are inside a home, are still animals roaming and running at large if they are not confined. It one of the pack members decide to attack. Both likely will. Just because your Bully cuddles up at night with your three cats, doesn't mean a neighborhood cat will mean as much to him.
Pit Bull Temperment Scores
Alfons Estelt of the American Temperament Test Society, Inc., stated the following with respect to pit bulls: "The American Pit Bull Terriers participating in our temperament evaluation have thus far shown a passing rate of 95%. The other 121 breeds of dogs in our tests showed the average passing rate of 77%"
How is the Media Responsible?
Remember the 80's? Well, if you weren't around then perhaps you should know that in the mid to late 1980s there were a series of attacks by Doberman Pinchers. For quite a few years after the original attacks there were quick and pointed reports on any dog attacks that involved Dobermans. Unfortunately, not all of them were actually Dobermans. Often they were dogs with similar markings such as Rottweilers. Many times they were just mixed breed dogs that had remotely similar markings and more than once, they were simply just large black dogs.
The point is, because of the hype and the mania associated with those initial Doberman attacks, the media did perpetuate that fear in those who were willing to watch that truly had no idea what an actual Doberman looked like.
This happens daily now and exactly for the same reason. However, with the Pit Bull this is extremely compounded because of the diverse physical aspects of dogs that are considered "Pit Bulls." Everything from Staffordshire Terriers to the breed which is referred to as the American Bully, are quickly labeled in the media as Pit Bulls. Dogs that have not one smidgen of Pit Bull in them, but are clearly mixed breeds of Labradors, Boxers or even Chesapeake Bay retrievers that are all quickly recognized by their respective breeders, but also just as quickly dubbed a Pit Bull when someone is attacked or even just bitten.
Due to some of the irresponsible Pit Bull owners, there are definitely attacks carried out by breeds very strong in a Pit Bull department or two, however, when you think about it, "Pit Bull Attack" sure does draw a lot more attention these days then "Chesapeake Bay Retriever Attacks!" And we all know it sells a lot more newspapers and gets way more hits on a subsequently reporting website.
But remember, twenty years ago, no one knew anything about a Pit Bull attack, but they spent a whole lot of time being scared of the impending 'deadly' Doberman, who has apparently given up attacking folks entirely.
Pit Bull Owners
Seriously, Get With It
Although it is easy, and maybe a little bit fun to remind the media how fickle they are when it comes to dog breeds that have attacked, it is still very important to remember that the only true voice this breed has are their human owners. So while it is important to advocate for what you believe in, it is also important to not let ignorance about this breed, or just your pet Pit, continue to perpetuate this ugly trend.
They are all adorable when they are puppies, and of course when you get them as puppies you tend to feel like you know the dog it grows into. It is even likely that you do. However, if you judge the natural instincts of any animal versus how sweet you think YOUR pup is, you are making a dire, and possibly fatal mistake, for your dog, and possibly for any humans nearby.
“Please remember the Do's and Don'ts of Pit Bull Ownership”
- Don't let your Pit Bull run at large. Ever.
- Do teach them tricks, lead walking and force them to stop and smell the roses, even if they eat them afterwards.
- Don't play 'fight' games with them. If you want your Pit Bull to be able to play like a Pit Bull, get another Pit Bull.
- Do challenge their minds, exerecise them and interact with them as much as possible.
- Don't leave Pit Bulls alone with small children or animals.
- Do provide them with toys and treats that stimulate them, such as tug ropes and bully sticks.
- Don't be ignorant, accidentally or purposesfully, about your Pit Bull's capabilities.
- Do Spay and Neuter your Pit Bulls.
- Don't take your grown and never socialized Pit Bull to a dog park.
- Do build proper confinement areas that make allowances for the 'escape artist' this breed can be.
- Don't trust your Pit Bull NOT to fight. Ever.
- Do socialize your dog as much as possible with other people and dogs, most especially when they are young.
Pit Bull Myths Vs Facts
Pit Bull Skull Myth
One myth that has jumped from dog breed to breed involves the size of a pit bull's skull. This myth states that a pit bull's brain can swell to a size that cannot be accommodated by the skull, causing pit bulls to go insane. This myth, which has also been attributed to Dobermans, is completely unfounded and untrue.
Great Pit Bull Sites
- For Pits Sake
Great Pit Site!
- Pawsitively Pit Bull
Another Great Pit Bull site!
- Eliminating the Myths
Check out some true and false info on pit bulls
- Love and a Six Foot Leash
This is a great blog by a Pit foster who wants to make a difference in the way the world views Pit Bulls!
- Pitbull Friends
Another pit bull friendly website with resources
Best Treat for Pit Bulls
These are the absolute best treat for Pit Bulls! They are the only treats that will give you a few moments respite. All other rawhides and similarly thick treats will be gone in moments and somewhat dangerous for your dog since they usually gobble them down before they have softened them for digestion enough.
Should Pit Bulls be Illegal?