October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month. Here at Michelson Found Animals Foundation, we love all animals but especially Pit Bulls. We’ve seen too many of them wind up in shelters or abandoned because they have a bad rap. However, we know them for what they really are: lovable, loyal companions who just want your affection and attention… just like every other dog!
We’ve compiled a list of facts to make you think twice about this breed and their stereotypes.
- Get ready to have your mind blown: Pit Bulls are not actually a breed of dog. The term refers to a variety of breeds, like the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier and other such mixes of dogs.
- In the early part of the last century, Pit Bulls were known as “Nanny Dogs”. It may be hard to believe now with all of the bad press they receive, but Pit Bulls were the breed of choice among parents with young children. If you left your kid with a Pit Bull, they were safe!
- They were originally bred to drive and catch livestock and to serve as the ideal family companions.
- Pit Bulls were not bred as guard dogs because they were too friendly. (!)
- They do not have locking jaws. This is a myth!
- To piggyback on fact number five: Pit Bulls also don’t have the strongest bite among all dog breeds. German Shepherds and Rottweilers actually have a more powerful bite.
- As many as 75% of mixed breed dogs in animal shelters, including Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes are misidentified as the wrong breed.
- They are not inherently aggressive dogs. In fact, in temperance tests, Pit Bulls were the second most tolerant breed behind Golden Retrievers. The least tolerant was the Chihuahua.
- In 1993, a Pit Bull named Wheela won the Ken-L-Ration Dog Hero of the Year award for her heroic actions following a dam break along the Tijuana River. Over the course of three months, Wheela rescued 30 people, 29 dogs, 13 horses and a cat. She also hauled food to stranded animals and led rescuers to 13 abandoned horses. Go, Wheela!
Reports of Pit Bulls attacking people and the prominence of the breed among dog fighting circles has added to the fear and misperceptions about these lovable and adoptable dogs. The fact is that all dogs can attack, and that is almost always a result of bad human ownership. Any dog who has been abused, abandoned, neglected or trained to attack can grow up to exhibit aggressive behavior; it’s not intrinsic to Pit Bulls or any other breed.