Every purebred dog has problems inherent to the breed. Yorkies are annoying little yappers. German shepherds have bad hips. Cocker spaniels are nervous. Jack Russell Terriers can’t hold still. Mastiffs drool uncontrollably. The list goes on and on. And yet, in the entire canine kingdom, no dog has come under fire more than the pit bull (which generally refers to any of a number of related dogs such as the bulldog, pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, etc). These domesticated dogs have earned an undeservedly bad reputation due to a few incidents that have been widely publicized (dog fighting, attacks on strangers, etc.) and are rarely the fault of the animal. In truth, pit bulls are just a breed, like any other, that comes with certain drawbacks. They are also lovable animal companions looking for a home. And as with any pet, certain homes are going to offer better accommodations.
The onus is on the person purchasing a pet to find the right one for their home, and as pit bulls go, there are going to be ideal living situations, as well as those that should be avoided. For example, pit bulls are not generally considered kid-friendly dogs. If you want a family dog, you’d be better off looking for a dopey lab or an energetic golden retriever that the kids can play catch with. These dogs are not prone to aggressive behavior when ears and tails are pulled, kids want a piggy-back ride, or little hands reach into the food bowl. Pit bulls, on the other hand, prefer a calm and stable environment with little excitement. Any dog will thrive when placed into the right type of setting, so don’t set a pit bull up for failure by forcing it into a situation that it cannot hope to handle.
The truth is that pit bulls, as a breed, may be more aggressive than some other dogs. That is not to say that there aren’t plenty of breeds (for example, Rottweilers or Doberman Pinschers) that also display a tendency for aggression, just as there are dogs that tend to be more docile. However, pit bulls also employ a particular method of attack (bite, hold, and shake) that could be construed as dangerous (although contrary to popular belief, they do not have any sort of physiological locking mechanism in their jaw). While hunting dogs also utilize this technique, they are generally more willing to release. In any case, a number of attacks by pit bulls have led to a media feeding frenzy that has demonized the breed to the extent that many locales now have laws to control or outright ban pit bulls, a sad situation that has done nothing but turn people against an entire breed of dog.
However, people who prefer pit bulls seem to have an overwhelming devotion to changing the collective mind of the public where their beloved animals are concerned. Through understanding and responsible behavior on the part of owners (proper fencing, appropriate leash usage, etc.), there is no reason these dogs cannot lead happy, healthy, and attack-free lives.
Sarah Danielson writes for Pitbull where you can find information on training, health, diet, and food for the popular and often misunderstood breed.