The Pit-bull is no more vicious than any other breed known to man-kind and is greatly misunderstood and misrepresented by people who fear larger breeds of dogs in general. It is a primal human response to assess a situation and to respond either in a flight or fight response when encountering a dog that we are unfamiliar with. The Pit-bulls who have attacked their victims used to be nice dogs that turned bad for no reason at all. Something that the media claims so often without obtaining more insight on the dog that attacked the victim but rather speculate what they believe to be true to make headlines. When we dig deeper and find real facts we see that: ‘In 99 percent of the cases, the dogs were either recent rescues with an unknown history or severely abused.
So not typical representatives of a breed’ (Visele). This fact alone brings light to the myth that Pit-bulls or any breed for that matter attacks for no reason, when in fact we do not understand the full scope in which the dog used to live in. Let’s for instance say that you decided to rescue a dog and find out later that the sweet natured dog you took into your home has become ill tempered. Like any good dog owner, you decide to contact the shelter where you adopted your furry friend in hopes to find out more about your adopted friends past. You are shocked to find out that the shelter is also unable to answer these questions for you because the dog was either a stray found on the streets or relinquished by the owner for whatever reason with no mention of aggression. The dog never presented signs of aggression while being assessed by the shelter personnel and therefore put up for adoption. Suddenly something made the dog react and its telling you that it had something to do with its past that triggered the dog to act out in a negative way.
In a bout of anger people speculate that Pit-bulls are naturally vicious because they were bred to be pit fighting dogs that fought other dogs and thus are naturally aggressive thanks to their ancestry. But, if we delve into their historic genealogy we come to find out that the breed did not start out as speculated. According to the American Pit bull registry the breed started during the time of Minos in Crete and through pagan creation, bull baiting in Rome became the popular choice of entertainment for pagans in honor of Mithras who was the God of war. Dogs back then were closer mentally and physically in relation to their wild ancestor the wolf and were far wilder then the dogs of today. The breeding of the two most fearless dogs gave rise to the start of the breed and as we fast-forward to the 1700’s the selectively bred bull baiting breed became known as Bulldogs.
With time people continued to add different bull baiting breeds from different regions of the world into its lineage in hopes to achieve more desired traits. By the 1800’s people had achieved the closest version of American Pit-bull which had attributes that benefitted people back then, since even dogs had to earn their keep. People of lower social classes were not allowed to obtain these dogs and with time bull baiting was finally outlawed in 1835 because the sport became unpopular. Soon people found other ways to utilize this multi versed dog, by introducing the terrier breed into its family tree. By incorporating the terrier breed into the American Pit bull line, it produced a dog of smaller statue.
This newly developed breed did well at hunting and killing rats that carried deadly diseases such as the Bubonic Plague that killed millions of people and made the dogs worth more than gold. The sport of ratting rose from this, where these dogs were placed in pits filled with rodents and the more they killed the better the dog placed in a rank. ‘This is in fact where the ‘Pit’ in the American Pit-bull Terrier name came from not from fighting other dogs'(American Pit bull Registry). The reason why the Pit bull has such a bad rap is because we mostly see them owned by gangsters or displayed in music videos by rappers who believe that the breed is truly what people make it out to be. When in fact they are loyal, devoted and gentle dogs. Nevertheless, people will still argue the fact that Pit bulls are known for fighting other dogs and are dangerously aggressive without being provoked. There is truth to this statement to some degree that some Pit bulls not all, are truly vicious and highly aggressive towards other dogs and even people making them a menace to society.
This paved the way for people who saw a way to exploit the breed to make a quick buck by having dog fights. According to Jacob Silverman at how stuff works this began around the same time as ratting became popular in or around 1835. A sub division of this breed was created where people with the sole interest to produce more aggressive traits was desirable, all in the name of entertainment. The more aggressive the dog the greater the fighter and the more money the animal would pull in for his neglectful owner. This is all done in the name of sports and entertainment which later made people believe that the dogs sole purpose was fighting other dogs. Considering this the animal could not be a good addition to a family, especially with small children as the Pit bull seemed unpredictable and dangerous.
However, had people been informed that these were not the typical breed traits but instead a manipulation, perhaps there would have never been fear instilled into people in the first place. Those types of dogs should have also been confiscated and euthanized so that they do not breed in with the other dogs. A good breeder also makes sure that the puppies produced have even temperament to represent the best quality of this beautiful breed. If this type of dedication would have been priority we would have had a multi-talented, loyal and courageous Pit bull that outshines even the best family dog. The Pit bull was once endearingly termed the Nanny Dog and a highly sought-after dog for families with children. ‘At one time, they were nicknamed ‘nursemaid’s dogs’ because of their friendly demeanor toward children. Unfortunately, the breed’s athleticism and intelligence, which would normally help its case as a good family dog, is manipulated to turn these dogs into fierce fighters'(Silverman).
After all of this we come to find ourselves questioning how this came to be when according to Sheila Brown, nanny dogs always strived to please their owners and up until recent were a beloved pet from the United States all the way to England for nearly 100 years. This is no coincidence as people with children found themselves owning this loving pet throughout history, even the television show ‘The Little Rascals’ had they’re best friend Petey a Pit bull for a companion. So, as people can see this breed has had its fair share of bad luck all because of the way it was created to look. You hear far more fatal or near fatal attacks from Pit bulls on the news than any other breed and there are pictures to prove it. ‘Dog professionals, veterinarians included, aren’t all that perfect at identifying an individual breed. Never mind police or hospital staff, and even less so the victim. Do I trust journalists to do their homework and double-check the breed was correctly identified? Not for a second. And don’t rely on the picture used to illustrate the incident either'(Viele). Far too many times people miss-identify a breed because it happens to look like a breed that the individual is familiar with.
There are a lot of dog breeds that look like Pit bulls and commonly get miss-identified as such. For example, there is the American Bulldog, Dogo Argentino, Cane Corso and even the very familiar Boxer that get miss-identified as being Pit-bulls. Out of this list people would argue that they could identify the difference between Pit bull and Boxer. However, not all boxers are the iconic brown with white sox and black face points and a docked tail. There are those that come in brindle or solid white with full tails and they can easily be mistaken for a Pit bull by someone who lacks that knowledge about dog breeds.
As people who are in the dark for the most part of any breaking story most of us, if not all of us, assume that what is being said is the absolute truth because we believe it to be true without a shadow of a doubt. This precise way of thinking is what gets Pit bulls in the trouble that they fall in, all thanks to the blind following of people who assume without a second thought. People follow blindly all the time with little to no evidence because it seems credible, but with a little research we come to find out that even the most professional individuals such as Veterinarians identify dog breeds wrong. Therefore, who is to say that the victim who is not an expert at identifying such a breed, to be credible enough in properly identifying what dog breed attacked them. These are all factors that most people never think twice on and it can have dire consequences for an otherwise innocent dog breed like the Pit bull. A sad fact is that because of the way Pit bulls look they are subjected to being handled differently than other dogs because people feel that that’s the only way this breed learns. A lot of the time inexperienced owners have the believe that they need to have a so called heavy hand with a Pit bull according to Lori Nanan, thanks to their athletic look.
For instance, you won’t see a Chihuahua owner use this method because it’s a small dog and a person only needs to raise their voice and the dog ends up rolling on its back in submission. Pit bulls however are treated differently ‘And, yes, I do believe that abuse is an appropriate way to describe what is done to dogs who are alpha-rolled (rolled onto their sides and pinned down in an attempt to “calm” them, resulting in the dog either shutting down or reacting aggressively), scruff shaken, leash corrected or physically intimidated'(Nanan). Doing this has negative connotations because you are not teaching a dog anything by this, except pain. Just like any animal, it is a primal instinct to protect yourself and because dogs are unable to verbally tell us we are hurting them they show us by growling, snarling or straight out biting as a protective measure. To this people assume that the dog is just aggressive, but the only aggressor is the person inflicting harsh punishment when none is needed.
People should not assume that just because it’s a Pit bull that the dog needs to be handled differently but that they need to realize it’s a dog just like any other. By doing this people would eliminate so many problems caused by bad ownership and instead would see a truly beautiful dog for all its great qualities. Ferociously looking and yet intelligent and gentle with kids Pit bulls are the dogs that can not only protect you but truly are the dogs of the future. With the right type of owner this breed can flourish and become part of the family just like any other dog. People need to give these dogs a chance to prove them wrong because contrary to most individuals believes, these dogs are just like any other dog breed. Surely there are Pit bulls that are vicious and truly live up to the name, but these are not your typical dogs.
By informing yourself about the breed and finding an even-tempered dog from a reputable breeder you will find that your companion is a gladiator that behaves like a big lapdog that loves giving lots of wet kisses. Pit bulls are the breed of the future and if they were only given a second chance everyone would agree.
- “American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) Breed History.” American Pit Bull Registry, http://pitbullregistry.com/PitBull%20History.htm.
- Brown, Sheila. Pitbulls Were Once Known as ‘Nanny Dogs.’ What Happened? PetHelpful, 9 Jan. 2018, http://pethelpful.com/dogs/The-Pit-Bull-Dog-Once-Knows-as-the-Nanny-Dog-What-Happened.
- Nanan, Lori. Pit Bulls Are Dogs Too. Canis Bonus, 19 Nov. 2014, www.canisbonus.com/2014/03/25/pit-bulls-are-dogs-too-guest-post-by-lori-nanan/.
- Silverman, Jacob. How Dogfighting Works. HowStuffWorks, 27 July 2007, https://people.howstuffworks.com/dogfighting1.htm.
- Visele, Laure-Anne. Pit Bulls: What’s the Controversy about? Canis Bonus, 15 Dec. 2017, www.canisbonus.com/2016/12/09/pit-bulls-whats-the-controversy-about/.