(Or a look into debunking the bad rap given to an entire breed of dog)
For any dog lover, you mention man’s best friend and they form a picture in their head. An image of their own fuzzy friend back home, all bright eyes and perked up ears, maybe with a lolling tongue for added cute factor – but for some people, when you mention a pit bull, that image changes immediately. It is a sad fact that, while any dog can become aggressive if treated poorly, when the words ‘vicious dog’ are thrown around nine times out of ten the listener is going to picture a pit bull.
People often perceive Pit Bulls (American Staffordshire Terriers, as well as the American Pit Bull Terrier) as violent dogs, even though they are not the sole breed with inclinations toward aggression. With all the stigma, it’s about time we looked at the truth: and so, allow us to present a bunch of reasons why adding a pit bull to your home is just as rewarding as any other dog! (If not more so!)
- Pit Bulls are Excellent Nanny Dogs
It’s the wrong kind of people that make pit bulls out to be fighting dogs. They teach them aggressive behavior and do terrible, unsavory things to the poor animals to try and make vicious killers out of them. This is so far from what the pit bull wants to do with their time that it is almost laughable.
One of the best things you can do for your household – especially when there are small children under foot – is to leave them with a pit bull. Honestly! These bulky pups would sooner lick your child to death than hurt them.
Somewhere in the turn over from the 19th century to the 20th century, the pit bull was a favored dog through most of England and the US. With a body type that makes them ideal for cuddling, they have little to fear from small children who tend to be unintentionally rough (ruff?) with their toys.
Pit bulls have plenty of patience for tots as well, dealing with the high amounts of energy in stride, and often times treating them like puppies of their own. The difference in watching a pit bull play with a child and play with a grown adult is clear, as they know that little ones are more fragile.
Pit bulls will protect their kids just as well as any golden retriever or Labrador, and anyone who would try to warn you against it should take a look past the other naysayers. There are plenty of images available of big, “vicious” pit bulls with the kids they love!
- Fast Learners, Good Listeners
Perhaps one of the easiest dogs you will ever train is any kind of bully breed, and the pit bull is no exception to this rule. Pits are extremely eager to please their owners, to earn the praise and snuggles they so strongly crave.
Seriously, try looking away from those big eyes and folded back ears when your pit is sitting at your feet, wagging his tail at you. You deserve a Nobel prize if you can manage it for longer than a few minutes. For extra difficulty, add into this mental image a portrait of a wiggling butt as he tries to stay sitting so you will pay attention to him.
Pit bulls become creatures of habit very quickly and can learn many commands with ease. Of course, you are probably thinking – all dogs are capable of that! But considering the stigma behind the breed, they are the last ones you might expect to be so intelligent. The pit bull is highly tuned to what his owner expects from him.
This is part of the reason why it is so disturbingly easy for a pit bull to be a fighting dog. They do what their owner wants, they would do anything to please.
In a much more sought after experience, a pit bull trained for the home life will answer any command within seconds, pick up cues as needed, and catch on to the cues he needs to give you as his owner. My Chance goes to the door when he needs to go out, circles when he wants to go to bed, and is very much aware of the schedule we keep!
- Fantastic Temperaments and Terrible Guard Dogs (and why this should not deter you!)
With their supposed ‘aggressive’ nature, often people look at a pit bull and think they want to train it into a guard dog. This is probably one of the worst ideas ever, to be blunt. Pit bulls absolutely love people as a default state. They are far more likely to greet an intruder with a wagging tail and lots of slobbery kisses than they are to bare their teeth or bite.
While this means that you don’t want a pit bull in your home if you want a furry security system, it also bodes well for your family. You do not have to worry about your friends coming over, they have nothing to fear from your big loveable pup. Want to invite new people over for a dinner party? Not a problem, your pit will greet them at the door with only the most wonderful of kisses!
As for their temperament, pit bulls score an average of 87.4% in tests completed by the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS). That is an even higher positive score than the Golden Retriever, for a little perspective!
The only time a pit bull has been known to show aggression toward people is if they were mistreated, or not properly socialized. This is a classic in the case of ‘blame the owner, not the breed.’
Dogs have always been known as man’s best friend, staying faithfully at their owners’ sides since the dawn of time. You would be hard pressed to find a dog that’s quite as loyal as your pit bull will be. They are one of the most dedicated and loving breeds of dog in the world, and their favorite place to be will be wherever you are.
In fact, if you ask any dog owner that has had a pit bull at some point in their lives, they will more than likely tell you that their pit was the most loyal dog they ever had. With a calm and loving temperament that can put a smile on even the most stubborn ‘bad day’ face and a penchant for couch snuggles, kisses, and plenty of wagging tails, it is a wonder how anyone could fear pit bulls.
5. Upside-Down Pit Bulls
There is no other way to describe this – one of the best things about owning a pit bull, is when they flip themselves completely upside down. A fully relaxed pit is often found in this position, belly up, limbs splayed, with that trademark Pit Smile on.
Allow me to offer some photographic evidence, for scientific research purposes (and to brighten your day).
There are plenty of reasons to adopt a pit bull into your family. They have so much love to give and that is all they ask in return, with huge personalities and even bigger smiles. Next up, we’ll take a look at some common myths and misconceptions about this wonderful breed of dog!
“Pit bulls can lock their jaws!”
This is a myth that can instill fear into anyone, because of course who would want a dog that can latch onto them and must be pried off or even worse, put down? However, this is one hundred percent not true. The pit bull’s jaw is structured just like any other dog, and there is no special bone or joint that allows them to ‘lock’ their jaws.
The fact of the matter is, pit bulls have a lot of enthusiasm for everything they do, and one could even describe them as a passionate breed. If they want a toy, they will hold onto that sucker with everything they have. As far as they are concerned, if they get it, it’s theirs, and they want it! As with anything else, proper training will allow you to have better control over this.
“I need to put a choke chain collar on my pit bull.”
No. No, you do not. In fact, please refrain from doing so. It may look like your dog is big and tough, you may think that this will dissuade others from approaching you and your pit bull, but if looking ‘unapproachable’ is what you were going for, you should not have chosen a pit in the first place.
Pit bulls do not have a thick layer of fur to protect the sensitive skin beneath. Heavy chain collars can cause irritation to the skin and discomfort for the dog. If you are worried about the collar for training purposes, there are plenty of ways to better train and control your dog. Choke collars (including pronged collars) and electronic training collars should be used only as a last resort, or in extreme circumstances.
“I should get my pit bull as a puppy. Rescue dogs are unpredictable, and I have more control over how a puppy turns out!”
Somewhat true. You do have a good shot at socializing your puppy, but the thing with baby animals (of any kind) is that they grow up. You can never quite know how a puppy is going to grow, as they develop their own personality, and sometimes all the preparation in the world will not be enough.
Consider, not only for the fact that many the dogs in shelters are pit bulls – who have an unfortunate 93% euthanasia rate. That is not counting the fact that at least 75% of municipal shelters will euthanize a pit bull the moment they arrive at the shelter. Consider adopting a pit bull!
While it is true that most of these dogs will have come from a bad history, they are still rescues, and they are just as eager to please as they were when they were puppies. Chances are good that you will get even more love out of a shelter pit bull than any other dog. Because somehow, by some miracle, even the dogs with the most abusive background still show trust and love toward humans.
You will also have a better grasp of what your dog is like when rescuing from a shelter. Most pit bulls available are going to be anywhere from two to ten years old, and what you see is what you get! If you have other animals at home, most shelters will even let you know which pit bulls are good with other dogs and even cats.
“All pit bulls eventually turn on their owners. You never know when they are going to snap.”
This is probably one of the worst misconceptions about pit bulls, and certainly one of the biggest contributing factors to why they don’t get adopted.
The truth of the matter is there is no scientific evidence to support this myth. Some dogs bite. I know plenty of people who have been bitten by Labradors, Beagles, Pomeranian dogs, and Golden Retrievers. Any dog can get territorial or upset and bite, so it is absolutely not breed specific.
Between the media hype and those who only see the pit bull as a fighting breed, it comes as no surprise that these dogs have such a bad reputation. For those of us who have opened their hearts and homes to this wonderful and loving breed, though, there is an understanding. A special kind of bond, and if you ask anyone who has ever owned a pit bull, we can guarantee they will tell you that they have never had a better dog.
If you are in the market for a new family member, I highly recommend taking a drive down to your local animal shelter and meeting a pit bull or two. You may just be pleasantly surprised.