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Pit Bull Informational Pages
by Diane Jessup 

About Pit Bulls

 

Every time a breed becomes a "fad",
common sense information gets lost in spin, myth and just plain lies.

This misinformation comes from those who are prejudiced against a breed but also from well meaning people who just don't know any better.

After a quarter of a century with the American pit bull I know one thing:

The TRUTH is the only thing that serves our breed well.

 

 

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Truth # 1

Like any species, not all members of a dog breed act alike. There is no "one way" an American pit bull "acts". The members of any dog breed are neither all "nice" or "mean". The behavior of any domestic dog is a complex mixture of hard-wired genetics, environmental influence and human management.

Almost all dog breeds have been selected for the purposes of hunting, guarding or protecting/working livestock. Before they worked for us, the dog's ancestors were wild animals. They retain the behaviors which make survival as a wild, pack living animal possible.

Members of specific dog breeds tend to display specific behaviors selected for by man for thousands of years. Terriers dig to kill rodents, hounds trail animals with intent to kill, bird dogs live to chase, flush and retrieve dead birds, sled dogs run, greyhounds chase small animals with intent to kill, border collies chase, bark and bite and bulldogs grip firmly what they are encouraged to grip.

 

Truth # 2

The American pit bull (called "pit bull" for short and "American pit bull terrier" by dog breed registries) is a pure breed of dog. In fact, they are one of the oldest and purest of dog breeds.

Many people think of "fancy" breeds as the "blue bloods" of dogdom - with long pedigrees reaching back into time. In fact, the opposite is often true; golden retrievers, borzoi, Irish wolfhounds, Dobermans, German shepherds, Saint Bernards and most terrier breeds are of quite modern origin and often the result of deliberate cross breeding. Most dog breeds are only about 100 years old. The American pit bull has been a pure breed with written pedigrees which reach back twice that far.

The average American pit bull can trace its lineage further back than a dog that wins the Westminster dog show!

 

Truth # 3

Some working breeds of dogs have divided into two "types" within the same breed; a "show" type and a "working" type. You can see this in the difference between "working" English setters and those which win in the show. They are both called "English setters" but to the fanciers of that breed they are two very different "types", in fact some consider them two separate breeds. Other breeds with this division between working and show "types" are: German shepherds, labradors, greyhounds and huskies; you won't see a single AKC registered Siberian husky or Alaskan malamute on a team winning the Iditarod dog sled race!

This is the case with the American pit bull as well. In 1936, fanciers of the American pit bull (which was already a registered purebred with the American Dog Breeder's Association (ADBA) and the United Kennel Club (UKC) at that time) wanted the breed to be accepted by the American Kennel Club. The American Kennel Club (AKC) accepted the pit bull, but changed the name to "Staffordshire terrier" which they then later changed to "American Staffordshire terrier" when they recognized the "Staffordshire bull terrier" in the 1970s.

Traditionally, the American pit bull as registered by the ADBA and to a lesser extent the UKC now, are considered more of the "working" type while the AKC registered "American Staffordshire" has developed into the "show" version of the "pit bull". Each fancier has their own opinion about whether the two breeds are still one. MORE INFORMATION

 

Truth # 4

There is no "rare" pit bull color. And the color of a dog's nose does not indicate it is a certain "type" of pit bull. Color is simply an expression of genetic code concerning coat color.

It might surprise you to learn that today the so called "rare blue pit bull" is in fact not rare, and not a pit bull! The blue color is a dilute of black, and occurs in the American Staffordshire breed. How it popped up in those dogs is any one's guess. Blue is a mastiff color, not a bulldog color. (There are no blue English bulldogs, but the English mastiff did used to come in blue, as do some other mastiff breeds).

Here is what Louis Colby has to say about the "blue" dogs, and I can't think of any better authority: "As a boy growing up, and listening to multiple conversations between my father and visitors such as Collagan, Heinzl Vose, Donovan, and other dogmen from all over the country..never did the word blue appear. There never was a blue Colby dog in my father's yard, nor mine.To my knowledge there was never a blue colored dog reported in any match or sporting event."

 



"Gaia" was rescued from a life of neglect and placed in a loving home. She is gentle with other dogs and animals - this has to do primarily with her genetics, not primarily her upbringing. It is NOT "all how you raise them". American pit bulls can be confrontational with other animals - they have been bred to conquer fierce animals in the past and an understanding and respect for their heritage is a big part of being a responsible pit bull owner.

Truth # 5

The temperament which is considered "correct type" for an American pit bull - like the majority of purpose bred breeds - is not the best choice if your goal is a casual pet for romps at the local dog park. The pit bull is a working breed and demands much more time, energy, commitment and respect from their owners than a "generic" dog with exhibits little character.

Having said that, any breed experiences a wide range of temperaments, and there are always a percentage of "generic" pit bulls; lazy, couch potato sorts with no desire to work or play hard. A good rescue or long time breeder can match you with the pit bull that best fits the amount of commitment you wish to give to your pet. Generally speaking, most dog rescue groups gravitate toward "easy" pit bulls, those who do not really display the challenges associated with "breed type". Therefore, a rescue can be a fantastic place to shop for your first American pit bull.

"Typical" American pit bulls are tough and intelligent animals, historically bred for a willingness to test their mettle against larger and stronger animals and against each other. It is not uncommon for an adult pit bull to be very quarrelsome toward other dogs while being very friendly to humans, and to expect him to be otherwise is unfair to the dog, to yourself and to the community in which you live. Some dog on dog aggression, intelligently handled, is a small price to pay for the attributes of a well bred bulldog.

 

 

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Truth # 6

With people, American pit bulls are one of - if not the most - friendliest and most loving breeds. Their pain tolerance makes them tolerant of children's rough play, and their confidence gives them a temperament owner's don't need to make excuses for. They are not a barky breed - many are not even good watch dogs - because they like people.

Those who know pit bulls know that they greet friend and stranger alike with the usual "bully grin" and wiggling butt. A pit bull which snaps or snarls at people is NOT representative of the breed and behavior like that is indicative of poor genetics. Serious breeders cull (euthanized) animals which display poor temperament in order to help maintain the high standard that historical breeders have handed us.

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Narcotics detection dog K9 Moto of the Washington State Patrol in training. Moto earned an award for his work.

Truth # 7

Some people think that American pit bulls are "only good for fighting". Nothing could be further from the truth, either in opinion nor fact!

The pit bull's roots are as a working "catch" dog and from this they developed into animals which controlled domestic hogs and bulls. Competitions to see which butcher had the better dog developed into the "baiting sports".

Baiting and dog fighting have been illegal for many years now. The future of this versatile breed looks bright, as the dogs are adapting themselves to a variety of sports and work.

 

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Aggression toward other canines does not equate to aggression toward humans. These hounds and a Labrador retriever attack and maul to death this coyote. Yet hounds and Labs are among the most people loving of dogs.

Truth # 8

Because a dog attacks other animals does not mean that animal will attack humans (including children). It is a myth that once a dog has attacked another dog (or killed a chicken, etc) that "next time it could be a child".

Many working breeds have antipathy towards other animals - coonhounds go mad at the sight of a raccoon, foxhounds will not hesitate to tear a dog-like fox to shreds, greyhounds and other sight hounds live to chase and maul rabbits and will eagerly kill cats. They are still used today to chase down and slaughter coyotes. Even the ever-friendly beagle will "murder" a rabbit, given the chance. And yet the greyhound, coon and foxhound and beagle are among the friendliest of breeds towards humans. And it is the same with the well bred pit bulldog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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