In the early 1800’s, the Olde English Bulldog was used in a blood sport known as Bull Baiting (deemed inhumane & made illegal in 1835). After the downfall of Bull Baiting, dog fighting then arose as a more popular blood sport.
Breeders in England, Ireland, and Scotland began to experiment with new breeds by breeding the Olde English Bulldog with various Terriers. They were looking for a dog that embodied the gameness of a Terrier, as well as the strength and athleticism of a Bulldog.
Since handlers would have to be hands-on during staged events, these dogs could not by any means be aggressive towards humans, and breeders often frowned upon any “man-biters”. Because of this, Pit Bulls quickly earned a reputation for their trustworthy nature towards people.
Eventually, immigrants brought these dogs to America. These dogs were valued for much more than their fighting abilities, and were entrusted to protect homesteads from predators. Homesteaders used their Pit Bulls to help on hunts, as hog catchers, and would often use them to help drive livestock.
Throughout the growth of America as a nation, Pit Bulls were the breed most often depicted in magazines, posters, and advertisements. The Buster Brown shoe dog was a Pit Bull, Petey from The Little Rascals was a Pit Bull, Helen Keller owned a Pit Bull, as well as Theodore Roosevelt. These dogs were a beloved part of the nation at one time.
A little bully mutt, believed to be at least part APBT, known as Stubby became the most well known and decorated war dog during World War 1. Not only did he earn various medals such as the Purple Heart, he saved his unit from multiple gas attacks and advances from the Germans, helped aid in the capture of a German Spy, and was promoted to Sergeant which made him a superior to his master who, at the time, was only a Corporal. After his death, Stubby’s remains were preserved and are now on display in the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.
Today, the American Pit Bull Terrier is no longer beloved by the nation like it once was. Not only have so-called “breeders” ruined the image of these dogs, dog fighters, unfit owners, and media outlets have helped to contribute to the downfall of this wonderful breed.
Many people today can’t even correctly identify a real Pit Bull. Many dogs in the news that have been involved in some kind of attack are typically “Pit Bull-type” dogs, meaning they display similar physical characteristics to an APBT. However, most of these dogs are American Bulldogs, Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, etc. Most of the time, they are not Pit Bulls at all.
It’s often assumed that there is more than one “type” of Pit Bull. However, that is false. Nicknames such as “blue & red nose” have absolutely no special meaning.
"XXXL Bully Pit Bulls" are not Pit Bulls at all, but a mix of several different bully breeds (such as the Pit Bull, Staffordshire Terrier, English & American Bulldog, etc.) These dogs are commonly known as American Bullies, and much like many breeds, have numerous health issues.
A true American Pit Bull Terrier weighs an average of 35-65 lbs. Very rarely do they reach a weight above 70 lbs. They are a lean and athletic breed that is very high energy, and therefore excel in sports such as weight pulls, agility, obedience, etc.
As of February 14, 2013, a total of 870 American Pit Bull Terriers were tested by the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS). In order to take the test, a dog must be at least 18 months (1 year 6 months), the dog must be on a loose 6’ leash, and the handler is not allowed to correct, give commands, or talk to the dog at all during the test.
An automatic failure results if the dog shows unprovoked aggression, panic without recovery, or strong avoidance.
The passing rate for the American Pit Bull Terrier was an average percentage of 86.8%.
- Collies received a passing rate of 80.3%
- Doberman Pinschers received a passing rate of 78.5%
- German Shepherd Dogs received a passing rate of 84.8%
- Golden Retrievers received a passing rate of 85.2%
- Rottweilers received a passing rate of 84.1%
- Akita’s received a passing rate of 76.5%
- Australian Shepherds received a passing rate of 82.2%
- Alaskan Malamutes received a passing rate of 85.8%
- Australian Cattle Dogs received a passing rate of 78.9%
- Basenji’s received a passing rate of 67.8%
- Belgian Sheepdogs received a passing rate of 80.6%
- Border Collies received a passing rate of 81.5%
- Boxers received a passing rate of 83.5%
The result? According to statistics, you are more likely to be bitten by a Collie, Doberman, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, Akita, Australian Shepherd, etc. than you are to be bitten by a Pit Bull.
Many bites and fatalities reported can be prevented. According to the National Canine Research Council (NCRC), 87.1% of dog bite related fatalities could have been prevented if there had been an able bodied person present at the time. 76.2% of DBRF’s did not involve dogs kept as family pets, but rather dogs that were simply present on the property at the time.
Most striking of all, in more than 80% of cases, the breed of the dog involved could not be reliably identified.
In 2010, there were 33 dog bite related fatalities (reported bites are rapidly declining)
- 35,332 fatalities were caused by motor vehicles.
- 33,041 fatalities were caused by unintentional poisonings.
- 29,009 fatalities were caused by unintentional falls.
- 16,259 fatalities were caused by homicide.
- 4,383 fatalities were caused by motor vehicles hitting pedestrians.
- 3,782 fatalities were caused by drowning.
- 1,537 fatalities were caused by child abuse/neglect.
Numerous studies have concluded that Breed Specific Legislation has not impacted the number of dog bite related injuries in the areas where is has been implemented. There is also no scientific evidence or studies that support the idea of one breed of dog being more inherently dangerous than another.
(The dog pictured above is Hector - one of the former Michael Vick dogs.)
When these dogs are well bred, raised, trained, and cared for properly, they can become a wonderful and loving companion that just wants to play and be a part of the family. However, factors such as bad breeding and abuse can make a dog unsuitable for living in the same house as small children or other pets.
If you are looking to adopt or purchase a Pit Bull from a breeder, it is very important to be educated and fully aware of this breeds past (as well as making sure you are buying from a very reputable breeder). These dogs are not for unprepared, uneducated, first time owners.
- They have been bred since the beginning, way back in the 1800’s, to be animal aggressive, more specifically dog aggressive. Socialization should be the most important priority on your list. Go to pet stores, on walks, dog parks, busy stores, anywhere that has lots of people as well as dogs.
- A dog of ANY breed and a child should never go unsupervised. A child can accidentally fall, hit, kick, pull a dogs tail, scream, etc. There is no telling how a dog will react, and most often, they will bite out of fear, because they may feel threatened.
- Have a tall fence! These dogs are athletic and love to run and jump and be active, and sometimes, you may end up with a fence jumper. This is not only dangerous in the respect that your poor dog could be hit by a car, picked up by a less-than friendly individual, or he/she could bite someone, many times Pit Bulls and other bully breeds have been shot by law enforcement, often for no particular reason.
- Your dog, no matter the breed, should always, always, always have a leash on when they’re outside and not in an enclosed environment! Do not let your dog run loose. There are leash laws, other dogs may not be friendly, your dog can be hit by a car, your dog could be bitten by a wild animal, etc.
- Enroll in training classes! They will help with socialization, as well as any issues you’re having difficulty with. Enrolling your dog as early as possible (i.e. enrolling them in a puppy class) is one of the best decisions you can make.
And to finish this off, here are some positive stories that you’re not likely to see on the local news.
- In November 2013, a Pit Bull named Chako was stabbed 12 times after he attempted to intervene in a fight between his owner and her abusive partner.
- That same month in Australia, a woman being attacked by her neighbors Bull Terrier was saved when her Staffordshire/Pit Bull Terrier mix, Brian, came to her aid.
- Earlier this year, a 12 year old Pit Bull named Champ helped his 60 year old owner when a robber allegedly assaulted her.
- On July 22, 2013, a young female Pit Bull named Lefty saved her sleeping family from four robbers who broke into her home, but suffered being shot in the leg, resulting in an amputation.
- TaterTot, just days after being adopted from a high-kill shelter, saved 4 year old Peyton Anderson when Peyton became incoherent and was barely breathing due to a dangerous drop in his blood sugar levels.
- 9 month old Pit Bull Onyx was left with burns on 30% of his body after alerting his sleeping family to a fire that had started on the back patio of their home.
- On December 13, 2010, a woman was walking her Beagle when she was forced at knife-point inside of her home and to the bedroom where a man attempted to rape her until the woman’s second dog, a Pit Bull named Purple, came into the picture.
- In June 2012, a woman fell unconscious due to a “medical event”. However, her 1 year old Pit Bull, Lilly, left her owner to get help.
- Another Pit Bull named Lilly lost her leg after the 8 year old dog pulled her owner to safety after falling unconscious on a set of train tracks.
- A Pit Bull named Jack saved his feline friend, known as Kitty, from two coyotes who were attacking her in the front yard.
- In Edmonton, Canada, a young Pit Bull named Mercey helped fend off three men and a teenage boy who broke into her owners apartment, one of them wielding a machete.
- In Scottsdale Arizona, a Pit Bull named JoJo was on a walk with her owner early in the morning, when she and her owner were attacked by a pack of Javelina.
(source, source, source)
(National American Pit Bull Terrier Association)