Breed of the Week: American Pit Bull Terrier

This week, in honor of last Saturday’s National Dog Fighting Awareness Day, we’re going to be taking a look at the world’s most demonized and most misunderstood breed of dog, the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Child Girl Female Dog Pet Youth Young Animal

As most Pit Bull owners know, there is a stigma attached to the breed, and many people label it, wrongly, as a dangerous dog.  This can’t be further from the truth.  Pit Bulls are excellent companion animals and are especially great with children.  In fact, after they were no longer used widely as “bait” dogs to bait bulls, nor as farm dogs, they were moved into the house to act as a “nanny” dog because they were so gentle around children.  This is still true today.

Yet because of misinformation and the misuse of the breed by criminally negligent owners, many people fear any dog that looks even remotely like a Pit Bull and in many counties, cities, and even countries there has been legislation passed either restricting the ownership of these dogs or totally banning them.

It’s wrong.  The fault of any attacks or the breeding and use of fighting dogs lies with the owners.  It is not the breed.  It is not the dog.  It is the person/people behind them.  I am a firm believer that there are no bad dogs, only bad people.  They should be the ones that pay the price.

That being said, the Pit Bull is not for first-time dog owners.  They are a powerful breed, can be animal aggressive and, therefore, need lots of socialization and consistent, firm direction.

One myth revolving around the American Pit Bull Terrier is that they have something called the “lock jaw.”  However, they have no mechanism nor enzyme that allows them to lock their jaws.  Their skull and jaw structure are the same as any other dog’s skull and jaw.  It is simply their strength and determination that creates the illusion of the lock jaw.  They do most everything with 100% of their enthusiasm and determination, and that includes holding onto something they don’t want to let go.

Another myth is that Pit Bulls are inherently vicious.  This is a stereotype created by rampant misinformation by the media and the actions of a few bad people.  Pit Bulls are loving, forgiving, devoted, gentle, and intelligent dogs that enjoy life to the fullest.  They maintain their puppy-ish demeanor well into adulthood, which makes them a joy to live with, especially when paired with an active, fun-loving family.


Pit Bull greeting

They are excellent watch dogs but terrible guard dogs as they will enthusiastically greet any person that walks through the door.  Unless they’ve been poorly bred or purposefully trained to do so, Pit Bulls should never harm people.  When they were used for dog fighting and even today when used for illegal dog fighting, a dog that turns and bites their handler was and is highly undesirable.


Two of the traits I find most adorable is their big, goofy Pit Bull grin and their tendency to think they’re lapdogs despite their size.

Pit Bull grin

Pit Bulls excel in competitions such as weight pulling, agility, flyball, lure coursing, and obedience.  They are also excellent working dogs and perform a wide array of jobs including search and rescue, police work, Border Patrol, providing services to the deaf, as well as general service and therapy work.

If you are considering adopting or purchasing an American Pit Bull Terrier, do your research!  This breed is not suited to everyone, and can become aggressive and destructive if not given the right amount of socialization and training.  Also, before purchasing please consider adopting a Pit Bull.  Due to the stigma surrounding these dogs, they are often the first to be put down in shelters and some of the last to be adopted.  If given the right amount of attention, early socialization and continued socialization throughout their life, the right kind of training, and firm and consistent direction, this beautiful breed will show you just how much love they have to give.

Fun Fact:  After a ban on Pit Bulls had been implemented in Ontario, Canada, statistics showed a decrease in dog bites associated with the American Pit Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Terrier breeds.  However, in 2013 and 2014, it showed an overall rise of the number of dog bites despite the ban.  (Take that breed prejudice!)

Do you or have you owned an American Pit Bull Terrier?  Please tell us about him/her in the comments below!  I’d love to hear about your experiences with the breed.

Have suggestions?  Comment below!

Have a breed you’d like to see featured in our next Breed of the Week?  Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

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