People tend to believe that the Pit Bull is bred to be aggressive. In fact, in many parts of the world there are breed-specific legislations (BSL) that ban certain breeds of dogs all together and Pit Bulls are one of the most commonly banned breeds due to perceived aggressiveness. Surprisingly, there is no easy evidence that Pit Bulls are any more naturally aggressive toward humans than any other breed (West).A 20-year study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that there is no way to determine aggressiveness by breed. “In fact, the CDC says its own 20-year study is not an appropriate tool for making breed-specific policies or legislative decisions (The Truth). Many owners speak very highly of not only their Pit Bulls loving disposition, but also their willingness to please and gentle nature towards children.
The Pit Bull breed has a complex and much disputed history, but one thing that most everyone agrees on, is that the Pit Bull is and has been one of the strongest canine breeds. Although they were originally bred for battle with bears, bulls, and other dogs; they have always been known to be affectionate family dogs. “Pit Bulls are beautiful in their variety, but their most appealing features are their inner qualities, strength, confidence, a sense of humor and a zest for life are all hallmarks of the breed”(Reflecting).It is important that you frequently socialize your dog with people and other dogs as well. A properly socialized dog can be very affectionate, even with strangers.
This breed is intelligent and eager to please, which is why they are used for many different jobs and tasks, ranging from search and rescue work to bomb and drug detection. This breed has also been known to be used as therapy dogs. In fact, Leo “who is a Pit Bull rescued from the former NFL player Michael Vicks dogfighting ring”, went through many weeks of training and rehabilitation and is now bringing comfort to patients undergoing chemotherapy at the Camino Infusion Center (Favro). Though there are many different characteristics and traits associated with the Pit Bull breed, shyness, fearfulness and human-directed aggression are not one of them (Reflecting).
Due to the vagueness of the lineage of this breed it is often difficult to determine whether or not a dog is a Pit Bull, a Pit Bull mx, or another breed altogether. According to the commentary “Are Pit Bulls Different?” by Randall Lockwood and Katie Rindy, “any stocky short haired animal involved in an attack is likely to be recorded as a Pit Bull. It is not unusual to find newspaper accounts of ‘Pit Bull attacks’ accompanied by a picture of a Boxer, Pug, or some other breed” (Lockwood and Rindy 2-3). Recent research and DNA analysis has shown that dogs commonly identified as Pit Bulls are usually a mix of many different breeds.
This study is just another aspect that proves breed identification by appearance alone is now considered to be inaccurate. This is a good thing, because it lets us look at this breed as a fascinating American phenomena rather than just an identifiable item with fixed behaviors and definable features (Reflecting). Breeds commonly mistaken as the Pit Bull are the Boxer, Presa Canario, Dogo Argentino, Bull Mastiff, Cane Corso, Tosainu, Alapha Blue Blood Bulldog, and the Dogue de Boreaux (The Truth). There really is no accurate way to determine the aggressiveness of a breed, when it is so difficult to distinguish between certain breeds that have such similar physical characteristics.
Not only do people tend to misidentify the breed, there are a lot of myths circulating that also contribute to Pit Bulls being labeled as the most aggressive breed toward humans. For example, many people believe that Pit Bulls have “locking jaws”. According to the ASPCA in their article “The Truth About Pit Bulls”, “There is nothing unique about the anatomy of a Pit Bulls jaw. They do not ‘lock’” (The Truth). But people do need to keep in mind that as being one of the strongest canine breeds, it is true that Pit Bulls have extremely powerful jaw muscles.
Another popular myth relating to Pit Bulls is that they will eventually turn on their owners. Just like any other breed, a dog is a product of their owners handling. It is rare for any dog to turn on its owner. When a dog does bite people, it is usually due to the irresponsibility or neglect of the owners, who have ignored classic warning signs that come with nearly any dog bite (Reflecting). With all dog owners, it is vital to teach your dog proper behavior and obedience skills and always be aware of your dog’s temperament and surroundings at all times.
As a powerful and daunting breed, exercise, socialization, and proper training are extremely important. A good dog owner is one that is willing to devote time, patience, and effort in the all-around wellbeing of their dog, no matter what the breed. In particular, Pit Bulls require a great deal of guidance, proper training, and understanding to bring out their best qualities (The Truth). With the Pit Bull breed socialization is most important, as with any dog a Pit Bull needs to be comfortable around people and other dogs.
Proper socialization eliminates a dog’s anxiety and fearfulness of new people and surroundings. Along with socialization, consistent training is vital. The best type of training with Pit Bulls is positive reinforcement. “Although Pit Bulls are tough on the outside, they are often extremely sensitive dogs, and harsh training techniques are neither appropriate nor necessary” (The Truth). Along with socialization and consistent training, supervision with other dogs and children is imperative; and when left alone, the dog should be safely confined with plenty of room for exercise.
Pit Bulls have always been naturally submissive, confident, and have all the makings of a loyal family dog. The continued misunderstandings of this breed perpetuates the fear our society has for it, and “with unfailing optimism the dogs that fill our shelters and homes seem to want to remind us that they are what we have made them to be, either victims of human cruelty, neglected sentries in lonely yards, or cherished family companions in our homes. Slowly, society is starting to recognize these lessons and accept responsibility for their stations in life” (Reflecting).
Favro, Marianne. , Johnson, Alex. “Beaten-down dog from Vick case has his day.” msnbc.com.MSN, 17 June 2008. Web. 1 March 2012 Lockwood, Randall. , Rindy, Katie. “ARE ‘PIT BULLS’ DIFFERENT?. Anthrozoos Volume 1. Number 1 (1987):2-3. Print. “Reflecting on Pit Bulls – Whatever they are!.” Bad rap.org. BADRAP, n.d. Web. 29 February 2012 “The Truth About Pit Bulls.” aspcabehavior.org. ASPCA, n.d. Web. 1 March 2012 West, Jim. ”Pit bull breed debated.” AlbanyHerald.com . AlbanyHerald, 9 February 2012.Web. 29 February 2012 “
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