About Pit Bull Behaviorsby Melissa Schindler
Pit bulls get a bad rap. They’re often labeled as vicious, cruel and unpredictable -- this simply isn’t true. Pit bulls are friendly dogs, eager to please and excellent with kids. With proper socialization and training, this adorable pooch makes a great addition to the family.
What is a Pit Bull?
The term pit bull refers to a couple different breeds of dog. The American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire terrier and less frequently the American bull dog are all referred to as pit bulls. Whatever the breed, pit bulls are stocky and muscular. They have wide heads, short coats and can weigh anywhere between 35 to 80 pounds depending on the variety. Pit bulls were bred to be strong, tenacious and friendly to humans. For most of the 20th century, pit bulls were desirable family pets. It wasn’t until the resurgence of dog fighting in the 1980s that the perception of pits as mean became widespread.
Pit bulls love people. Their eagerness to please their owners combined with their intelligence makes pit bulls easily trainable. Pit bulls are obedient and loyal. It's important to be viewed in your dog’s eyes as master. If you train him well and treat him with a calm, confident hand, your pit will view you as the head of his pack. As with any dog, proper training and handling is key to a well-behaved dog.
While they have been bred in the past to be fighting dogs, many of these dogs were kept as pets in the home. Aggressiveness toward humans was not a desirable trait and was effectively bred out of the dog. In fact, pit bulls are so good with children, capable of putting up with a lot of rough-housing, they once held the nickname “nursemaid’s dog.” They're big, strong animals, so care should always be taken when kids are playing with the dog.
Without proper care and socialization, pit bulls can become aggressive toward other dogs and animals. While all dogs get into scuffles from time to time, a pit bull is more likely to not back down during a fight. Their breeding as fighting dogs means they won’t inhibit their bite and could injure or kill another animal in a fight. Socialization from a young age is key to preventing aggression. If your pit bull learns from youth how to play and interact with other dogs and small animals, like cats, it’s unlikely he’ll show aggression when he grows up.
Pit bulls aren’t for everyone, however. They require a strong leader who’s willing to put in the time to properly train and socialize this powerful pooch. However, in the hands of the right owner, pit bulls make wonderful family pets.
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