Are You Really Ready for a Pit Bull?
So, you’ve made the decision to get a dog, and you’ve decided that a Pit Bull is the breed that speaks to your heart. I think you’ve made an excellent choice, but please tread carefully. Do your research, and only deal with reputable breeders or rescues.
Of course, this is the case with any dog purchase or adoption, but perhaps more so with the “bully” breeds. Let’s get the main caveat out of the way before we go any further: you need to know for sure what you’re buying or adopting.
What Is a Pit Bull?
If you go back to the origin of the term “Pit Bull,” it actually means any dog used for pit fighting. So, technically, English Mastiffs, Bull Mastiffs, Rottweilers, Boxers, and any number of other large breeds that have ever been used to fight their own kind for the amusement of so-called “humans” could legitimately be termed “Pit Bulls.” However, under the terminology that we typically use today, there are actually only three breeds that can be truly classified as “Pit Bulls.” They are the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier.
There are also many, many dogs available that have “Pit-like” characteristics but that are not true Pit Bulls. Often, they’re mixes of some of the breeds I’ve already mentioned. Other times, they’re simply mongrels that resemble some Pit Bull types in that they have a short coat, and Pit-like markings. It’s very much “buyer beware.”
Now, I’m not saying that a Pit Bull mix is necessarily a bad choice. I’m just suggesting that you should know exactly what you’re buying (or adopting) when you’re considering a Pit Bull puppy. If you want a pure Pit Bull, you have three breeds to choose from. If you’re happy with a mix, you still need to know what exactly is contained in the mix, so make sure that the breeder (or rescue) you are considering can provide information regarding your puppy’s lineage.
Are You Really Ready for a Pit Bull?
Before you commit to a Pit Bull breed, or a Pit Bull type, you should ask yourself some very important questions.
1. Does a Pitty Really Fit Your Lifestyle?
Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes are very high-energy dogs, and if they don’t get enough exercise, they’ll be very unhappy. If your idea of a good time is kicking back with a beer and binge-watching “Storage Wars,” a Pit Bull is probably not the right dog for you. You need a nice, snuggly lap dog, not an athletic companion. On the other hand, if you love going out for a run, or even just playing vigorously with your dog, tossing a ball or a Frisbee, you’ll probably do fine with a Pitty. Also, just like any other breed, proper training for a Pit Bull is key to it being a well-mannered dog. Make sure you are ready to commit to a training regimen as well.
2. How Secure Is Your Yard?
The thing about Pit Bulls, and the mixes thereof, is that they’re escape artists. They can pull their way up over even high fences, dig under them, and even figure out how to unlock supposedly “dog-proof” gates.
If you choose a Pit Bull, you should ideally have a chain-link fence at least six-feet high surrounding your yard; don’t bother with wooden fencing, because your Pitty will soon figure out how to chew through it and go off in search of adventure.
3. How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?
This might sound like a non sequitur, but believe me; it’s not.
I have a friend who has a sweet American Staffordshire name Georgiana, Georgie for short. Georgie is one of those aforementioned escape artists, and every so often, despite my friend’s best efforts, Georgie gets out. Then my friend gets a call from his nearest neighbor: “Georgie’s down here playing with the kids, so you might want to come and get her. No hurry, though. Just thought you’d like to know where she is.”
That’s the kind of neighbor you want if you own a Pit Bull. Unfortunately, there are other kinds of neighbors, as well: the kind who say things like, “If she shows up in my yard, I’ll shoot her because Pit Bulls are vicious.” You need to know who they are and where they live, and then you need to make sure that your dog doesn’t encounter them.
4. Are You Okay with Being Stigmatized?
This goes to what I’ve just talked about. Pit Bulls get a lot of bad press, and you can bet that if you own one, at some point you’re going to end up being upset by hurtful comments that are founded in misinformation. You’ll get people saying things like, “He can’t be trusted,” “She’ll turn on you,” “Keep that vicious thing away from my child,” and so on.
You may also find that bylaws could be put in place that will eventually deny you the right to own the canine companion of your choice. This is what’s known as breed specific legislation (BSL), and it can affect not just true Pit Bulls, but dogs that have no Pit Bull DNA at all. They just resemble Pit Bulls. You might be surprised at how many breeds and breed mixes are mistaken for Pit Bulls. You might be even more surprised at how many jurisdictions are out to get them.
As an example, the Canadian City of Montreal has imposed a ban on not just Pit Bulls but any dog that resembles a Pit Bull. This is, believe it or not, in response to an attack by a dog that wasn’t a Pitty at all; it just resembled one. The mayor of Montreal has even admitted that the ban has less to do with problem breeds than it has with simply making people feel safer. In other words, if someone doesn’t like the look of your dog, the City of Montreal will round it up and put it to death. So that other people will feel safe.
The good thing here is that right-thinking people in Montreal are taking Pit Bulls and Pit Bull types and, by means of a sort of “underground railroad” for dogs, sending them to Pit-friendly locations. The bad thing is that people are having to choose between giving away their beloved friends, and having them killed.
If you choose a Pit Bull, there will be people who will want to see your dog dead. Even your family might not be onside with your choice. Georgie’s Dad, for instance, had to put up with his mother-in-law telling him that the dog had to go once a human baby entered the equation. “Nana” was convinced that the dog would be a threat to a child despite nothing at all in the dog’s behavior that would suggest such a thing.
People will be rude. Beyond rude, actually. And they’ll think they know more than you do about the nature of your dog. If you can’t handle unreasonable invective, you might want to reconsider getting a Pit Bull.
Why Do You Want a Pit Bull?
I’ve left this question for last, because I think it’s important enough to close on. Are you looking to impress people with your big, powerful dog? Do you want a really cool fashion accessory to go along with your leather Harley Davidson jacket? Are you trying to look tough?
If you’ve answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then stop right now. Go get a tattoo, or a bit more bling, or start working out to build up muscle. A dog is not something you should get to amp up your “street cred.” A dog is a companion, someone to snuggle up with on cold winter nights, a playmate, and a friend. A dog is not something you get so you can say, “Look at how cool I am.”
The Final Word
If you want a Pitty for the right reasons, then get one. They’re wonderful, loyal dogs. Just be sure, before you make that final decision, and commit to having your dog for many years, that it’s the right decision, both for you and for the dog that you’re thinking of adopting.
Author Bio: Franklin Medina lives in comfortable squalor with Boxers, Janice and Leroy, and spends a lot of time with human and canine friends down at the dog park. You can read more from Franklin at SimplyForDogs.com.