5 Pitbull Misconceptions | How Much Damage Are They Doing?
Pitbull misconceptions are destructive to the breed, leading us to one simple fact. Few dog breeds can stir up such intense feelings as that of Pitbulls.
For most people, the American Pit Bull Terrier and related breeds are big, scary dogs that are aggressive and dangerous. Statistically, those who had a personal experience with an aggressive Pitbull have the strongest opinion.
On the other hand, there is a significant and growing group of dog lovers who appreciate the Pitbull for its warm and loving personality. While its vicious reputation has been hard to overcome for many, the evidence is mounting that these dogs are as friendly and caring as any other pup.
Here are five of the most common misunderstandings people have about Pitbulls that have been found to be untrue.
#1 Pitbull Misconceptions – Quick to Bite
Many individuals who have spent time around dogs have had a pup snap at them. You are petting your furry friend, usually with your attention elsewhere, and everyone is happy. Suddenly, the puppy twists around and barks or growls at you, or maybe even snaps. Most often, it was startled by something and reacted without thinking.
That reaction instantly turns a dog from calm friendliness to dangerous aggression, especially when it has as nasty of a reputation as the Pitbull does. And in dogs that have been treated poorly or severely abused, it’s a reaction that is much more likely to be dangerous.
When an attack does happen, the Pitbull’s hostility is always said to be caused by their notoriously aggressive nature. However, while there may be a higher rate of Pitbull attacks, that is most likely because there is a larger population of homeless, abused, and poorly cared for Pitbulls than any other breed. In reality, those who have been cared for properly are not very aggressive towards humans.
It’s true that Pitbulls were bred to be fighting dogs in the past, but they have never been bred to attack people. When such attack happens, there is almost always other factors influencing the dog’s behavior.
Pitbulls are intelligent dogs, one of the smartest dog breeds there is. But like any other dog, they have to be taught how to behave. Any dog that is well treated and well trained will usually be affectionate and friendly. Any dog that has been poorly treated, Pitbull or not, will be dangerous.
#2 Pitbull Misconceptions – Too Aggressive For Families
With the reputation Pitbulls have, it’s no wonder they’re not considered suitable dogs for certain families. You don’t want to bring a dangerous animal into a home with children or pet family members.
Truthfully, Pitbulls have a high prey drive for anything that moves quickly. Therefore, they may not be the best choice for families if they’re not used to young children, running toddlers, cats or other pets.
But, the same could be said of any big dog that has similar instincts. Pitbulls are not alone in needing special attention when introducing them to children or other pets. You should never leave your child alone with a dog that is new to the family. Plus it’s wise to make sure a dog will at least tolerate other animals before bringing them into a newly crowded home.
As with any other type of dog, early training and treatment can make a big difference. A dog that was socialized with children at a young age is more likely to behave well around them. The same is true for dogs raised around cats and other pets. Dogs will consider them part of the pack, rather than as strange and a potential prey.
A recent study compared Pitbulls to Golden Retrievers, generally regarded retrievers as one of the most family-friendly dog breeds there is. The study found that Pitbulls behaved just as well as Retrievers in every way. The study found the Pit suitable for families that were looking for a dog.
#3 Pitbull Misconceptions – Hard to Train
Training obviously makes a big different in how Pitbulls behave later in life. You may have heard that they’re difficult to train; maybe that’s why they have run into trouble and gotten such a bad reputation. In reality, Pitbulls are one of the easiest dog breeds to train. They’re smart, strong, and have the instinct to work.
The combination of intelligence and strong work ethics make this breed perfect for a lot of roles. In some places, Pitbulls are used as service or therapy dogs helping disabled folks, and they’re also becoming more common as police dogs.
A Pitbull named Sergeant Stubby was famously the most decorated dog of World War I. He learned to warn his platoon of gas attacks and helped find wounded soldiers on the battlefield.
#4 Pitbull Misconceptions – They Cannot Be Rehabilitated
It’s an unfortunate reality that many dogs have been severely abused and poorly treated. Many, or perhaps even most, of those dogs in the United States are Pitbulls. They are popular in low-income areas and have been one of the most common breeds for dog fighting.
Once rescued, an abused dog may require a great deal of love and special attention before they can handle stressful situations. However, similar to veterans with PTSD, they can become loving, trustworthy pets once they become trustworthy once again.
A recent documentary, called “The Champions,” was about some of the most famous fighting Pitbulls. The documentary shows the story of how a group of the Pitbulls rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring were rehabilitated after their rescue, many becoming family pets.
Thankfully, it’s becoming more common to place dogs rescued from bad situations with groups able to care for them. Many of the dogs that these organizations help recover will a become happy dogs and loving family members.
#5 Pitbull Misconceptions – They Have Always Been Bad
Pitbulls have an affectionate and intelligent nature. Pete the Pup from the Little Rascals was a pit bull, and they were popular in ads for decades.
But in the 1980s, there was a resurgence of dog fighting in the United States. Pitbulls regained their reputation as fighting dogs, becaming popular with gang members and drug dealers.
It’s this more recent association that has led to Pitbulls being labeled as dangerous dogs. It’s an undeserved reputation for an affectionate, hard working, and smart dog breed.
Pitbulls have a bad reputation and they are suffering for it. That is a shame because they are amazing dogs when well treated.
Many people are working to improve the Pitbulls’ image, though, and soon they may just be seen as another dog breed, ready to be your friend and join your family.
About The Author
Alexandra Seagal is dedicated to helping people become more knowledgeable pet owners through the information provided on her website, Animalso.com. When she isn’t working on her next pet-themed article or answering questions from her website’s community, Alexandra is busy being owned by her two dogs, one cat, and one adorable hamster.
Linked PitBull sources
Huffington Post – Myths, Lies and Misconceptions: The Life of a Pit Bull Advocate
National Geographic – The Truth About Pit Bulls
Humane Society – Pit Bull Myths
WayCoolDogs – Myths About Pit Bulls and Greyhounds
WayCoolDogs – Legalities of Owning a Vicious Dog
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