Pit bulls have quite a reputation, and are one of the most abused animals on earth. But some things people tend to believe about them are not always the truth. One popular myth about pit bulls is that they have locking jaws and can't let go if they bite. They do tend to bite and shake, but this is a behavior of all breeds. Another idea is that pits are bred to fight and kill. But just like people animal behaviors are also influenced by their environment. Some irresponsible people may attempt to breed dogs specifically for that, but that isn't the case for the majority of pit bulls in loving homes.
Pit bulls are wonderful family pets. Unfortunately, people like Michael Vick have helped form negative opinions of these animals. Pit bulls were brought into the United States in the 19th century. Americans used this breed for hunting, cattle dogs, and some were even used as guardians or nannies. They were known to be very loyal dogs.
When the AKC began, they refused to allow registering of pit bulls because of their fighting history. UKC was started by Chauncy Bennet in 1898 for the pit bull breed, and later began to add other breeds to the registry. The ADBA was later started because breeders felt that the UKC did not acknowledge the dogs working capabilities. The ADBA primarily focuses on working, such as weight pulling.
Several famous people have owned pit bulls such as Helen Keller, President Theodore Roosevelt, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. They were also used on American WWI and WWII posters, and was the first dog to receive a service medal in the military. Petey, from the show Little Rascals, was also a pit bull. Pits are also the only breed to have been featured on the cover of Life Magazine three times.
Credit: personal photoEven though some people still view pit bulls as a malicious breed, they are becoming useful in numerous situations. Pit bulls are used in search and rescue, therapy, drug and bomb sniffing, and as companions. They also hold world records in weight pulling competitions, and do well in canine sporting events. Almost all of Michael Vick's dogs were placed in homes and turned out to be great pets. Some rescued pits have even been trained as police dogs.
The ASPCA has stated that a lot of the public's misconceptions about the breed stems from false reporting and over reporting. This has also caused some areas to pass laws concerning the breed. Ontario, Miami, and Denver have applied restrictions to owning pit bulls or any dog similar in nature. The United States Army and Marine Corps along with others have also taken action such as placing restrictions on ownership or by outright banning the breed. Australia has banned the import of pit bulls and requires all existing pit bulls to be spayed or neutered. Some counties in the U.S. even require dogs be euthanized instead of given the chance to be adopted!
In the United States dog owners are held liable for any issues that arise from their pets. It is important to have liability coverage to protect yourself, no matter what breed of dog you own. The top breeds that insurance companies tend not to cover are pit bulls, chows, german shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, and akitas. Sadly, as with pit bulls, the problem usually lies with people and not the dogs. Dogs are just like people, they come with a variety of personalities and behaviors and are as social as humans are. You can't expect a happy, loving dog when he's been tied up and left alone and forgotten...only seeing interaction at feeding times. Dogs are sociable creatures who desire love, friendship, and company the same as we do. Most dogs just want to please their owners and thrive on attention. Pits love being around people and being part of a family. My dogs are content just being wherever I am, whether it's beside me on the couch or laying at my feet.
There are several pit bull rescues in the United States where staff will work with you to match your family to a dog. Some offer obedience classes and extended help with caring for your pit. There are always dogs available that need good loving homes. A good rescue will do a background check and come out into your home in an attempt to make sure they are providing a good environment for the dog. Be prepared to wait, as this will take some time. Don't go to a rescue expecting to come home with your dog on the first day.
Pit bulls come in many colors such as white, black, red, brown, chocolate, merle, fawn, brindle, gray, and blue. Blues are considered rare but actually are quite common, and are the most popular color today.
Credit: personal photoIf you choose to get a pit bull some things you need to remember is that they need proper socialization and training. Dogs need clear unchanging rules to abide by, along with a loving family. Set boundaries and stick to them. You shouldn't 'beat' your dog if he does something wrong. My dogs respond well to a rolled up newspaper because they don't like the noise it makes. They are terrified of our cat. If they want to go somewhere and the cat is in their path, they will take the long way just to avoid the cat. Be ready to give up your heart, because a pit will win you over quickly.
If you have a large pet store such as Petsmart or Petco, you can check to see if they will be offering obedience classes. Sometimes you can find classes in the community for free. This is important training for any breed of dog, as they will learn to listen and obey. It's also a good socialization period, when your dog will be around other people and their dogs.
These aren't vicious creatures. Could they be? Of course, but so could any human.