The American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier collectively make up the breed of dogs known as Pit Bulls. As a breed, they are not savage, attack dogs. Quite the opposite, they can be very gentle, intelligent companions.
It is true that some dogs have caused insurmountable terror, suffering and loss, but when put into perspective Pit Bulls that have maimed and killed people and companion animals are those that represent a small percentage of the millions of good dogs that belong to this breed. Keep in mind that other breeds hurt people and animals too, however they are not publicized as the Pit Bull is. The stereotype of this particular breed feeds the shock and awe sensationalism of the media.
It is important to note that statistics can be manipulated to represent whatever view a person wishes to portray.
- Pit Bulls have locking jaws. Pit Bulls do not have locking jaws. The fact is they have very strong jaws in comparison to other dogs which make them more powerful; they are stronger than many other breeds. A Pit Bull’s body composition is comparable to a body builder and an average person. Just because one person enjoys body building and is therefore stronger than another person, it does not mean that that person is any less gentle or friendly
- Pit bulls are inherently mean and vicious. Pit Bulls by nature are not mean and vicious-they are very sweet and friendly. They are easily trainable and respond well to commands which can change their happy go lucky personality into something monstrous. Their desire to please, paired with their strength, high prey drive and malleability make them a great candidate for use as guard and attack dogs and in fighting rings.
- People cause Pit Bulls to be vicious. In most cases Pit Bulls are vicious and dangerous because they were trained to be. The training methods used by dog fighters cause the dog to be indiscriminate about what it attacks. Trainers will starve, beat and harass these dogs in order to make them aggressive. A dog does not understand that it may only attack other dogs when it is in the ring. The saying ‘Guns do not kill people, people kill people’ can be applied to these dogs: Pit Bulls do not attack people, people attack people. Pit Bulls are used as a weapon. Furthermore these dogs are most often grossly abused themselves.
- Some Pit Bulls (not all) tend to have a high prey drive. A high prey drive means that an animal has a natural inclination to chase and possibly attack other animals that they see as food. Though we would like to think that domestic dogs are civilized, they are still animals and instinctive behaviors are difficult if not impossible to eliminate. This fact means that responsibility, vigilance and knowledge are imperative on the part of the owner of a Pit Bull as with any dog.
- Dog fighting has been around for centuries. When most people think of dog fighting they envision thugs in rough inner-city neighborhoods with drugs, guns and seething, drooling Pit Bulls. In the 1800’s Pit Bulls that were used for fighting were trusted with children and seen as their nannies. Dogs that fought by night would be left alone with children by day to guard and protect them.
- Pit bulls are not the right breed for everyone. Although Pit Bulls do not deserve the reputation they have gained they are not suitable for everyone. These dogs can be difficult to handle due to their intelligence, energy and power. People who are considering owning a Pit Bull should research the breed in order to ensure an appropriate life for the dog as well as a duty to public safety.
Responsibility and education are key in destroying the undue prejudice and stereotypes associated with this wonderful breed.