WITCH HUNT: The Pitbull.

Since the beginning of time, men related on animals to help them. Horses for transportation, cows for milk, dogs for protection and hunting. Dogs… The animal, like the horse, that has been at the service of men since their domestication. He served along men in wars, he helped searching for lost children with police officers, he helped travel through the great North, he helped protect houses, assisted the impaired and made life bright again to the mentally challenged and the lonely.

The breeds used for those jobs are all breeds that were and are now considered “dangerous” and “not trustworthy” and/or are now considered the opposite: The German Shepherd, the Rottweiler, the Doberman Pinscher, the Newfoundland, the PitBull, the Bloodhound, the Malinois…

As surprising as it sounds to the average citizen of this world, dogs such as the gentle giant Newfoundland, was back then a guard dog, and still is, even though he “lost his job”. Fatal bites occurred. Same for the Bloodhound. But back then, the media (newspapers, reporters) reported news with FACTS. “This dog has bitten a man, it seems he didn’t listen to the owner’s warning to not get near. The dog is a guard dog attached to the barn.” This is the kind of news you would read back then. Today, it reads “A Pitbull has bitten a child. The end.” How? Why?  Who cares! A vicious dog as bitten a child! It’s the dog’s fault! That is how the media think and how they make their readers think. If the reporter says it, it must be right!

But back then, no breeds were blamed or banned, it was accidents. In our era, for some reason, we need to blame someone for our faults. So they wanted to ban the Doberman, the German Shepherd, the Rottweiler… and today, the Pitbull.

Let’s start with some FACTS on the breed.

The Pitbull, for starters, is not a breed. It is a common name for 3 different breeds: The American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Pitbull Terrier. Three very different breeds but yet, very similar. The same general looks and temperament. But with some differences that you will be able to read through the links. You’ll also find their history. Now, throughout the post I will refer all breeds as “Pitbulls”.

Two of the most common beliefs on the breeds are jaw related.

1. The Pitbull can “lock” his jaw when biting: FALSE. First of all, it is biologically impossible for an animal’s or even human jaw to “lock”. The most extreme jaw behavior is the snake that can “dislocate” their jaw to swallow their prey. For the Pitty, what makes it seem like it locks is first the power in it and his will. The breeds were created for the most extreme “sports”/”work”, a fearless and strong willed dog was needed.

2. The Pitbull has the most powerful jaw, up to 2600 psi: FALSE. A NatGeo test determined an average of 235 pounds of pressure for the Pitbull…. The German Shepherd 238 pounds, and the Rottweiler a amazing 328 pounds!

As for the belief that the Pitbull has a unpredictable temperament, that he can suddenly turn against his owner, it’s a myth and not a myth. Let me explain. The Pitbull does not have a brain too big for the skull or a chemical that develops in the brain and drives the dog crazy. BUT, the Pitbull is a DOG, and all dogs can have a very unpredictable behavior if not well educated. And some breeds, like the Pitbull, needs more discipline and exercise than others. The lack of constance, exercise and discipline can be a major factor in bad behaviors including biting, and dogs are part of the wolf family, they need their to know their “place” in their family. But dog behavior is another story… post….

So for some reason, the media as now decided to take the Pitbull has their “star”: the murderer, the vicious, the unpredictable. Why? Who knows. But by their lack of professionalism to search for facts, they have convinced the population that the breed is not trustworthy, and together, they have convinced governments and municipal councils to ban the breed without further search. Working in the field, I have seen more aggressive Dachshund than Pitbull, a range of 1 Pit out of 15, for 5 out of 10 for the Dachshund. Small dogs under 15 pounds have more chances to bite by the way the owners “treat them”. But never will they be reported as their bite is not as damaging as the Pitbull’s or Husky, therefore, victims won’t go to the hospital or fill a report. So we don’t hear about them. But even the other breeds…. how many time have we had a Golden Retriever or Lab mix come in because they have bitten, and it went untold, but this or that Pitbull, the media was already on it before he was transfer to our shelter. I even had municipalities so misinformed and obsess by their by-law, they would create a witch hunt to find all Pitbulls on their territory to then call us to make them get rid of it.

The human being is too fast to judge, and canine racism is a thing. There is much I could say on the subject, I could go on and on with facts and how the breed that was once America’s favorite, suddenly became the number one public enemy. The Nanny dog is not trusted anymore to guard your kids…

For a scientific view, with facts, numbers, history, analysis and so on, I invite everyone to read The Pitbull Placebo, dog experts and first time puppy mom alike. It has become my bible on the subject.

And please, before adopting, make sure that it’s the right breed for you on every level: Energy, sensitivity to anxiety, how trainable, for first time owners or not, etc. You are adopting at a shelter? They can tell you approximately with what breed it is mixed and how the dog is. And dog handlers and dog trainers are there to help you if you need some tips.

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