A Field Guide To Pit Bulls: Is This Breed Right For You?

Full disclosure: I would never go near a pit bull, simply because of their reputation. Maybe it’s me being naïve, or maybe it’s totally logical, but with all the stories I have heard on the news about them literally eating children, I’d say my fear might be rational.

I have heard instances of them in my own life from both sides of the spectrum. On one side, a family friend of mine had one, raised it from a very young age, then one day, totally out of the blue, it bit one of their children’s friends and had to be put down. They were devastated. Then on the other side of the spectrum, a friend of mine from high school recently adopted one. She has no idea how old the dog is or what kind of home it came from before she adopted it, but the pooch is as sweet as can be.

So here are the real facts – it’s a learning experience for you and me!

Breed History: Pit bulls are a cross between a bulldog (my personal fave) and a terrier. They were bred with the intention of instilling “gameness” in them – the instinct to fight – to help in catching other dogs, hogs and cattle, and to hunt.

Despite their tendency for violence (a study showed 42 out of 101 dog attacks in 2009 was a pit bull), they are therapy dogs! What is more traumatic than being a Sandy Hook survivor? Any bit of emotional healing will be of great help. Well, soon-to-be fourth grader Emma Wishneski rescued 9-year-old Jeffrey just hours before he was to be put down. They formed an immediate bond. Therapy pit bulls like Jeffrey are helping to take the negative connotations away from the breed. The fact is, they do make great companions! I am now just realizing that we only hear about the “bad dogs” in the news and on the Internet. Despite being responsible for only 4% of dog bite related fatalities in Canada, Winnipeg has BANNED the breed, leaving owners heartbroken and not knowing what to do with their beloved pets.

MYTH: Pit bulls have a locking jaw mechanism. I actually believed this to be true until doing my research for this article. Boy, do I feel taken. They simply have wider and more developed jaw muscles.
The fact is, most attacks happen due to their fierce loyalty and instinct to protect their owners. They are affectionate and lovable. I was attacked by two giant white poodles a little over a year ago. It was horrible and I really thought the dogs that viciously attacked me should have been put down. I still have scars on my arm and leg. I have had laser treatments on them, but they don’t seem to be lightening at all. Dog attacks are a tricky area. If I got attacked by two big fluffy white poodles with bows in their hair, they should be treated the same way as a pit bull attack, right? RIGHT! But they aren’t. Your dog’s behavior is just as much your responsibility as it is the dog’s!

I know I have spoken a lot about the violence of pit bulls in this article; it’s something that cant be ignored. But they are sweet and affectionate! You treat them well, they will treat you well. Just look to Emma, the Sandy Hook survivor’s story.

Did I forget to mention they are SUPER CUTE?!

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