Another year has gone by, it’s October, and it’s Pit Bull Awareness Month! At Rescue Ranch we accept all breeds, we don’t discriminate. And when it comes to pit bull-types, we love ’em! Pit bulls are good dogs in our book. Today, in part one, I’ll try to dispel some common myths about pit bulls to make room for some doggone common sense, which I’ll cover next week, in part two.
Profiling: as bad for dogs as it is for people
Just because a dog looks like a pitty, doesn’t mean it is a pitty. For mixed breeds in particular, guessing ancestry is fun, but we know it’s a crapshoot. It’s also useless for gauging temperament and not a good predictor of behavior. Nevertheless, pit bulls are among the most misidentified dogs in rescue.
Many so-called pitties have little or no “pit bull-type” DNA. This is relevant because if a misidentified individual behaves in an “undesirable” way, it reinforces misconceptions about pit bulls. It’s also relevant because regardless of the dog’s good behavior, in an unfriendly environment, a pit bull label could land it on the kill list.
As the Animal Farm Foundation’s infographic states, dogs are individuals. If a dog is treated as an individual, then ancestry or breed prejudices don’t enter into the calculus. That has certainly been our experience here at Rescue Ranch.
Let’s debunk some pit bull myths
- Pit bulls are a “naturally aggressive” breed.
First, “pit bull” is not a breed. It is a class of dog, or an umbrella term, that most commonly includes four breeds: The American Bully(UKC), American pit bull terrier(UKC), American Staffordshire terrier (AKC), Staffordshire bull terrier(AKC). Some advocates add bull terriers, American bulldogs and, very occasionally, even boxers to the list. Second, there is no “naturally aggressive” breed of dog.
- Pit bulls are more dangerous than other dogs
We have found that, as a group, “pit bull-types” are no more dangerous or reactive than other dogs that come through Rescue Ranch. Statistically, pit bulls are responsible for fewer bites than many breeds, and they’ve scored better on temperament tests than golden retrievers! Yes, they tend to be muscular and strong. Some variants are also athletic and high energy. They can be dog reactive. But these qualities are shared by many breeds. A well-socialized, confident, ideally neutered, pit bull is no more reactive than any other dog.
- Pit bulls have locking jaws and the strongest bite.
There’s no such thing. And, no.
- Their brains don’t stop growing and it makes them vicious.
Do I really need to say it? No.
- They were bred as nanny dogs
No. They were never nanny dogs. They do, however, tend to be people oriented.
- Pit bulls need “tough” training.
No. Some dogs require a firm but gentle guiding hand and a commanding voice, because they’re high energy or lack focus, but pit bulls are not especially difficult in this regard. Different individuals respond to different inducements. Kindness always applies.
- Pit bulls are not affectionate.
Not true. Pit bulls are often very gentle and demonstrative. Not all dogs are lap dogs, but they can all show affection. We just need to know how to read them.
In conclusion, pit bulls are good dogs, and they don’t deserve their bad rep. As with all dogs, what is required is some doggone common sense, and that’s what we’ll cover next week!