If you say the name “Pit Bull” to someone they will most likely conjure up an image of a blood-thirsty dog lunging at the throat of its victim. Indeed, the pit bull has taken a bad rap over the years. Illegal dog fighting rings most often use this type of competitor to make money with, as well as the breed being showcased as a statement of manly toughness. However, today’s pit bulls are not killers. In fact, most dogs in this category are quite the opposite. Read on to discover the myths and truths behind the world’s most misunderstood dog.
The Origins of the Pit Bull
To find the origins of the pit bull we have to look to England, where bulldogs were brought to North America by these early settlers. The bulldog was first used as a “gripping dog” when hunting large game. As time went on the breed was used by butchers to control livestock. This working dog served its humans well; however, the problem began to arise with the introduction of “baiting” – this is when bulldogs were pitted against bears, bulls and other large animals. This “extreme sport” was considered to be entertainment, even though it was cruel and inhumane. Once this activity was banned in the 1800s, blood-thirsty people still craved the lust and cruelty of the fight and began to pit dog against dog.
In light of dog fighting the bulldog was bred with the smaller terrier, making it not only strong, but faster and more agile. This canine-combo was the fore-bearers to today’s pit bull breed.
The pit bull is a short-coated dog with a wide skull, powerful jaws and a well-muscled, stocky body. They can range in weight from 35 to 65 pounds, some exceeding the 85 pound range. Even though some “bullies” can be leaner, this dog is still very agile, strong and athletic. It can also have a stubborn streak, which is most likely inherited from the terrier in its genetic makeup. Would-be owners are advised to find a reputable breeder and to socialize the dog well while in its puppy stages.
Pitbull Myths and Truths Unveiled
I’m a big believer that any breed of dog can be made mean if mistreated, the pitbull is by no means an exception. But the big difference is, a mistreated pit bull reacting out of fear can do more damage than a chihuahua. Let’s take a look at some of the common myths that swirl around the pit bull and the truth about this amazing dog.
Myth ~ Pit bulls will attack people: this canine does not view two-legged prey as a challenge and in fact breeders take pride in their dog’s friendliness to humans.
Truth ~ Pit bulls were often used as “nursemaids” to young children. They are friendly, loyal and affectionate.
Myth ~ Pit bulls’ jaws lock into place; although the pit bull’s jaws are extremely strong and powerful, they do not possess a locking mechanism.
Truth ~ Pit bulls inherently will hold onto a toy and shake it. This goes back to their hunting days and the mixture of the terrier breed in its genetic makeup.
Myth ~ Every pit bull is destined to be a killer. Pit bulls do possess the ability to become fighters; however with proper socialization and handling, this breed makes a wonderful and loving companion.
Truth ~ Pit bulls have been kept as family pets and used as working dogs with great success, proving you can’t judge the entire breed based on a handful of bad examples.
Is the Pit Bull Right for You?
Pit bulls are not the breed for everyone. This dog has a high energy level that needs to be met. It is also an extremely intelligent breed which will require mental stimulation, as well. It is important to remember that pit bulls need to be socialized, with both people and other animals, when they are puppies. Building a loving bond and foundation for your pit bull is the best way to ensure a happy, outgoing and friendly adult dog.
As with any breed, if you are thinking about getting a pit bull, do your research and be particularly selective about where you get the dog. Make sure the breeder is reputable and the female and pups are being well looked after. There are also a number of good rescue organizations that work exclusively with pit bulls that would be happy to educate and inform you of the ins and outs of bringing the world’s most misunderstood canine into your life.