The Truth About the American Pit Bull Terrier

There was a time when reports of pit bull attacks were nonexistent. The sight of a pit bull walking down the street didn’t evoke terror, but rather reminded people of beloved dogs they had seen in the movies and in the media.

An American favorite, the pit bull was featured in army recruitment posters during World War I and there were several famous pit bulls that served in the American military.

They were a dog that was seen as a protector, a friend and an athlete, the sort of dog Americans aspired to have by their side.

In fact, sports teams in the 1930s used the image of the pit bull to depict an admirable competitor and sportsman. To be called a “pit bull” was a compliment! 

Pit bulls were also seen as a child’s best friend. On the silver screen the pit bull was a constant companion to the adorable kids in the Our Gang comedies, as well as with Buster Brown.
The breed was also the corporate mascot for the Buster Brown shoe company. And who doesn’t think fondly of the pit bull terrier depicted sitting next to a gramophone in the famous RCA Victor image. 

For a good portion of American history the breed was beloved. Then in the 1980’s the way the public felt about pit bulls changed.

Demonizing the Dog

The big shift in American sentiment toward pit bulls began in earnest in the 1980s. By 1986 over thirty communities had instituted or were considering breed specific legislation that targeted banning pit bulls. It wasn’t the breed itself that had communities in an uproar, but the way humans were choosing to train and work with these dogs. Dog fighting, although illegal, had made a comeback and pit bulls were the fighter of choice.

Drug dealers, gang members and other criminals seeking protection began training pit bulls as guard dogs. In 1987 when a pit bull guarding a marijuana crop mauled and killed a two-year-old boy in California, Americans were outraged.
Rather than focusing on the real problem, which was any breed of dog can be trained to be aggressive toward people, the knee-jerk reaction was to strike out at the breeds chosen to be trained to attack.
Pitbulls Used to Be Considered the Perfect "Nanny Dogs" for Children -- Until the Media Turned Them Into Monsters. Despite their reputation, the United Kennel Club doesn't recommended using pitbulls as guard dogs because they're too friendly with strangers.

In Tijeras, New Mexico, just outside of Albuquerque, the toughest pit bull ban of the time was instituted, allowing animal control officers to seize and destroy them on sight without compensation to the owner. From darling to demon, how times change!
Today, public perception of pit bulls is starting to shift back, but there is still a great deal of work to do to help people understand the true nature of these dogs.
 You can help by educating yourself with the truth about the breed and sharing it with others.

There is no breed of dog that is inherently bad.

Characteristics and Traits

Pit bulls have physical and mental characteristics that make them excellent partners for responsible, active and caring owners.
These same outstanding qualities can, however, be challenging for people who don’t have a lot of experience with dog ownership or have limited understanding of the breed. Luckily, pit bulls are intelligent, very responsive to training, and, above all, eager to please.
Therefore, pit bulls should be enrolled in obedience classes as soon as they are up-to-date on their shots. (Pit bulls are susceptible to parvovirus, so it is important that they receive all their vaccinations before coming into contact with other dogs or entering areas of high canine traffic.)

A well-behaved pitbull is the best way to fight breed prejudice and misconceptions. Pit bulls are energetic, agile, and strong. They are also very resourceful and driven.
12 – 16 y
8 – 15 y
Strong Willed
44 – 48 cm (Adult)
43.2 – 45.7 cm (At Shoulder, Female, Breed standard)
44.4 – 48.3 cm (At Shoulder, Male, Breed standard)
49.5 cm on average (Adult)
43 – 56 cm (Adult, At Shoulder)

Determination is one of their most notable traits: They put their heart and soul into whatever they set out to do, whether it is escaping an inadequately fenced yard to explore the neighborhood, destroying your new couch if left home alone without a proper outlet to combat boredom, or climbing into your lap to shower you with kisses!

There is no one breed that is right for every household. Dogs should be adopted because they are a good fit for your lifestyle, not chosen solely based on appearance.
Although people seeking a dog to compensate for their own insecurities or for use in illegal activities seem to be drawn to pit bulls these days, this should not be considered a reflection upon the dogs, as anyone with such motives shouldn’t have a dog of any breed.

These dogs love people and have no idea that their size is something of a deterrent to being a lap dog.

Confident and keenly aware of their surroundings, they are watchdogs in that they may alert you to the presence of strangers, but that’s primarily because they’re eager to greet “their” guests.


While their love of people makes them failures as guard dogs, their courage is unmatched and they will defend their family with their lives.

Like every dog, they need early socialization - exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences - when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your your puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

BSL stands for breed-specific legislation ... laws and regulations, enacted at the city or county level, that ban or restrict the keeping of dogs by breed, typically targeting pit bulls. Dogs like Rottweilers, Dobermans and chows are also frequently also affected by the laws.

This map is part of a project called the BSL Census.


Expect to spend about an hour a day walking, playing with or otherwise exercising this dog. While they love people, American Pit Bull Terriers are strong for their size and can be stubborn if left to their own devices.

Begin obedience training early and continue it throughout the dog’s life. Training is the foundation for a strong relationship with your American Pit Bull Terrier.

American Pit Bull Terriers should not be left outside for long because they can’t tolerate the cold well. Even regardless the climate, these dogs do best as house dogs. They form strong attachments to their families and will suffer if left alone for long periods.

Pitbulls Used to Be Considered the Perfect "Nanny Dogs" for Children -- Until the Media Turned Them Into Monsters

Despite their reputation, the United Kennel Club doesn't recommended using pitbulls as guard dogs because they're too friendly with strangers.

Pit bulls are wonderful, loving dogs that deserve the chance to have a good life.

 Pit Bulls are the #1 killed breed in U.S. shelters.

"Pitties" Are A Family Dog Who Blends Strength, Sweetness and Intelligence  

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