Energetic, agile, and eager to please – Pit Bulls are known to display all these traits. The term “Pit Bull”, however, is not actually a breed, but a term used to describe several dog breeds who share similar characteristics. The breeds that fall into the “Pit Bull” category are American Bullys, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Bull Dogs, and Pit mixes.
While many Pit Bull owners know how great they are, it’s a well-known fact that Pit Bull type dogs have been scrutinized for years from the public with a lot of false information surrounding them.
October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month and we’d like to help our Pittie pals by debunking the top five Pit Bull myths.
Pit Bulls get a bad rep of being the most aggressive dog breed. Since we know Pit Bulls are actually a wide range of several breeds, you have to look at each dog individually. The reality is that there are several things that can influence a dog’s aggression towards people beyond genetics. In a study conducted by the University of Helsinki, it was actually found that smaller dog breeds displayed the most aggressive behaviors towards humans. Pit Bulls are not known at all for their aggressiveness towards their human companions, and this type of behavior is actually seen as abnormal.
There’s no such thing as a dog who has a jaw that locks normally. Pit Bulls are no different physically than any of their other canine friends when it comes to their jaw functionality. If a dog’s jaw does “lock”, it is most likely from a serious infection known as Tetanus Bacillus that can cause a dog of any breed’s jaws to get stuck in place. If this happens, a dog should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Despite a common belief, Pit Bull type dogs are extremely loving and affectionate. They often behave like a lap dog with their human companions, as many of them believe they are! Their fun-loving and energetic disposition makes them especially fun to play and interact with. Because they are eager to please, they do their best when given a lot of attention from their humans. In general, Pit Bulls can make wonderful family pets, but every individual dog-no matter the breed-is different and will require the informed decision making and training from their owner.
If a Pit Bull shows aggression towards dogs, that does not mean that it will be aggressive towards humans. Over the years people have, unfortunately, bred Pit Bulls to be aggressive towards other dogs through selective breeding. It’s important to remember that dog aggressive dogs are no more likely to direct aggression towards people than a dog without dog aggression. A Pit Bull who shows aggression towards a person more than likely was neglected, abused, or mistreated by them previously and learned to develop a mistrust and fear of them early on. Again, it’s important to look at each dog as an individual and to be prepared to work on specific behavioral problems any dog may have.
A common misconception is that getting a Pit Bull puppy is better than getting an adult since it will have little to no chance of having an unknown history with a previous owner and can be trained to behave how you want it to. The truth is that each dog is unique and genetics will always be a factor. A puppy will be influenced not only from their parent’s genetics, but a long line of genetics, and may show an intolerance for other dogs as they mature. Patience and supervision are key when it comes to socializing your Pit Bull with other dogs.
On the other hand, adopting an adult can be beneficial as the shelter and current handlers will have a good idea of how they behave in multiple situations. Adopting an adult Pit Bull means you can get a mature dog with an established personality.
As with any pet, the responsibility of the dog falls on the owner. The best way to ensure that both you and your dog live the best and most fulfilling life is to familiarize yourself with the breed and have time to put the proper training techniques in place for them to succeed.
Did you know this month is also Adopt a Shelter Dog Month? Unfortunately, Pit Bulls make up the largest percentage of shelter dogs in the U.S. due to the myths surrounding them that we talked about today. There is no better way to celebrate while spreading Pit Bull awareness than adoption! Go to petfinder.com or visit your local animal shelter to see what dog is waiting for you. Our Pit Bull friends deserve a loving furever home, too!
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