Unfairly, the word Pitbull is synonymous with a bloodthirsty dog who is vicious and mean-tempered. This is patently false. The term pit bull does not denote a breed but is a generic term for this type of dog. It has more to do with their looks than as a breed. Many other breeds like the Dogo Argentino, American Staffordshire Terrier, Blue Blood Bulldog, fall under the category of Pitbulls.
In the early years in England, they were put to use in the so-called sport of bear-baiting and bull-baiting which was outlawed. An equally terrible sport called ‘ratting’ evolved where the dog would be thrown into a pit of rats to see how many he could decimate in the quickest time. The name Pit is attributed to have originated here.
Pit bulls have glossy, smooth coat stiff to the touch. The color is solid: red, black, copper, grey or buckskin. Tuxedo is fully black with the chest and chin having a white patch, giving the appearance of a shirt front and white on the feet which look like they have spats on.
Pitbull Key Information
Height: 17 to 19 inches
Weight: 30 to 90 pounds
Life span: Average of 12 to 16 years
Breed family: Terriers, Bull type / Working dog
Exercise requirements: Rigorous
Good with children: Yes
Also Known As: The American Pit Bull Terrier
The stock originated in the British Isles by crossing Old English terriers and Old English Bulldogs. The resultant was a dog which excited the gameness of the terrier and the strength of a bulldog. They were named ‘Bull and Terrier’ dogs. Around 1870, these dogs found their way to the shores of America and were initially put to use as farming dogs as they had the strength and stamina for farm work and also they made excellent hunting dogs.
Around 1930, breeders started using the dogs for different purposes creating two distinct breeds: The American Pit Bull Terrier for farming and the American Staffordshire terrier for the fighting circuit. These are pure breeds.
In ancient Greece, a dog now extinct known as a Molosser was used by the Molossi tribe to guard their family and possessions. By recorded accounts, these dogs match the characteristics of a pit bull.
They became the mascot of the Army in their recruitment drive since the 1900s in both the World Wars.
No small wonder it has been christened America’s Dog, such as the popularity of this marvelous dog.
The intrepid and protective Pit Bull is regarded for its playful nature and friendly temperament. It is highly athletic and harbors a desire to please. Pit Bulls have a high drive for prey mainly because of its breeding as a farm dog whereby chasing down and subduing livestock was one of its jobs. This could be misread as a mark of aggression though, in reality, they are not at all hostile towards people and are especially known to be affectionate towards children.
According to the American Temperament Test Society, pit bulls scored a staggering 86.4 %. Only Labradors scored higher with 92.4%. These tests are designed to measure not only natural temperament but training, health, and age are also factored in. Importantly, the test also determines how the dog can differentiate between threatening and non-threatening situations.
Pit Bulls are well known for their innate courage and are intelligent guard dogs highly focused. They have an uncanny instinct to smell out suspects and act accordingly.
They do great in sports meant for dogs, in search and rescue, drug and bomb detection, and as therapy dogs. They are unwilling to bite human beings, a trait deeply embedded in their genetics.
Interaction with Children
Pit Bulls are affectionately called ‘Nanny dogs’ because of their overt tenderness towards children. They love playing around and goofing about with children. And they don’t slack off. This makes them excellent playmates.
No dog irrespective of breed or size should be left with a child unsupervised. The child inadvertently may know how to handle or approach the dog, pulling their ears, or trying to take away his food may trigger off a belligerent response. In the absence of supervision, the dog should be trained enough to stay confined to its crate.
Interaction with other pets
Pit Bulls may be pugnacious towards other dogs especially when they attain maturity. This can be overcome by socializing them as early as possible which makes the adorable pets that you desire. They should be supervised when not leashed not because they go hunting for scrapping opportunities but if challenged by another dog, they will never back down and take the fight to its end. Their innate trait is to please so if socialized well, they are overtly friendly and affectionate.
Many Pit Bull owners have vouched that they are quite tolerantPit Bulls may be pugnacious towards other dogs especially when they attain maturity. This can be overcome by socializing them as early as possible which makes the adorable pets that you desire. They should be supervised when not leashed not because they go hunting for scrapping opportunities but if challenged by another dog, they will never back down and take the fight to its end. Their innate trait is to please so if socialized well, they are overtly friendly and affectionate.
Many Pit Bull owners have vouched that they are quite tolerant of other pets and have a special affinity for cats.
of other pets and have a special affinity for cats.
The daily prescribed amount of food for a Pit Bull is 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups of high-quality dry food split into two portions. The feeding time should strictly be the same given their love of routine. For a Pit Bull pup, it is recommended that you consult with the breeder and vet to understand clearly in detail as to how much and when to your little friend.
Pitbulls flourish on a diet of high protein and low grain content. High grain content is detrimental to their well being including corn and potatoes which aggravate allergies. The most common food allergens to be found are soy products, wheat, corn, beef, pork, chicken, eggs, milk, fish, whey, preservatives, and artificial flavorings.
It is a good idea to include fresh fruit and vegetables into their diet periodically to create a balanced diet, though your vet is the best person to update you on what kind of vegetables and fruit would be suitable.
Be careful not to overfeed your dog. This invites a host of health issues to invade your dog. The best way is not to leave food standing in their bowls at all times. Pup joints are vulnerable until they attain a certain age. Adding extra pounds is accelerating the process of added joint pressure.
An adult Pit Bull’s requirement could be higher depending on the activity level they indulge in, metabolism, age, and build. To avoid any obesity, paying close attention to feeding and exercise regimen is of prime importance. If you observe signs of growing obesity, nip it in the bud as this will lead to lower energy levels and possible mood issues with the dog.
As with any dog, for a dog to adjust into a household requires the right training, care, and support for it to become a member of the household. A Pit Bull presents an extra challenge with its boundless energy to integrate it into the household. It is not an impossible task, so here are some tips to gift your pittie with the right environment to thrive in, and a happy, loving and healthy dog will be your reward.
Pit Bulls have a short, smooth hair coat and they are average shredders. They greatly benefit from a coat brushing regularly. Their teeth should be brushed at least two to three times a week as a daily brushing could be a tall ask. This banishes bad breath and tartar putting the brakes on further dental problems. Get nails trimmed once or twice a month as they will otherwise start growing inwards causing considerable pain.
Introduce grooming at an early age and reward, praise the dog lavishly so that his irritation is somewhat soothed. No dog like the grooming routine save the brushing part. They will always make an effort to break away and in the process may get hurt.
Ears are very important. All dogs suffer from this syndrome. Check for signs of redness, malodor, and dirt. Redness of the ear and bad smell are the classic symptoms of an ear infection. Wipe with a damp cloth or a cotton ball to clean as best as you can. Ph balanced ear-cleaners are available which may be added to ward off infections. But remember, only the outer ear should be cleaned and never the inner canal.
Also, check the eyes for redness (cherry eyes) or any discharge.
These little measures will ensure the early detection of potentially problematic areas in the future. A stitch in time saves nine.
Being highly energetic, Pit Bulls require a lot of exercise, a minimum of two hours a day at least, the more strenuous the better. The mantra to keep a Pit Bull happy is exercise, exercise, and more exercise.
Obedience training from an early age is a must. Also, the dog should be well adapted to socializing. Train and encourage him to be social with children, old-timers, people who have disabilities, and all ethnicities. Socializing with other dogs is also positive up to a certain point. They make terrific house pets when raised by a firm owner and when trained and socialized into early puppyhood.
Taking charge in the care of a dog can turn into a frustrating experience. Letting anger get the better of you is a gross mistake. As a unique breed, Pitbulls are reconciled to schooling but can be very stubborn. Your training sessions should be productive and if you find things not going your way, take a pitstop and start all over again. Your patience is the key here. When doggie does it right, positive reinforcement is called for be it a toy or a treat. Be patient, have fun, and enjoy this experience. Your pitbull can sense your excitement which will spur it into greater participation.
Pitbulls, a greater part of which are yearning to grasp new things will benefit greatly from advanced training courses weekly will do great wonders for their focus.
Do not underestimate your Pit Bulls temperament and start humanizing them or treat them as a human being. Being strong-willed dogs they will then attempt to take up the role of pack leader which will mess up things and situations as they will tend towards becoming unmanageable. In fact, things may escalate to that stage where you contribute to the existing and wrong defamation of the breed’s reputation. It is crucial that you understand your dog’s action in advance and steer clear of unwanted trouble. In return, your pittie will delight you as an unusual, loyal, affectionate, and obedient pet. Pit Bulls enjoy having an intention. They thrive on being given work to do which permits them to fulfill their role.
Most importantly, avoid getting involved or encouraging others to promote the dog’s fighting instinct.
Pits do alright in apartments but need their exercise as much as you need to breathe. If you are going outstation, make sure to entrust a friend or a relative with this task.
Dog Houses / Kennels
Pit Bulls are great escape artists. A 10-12 foot fence is easy pickings for them. In warm climates, Pit Bulls have little problems. But in colder climes, they should never be left outside for a long time. Cold intolerance is not the only reason for this. The main reason is their incapability of being alone for extended periods and their pressing need to be connected to their family or pack. If neglected, they lean towards being destructive, aggressive, and stubborn dogs.
Leaving them alone
Pit Bulls do not take kindly to being left alone at home. This is one facet that has to be instilled early on when it is still a pup. The challenge here is promoting independence in the dog. First feed the dog, make it do its poop rounds and when it is droopy with sleep, leave its favorite toy near the door and make your getaway for a short time. On your return reward and praise the dog profusely. Gradually increase the duration of your outdoor jaunts.
A helpful trick is to hide his toy when you return and hand it over once again when you are leaving.
Pit Bulls can live up to 16 years and more. Being inherently athletic and strong, they are hardy and outlive other breeds of the same size by a good margin. However, they tend to be beset by some genetic conditions like hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and kneecap dislocation. Skin ailments such as atopic dermatitis caused by dust, mites, and mold are common with them. The dog will keep licking himself all over and the ears may turn red. Check armpits, groin, abdomen, and between toes. Skin discolorations such as deep pink, black, or red are signs of atopic dermatitis. Inhalant allergy or ‘cherry eye’ and contact dermatitis are other common allergic conditions that can affect your Pit Bull. Allergies affect Pit Bulls to a greater degree as their coat is smooth and short. Other health maladies seen in Pit Bulls include thyroid and congenital heart disease.
A Heroic Pit Bull That is now a Part of American History
Sergeant Stubby, a Pitbull is a decorated veteran of World War II. he had an uncanny sense of sniffing out Germans and was instrumental in getting one captured. Wounded soldiers had him stand company and give them solace till medics arrived. He was wounded and gassed but came through.
Petey, a Pitbull gained great fame for his role in the movie “Little Rascals”. His real name was Pal.
Grunt appeared in Flashdance His real name was Jumbo Red.
There are numerous Pitbulls who have thrilled audiences over the years.
Lucy dragged a wounded man away from the rail tracks in the face of an oncoming train, saved the man but lost a limb.
Blueberry and Murphy are therapy dogs of repute.
So tell me, a loveable dog stigmatized over the years as a dog which has instilled in him the desire to maim and decimate, is it fair. That they are still subject to Breed Specific Legislation which considers Pitbulls, Rottweilers and German Shepherds dangerous. What a crying shame.
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