Lets talk about pit bulls. Or more precisely American Pit Bull Terriers.
I touched on it in previous posts about Stella, here and here, that when we lost Indy, I would consider getting another dog, but not another pit bull. THE ONLY reason was that I was tired of the wide eyed fear and sheer ridiculousness of the responses when people found out we had a American Pit Bull Terrier at home. Around our children!! Oh the HUMANITY!
After we lost Indy, and I took a hard look in the mirror and did some soul searching, and knowing Indy, I knew there was no other option for us. We needed another American Pit Bull Terrier. Indy was the kindest, gentlest dog, who showed extreme strength and grace through her final months wrought with illness, she always had a kind lick and a tail wag for my kids – no matter how awful she felt.
“But Ally, how can you let a FACE EATING dog around your beautiful children?!?!”
Yes I do and I’m damn happy about it!
(I gladly let this face licking bundle of love around my children. She loves them and they love her. She puts up with their kid stuff and their floppy, awkward, unexpected movements with a wagging tail. She sits and snuggles with them on the couch. She comes to their rooms at bed time to get a hug and kiss. She greets them with a slobbery kiss every morning. They feed and water her, and she in turn says thank you by sitting calmly until they are done putting both food and water in her dish. Zenen plays tag with her in the kitchen.)
Here’s why – Everything the average person knows about American Pit Bull Terriers is WRONG!
1.American Pit Bull Terriers are mean and vicious.
This excerpt is from the UKC’s breed definition for American Pit Bull Terriers, it’s pretty clear:
Aggressive behaviour toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable.
Human aggression was bred out of the APBT throughout their lineage – when they were used for bull, bear, and rat baiting they were expected to attack the animal but interact with their human handler who was often in the ring with them. Human aggressive dogs were culled.
Am I scared that this dog will turn on us and attack? No more scared than I am around any other dog. Any dog has the ability to attack – but unfortunately, the other dogs don’t get as much press. The word “pit bull” has sizzle, it’s a clickbait word, it draws people in, while “Bichon Goes WILD. Attacks Owner And Children” sounds like something I would probably read, but “Pit Bull Goes WILD. Attacks Owner and Children” is something everyone would read. The real, obvious, but unspoken undercurrent here is that larger dogs will inflict more damage in the event that they bite. Just like a bigger cookie will make you fatter, and getting hit by a bigger rock would hurt more. It’s common sense, but not so common obviously.
2. Pit Bull is a breed.
I’m sure by now you’ve noticed that I keep calling Stella an American Pit Bull Terrier. Well, the truth is, that is what her breed is called. A ‘pit bull’ is a mixed breed dog with some APBT or other bully dog in their blood OR even a mixed breed dog that has the large blocky head look. ‘pitbull’ is a recording artist, not a dog.
I’d have to do some research but, I’d venture a guess that many/most of the news reports of a ‘pit bull’ attacking someone, were a mixed breed dog who kind of looks like an APBT. I’ve seen it myself, having owned an APBT for the last 10 years, you get good at picking out a mixed breed.
3. ‘Pit Bulls’ have locking jaws.
Let’s talk about the locking jaw! This is a straight up myth. Google it. There have been studies on it, and the findings were basically that there is NO mechanism in the dog’s jaw that allows it to lock. In fact, there is NO mechanism in the American Pit Bull Terrier’s jaw that is any different than any other breed of dog! Boom. How’s that truth bomb taste?
Where does that myth come from? My guess is that because the American Pit Bull Terrier has the Terrier biting style in it’s genetics. Once it bites, it doesn’t let go. Most dogs will bite and re-adjust their bite, while an APBT will bite and hold. The APBT also has determination (the trait called gameness in the dog world) which was bred into it, it’s one of the main features of the breed and it makes them tenacious in everything they do- that includes their bite.
4. They have a 10,000 psi bite.
While we’re debunking biting myths, let’s talk about the 10,000 lbs psi bite force that APBTs supposedly have. Okay, okay, I get it, it sounds cool, we all on some level think it would be really cool to own an alligator. This is a dog. There is absolutely NO way that any dog has a 10,000 psi bite. Maybe the rumour isn’t 10,000 psi, but any number is ridiculous. The human bite force is 120 psi, an APBT registered at 235 psi, a German Shepard clocked in at 238 psi, and a Rottweiler had over 300 psi. Google it! Dr Brady Barr did a study for National Geographic on bite force of many animals.
5. ‘Pit Bulls’ are bred for fighting.
Did you know? American Pit Bull Terriers are actually a descendant of the Bull and Terrier? They were bred between Old English Bulldogs and Old English Terriers. They were bred originally for their tenacity and gameness of the terrier and the strength and athleticism of the bull dog. These dogs were used for bear baiting and bull baiting in the UK in the 1500-1800s. When the bloodsport of bull/ bear baiting was outlawed due to animal cruelty laws, the gamblers turned their attention to rat baiting.
The premise behind rat baiting was basically the same as bear/bull baiting, except in bear/bull baiting the bear or bull was chained in a pit while dogs “worried” it, and were replaced once they were dead or wounded. In rat baiting, the dog was thrown in a pit with rats, and the dog has to kill them – generally a certain number within a certain time. Like bulls, bears, any other animals, and even humans, rats will defend if they feel cornered, leaving many pit dogs injured.
Once rat baiting fell out of favour in 1912, people with nothing better to do and no good sense, turned to dog fighting, turning the poor dogs on one another. Unfortunately, American Pit Bull Terriers have been mistreated throughout their entire history. The traits that make them the dogs they are also make them easy targets for people with less than pure intentions.
It’s easy to see that they WERE bred for fighting. Now a days, APBT dogs are bred for companionship, and for working dogs – such as police dogs, therapy dogs, and catch dogs in farming applications. It’s not hard to see why they are an oft chosen companion pet.
I bring Stella to work with me every day, I’m so fortunate to be able to, and she interacts with different customers ALL day. It’s been a blessing for both of us. I love having her there, and I especially love when people can’t get enough of her – because she’s so charming – and ask me what breed she is, and their surprise that she’s a pure bred American Pit Bull Terrier. She absolutely loves people, especially kids, she will wake from a dead-snoring-sleep when she hears children come in the door.
People are very surprised when I tell them that most APBT are like her, brimming with enthusiasm and eager to please. It’s a breed characteristic. In fact, according to the UKC they will disqualify a dog based on viciousness or extreme shyness. Stella has a zest for life – and she’s been such a light in our lives.
Next time you see a bully, talk to the owner, pet the dog if you can, ask questions. It’s the only way people will stop persecuting this breed because of the bad choices by bad owners.