There is controversy about the Pit Bull dog breed. Some people insist they are loving, sweet animals while others are convinced of their bad reputation and consider them dangerous dogs. It is true that Pit Bulls are involved in more fatal dog attacks than other breeds. Pit Bulls have also been used as fighting dogs for hundreds of years.
So, is a Pit Bull really a vicious dog? Or is it simply an issue of proper training and supervision?
Below, we’ll talk about the history of Pit Bulls, myths about Pit Bulls, and whether or not they’re really dangerous. If you’re wondering how safe Pit Bulls are, read on to learn more.
History of Pit Bulls
The origins of Pit Bull dogs actually begin in the early 1800s in the United Kingdom. According to early records, Pit Bulls were actually bred from Old English Bulldogs.
This would explain their similarities in physical stature to bulldogs. However, their purpose was not a nice one.
While other dogs were bred for beauty or intelligence, American Bullys were bred for “bull baiting,” in which Pit Bulls would harass a bull for hours until it collapsed from fatigue or injury.
It was a cruel form of entertainment that was later banned by the Cruelty to Animals Act in 1835.
Once this act was passed, Pit Bull owners turned to “ratting,” a competition in which dogs would compete for how many rats they could kill in a set amount of time, and eventually, dog fighting.
Because ratting and dog fighting both required greater agility than bull baiting, they were crossed with Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
The combination of “pit” (from the pits ratting would occur in), “bull” (from bull baiting and cross-breeding), and “terrier” (from cross-breeding), we got the Pit Bull Terrier.
Types of Pit Bulls
Pit Bulls are not a single dog breed. There are many Pit Bull type breeds which include the American Bully, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Is a Bulldog a Pit Bull?
No, the Bulldog is its own specific breed although they are similar in some characteristics.
Pit Bull Appearance
Pit Bulls are known for their stocky, muscular bodies. Pit Bull Terriers have square-shaped heads, large fleshy noses, and almond eyes.
Pit Bulls also have short, dense coats that don’t require much maintenance.
Most Pit Bulls also have short, floppy ears and long tails. The more you walk them, the more muscular they will become, which can make them quite powerful.
They also have large jaws that are capable of some hard dog bites.
Common Myths About Pit Bulls
Many people think that all Pit Bulls are inherently dangerous, but this is actually a common myth.
A Pit Bull, like any dog, can be aggressive at times but they are not all automatically a vicious animal. There are many factors to be considered.
The truth behind this myth is that Pit Bulls have a stronger prey drive and bite force than other specific breeds, which makes untrained Pit Bulls more dangerous than many different breeds.
Another myth is that American Pit Bull Terriers are just as aggressive towards humans as they are towards animals.
There is actually little scientific evidence available showing a relationship between animal aggression and human aggression in Pit Bulls.
In fact, there are many Pit Bulls that love their humans even if they aren’t good with other pets.
A final myth is that Pit Bulls that have never been abused are automatically gentle with other dogs.
Because Pit Bulls have been genetically bred to be aggressive towards large animals, many are genetically prone to see other animals as prey.
However, there are still many Pit Bulls that are safe with other dogs due to early training and socialization, it just depends on your dog’s background.
Pit Bull Statistics Attacks
There are many statistics regarding Pit Bulls that can be used to determine if they are a dangerous breed or not.
One statistic is that Pit Bulls make up approximately 5.8% of all dogs in the United States. However, the Pit Bull breed also makes up 60% of all dog-related injuries.
Pit Bull attacks also result in higher morbidity rates and those incidents lead in the number of fatal attacks compared to other dog breeds.
Pit Bull Terriers were bred for fighting and have incredibly strong jaws. Statistically, most people are opposed to Pit Bulls due to myths, their bad rap, and dog bite rates.
Pit Bulls also make up 22% of all dog breeds in shelters and stay in shelters three times as long as other breeds. Pit Bulls were 12% more likely to be adopted from shelters.
Pit Bull Temperament
Pit Bull advocates and many owners say these dogs are known for their playful and friendly temperament. They love to play, exercise and please their owners.
However, they can also be aggressive if not trained properly.
This aggression is largely due to the fact that Pit Bulls were specifically bred to have a high prey drive, so they could attack larger animals.
If the parents of a Pit Bull are particularly aggressive, odds are the Pit Bull puppy will also be aggressive due to genetics, even if they’re trained early.
Pit Bull Temperament Rating
The American Temperament Test Society publishes ratings for dog breed temperaments.
Surprisingly for some, the American Pit Bull Terrier has a good score passing their temperament test 87% of the time!
Remember, Pit Bulls, like all other dogs, follow their instincts, which are much stronger in some Pit Bulls than in others.
Because Pit Bulls are so protective of their families, they also make excellent guard dogs. If you’re looking to get a Pittie as a guard dog, get the proper training early on.
Pit Bulls and Other Pets
Many Pit Bulls get along with other pets just fine, especially if your Pit Bull is brought home as a puppy after you already have other pets.
This will let them grow up next to other animals so they’re comfortable with them as an adult.
It also establishes a hierarchy as any animal you had previously is first in the home, which will make your Pit Bull more amicable with them.
If you get your Pit Bull as an adult or bring other pets home once you have an established Pit Bull, you’ll have to let your Pit Bull adapt to the new animal.
Early Socialization and Monitoring Works Best for Pit Bulls
This means slow introductions and constant monitoring to ensure no fighting occurs. If any aggression is shown, remove the other animal from the situation entirely.
For breeds like Pit Bulls, it may be better to introduce your Pit Bull to a potential pet before adopting or buying them to ensure no major issues arise.
If they do, you know your Pit Bull simply prefers to be a single fur child and will supply you with all the love you need.
Are Pit Bulls Good With Children?
Believe it or not, Pit Bulls actually tend to be great with kids. Pit Bulls are known to be loving and protective of their families, including any children involved.
They also love to play and enjoy being family members. However, it’s important to note you need to teach your children about the proper treatment of your pet.
If your Pit Bull is feeling cornered, stressed, or bothered by your children, it could lash out and bite.
Make sure you always supervise your small children with your Pit Bull. Teach them how to play nicely with the family dog and about dog bite prevention to avoid any potential issues.
Training Your Pit Bull
If you decide to get a Pit Bull, the best thing you can do for your pup and yourself is to get them in training early.
The earlier they’re able to be trained, the better off you are preventing any potential aggression in the future.
Professional Pit Bull Trainer
You should reach out to a trainer early to get your Pit Bull puppy prepared for home life. Training can be one-on-one with a trainer or can be in group training sessions.
Though one-on-one may be better for your puppy directly, group sessions are also great for socializing puppies early on.
All forms of training have their pros and cons. Consider your options and finances before deciding which training type is right for you.
Can Pit Bulls Be Service Dogs?
Yes, despite some thinking they can’t, a Pit Bull can make an excellent service dog if given the proper training from a young age. There are even cases of Pit Bulls making fine therapy dogs.
Where To Find A Pit Bull
There are many places you can find Pit Bulls. Since Pit Bulls are known to be dangerous, they are one of the most common breeds to end up abandoned at shelters.
Shelters should be the first place you check for a Pit Bull, as there are many loving dogs there without homes.
Because Pit Bulls are less likely to be adopted than other breeds, they’re the most often euthanized at shelters.
Adopt a Pit Bull
Try to adopt a Pit Bull before buying one from a breeder of Pit Bulls to reduce the number of Pit Bulls that are euthanized each year.
If you can’t find a Pit Bull that works for your family at a shelter, reach out to a reputable Bully breeder to inquire about Pit Bull puppies.
Remember to inquire about the behavioral history of the parents to determine the potential temperament of the puppies you’re considering.
Related Pit Bull Questions
Is it Smart to Own a Pit Bull With Other Pets?
Yes, Pit Bulls can get along with other pets, but it often depends on what these pets are.
If you have any small, vulnerable pets, such as kittens or tiny dogs, they could trigger your Pit Bull’s prey drive.
This could cause your Pit Bull to try to attack your other pets when they expect it least.
If you want other pets to go with your Pit Bull, consider larger dogs that they are able to play with.
This will help them burn energy and gives them an animal their own size to interact with, reducing their prey drive towards them.
If you want to have cats, make sure the cat is larger in size and has places in the home to escape the Pit Bull if needed, such as a tall cat tree or a room protected by a doggy gate.
How Large Do Pit Bulls Get?
Pit Bulls can get anywhere between 18 and 21 inches in height and 35 to 65 pounds in weight.
Though they might not be extremely tall or heavy, they are incredibly muscular and stocky dogs known for their high energy.
If your dog is much smaller or larger than these sizes, it may indicate that your Pit Bull is mixed with another dog breed.
Should I get my Pit Bull from a Shelter or a Breeder?
Whether you get your Pit Bull from a shelter or a breeder is a personal decision.
If you choose to get one from a shelter, you should be careful to find one that does not have any prior trauma or history of aggression, as this could create behavioral issues in the future.
If you use a Pit Bull breeder, inquire about the parents to see if either has a history of aggression before getting one of their puppies.
Are There Any Famous Pit Bulls?
Besides the famous human singer, one famous Pit Bull is Bud, who was the first dog to catch a ride across the United States in the early 1900s. He joined his owner on the first cross-country road trip in America.
One other famous Pit Bull was Stubby, who was known for his work in WWI. Stubby was known for capturing a German Spy and holding him with a bite until human soldiers could handle him.
The military was so impressed with his work that Stubby was promoted to Sargeant after that.
Who is Bronwen Dickey?
Bronwen Dickey is an American author who wrote the book, Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon.
This book describes a popular breed of dog that became labeled as being one of the most dangerous dogs in the world. She explores how this happened and why.
The story revolves around her own personal experiences bringing a Pit Bull into her home.
What Other Dog Breeds are Considered Dangerous?
These dogs are known for their impressive bite strength, which has caused injury before due to untrained, aggressive dogs.
Those owning these dogs should put their dogs in training as puppies to try to prevent any aggression issues before they arise in these breeds.
However, it’s important to remember that just because some breeds are considered “dangerous dogs,” doesn’t mean all dogs in those breeds are bad dogs or aggressive.
There are many Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, and Chow Chows that are protective and affectionate towards their families.
You just have to train them early and often, as training and understanding these breed’s behaviors are the best ways to prevent issues in the future.
Is a Cane Corso the Same as a Pit Bull?
No, Cane Corsos are not Pit Bulls. Despite looking somewhat similar to the untrained eye and both being powerful dogs, a Cane Corso is an entirely different dog breed from a Pit Bull.
How Do You Spell Pit Bull?
Pit Bull is spelled with two words, not one. Keep in mind that the American Kennel Club (AKC) does not recognize a ‘Pit Bull’ breed. They recognize the ‘Pit Bull Terrier’ breed.
Now, you should have a good sense of how safe Pit Bulls are. While many are extremely gentle, they have a high prey drive and can bite extremely hard when aggressive.
This is why they are often considered dangerous when really it all depends on their genetic aggressive behavior and their training.
If you really want a Pit Bull, be sure to find one without a history of aggression and register him in training classes early.
This will reduce any chance for your Pit Bull to become dangerous and can prevent issues with your Pit Bull before they arise.
Show your Pit Bull lots of love, and they’ll be sure to give you lots of love back.