If you’ve read anything about pit bulls in recent years, you’ve likely heard that they are incredibly dangerous and are prone to attacking adults and children. Thanks to a lot of negative publicity and a few people’s attempts to use these dogs for fighting, the entire breed has gotten something of a bad reputation. This has led dog owners to shy away from pit bulls, and even potential pit bull owners are skeptical and have questions.
Today we are going to look at pit bulls as a breed, ignoring all the media coverage and rumors, to determine if they are indeed a dangerous breed of dog or if what we’ve been led to believe is untrue.
Temperament and Aggression
Pitbulls have been the subject of extensive research, in part due to their popularity and notoriety. While each breed of pitbull is somewhat different, research suggests that the pitbull over all is more aggressive than many other breeds of dog. This alone is not enough to determine whether all pitbulls are dangerous, however.
Studies show that certain breeds of pitbull are more aggressive than others and that this is tied to generations of selective breeding. Because of their size, stature and generally aggressive nature, pitbulls have been part of dog fighting for many decades. Added to that is that many people selectively breed them to be aggressive as guard dogs. For this reason, modern generations of the pitbull tend to appear overly aggressive and dangerous.
If you’re considering whether or not to own a pitbull, it is important to keep this fact in mind, pitbulls are among a list of breeds that are naturally more aggressive, and this has been heightened by breeding over time. What this means is that while some pitbulls may be aggressive or dangerous, a person will not be able to tell, unless they have an idea of what their breeding history was like. If they come from a family of dogs that were bred for security or fighting, even if that wasn’t part of the current generation, they may carry traits that make them more aggressive.
How Are Pitbulls Around People and Other Dogs?
While the research shows that pitbulls are more aggressive than average, there are also many other dog breeds that are equally, or even more aggressive. But what does being aggressive mean when you actually own a pitbull? Pitbull temperament around other dogs is typically not that aggressive. According to The Law Offices of John Phebus, “Pitbulls are situationally aggressive, meaning the circumstances have to be right for them to become aggressive,” such as they feel themselves or their owner being threatened, being placed in high stress or unusual environments, or in a place which might trigger their aggression.
The same can be said of how pitbulls interact with other humans. If they sense that the other person is calm, they are more likely to remain calm themselves, again, they often react to their environment.
Can Pitbulls Be Family Dogs?
Most folks believe that because of their aggression and temperament that pitbulls aren’t able to be family pets because they may harm children or be too ill tempered to be around a lot of people. While this is certainly the case with some pitbulls, it is not the case with every pitbull. Some breeds of pitbull are more domesticated and much more suited to being part of a family, including being around children.
As we mentioned, even an aggressive pitbull will remain calm unless stressed, so under the right circumstances, it is even possible to make an aggressive pitbull compatible with a family. Proper training and environment can make the difference between a pitbull that is not suited for a family and one that will make an excellent long term pet.
How Do I Make Sure My Pitbull Is Not Aggressive or Dangerous?
There are no guarantees when it comes to picking a new pet, but there are some things you can do to increase the chances of having a less aggressive and more family friendly pitbull.
Buy From a Licensed Breeder
If at all possible when looking for a dog such as a pitbull, you want to make sure you buy from a licensed breeder who has all the necessary paperwork on the dog, including the family history or pedigree. This can be hard to find but is the best way to determine if the dog you are getting has a family history of being bred for fighting or other aggressive behavior. It’s not impossible to correct aggressive behavior, but a dog that comes from a lineage of aggressive dogs is likely to carry those traits as well and it will take extra effort to correct that behavior.
Train Your Dog Early
The sooner you start working with your pup to teach them appropriate behavior, the easier it will be to break them of the habit of getting aggressive towards people and dogs. Pitbulls are highly intelligent dogs and are fully capable of being retrained, even if they come from a history of aggressive behavior.
Starting with a young puppy can be easier, as older dogs are harder to train, though not impossible. Hiring a professional who knows specifically how to deal with dogs with aggressive traits can help the process and make sure that your dog knows the difference between aggressive behavior and acceptable behavior. This can also help you learn if your dog has any particular triggers that may set it off.
While it is true that some pitbulls can be aggressive and dangerous depending on their specific breed and heritage, not all pitbulls are this way. Furthermore, with patience and training it is possible to take even an aggressive pitbull and make them into a family friendly pet.
Doing your research before selecting your dog will help in determining how aggressive of a dog you may have, but professional training is a good idea to correct any negative behaviors the dog may have. Always remember that no matter what type of dog you choose, owning a dog is a long term commitment and a lot of responsibility, so consider all your options before making a choice.