Bully Breed 411
What you should know about ‘Pit Bulls’…
‘PIT BULL’ IS NOT A BREED. It has become a generic term for any dog with a blocky head, short hair and stocky appearance. According to the National Canine Research Council, breed labels put on dogs by shelter workers and veterinarians are incorrect 85% of the time once the dog is genetically tested. Since more than 44% of the dog population is of mixed ancestry, veterinarians and organizations alike are questioning the merit of breed identification altogether.
But can’t you do genetic testing?
Not for ‘pit bulls’. According to the Wisdom Panel, the world’s leading canine DNA tests,“due to the genetic diversity of this group, we cannot build a DNA profile for the pit-bull…when these types of dogs are tested with Wisdom Panel, we routinely detect various quantities of the component purebred dogs including the American Staffordshire Terrier, Boston Terrier, Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Mastiff, Bullmastiff, Boxer, Bulldog, and various other Terriers.” More or less, pit bulls are all mutts with a similar body type. The bottom line is that all dogs are individuals and should be treated accordingly.
FACT: NO breed is uniform and no one trait will be expressed by every dog within a breed, even if they are similar in appearance.
In fact, when two dogs from different breeds are crossed, the variations in the puppies are extremely versatile. We venture to say that if these puppies ended up at the shelter they would be labeled as ‘pit bull.’ The study above was published in 1965 which proves that we as humans are still labeling dogs based on stereotypes. Unfortunately, this societal practice is costing thousands of dogs their lives, as being labeled a ‘pit bull’ is more times than not, a death sentence. With all that in mind, here’s what is known about dogs of the bully breed which includes, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
Separating the Pit from the Bull.
Not all ‘pit bulls’ were bred to fight. While some American Pit Bull Terriers were bred for this purpose, the American Staffordshire Terrier was not. History shows us that the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier were primarily bred to be ‘game’ which is a term used to describe determination or a working drive. We want to be very clear, gameness does not equal aggressiveness and gameness is only negative when exploited by humans, such as in dogfighting. FACT: a dog can be game and not be aggressive. The innate gameness of the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier is what makes them excellent candidates for both therapy and search and rescue work. The American Staffordshire Terrier, who is grouped under the term ‘pit bull’ was seldom a fighting dog. The AmStaff was originally bred for show due to it’s physique. The truth is that all ‘pit bull’ type dogs today are so far removed from the original breeding lines that is is impossible to make generalizations regarding temperament and behavior.
Common Myths & Misconceptions of the Pit Bull Debunked
Bully breed dogs don’t have a higher pain tolerance. All dogs, even the strongest and most muscular feel as much pain as any other breed or human for that matter. Although dogs express pain differently, there is no medical research to support that ANY one breed of dog feels less pain or is immune to it.
Not all ‘pit bulls’ hate other dogs, just as not all ‘pit bulls’ love other dogs. Dogs, no matter the breed should be supervised, especially when high value treats or possessions are around. Understanding canine body language, dog training basics, and being an educated owner overall are as important with pit bull type dogs as with any other dog.
Bully breed dogs do not have locking jaws. There is nothing physiologically different about the jaws of a pit bull type dog and that of any other canine.
No dog, including pit bulls, are aggressive to by nature. The most recent statistics from the American Temperament Test Society, rank AmStaffs up there with golden retrievers. American Pit Bull Terriers' ranking is even higher with 87.4% of 913 American Pit Bull Terriers passing. In fact, they all did better than collies (80.6 % of 888 collies passed). However, this does not mean that dogs who are poorly trainer, under-socialized, neglected or abused have never caused harm. Understand that this risk is present in ALL breeds who are mistreated.
Not everyone should own a pit bull. And not everyone can drive a stick. All dogs require different things. Some dogs require high levels of exercise and other daily grooming. FACT: pitties are (for the most part) athletic, high energy dogs that thrive in environments where they are engaged and working towards something new.
Large numbers of pit bull type dogs are in the shelters are because they don’t make good family dogs. WRONG! Currently, the American Pit Bull Terrier is listed as one of the top 3 favorite breeds in 28 states in the U.S. Unfortunately their popularity has led to overbreeding and a spike in unwanted litters as a result of failure to spay and neuter. These two factors along with breed-discriminatory legislation (BSL), there has been an influx of pit-bull-like dogs in shelters. We’ll keep saying it… EVERY DOG IS AN INDIVIDUAL, NO MATTER THE BREED. Today, thousands of families in the United States have one or more pit bull type dogs as pets. Some are couch potatoes, some are snuggle bugs, some are service dogs and others are the energy spark that makes life full.