The Pit-Bull Problem

You know, I remember now. At the beginning when my pit was old enough, I tried a test on her. I had my dad come over to me and pretend he was violently attacking me. I started screaming and went into a fetal position. Just to see how my dog would react.

So Deenie came running into the kitchen area to see what all the fuss was about and saw my dad “attacking” me and me screaming. The dog jumped on my dad and started licking him because she wanted to be in on the play too.

The experiment failed miserably, which was a wonderful thing. About the only time anyone really thought she was attacking was when a mailman had gotten out of his truck and went into my front yard and I had let her out to the bathroom with my two chihuahuas in the back yard. She saw he was coming and ran as fast as she could to greet him. I knew she wouldn’t hurt him, and he knew her since she was about a 1lb pup. Yet, he flew into his truck and if looks could kill I think I’d be dead by now.

She was playing, and a pit bull running towards something to play is often indistinguishable from a pit bull running towards something to attack. I don’t blame that mailman at all. I think I would have done exactly the same with a pit bull I didn’t know anything about. After that I’d kept a closer watch on her when I took her out. Just because she was a friendly pit doesn’t mean that people wouldn’t think she wasn’t attacking. I myself didn’t trust her around anyone… not because she was mean, but I didn’t trust the person that may have deduced she was a “loaded gun”. That person would have been unpredictable, much more than my dog.

That said. Yes, around any pit bull I’m very cautious. I’d been attacked by a husky and an akita in the past, and got a real nasty bite by a lhasa apso. So knowing that people deliberately breed nasty pits and then train them to fight I could only surmise that whatever pit I’d see was one of the bad ones. But no, not all pits are bad and as an ex-dog trainer, dog groomer and vet tech, I can say that with relative certainty. However, I suppose regionally that may be a different story. It is concievable that in certain areas of the country pits in general are not the best breed in the world to get simply because of the people in that particular area that breed and/or train those dogs. Thankfully I have not yet run into that.


Perhaps the really devoted pit bull breeders found me easy to convince. But to some extent they did. Lots of breeds were bred to fight. I have two of the least dangerous Great Pyrenees anybody ever saw, but Great Pyrenees were bred to fight with wolves and bears, of all things. (I got them to keep coyotes away, and they do.) They’re both big, dumb and friendly, though they’re astoundingly fast on their feet and could be on a person two blocks away before a pit bull could have covered half a block. Pyrenees need a lot of room, though, and I live in the country, so they have it. Maybe if one was cooped up in some little yard, with no coyotes to chase at night, it would go stir crazy and get aggressive toward people. I don’t know.

But one thing the “purist” pit bull breeders all said was that the breed (except for the “good, original” blood lines, of course) has been ruined by unscrupulous breeders who select for aggressiveness toward humans instead of against it, or who just breed for numbers and don’t do any selection at all. I’m inclined to believe that. At one time the pit bull was considered the “Great American Dog”, back when there were few laws against allowing dogs to roam at large, and certainly none outlawing particular breeds. If you look at really old magazines, pit bulls are everywhere in them. There is more than one kind of “original pit bull” so sometimes they’re not so easy to recognize as pit bulls. But the “Little Rascals’” dog was a pit bull. My guess is that people must have considered them a good “kids’ dog” back then and reacted favorably to seeing it in a movie with kids. Otherwise, they would never have had those kids playing around with a pit bull onscreen. Hard to realize that now. The RCA Victor dog was a pit bull too, though of a different sub-breed from the “Little Rascals’” dog. They would never have put that dog on their logo if people then thought of them as killers. Never.

I think things have changed with that breed. Of course, that’s no consolation to anyone who is attacked by one. Still, I suspect that if a person got one from a good, respectable breeder who really is dedicated to the breed, and raised it properly, it wouldn’t be a danger at all.

Oh yes. (Shouldn’t have started down Memory Lane) In old, old National Geographics, which I greatly enjoyed reading in my grandmother’s house as a kid, the “New” “Modern” oil-burning stove is advertised a lot back in the twenties and thirties. Instead of the nasty old coal-burning furnace that had to be filled and shaken and cleaned, there was this picture of the “modern” oil-burner. To emphasize its convenience, the ads bore the phrase “The pup is the furnace man”, and so, right next to the picture of the furnace is a complacent-looking family dog. A pit bull.

Whether it’s an owner problem or a pit bull problem, a simple google search for pit bull attacks will unearth a host of maimings and killing of people–mostly children–by dogs. It’s a more violent society, and that seems to have been passed along to our animals, and they don’t even watch violent TV shows.

Wolf Hybrids are no more dangerous than pit bulls… But they require a stronger dominance by the owner than most dogs.

People forget that any dog, under the right circumstances, can go off.
People usually don’t worry about beagles or toy poodles, but even they are potentially dangerous. (My daughter was attacked by a beagle. The owner was underemployed, asinine, and violent. The dog has since been terminated.)

Pits and Wolf Hybrids are more dangerous mostly due to a combination of powerful dog and short-fuses, plus strong dominance drive. Plus pitts are nearly impossible to get to let go once they latch on.

I think dog ownership is a case where a license should be required of the owner.

The RCA Victor Dog was named Nipper and was part Staffordshire bull terrier and part Fox Terrier. The dog Pete on the Little Rascals was an American Staffordshire Terrier.

Having been around a few pit bulls the last thing one would do is let them roam free. In two of the attacks I mentioned the dogs saw people running and went berserk trying to chase them - both jumped 4’ high fences and chased the runners. One saved himself by jumping in the back of a pickup and kicking the dogs as they tried to jump in with him, the others were backed off by a man on a bicycle that kept it between him and the dogs. In the third attack (Chow and Pit Bull) a farmer was in his field and got off his tractor to adjust the implement he was pulling. He was attacked while lying on the ground making the adjustment - he had no idea the dogs were anywhere around - they were over 1/2 mile away from their home.

After almost forty years of showing dogs and being around dogs of all breeds, I must respectfully disagree. Genetics has much to do with it and I agree with those who breed “pit bulls” (not an AKC recognized breed) that the original breed has been ruined. Far too many people get two dogs, throw them out in the backyard and have a litter of puppies. There is no concern for the temperaments of these dogs, no concern for any health problems that might be in the background, etc., and certainly no concern about what kinds of homes these puppies are placed. These people, IMO, are not breeders, they are mini puppy mills.

When one gets a family dog, much more attention to the original purpose of the breed one is considering needs to be taken into account. A cute puppy, and I maintain that all puppies are cute, are not necessarily going to grow up to be good family dogs, much less cute. It is a matter of educating people when they get a dog. If this were the case, there would be far fewer dogs in shelters to be euthanized.

Staffordshire bull terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers are among those dogs generically referred to as “pit bulls”. “Pit bull” is not actually a recognized separate breed, but is a term applied to a number of dogs having genetics in common with both bulldogs and terriers.

I am generally aware that Chows can be vicious. There is always a potential for trouble when dogs run together. They will often do, jointly, what one dog alone will not do. Most hounds, for example, are generally not considered particularly hazardous dogs. But I have seen them “pack together” and kill livestock, whereas hounds are generally not interested in livestock normally. I have been chased by hounds when I was a kid, more than once.

I still think something bad has happened to the breeds generically referred to as “pit bulls”. Whether it’s breeding, the conditions under which they’re raised, or whatever, they were not always considered hazards to humanity the way they are now. Quite possibly the vets I have talked to about pit bulls, being country vets, have opinions different from those of city vets. But the ones I have talked to say pit bulls are no more vicious than any other dogs, less so than some, and differ from others mainly in their relative imperviousness to pain. Of course, they’re dealing with the pit bulls owned by people who care enough about them to take them to the vet, and one may reasonably assume their rearing is superior to that of some.

I once owned a dog that was obviously at least part “pit bull”, or my son did, actually. He wouldn’t tolerate other dogs coming around at all, and was ferocious in that regard. But he never attacked a human or even offered to do it. Lived a remarkably long life for a dog. I do remember that.

Most people forget that dogs are dogs. They are not human. Raising a puppy is not time out when they misbehave. Certain puppy behaviors might seem cute, but with no proper correction, it can be detrimental later on. I have great success with three of my livestock guarding dogs. One of them is over 200 lbs, big boned giant. The other two are about 150 lbs. Now, they are mature. They are very sweet, protective of my family and my property. They will confront and neutralize threats if given opportunity. What I like about sheepdogs is that they are gentle and caring. They love kids of all kinds. They never jump on me or display separation anxiety. If they are in guarding posture, they don’t even care to look at me when I call them. They’re doing their job which is what matters.

There have been 20 deaths due to dog attacks in 2009 - so far 7 have been by pitbulls, most by animals that had never shown agression towards people in past.

I am afraid of dogs and I have been most of my life. :frowning: Funny thing though, I would like to not be afraid of them. I like watching dog shows, and particularly like Cesar Milan the Dog Whisperer. )

He is able to handle problem dogs, and he seems successful often.

The problem is, many dog owners are not Cesar Milan. they don’t know how to handle the dog’s behavior. They don’t have the proper training to deal with problem breeds.

A pit bull is a strong, determined dog. Their jaws are very strong, and lock when they bite. They need consistant, firm training. All the owners are not doing that.

It’s one thing to have an ill trained pitbull, than an ill trained chiuauaua.

And I’m not sure that when they do attack it’s “Oh, he’s never done anything like this” from watching the “Dog Whisperer” Dogs give clues on when they are being dominant and aggressive, the ones that do attack probably gave signs that the owners did not or would not see.



Oh, this is so true!!
I can remember my grandmother saying to me (as she cleaned me up after a nip by our own cockappoo), “She’s is just a dog. She is not human. You have to remember that she is only an animal”.

That said, I would point out the big difference between a pit bull and my aforementioned dog: Size and strength. Buttons weighed about 10 pounds soaking wet. I have no statistics on the pounds per square inch jaw strength of a cockappoo, but I know that my grandmother unlatched her from my arm with no trouble, and the worst thing I had to endure was the tetanus shot…A pit bull? I might very well not be here writing this.
I speak as someone who had neighbors a few years back who had pit bulls. Even if they don’t bite (which thank God they didn’t), being knocked on the ground, shoved face first into the back end of your own car, and being trapped against the back wall of the house, screaming for help while the dog “guarded me” [as in, :eek:snarled & :eek:snapped every time I tried to step into my own back door].

I used to feed the bull on my uncle’s farm fresh wild flowers out of my hands, & scratch his face (while he was safely confined behind bars).** It would never occur to me that silly old Johnny was anything like the Miuras who have been bred for generations for the Spanish bullfight**; and I bet that a lot of folk who talk about “sweet” pit bulls who wouldn’t care to try that either.
And that is, you know, the real comparison. Not to other breeds of dog so much; but compare them to other kinds of animals who have been bred for aggression.


[quote=Mary Gail 36]It’s one thing to have an ill trained pitbull, than an ill trained chiuauaua.

I was once nipped by a relative’s chihuahua; I have had worse damage from sewing on a button without a thimble…a drop of blood following the “oops!”, & that was that.

And I’m not sure that when they do attack it’s “Oh, he’s never done anything like this” from watching the “Dog Whisperer” Dogs give clues on when they are being dominant and aggressive, the ones that do attack probably gave signs that the owners did not or would not see.

Yes, you are so right!! A lot of people who have strong, aggressive dogs don’t want to admit that they are in over their heads… leading to even more attacks. Its truly:( sad and even more frightening.

The problem is most of the people that have chosen a pit bull as a pet didn’t choose them because they wanted a docile loving dog.

I have trouble with this issue.

I know there are some great pitbulls out there, and I’d hate to have them put down and jump to hysterical conclusions. But honestly, it’s not the owner. It’s the breed. In our desire to see everyone as “equal” we claim genetics play zero role in anything, I guess. Different dog breeds have different temperaments. Is that true of every single dog in that breed? No. But pitbulls were bred to fight, and they are just too strong and powerful. If my tiny schnoodle flipped out, you wouldn’t need more than a few stitches. With a pitbull, it’s much more serious.

And yes, just like with people, there are good pitbulls and bad pitbulls. But with people, they can (barring mental illness), think things out, and we can have a decent idea of how they are going to behave. Dogs, through no fault of their own, don’t have that ability to reason as well as we do. They attack not to be mean, but because something instinctual was triggered etc. We have no way of knowing when something could set them off, even if they’ve never been violent. In most cases, dogs never will be violent. But on the off chance they are, they are way more physically dangerous than the average breed.

I don’t feel comfortable having pitbulls around me whatsoever, and would never get one. I’m not sure if I feel we should make them illegal, but I think it’s stupid to pretend they aren’t more dangerous than the average dog.

I think dogs - even vicious “unpredictable” ones - are more predictable than people. People can premeditate. Most dogs that I have been around didn’t plan their attacks for weeks before they did it. People deceive. Dogs are incapable of deceiving, their reactions are genuine. If you know what to watch for, you can probably prevent a dog attack. People can fool the best of us by their feigned behavior, appearing “nice” when they are not. I’d much rather trust a dog in today’s society than another human, unfortunately. It wasn’t always this way, but in today’s world people are the most dangerous. Breeds may be predisposed to certain behavioral traits, but it’s the people that exploit them. So yes, it may be the breed in the most basic sense, but in the end, it’s the person.

Again, I say that there have been and probably will always be exceptions. There are dogs that just “snap” like people do. But if you train a dog to be nasty, they are more likely to “snap”, or “flip out”. And I certainly would’t get a breed that is predisposed to violent behavior if I have kids. I don’t have kids, and that’s why I decided to get a pit. I also don’t recommend other breeds with kids - like dalmatians, shar peis, chows, akitas, american cocker spaniels (out of all the breeds I have seen or heard about “snapping” or flipping out for no reason, american cocker spaniels are the most common. One turned on a child who went to hug it and ripped her nose off, not just a “few stitches” like other people may claim a smaller dog will only do.), rottweilers, and the list goes on. All of these breeds I have heard turned on people and were unpredictable. And like I said, the small cocker spaniel did more than just prick the girl in the finger. The lhasa apso I mentioned in an earlier post was the only dog out of the three (husky and akita being the other two) that sent me to the hospital. And the lhasa only latched onto my hand because it was restrained. If it had not been, it could have done more damage. That dog was no more than 15 pounds.

The one thing that I see is that no matter if you agree with me or not, you have the intelligence to stay away from strange pit bulls and strange dogs in general. Like I said before, I won’t be flippant around a strange pit bull and I don’t recommend anyone being casual around one either. Unfortunately I am not immune to the hype around pit bulls either. But I know that they are not as bad as people say and that the people with dubious motives that own and train them contribute more to their reputation than they deserve. I feel quite confident that if the generic “pit bull” had been forgotten and not used anymore for fighting, they would probably have gone the way of the modern day AKC registered bulldog - which in general has become a very docile dog.

I agree with all of that. I’m not even for laws against owning one. However I am all for imprisoning people (not just fines) that allow their animal to attack a person. While trick or treating this year my wife was frighten by a pair of dogs (some kind of bull terriors) that went beserk when we walked by with the kids. She looked at the 48" fence and ask if I thought it would hold them - I told her it wouldn’t hold them any longer than they wanted to be held. Count on them getting out sometime in the near future.

Agreed, on all points! :thumbsup:

One of the top police dog trainers in the world lives by me, and he says you can not trust dogs. period. He has some of the best trained dogs around, and he keeps them locked up whenever he has visitors because he does not trust them.

I had forgotten about trained police dogs. They are one of the exceptions to being able to read a dog before it attacks. :frowning: Come to think of it, police/schutzhund dogs are the exceptions to everything I’ve said. I don’t trust them at all, and out of all the dogs I can think of, I am scared to death of them. Especially if they have lapsed in their training. But these dogs are definitely the result of human intervention, and not the fault of the dog. They only have people to blame for their behavior because even the best trainer in the world makes mistakes. I have made my own share of them. I’m sure the “Dog Whisperer” has too (they just won’t televise those :wink: )

How do you think dog breeds came about? Do you think God produced them in His own natural way - or man? So guess who’s responsible for their genetic predispositions? You can’t trust anything in this world (except God, of course), but humans are the least predictable precisely because of their free will.

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