The Truth About Pit Bulls.

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#1
What is the truth about pit bulls? I know in the media they are portrayed as horrible dogs, but what are their real personalities? I'm hoping to adopt a pit bull boy soon, so I want to hear the real story.
 
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#2
they're like every other dog. There's stable temperaments, there's unstable temperaments and everything in between. some like other dogs, some hate other dogs, some like other people, some hate other people. Some are active, some are lazy. Some bark, some don't. and on and on. They're a larger terrier, so they can be driven and focused and strong. Couple that with an unstable temperament or a dislike for other animals or dogs and you better be prepared to handle that. But put it with a stable temperament and you've got a great family companion. About like every other dog.
 
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#3
Basically what RTH said.

I've been involved in pit bull rescue for about 6 years and they are such a varied group of dogs you can find just about anything in individuals - physically or temperamentally.

When it comes down to it, they are just dogs - a few will be unpleasant to live with or downright dangerous, but most won't ever be a problem - just like other breeds. Some are very 'easy' and laid back, some are firecrackers and are better for more experienced handlers. And there's everything in the middle.

Have fun with your new pup! :)
 

milos_mommy

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I've written a number of papers on why pit bulls are portrayed the way they are in the media, and their temperaments as backed by scientific studies, if you're interested.

Pit bulls tend to score higher on temperament testing than many popular breeds such as cocker spaniels, golden retrievers, beagles, border collies, etc. That's not necessarily to say they're better or worse or less or more aggressive than those breeds, but it should give you a good idea of how they stand scientifically and temperamentally, in general, compared to other breeds. Basically, they're just like any other dog, as a whole.

They CAN have tendencies to not get along with other animals, or have high prey drive, as ALL terriers do (some more than others). I find this, oddly, to be more true in the southern US and rural areas. I often hear friends/dog people in southern shelters say that pit bulls rarely get along with other dogs. Up here, most, I'd say at least half, are totally fine with other dogs, and the majority do ok with other dogs when properly introduced.

They are very powerful, and can be large. People will often say they have "locking jaws" or the most powerful bite of any dog or something else untrue. What is true, is that they're tenacious and stubborn, and, again, like all terriers, can be difficult to deter when something is on their mind (like fighting another dog or chasing a biker or something).

They are probably the most popular breed in America, though as most are unregistered, you won't find that in statistics. That said...they aren't a single breed. Most people talking about "pit bulls" are talking about American Pit Bull Terriers, but it also encompasses Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and sometimes breeds like American Bulldogs. A lot of their bad media rep comes from people confusing breeds in things like medical reports, news articles, and shelters. And many pit bulls in shelters are a mix of those breeds, or others.

Because of the above, there is a huge range in their physicality and personality. They can range (as far as general "pit bulls", particularly in shelters) from like 30 lbs to 70 lbs, easily). Some are EXTREMELY high energy with strong terrier tendencies, like prey drive...some are really really mellow and great with small animals. Usually they'll fall somewhere in the middle.

Adult rescues are often acceptable for first time owners, but I would use caution in picking a dog, especially from a larger shelter. Foster care would be good. With a puppy, predict they will end up DA and unsuitable for other animals, or at least have them evaluated by a good trainer beforehand to look for potential signs of DA, and know it's never a guarantee. I've heard people site dogs suddenly becoming DA at 5 or 6 or 10 years old, but I've honestly never seen it firsthand without warning signs. Unfortunately, most people who haven't worked with dogs a lot (and some who have) are unable to recognize those signs.

They can have issues with things like bikes, joggers, skateboards, etc...so that's something to be aware of and provide socialization with.

They love to cuddle and don't usually know how big they are. They tend to love people, A LOT. They're pretty silly and usually if they make you laugh, they'll keep doing whatever it is to get you to keep laughing. They're known to be good with kids, but younger dogs or poorly socialized dogs can accidentally hurt a kid by playing rough (I think that goes for all breeds but people tend to freak out a lot more if a APBT jumps on a kid and grabs their clothes than if a lab does).

BSL is a really prominent issue, so if you rent or ever plan on renting, look into laws in your areas and keep up to date on them because they can change and cause a LOT of heartbreak. Especially with breeds like that, I recommend completing a training class and trying to get a CGC. As the owner of a breed with a bad rap you have an immense responsibility to make sure your dog is an excellent canine example, and be extra sure they never do anything that can be pinned on the breed, like getting into a dog fight at a dog park or escaping and chasing your neighbor's skateboarding kid.

Health issues: allergies, epilepsy....depending on the dog's structure, elbow and hip dysplasia.
 

Torch

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#5
I've written a number of papers on why pit bulls are portrayed the way they are in the media, and their temperaments as backed by scientific studies, if you're interested.

Pit bulls tend to score higher on temperament testing than many popular breeds such as cocker spaniels, golden retrievers, beagles, border collies, etc. That's not necessarily to say they're better or worse or less or more aggressive than those breeds, but it should give you a good idea of how they stand scientifically and temperamentally, in general, compared to other breeds. Basically, they're just like any other dog, as a whole.

They CAN have tendencies to not get along with other animals, or have high prey drive, as ALL terriers do (some more than others). I find this, oddly, to be more true in the southern US and rural areas. I often hear friends/dog people in southern shelters say that pit bulls rarely get along with other dogs. Up here, most, I'd say at least half, are totally fine with other dogs, and the majority do ok with other dogs when properly introduced.

They are very powerful, and can be large. People will often say they have "locking jaws" or the most powerful bite of any dog or something else untrue. What is true, is that they're tenacious and stubborn, and, again, like all terriers, can be difficult to deter when something is on their mind (like fighting another dog or chasing a biker or something).

They are probably the most popular breed in America, though as most are unregistered, you won't find that in statistics. That said...they aren't a single breed. Most people talking about "pit bulls" are talking about American Pit Bull Terriers, but it also encompasses Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and sometimes breeds like American Bulldogs. A lot of their bad media rep comes from people confusing breeds in things like medical reports, news articles, and shelters. And many pit bulls in shelters are a mix of those breeds, or others.

Because of the above, there is a huge range in their physicality and personality. They can range (as far as general "pit bulls", particularly in shelters) from like 30 lbs to 70 lbs, easily). Some are EXTREMELY high energy with strong terrier tendencies, like prey drive...some are really really mellow and great with small animals. Usually they'll fall somewhere in the middle.

Adult rescues are often acceptable for first time owners, but I would use caution in picking a dog, especially from a larger shelter. Foster care would be good. With a puppy, predict they will end up DA and unsuitable for other animals, or at least have them evaluated by a good trainer beforehand to look for potential signs of DA, and know it's never a guarantee. I've heard people site dogs suddenly becoming DA at 5 or 6 or 10 years old, but I've honestly never seen it firsthand without warning signs. Unfortunately, most people who haven't worked with dogs a lot (and some who have) are unable to recognize those signs.

They can have issues with things like bikes, joggers, skateboards, etc...so that's something to be aware of and provide socialization with.

They love to cuddle and don't usually know how big they are. They tend to love people, A LOT. They're pretty silly and usually if they make you laugh, they'll keep doing whatever it is to get you to keep laughing. They're known to be good with kids, but younger dogs or poorly socialized dogs can accidentally hurt a kid by playing rough (I think that goes for all breeds but people tend to freak out a lot more if a APBT jumps on a kid and grabs their clothes than if a lab does).

BSL is a really prominent issue, so if you rent or ever plan on renting, look into laws in your areas and keep up to date on them because they can change and cause a LOT of heartbreak. Especially with breeds like that, I recommend completing a training class and trying to get a CGC. As the owner of a breed with a bad rap you have an immense responsibility to make sure your dog is an excellent canine example, and be extra sure they never do anything that can be pinned on the breed, like getting into a dog fight at a dog park or escaping and chasing your neighbor's skateboarding kid.

Health issues: allergies, epilepsy....depending on the dog's structure, elbow and hip dysplasia.
Everything else was good info except what I bolded. The term pit bull should only be applied to the American Pit Bull Terrier, the other breeds should be classified as bull breeds. It's not an umbrella term for those breeds; it should only be associated with the APBT to clarify all the confusion between the breeds.

On a side note, probably the reason more pit bull mixes up north are more dog friendly is because many of them are American bully mixes, which are somewhat less DA. Also, in the south, there are many more old school game lines still being bred and hunted with, which is keeping that hotter, more DA temperament alive.
 

Brattina88

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#6
Everything else was good info except what I bolded. The term pit bull should only be applied to the American Pit Bull Terrier, the other breeds should be classified as bull breeds. It's not an umbrella term for those breeds; it should only be associated with the APBT to clarify all the confusion between the breeds.

On a side note, probably the reason more pit bull mixes up north are more dog friendly is because many of them are American bully mixes, which are somewhat less DA. Also, in the south, there are many more old school game lines still being bred and hunted with, which is keeping that hotter, more DA temperament alive.

Should be. But they're not.
 

Torch

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#7
What is the truth about pit bulls? I know in the media they are portrayed as horrible dogs, but what are their real personalities? I'm hoping to adopt a pit bull boy soon, so I want to hear the real story.
If you've gotta ask, you probably don't need one lol.

They are not a good beginner dog, especially a purebred APBT. I don't trust anyone other than my husband and few very close friends to handle my boy. He's a fantastic dog, but incredibly strong, stubborn, and dog aggressive, with energy to boot. He's also got prey drive out the wazoo. He killed a 15 pound raccoon a couple of weeks ago without batting an eye. Fight was over in about 4 seconds. He caught it and snapped its neck before it even had a chance to defend itself. Just a typical day in the life lol.
 

milos_mommy

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#9
If you go into any shelter around here, there are dozens of dogs labelled "pit bull terrier" or "pit bull mix" and I guarantee a good percentage are purely staffy or am bull or have no APBT in them.

Even if you're looking up pit bull history or something, many of those dogs are various other similar breeds. Most people will use the term "pit bull" and mean it as a type or a couple of breeds, whether it's technically correct or not, people who say "pit bulls" aren't usually only talking about APBTs.
 

joce

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#11
If you've gotta ask, you probably don't need one lol.

They are not a good beginner dog, especially a purebred APBT. I don't trust anyone other than my husband and few very close friends to handle my boy. He's a fantastic dog, but incredibly strong, stubborn, and dog aggressive, with energy to boot. He's also got prey drive out the wazoo. He killed a 15 pound raccoon a couple of weeks ago without batting an eye. Fight was over in about 4 seconds. He caught it and snapped its neck before it even had a chance to defend itself. Just a typical day in the life lol.
My husky pulled one out of the brush by the woods and there was no fight, one hiss and snap. But then again I think a husky is not for most people!! Any breed with that prey drive is going to be that way. Cat, another dog, neighbors farm animals etc. could get you and your dog in trouble.

What brattina is referring to is every bully looking dog in a shelter up here is labeled pit. It's also the in thing for everyone to "rescue" a pit it seems.
 

Torch

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#12
My husky pulled one out of the brush by the woods and there was no fight, one hiss and snap. But then again I think a husky is not for most people!! Any breed with that prey drive is going to be that way. Cat, another dog, neighbors farm animals etc. could get you and your dog in trouble.

What brattina is referring to is every bully looking dog in a shelter up here is labeled pit. It's also the in thing for everyone to "rescue" a pit it seems.
Gotcha.

Really, all it takes though is people being educated a little bit. You don't see people calling a dog that looks like a lab mix a labrador. They say lab mix because that's all they've ever heard. So if we stop saying pit bull and instead say pit bull mix or bull breed mix, it should catch on. The umbrella term needs to go away.
 

Sweet72947

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#13
I'm currently petsitting my friend's pit bull mix while he's on vacation for his birthday. Her name is Mama and I used to think I wanted a pit bull type one day, but now I don't think I really do. She's very sweet, and really quite overly friendly. She does chew things she shouldn't if you don't pay attention (which isn't something I can't handle, Norris does that too) and I wouldn't say she really needs tons of exercise. Mama is just SO over the top with her energy though in that when she's happy she's REALLY REALLY HAPPY!!!!!!! Every person is a friend and she's like "HAI YOU'RE MY BEST FRIEND I LOVE YOU IMMA WAG AND LICK AND JUMP ALL AROUND YOU AND NEARLY PASS OUT WITH HAPPINESS!!!!!"

With Norris, Mama is just SO in his face going PLAYPLAYPLAYPLAY that it's just too overwhelming and he ends up yelling at her like bitch GTFO and she doesn't understand why he won't be her friend. So I am not really letting them interact much.

People rag on labs for being too exciteable all the time but dang this pit bull mix is just as nuts! :yikes: (I think she's mixed with American Bulldog, she looks nothing like a lab fyi :p).
 

milos_mommy

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Really, all it takes though is people being educated a little bit. You don't see people calling a dog that looks like a lab mix a labrador. They say lab mix.
Uhhh, I do. I literally hear people call anything that remotely resembles a hound a beagle.

It's just not reality that the term pit bull isn't used generally, the same way "hound" or "shepherd" is used. Whether it's correct or not, when people ask about "pit bulls" they're not typically asking about only APBTs, because if they were, they'd specify. People asking about pit bulls are asking in the sense that they've seen in shelters, or in the media, or people who adopted a staffy and was told it's a "pit bull" or "pit bull mix", so that's what they tell their neighbors.

They are REALLY happy and excitable and can be overwhelming for a lot of people. You really need to be able to teach a dog manners and social skills and enforce boundaries with these dogs. And tolerate being stepped on and sat on and licked and jumped on while you're working on it.

These aren't dogs that will drop a toy at your feet or nudge it into your hand if you want to play. They will shove it into your face, repeatedly, with their paws on your shoulders and every inch of them possible touching you. Some people are not fans of that, lol.
 

kady05

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#15
These aren't dogs that will drop a toy at your feet or nudge it into your hand if you want to play. They will shove it into your face, repeatedly, with their paws on your shoulders and every inch of them possible touching you. Some people are not fans of that, lol.
Eh, that's just being rude. I have 3 in my house and none of them do anything like that because they know that doesn't fly here.

I'm with Torch on the mislabeling. I hate seeing every.freaking.dog labeled as a "Pit Bull". They aren't. And the more people continue to use the term to label every shelter dog with a big head, the more the public continues to think that every dog with a big head is a "Pit Bull". It's why BSL exists. I realize it's highly unlikely to change, but one can dream.

Anyway. I have 2 Amstaffs who are from breeders (they are NOT Staffy's, that's the shorthand for an SBT) and one mutt. If asked what she is, I refer to her as a mutt first, but if the issue is pressed I call her a Pit Bull mix or a Bull breed mix (depends on who I'm talking to really).

*My* particular dogs would just fine as first time dogs. They are all ridiculously "easy"; no DA/AA, low energy (they'll go if I want them too, but they're totally fine with sleeping most of the day), etc. Piper is stupid happy if new people come around and can be obnoxious, but if they listen to me and completely ignore her for 5min. she's fine. If they don't listen and try to pet her, they might end up with a broken nose from her jumping on them to lick their face ;) My boys are a bit more reserved/mannerly.

That being said, anyone getting into the breed needs to be prepared for DA/AA, high energy, stubborn, etc. Puppies are crap shoots, especially a shelter dog since you have nothing to compare them to.
 

milos_mommy

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#16
Eh, that's just being rude. I have 3 in my house and none of them do anything like that because they know that doesn't fly here.
Yeah but if you didn't teach them not to, wouldn't they try? ;)

My point is, they're physically affectionate and sometimes rambunctious dogs, moreso than a lot of breeds. If you're unable to or unwilling to set strong boundaries and you don't want to tolerate violation of personal space, they're probably not the breed for you.
 

kady05

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#18
Yeah but if you didn't teach them not to, wouldn't they try? ;)

My point is, they're physically affectionate and sometimes rambunctious dogs, moreso than a lot of breeds. If you're unable to or unwilling to set strong boundaries and you don't want to tolerate violation of personal space, they're probably not the breed for you.
Physically affectionate for sure, these guys definitely aren't aloof or standoffish (and if they are, that is not correct for the breed) by any means. Mine routinely will all try to fit into my 1/2 bath while I go pee LOL. So correct, if you're not into dogs who *want* to be with you then you definitely won't be happy with one.
 

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