A Little Pitbull Advocacy

It seems like every time the pitbull controversy comes up, those of us who love a “pit bull” type dog end up making the same points over and over.  I thought I’d use ths page to bring together in one spot all my points.

Here we go.

The term ‘pit bull’ is so generic that it has almost no meaning other than “a vicious dog that scares me.”

Without getting into too much history, there are a lot of dog breeds that trace their origins back to the fighting pits, from the Boston Terrier, through the various bull dog breeds and the boxer, into the mastiffs. But not all of these dogs have bad reputations and not all of these breeds are still fought (I hope).

Much of the confusion about what is a pitbull and what isn’t comes down to this: the word “pitbull” is used to describe a specific breed of dog, a type of dog, and a dog that has a certain, inhumane, job.

The specific breed of dog is the American Pit Bull Terrier, which is not recognized by the AKC (though it was at one point), but is recognized by other kennel clubs. The American Pit Bull Terrier is very closely related to the American Staffordshire Terrier, but there are differences. I’m no expert, but to my eye, the American Pit Bull Terrier often has a lankier appearance and the look of the dog varies a lot more than the look of the AmStaff in terms of acceptable weights and sizes.

The type of dog is any bull dog that lacks the affable charm of the English Bulldog, including the ones recognized by the AKC–the AmStaff, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, and sometimes the Bull Mastiff–and ones that aren’t, like the American Bulldog and the American Pit Bull Terrier. All of these dogs come under the umbrella term “pitbull,” though they vary greatly in size and appearance. That’s why both the dog in the Target commercials and the Our Gangshorts are called pitbulls, even though they don’t look a thing alike.

Then there’s the dog that has the terrible job.

[Let me just take a moment to say that, if you fight dogs, you suck. It doesn’t prove your worth as a man. Well, yes it does, just not in the way you intend. It proves that you are a monster and a coward and, if there is any justice, the dogs whose deaths you are responsible for will get some sort of revenge in the afterlife. Maybe they’ll stand around and watch you morons repeatedly fight each other to the death. Taking the best qualities of something–undying loyalty to you, tenaciousness, strength, and bravery–and perverting them so that it can kill and die for your amusement is unconscionable.]

I’ve seen a few of these dogs and, to me, they look very different than Mrs. Wigglebottom (though this site suggests I’m imagining the differences). In fact, I’ve had a number of people familiar with fighting dogs who insist that Mrs. Wigglebottom must be part boxer because she’s much too big to be a pitbull. In general, my experience is that fighting dogs are smaller than she is. Their faces more resemble the Staffordshire Terrier than her. They often don’t have ears at all. Also, if you look at them face on, their necks seem situated lower on their chests than Mrs. Wigglebottom, and their chests aren’t as deep. This gives them the appearance of having longer legs in proportion to their bodies.

But fighting dogs aren’t a breed of dog the way the AKC thinks of it. If someone wanted a fighting dog that was a little bigger, he’d find an AmStaff and breed it into his dogs for size. If he found a really vicious Lab (if there is such a dog), he’s use that as breeding stock. The dog fighter isn’t as interested in “breed standards” as he is in dogs that can win.  This is one of the reasons we’ve come to think of any medium sized terrier mix as a “pit bull” and one of the reasons so many people have a “I know it when I see it” attitude towards pit bull recognition.

Yes, “pit bulls” do attack and kill more people a year than other breeds of dogs, but…

Again, as we talked about above, “pit bull” is not just a breed.  You are, in effect, comparing apples to apple trees.  When you take six to ten breeds, any dog that is a mix of those breeds, and dogs that you think might be those breeds and lump them all together as one group, it is going to skew the results.

Think of it this way.  Say you were trying to determine how dangerous I was and the statistics were all “A.s kill 7 men a year.”  “G.s kill 10 men a year.”  “J.s kill 3 men a year.”  But “Aunts kill 100 men a year.”  It would seem as if Aunts are way more dangers than any other type of woman.  But, if you were to discover that there are 25 different types of women who are considered aunts and we each only kill 4 men a year, you’d see that I was about as dangerous as J. and far less dangerous than G.

There are other, better predictors for whether a dog is dangerous than their breed.

Seriously, the next time you hear about a horrific dog attack, check the details against this list.

–Is the dog larger than 25 pounds?  (Obviously, there are vicious small dogs, but unless a dachshund has all day, he’s probably not going to kill you.)

–Is it an unfixed male?

–Is it chained up outside alone for most of the day if not all the time?

–Is it running loose outside?

–Is anyone out there with it?

–Does it have adequate housing?

–Is the dog supervised?

–Do the dog’s owners–who probably insist that the dog is friendly and never given anyone trouble–seem to have gone to extraordinary lengths to make the dog seem scary otherwise (spiked collars, thick chains, encouraging aggressive behavior)?

The truth is that dog behavior is not some great mystery to human beings.  We’ve lived with them now for 10,000 years and we know what makes them go wrong.  It has little to do with the dog and a lot to do with how the dog has been raised.

People who own “pit bulls” tend to be assholes.  Let’s be honest.

Let’s just put all the cards on the table. The problem is what it’s always been: some people regard dogs as pets and we coddle them and spoil them and take them to training from the time they’re old enough to be away from their moms and turn them into companion animals we ask nothing more of than to not snore so loud when they sleep on the couch.

And, for that purpose, the bully breeds make excellent dogs. They’re smart and funny and take training well and happily snore on the couch.

And some people have dogs because owning a bad dog makes them feel special and powerful. And so they take steps to ensure that their dogs are “bad” and powerful. They don’t neuter them. They don’t keep them leashed and supervised when outside. In fact, some folks actively train their dogs to be somewhat dangerous to others.

And bullies, because of their size and their power and their reputations, make good dogs for this too.

You could take two dogs from the same litter and have one be a wonderful pet and companion animal and the other ends up mauling some little kid to death, all depending on the kind of work each owner puts into it.

Yes, bullies have tendencies, but whether and how those tendencies express themselves comes down to what the people who own them bring them up to do.

We tend to assume that the problem is that good-hearted folks who just don’t know better have gotten in over their heads with fundamentally evil dogs and so, if we just remove the opportunity for them to have pitbulls from them, all will be right in the world.

Well, here’s the problem. Most people who own pitbulls are not good-hearted folks who just don’t know better. If my personal observations are true, most people who own pitbulls are jackasses who shouldn’t have any dogs, let alone a dog that needs constant supervision and training. Most pitbull owners I see here in Nashville don’t neuter their dogs. They don’t keep them in the house except for when they are out with the leashed dog. They don’t work to make sure that the dog isn’t aggressive. They seem to encourage displays of dominance and aggression and carry on like the dogs’ balls (both literally and metaphorically) say something about their balls.

And ridding the world of pitbulls isn’t going to magically fix what’s wrong with these people because they’re jackasses who should know better or take five seconds to read up on how to be a good owner to a terrier or take their dogs to training and to the vet regularly, but don’t, because they’re jackasses. At least when it comes to owning dogs.

If you prevent them from owning pitbulls, they will just move on to some other breed of dog. Or they’ll take up knife fighting or whatever is going to make them feel like big, powerful people. They will still be jackasses whose actions hurt others.

62 thoughts on “A Little Pitbull Advocacy

  1. True that! It’s not the dog that’s bad, it’s the owner! That’s what I’ve always said, and it’s nice to see someone agree. Where I live, they made pitbull-type dogs (which could be a boxer, or even some mutt that looks like a pitbull) illegal. What a waste of taxpayers’ money! I say, they should ban irresponsible people from owning pets. It’s not the dog’s fault.

  2. Again, I send you mega cyber-hugs for your pit bull advocacy. You and I (and many others) want to protect and do right by our wiggle-bottomed, snorfaling, snoring, pups.

  3. We have a Jack Russel Terrier named Oliver. He’s the most perseverative creature I have ever encountered. And I’ve worked with some pretty severe “special needs” children in my years as a teacher aide. The terriers are intense, but smart, and therefore very trainable. Pit bulls are as prone to psychotic behavior as any other breed, but their intelligence makes them more vulnerable, IMHO. The bad rep is undeserved and reflects the owners more than anything, as Mitsu says.

  4. I vote to euthanize the fighting dog owners & participants in the “sport,” rather than the dogs. I’d pay money to see that happen.

  5. Let’s hear it again! I am the human mommie of a 10 yr old Staffie and he is my Pride and joy! There has never been a better breed in my opinion! He is the cutest, most adorable and sweet little baby dog! Yet so misunderstood. I could fill pages with the ridiculous questions and statements that some people make when we are out together in some public places. Most people actually cross the street to get away from him. As he heels securely at the short end of my 6ft double ended police dog leash.
    I found your article to be very true and right on!! I NEVER refer to my dog as a “pitbull”! If people don’t know what a staffie or Staffordshire Terrier is I will sometimes say that they may know of the breed as a “pitbull” but he’s not. He has never, nor will he ever be in a pit against another dog!
    I so agree w/ Alice, though I think they should be treated as they treat the dogs they pit. Euthanasia is far too humane for the inhumaness of dog fighting!

  6. Thanks so much for this well-thought-out and well-written post. As a proud mommy of a pit baby (okay, he’s five, but he’s my baby), it definitely gets frustrating trying to explain to people that the dogs who make the news are the unfortunate, abused ones. The ones (like mine and yours and the other commenters’) raised in good homes, who are not beaten, not starved, not chained but are loved, well-fed, spoiled, and socialized are not the ones who make the news.

    A poor young woman here in Knoxville was just killed by her roommate’s pits, and all people heard was the name of the breed. No one wanted to listen to how the owner was, in fact, hoping to make them into fighting dogs. He actually had meat hanging in a tree the day of the fatal attack. That young woman died because of someone else’s irresponsibility and lack of basic human kindness.

    Sorry to have gotten on a soapbox there. :-) But, sincerely, thank you so much for eloquently expressing and explaining what, no doubt, ALL responsible owners feel.

  7. three and a half cheers for common sense, as expressed in your post.. I was divoted in the leg several years (make that a coupla decades) ago by that exemplar of ferocious, irrational breeds…yes, I got chomped by a cocker spaniel.

    But somehow, “pit cocker” just doesn’t sound as scary as “pit bull.”

    Again, thanks for talking sense.

  8. There is so much breed discrimination out there – not just pit bulls. We have a case here in Colorado involving a German Shepherd who is on death row for scaring a woman. Read more at http://www.rollo.com
    I own a 75 lb female German Shepherd and people will cross the street to avoid walking near her! I know this current case isn’t helping my breed’s reputation at all.

    We need more common sense and personal responsibilty in this society.

    We are responsible for dogs – we are the one’s who domesticated them. People should be held accountable for their dogs and the rest of the dog-haters or breed discriminators out there should use common sense.

    Nice blog.

    http://www.hmks.wordpress.com

  9. i have a cross pit at home with 3 other dogs a jack russel yorkshire terrier and a chwawa they get on perfectly and to be honest the smallest is the worst tempered. i think bulls are very loyal and make gud pets. the only time a dog hurts a human is when they have been trained to do so. the only people that kill people are PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Excellent post. I owned a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a Bull Terrier – the best of personalities!

    It’s the wackos who fight them for “sport” that should be put down – not the poor dogs forced to fight.

  11. My two darlings, Herschal and Ottis, look like gargoils. They have huge mouths and muscles. The reason that they have never done any damage is uncertain. It could be that I am a resposible Pitbul owner who never leaves them out, has a ten foot fenced yard, and supervises them at all times. When I take them out walking and people ask if they bite I always say that I dont know and ask them not to chance it.

    It also could be that they are just gentle and sweet animals who have been raised on laps, being kissed and loved every day. I dont know.

    Both of the possibilities are important to keep in mind. We are resposible owners/caretakers of a being that is physically capable of killing and maiming. We like these particular breed of dog because we are needy owners and these guys are the only breed I have found that are more than willing to lay there and take all the affection and baby talk that we are willing to spill out on them. my boys are nutered and LIKE to wear sweaters and hoody jackets that I find for them at the goodwill. They are both over one hundred pounds and were both confiscated as puppies from breeders who were fighting thier dogs.

    I admire your entry here, you gave me information that I haddnt had before, and make a great case for a great breed. I have another, more historical and detailed piece on my blog ( http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=99920419&blogID=311983251 ) but not nearly as well written and with the ideas and statistical findings you have here.

  12. Great post. I have an American bulldog (my baby) and people mistake him for a pit bull (though he’s VERY bulldog looking) or just plain think he’s mean because of his big head and macho appearance. If they only knew he’s a complete mama’s boy that sleeps under the covers with me and demands quality couch time every afternoon. It’s ridiculous to judge a dog simply by it’s breed. Golden retrievers are responsible for the most dog bites treated at ERs. I don’t see any uproar about banning GRs. Lets bad stupid dog owners, not the dogs.

  13. Sadly, I’ve actually heard a police officer say, “I don’t care what the owner says, any dog that bites a person’s a pitbull to me.” That kind of determined ignorance is completely detrimental to pitbull PR – and then of course it’s going to look like only pits bite, because you’re identifying every attacking dog as a pit regardless of its actual breed!

    It’s gone so far here that I know plenty of renters who won’t rent to people with dogs considered “dangerous” – Rotties and pits among them, but sometimes even malamutes and huskies (??) – because homeowner’s insurance won’t always cover them. Which is a damn shame if you ask me, because those dogs are among the most intelligent and friendly that I’ve ever met – I’d take one of those breeds over a lab or a chihuahua any day.

    Sigh. Of course it also doesn’t help that your point about the kind of people who ten to own pits is also mostly true in my experience. There are people living in the yard adjacent to mine who own two adorable pits who are unfortunately quite vicious critters because they’re outdoors all day with no company and no one to love them. If I thought they were any safer I’d be tempted to dig a hole under the fence so they could come visit me and my dog – but they snarl and snap anytime we come too close to the fence, so that’s no good. It breaks my heart to hear them out there day in and day out – their owners only communicate with them to yell at them to stop barking, it seems. Poor dogs :(

  14. the not renting to folks with malamutes and huskies might be more because they can get destructive if left alone. dangerous? not so much.

  15. i’m glad to see some common sense published here. i was a meter reader for over 10 years in Charlotte, NC and pits were in my estimation no more aggressive than any other comparable breed. What disturbs me is that in reporting pit bull attacks, demographics are never mentioned. i know attacks can and do occur anywhere, but the fact is in poor neighborhoods pits are staked around crackhouses and other illegal institutions for fighting and to keep intruders away. Also, in these same areas, there are many children wandering the streets unwatched. Eventually the two meet. This is what is never told in the news. They obviously skew the reporting to support their own agendas.

  16. In response to the question my wife and I get when we take Jaq out for walks “Oh does he bite?”….My response “Does he have teeth?”….We got jaq from the pund,someone left him and his siblings on the side of a busy interstate in a sack(idiot). He is (I think) an American Pit Terrier Husky mix…He’s stubborn,happy,loyal and loving…all the characteristics of my wife and I.

  17. CHEERS!!!!!!!!

    newscoma was correct when she said i would love you! :)

    i am a RESPONSIBLE pittie mom of 3, cheyenne since she was 6 weeks old, kane rescued from abandonment, and bella from the barrow county georgia animal shelter (she was one of vick’s underling’s breeding dogs, and taking to rehabbing very well!)

    check out my furry kids and advocacy work here…

    http://www.myspace.com/christinajade69

  18. I’m the proud dad of an eleven year old pitbull and he’s never bitten anyone in the entire time I’ve had him. He was found wandering in the uptown area of my hometown, and a friend of a friend found him there and asked if my friend could find him a home. He got on the radio and asked if anyone wanted a dog. My wife and I went to see him and he was just adorable, tail wagging, tongue hanging out and eyes just sparkling from all the attention. I got close to him to see his ribs were showing and that his front claws were ragged and caked with dirt as if he dug his way out of somewhere. I went over and patted him and said, “Let’s Go,fellow.” He ran over to my car and jumped in the backseat with my wife and stayed right there, happy as a clam. I’ve had him fixed as I really didn’t want fights with other dogs in the area, but he’s kept on a chain when he’s out in the yard, he sleeps in the house at night with us and even sleeps on the bed with me. I have two cats as well and he gets along great with both, but he really doesn’t like other dogs and I tend to think that is because he may have been beaten when he was younger to make him mean but got away from that owner before the damage could be done. He just loves people and loves to play and be petted by strangers who come up to us when we’re walking and want to pet him. The only question they ask is ” Will he bite?” When told no they lean down and pet and rub his head and ears and his eyes just glow.
    He’s my best friend and one of the best dogs I’ve ever seen and for someone to say that all pitbulls are mean and will attack for no reason, well, I have to say they don’t know anything about the breed itself.

  19. I am a proud owner of a beautifull lil girl named Lillie! She is a brindle pit and she is such a compliment to our family. I have a 7 yr old son and my pit is about to turn 2 in March! She adores my son! They are best friends and she sleeps right next to him everynight! She is WELL trained and loves all people of all ages! She is very gentle and loving! Its not the pit that gives the bad name its the owners they had that turned them bad! I love my girl she knows many tricks! Which is not common for a PIT. Pits are very loyal!

  20. There’s going to be a bull terrier puppy in the Puppy Bowl this year. I predict that by Monday, millions of people who used to be afraid of them will start saying “awwwwwww” whenever they see one.

  21. Oh, no, beagles all without exception make me say “awwwww.” It’s some of those Australian mixes that I worry about.

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  26. THANK YOU, I could not have said this better myself. When I see the type of people who are drawn to this dog for “tough guy” validation I really, really wish we could spay and neuter human beings at will…sometimes it is really hard to have a forgiving and understanding attitude.

  27. This is a great article, but I would like to make one specific point. The Target Dog (and Spuds Mackenzie, if you remember him) are not the same as English Staffordshire Terriers, as you seem to imply above. The Target Dog is an English Bull Terrier, which may be related to the three breeds commonly referred to as “pit bulls,” but they are dissimilar in looks and temperament.

    Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bull_Terrier for more information. My father has bred English Bullies for more than 30 years. If you look at pictures you can clearly see the difference between pit-bulls and Bull Terriers. For starters, pit-bulls generally have a more squared off face with a blunt nose, whereas Bull Terriers are bred for conformation with a rounded nose.

    My father, a veterinarian, does not believe that pit-bulls are vicious (and neither do I, for the record), but I think it should be made clear that the Target Dog is NOT a pit-bull; they are clearly different breeds of dogs. Bull Terriers can be aggressive, just like any other dog, but in my experience they have a much more malleable temperament than many pit-bulls. I am probably biased since I grew up with them running all over the house, but I think they’re also a much more attractive dog overall.

    Thanks.

  28. All with you on the ‘blame the owner not the dog’ thing. However, the fact remains that the Pit Bull Terrier breed was bred with only one purpose in mind: To create a dog that kills – primarily other dogs, but also humans. There is a reason why pit bulls are the one and only choice for dogfighting rings. It is very easy to train a pit bull to be a vicious dog – much more so than other breeds.

    Therefore, in my opinion, the whole pit bull breed is a case of animal cruelty in itself.

  29. wordpress hates me again. try #2:

    There is a reason why pit bulls are the one and only choice for dogfighting rings.

    i’ll take your word for what dog fighting enthusiasts prefer, since you claim expertise on that matter. but you undermine your own claim when you pretend pitbulls were ever bred for fighting humans. even i know that’s not how dogfighting works — the dogs’ owners frequently have to step in to “referee” tie fight, handle their dogs, and so can’t tolerate human-aggressive animals in the fighting ring.

    Therefore, in my opinion, the whole pit bull breed is a case of animal cruelty in itself.

    the origin of the breed was firmly rooted in animal cruelty, yes. but that is by no means the same as saying the continued and current existence of the breed is anything remotely like that. pitbulls not trained to fight or used for fighting live perfectly happy lives free of every form of cruelty, all day every day. what their many times great canine ancestors once went through when the breed was formed is a purely historical matter to them.

    intent is not transferable, nor is it inheritable.

  30. But pit bulls as a specific breed aren’t the only dogs chosen for fighting. Dogs that go in the rings become pit bulls regardless of what kind of bulldogs they were to start with.

    And please, Boston Terriers have the same ancestry–they come from fighting dogs–and yet no one thinks they’re killing machines. And that’s not because of the dogs.

    Thank you, Nomen, for handling it more gracefully than me.

  31. Very, very well written and thoughtful position
    BUT
    having witnessed 2 vicious pitbulls in my neighborhood murder 5 cats – chewing the bumper off a pick up truck to get the last one hiding up in the wheel-well – then break through a screendoor to murder birds in a cage, I believe they should all be euthanized, along with their criminal owners.

  32. Yeah, my big concern from this stems from the fact that I’ve raised several Labs in my life. I’ve never had to teach a lab to want to fetch something out of the water. They just want to do it, even though it’s never been taught to them. Hell, my last lab was never interested in fetching anything on land, but you couldn’t make him stop wanting to fetch things out of the water, to the point where I was afraid he’d exhaust himself and drown. Why? Because it’s bred into them. Why wouldn’t that be the same with Pit bulls and fighting?

  33. …so, you agree that your debate opponents’ position is very well argued, yet you still insist on generalizing from your personal experience to an entire animal breed (indeed, several different breeds, as B. points out) and all of those animals’ owners? with no other grounds for doing so except your personal, limited, experience?

    that’s called a “logical fallacy”. if you do that sort of thing more than at most once, it would be called being “intellectually dishonest”. and yes, those are your terms for today.

    one more term, and then your schedule for the day will be quite filled up: “every(wo)man”. as in, what you are not. my experiences are quite different from yours; what say we use those as our sole and entire basis to judge instead of yours? hm? see anything wrong with that?

  34. and Exador, no, judging by my experience with pits aggression and fighting are not bred into them. the ones i’ve known have been entirely unaggressive and harmless, every one. they’re certainly born with a great deal of muscle and (usually) a high pain threshold, but not with any tendency to abuse those traits.

    i might agree that they have an inbred potential for tenacity, for not giving up the fight once joined — there’s no denying they’re stubborner than mules — but viciousness and aggression has to be trained into them, they’re not born with it.

  35. Pits are generally considered to be right at average in human-directed aggressiveness (one of the most human aggressive dogs is the chihuahua, yet we don’t generally hear alot of calls to ban them. Funny that). In fact, one of the characteristics that has been assigned to the American Staffordshire Terrier is that of having an “ridiculously amiable” temperament.

    Pits, as a breed, do have a higher than average other dog-directed aggressiveness (in fact most pit bull attacks on humans are from a human trying to disrupt a dog-to-dog fight). But what if the pit is the lone pet, or that particular pit gets along well with it’s other adopted sibilings. Every dog is an individual. I’ve known some pitbulls that LOVE other dogs.

  36. The only pit bull that I ever knew was a sweet girl, too. That’s not my point. My point is whether there exists a greater potential for the dog to, when presented with the situation, to flip the switch over to killer. So to speak.

    To continue with the Lab analogy: You could come over to my house and interact with a lab for years and never realize that the dog has an inbred ability to retrieve from water. You wouldn’t know that until the day you’re standing there and throw something into the water, then BANG, without hesitation, the dog goes after it.

    For the sake of this discussion, let’s limit the behavior to aggressiveness against other dogs, since that is the trait that is (or isn’t, yeah, right) bred into them.

  37. I think you have to expect your pit bull will show dog aggression. And, great, if you make it 14 years and the dog dies and it never once was aggressive towards other dogs, wonderful. But I think the tendency is there and an owner needs to watch for it. That’s why I think pit bulls need to be kept closely supervised by their owners at all times.

    But that’s a terrier for you. If you look down the breed standards of almost all of them, you’re going to read “may show dog aggression.”

    I don’t think that’s a reason for the dog not to exist. I think that’s a reason for only responsible, experienced dog owners to have them.

  38. I have a cat with a buster collar on permainently. He is obsessed with pulling his fur out. This is a nervous disorder caused by a umber of staffordshire bull terriers that are obsessed with chasing (trying to kill) him.

    One “Staffie” (oh they sound so cute don’t they!) managed to get a hold of my cat’s buster collar and tear a gaping hole in it whilst also biting a hole in his face right through his cheek. We cleaned it and fortunately it healed with no infection. However all I can say is I’ve never met a Staffordshire Bull Terrier that was cute and cuddly(and there are loads of them round here).

    What’s the point in developing a breed that has a locking jaw with 120lbs/sq inch bite unless it is for killing other animals. The whole lot of them should be neutered and phased out of existence. These vicious breeds have caused serious harm to kids and even their owners as well and as we know, all dogs can turn but if I had to have a killer on the loose I would rather him be a weakling with a knife than a powerful relentless freak with a machine gun. Get my point?

  39. posting, try #2.

    What’s the point in developing a breed that has a locking jaw

    there’d be no point in developing such a breed. they’d take one bite of kibble, then their jaw would lock shut and they’d starve.

    pit bulls do not have locking jaws. all they’ve got is stubbornness. it’s not too surprising you would believe this urban myth, though, as your attitude makes it fairly clear you’ve never bothered to get close enough to one that you might have learned better. that being so, you really shouldn’t pretend to speak out of anything but ignorance; your bigotry and prejudice do not become you.

    (besides, no matter how plastic the canine phenotype is — and it’s very plastic, compare a great dane to a chihuahua and try to imagine the wolf they both sprang from — i very much doubt that the mammalian single-jointed jaw could be made to lock, no matter how you bred the animal. there’s just not the mechanics for it in there. a reptilian double-jointed jaw apparatus, now…)

  40. @Nomen Nescio
    “you really shouldn’t pretend to speak out of anything but ignorance; your bigotry and prejudice do not become you.”

    Well Nomen, as far as bigotry is concerned we’re talking about dogs here not people.

    “pit bulls do not have locking jaws. all they’ve got is stubbornness.”

    It was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier owner that told me about the locking jaw so I’ll relent on the subject, however with a powerful bite it would appear to lock as you couldn’t get it open if you tried anyway. I got the figure wrong apparently a pitbull has a 1600psi bite. I know nobody that could prize open a bite that strong. it’s like a crocodile’s bite!

    Now to the ignorance bit. I am definitely not ignorant as to the often vicious nature of a Staffordshire bull terrier when it sees something it decides it wants to kill. I have seen it first hand and continue to see it most days. Don’t ask me why my cat insists on sleeping in the front garden but he does and it’s his territory and his prerogative. However what I continue to witness is sheer desire on the dog’s part to kill my cat while he is sleeping. In what way does that make me bigoted or ignorant? I admit that there must be some of these animals that are either too lazy to chase or too old or just too daft but they seem few and far between around here. They get a sniff and they are pulling at the leash to get what they want to tear apart and the owners seem not to give a toss.

    What’s it going to take for you to admit these animals are potentially dangerous at the very least to other people’s pets? Maybe if the dog ripped my cat to pieces as it was trying to do. What would you say then? “It’s not the dog’s fault, it’s in it’s nature!” or some other weak argument like that.

    What if your Pit Bull killed one of your other pets. How would you feel about them then?

    I’m not saying Pit Bulls are nastier than other dog breeds, they all have the wolf in them and therefore the potential to turn, however, with a powerful weapon like a Pit Bull’s jaw the result is 100 times worse than that of say a Labrador which is a much bigger dog.

    I have been bitten by a few dogs unprovoked. When I was eight a Doberman bitch bit me on the bum, when I was 22 a large German Shepherd bit be on the arm. A few have given me a nasty nip. Mainly tiny dogs with small dog complex like Jack Russels for example. Each time I was quick enough to get away before they managed to do any serious damage.

    Personally I think that the tougher breeds, the ones with powerful bites and the potential nature to use them should only be owned by those who need it. Police, security guards etc. If you want a pet dog what’s wrong with a friendly natured one that actually doesn’t look intimidating. A Labrador or Border Collie or maybe a friendly Red Setter or Cocker Spaniel? What’s with the obsession of mainly the unemployed or young alpha males to have an intimidating animal?

    I suppose you have never had an pet that is constantly terrorised by another breed of animal have you? I suggest that it is you who are ignorant to that experience!

    As I mentioned before. I have seen the potential savagery of a Staffordshire bull terrier first hand as I work from home and my cat sits on the front lawn outside the window of my office. Virtually every other day I hear a scuffle and look out to see one of these crazed animals try to get the best of my cat. He does nothing to provoke them. He mainly sleeps in the bushes. They get one sniff of him and they are in my garden like a shot. My cat only gets away because he is faster than the dogs but as I said before one did puncture his face.

    How can you hurl abuse at me when my cat (and therefore myself) is the victim here?

    My heart literally pounds when I hear this sound from hell and see the cat running for his life.

    If I was to walk around with a leopard or tiger on a lead and let it run around and terrorise Bull Terriers you would call me irresponsible or worse. Well I put it to you that the harm these breeds have caused over the years to people and other pets deems them unsuitable to be family pets.

    It’s not a case of me being bigoted or ignorant, I assure you, I’m just telling you what I have seen and how they have negatively affected our family life.

    Do you not think that you are looking at these Bull Terriers through rose coloured glasses.

  41. no, i don’t think i’m looking at any dogs through rosy glasses. they all have the potential to be aggressive and violent. but an individual dog’s upbringing, treatment and level of care — socialization, pack structure — matters a lot more to its temperament than its bloodline ever does. this i know both from the pitbull i had (since deceased — got along well with the one budgie i owned at the time, and with the cat it was raised with) and later from my two huskies (clearly very different from one another, even though they share a breed).

    i could well turn your accusation back on you, though. by your own description, you have extensive experience with problem dogs that are allowed to attack other animals without disciplining or proper control — which is to say, you also have experience with problem owners of problem dogs. are you so sure you have not been prejudiced by these negative experiences?

    if other peoples’ dogs are getting onto your property and harrassing your pets, that’s something those dogs’ owners need to damn well stop. if they won’t do it at your request, you have cause to contact animal control and/or the police; the dogs’ owners are being irresponsible jerks and need to be brought (no pun intended) to heel, right along with their animals. what has been the result of your attempts in this regard?

    (FWIW, you call cocker spaniels “friendly”? of all the dangerous dogs i’ve known, cockers have been among the most clearly psychotic. your experience is not the universal experience; you are not Everyperson.)

    and yes, “bigotry” can apply to opinions not about human beings. the term applies when somebody is aggressively defending a prejudiced opinion without good reason to continue holding it, even if it’s not an opinion about humans. but no, if you think i have been “hurling abuse” at you, you are sorely mistaken — i have been reasonably civilly disagreeing with you. if you’d like to see abuse, that could be arranged, although i rather doubt you’d appreciate that experience.

  42. Hm, Papa–seems to me the best way to keep cats from running afoul of dogs (or coyotes, which are way more dangerous in my neighborhood) is to keep them inside. Dogs of all sizes can, and do, think that hunting smaller* animals is their prerogative. Should the dog be in your yard? No. But blaming the breed for a more general canine instinct is kinda broadbrush. That’s like blaming only Siamese cats for killing birds.

    *Nastiest dogs I ever knew were my husband’s ex’s chihuahuas, rescue dogs, badly abused**. They’d go after the cats, humans, other dogs. No sense of scale.

    **the lesson here is “bad owners” not “bad breed.”

  43. I admit that there must be some of these animals that are either too lazy to chase or too old or just too daft but they seem few and far between around here.

    You’re operating from the assumption that all pit bulls are blood-thirsty, therefore when one doesn’t show the behavior you expect you believe something is “wrong” with it. Perhaps you might consider that the dogs that have something wrong with them are the ones who ARE showing blood-thirsty behavior. A properly cared for and well-raised dog doesn’t exhibit blood-thirsty behavior regardless of breed. Sounds like you have some poorly raised pits in your neighborhood, but you can’t generalize them to the whole breed(s). I’ve known about a half dozen pit bulls or so in my life and all of them were big sweeties. If your personal experience can be projected on to the whole breed, then why can’t mine?

    I’m a firm believer in keeping cats inside the house (all three of mine stay inside), because it protects them from all kinds of risks (other animals, vehicles, parasites, poisons, cruel humans, etc.), but I don’t tell others how they can and can’t raise their pets. But as Nomen said, if you have neighborhood pitbulls roaming around your yard, the owners are breaking the law. You need to talk to the owners and if they don’t get their animals under control, you need to call the police.

    But you really need to open your eyes to the larger world. The world doesn’t revolve around you. Your personal experience isn’t everyone’s experience. If you witnessed a person breaking into another person’s home would you therefore believe that ALL humans are burglars?

  44. My dog Pickle is a pit bull/basset hound mix. She’s brindle-colored and has a boxy pit bull head, with stubby little pig legs and long soft ears that hang down to her shoulders. When we go for walks we invariably encounter at least one person who says, “Is that a pit???” as if she might be a vicious rapacious killer.

    I’ve been on a mission for the last six months to introduce her to every kid in Cairo and let them pet her as long as it takes for them to stop saying “Do she bite?” and say “Pickle! Come here, Pickle!” instead.

  45. I’m currently fostering a pit mix and her puppies (she was so thin that she was unable to go into labor; most of the pups died and the shelter had to do a C-section to save the last few). She was neglected and abused, but you can see the sweetness shining in her eyes, but she’d have every right to be vicious and aggressive…but she’s not. I’m new to her yet she lets me bottlefeed the puppies that are too weak to suck.

    Seriously, I don’t know what’s wrong with people.

  46. Papa if your cat hasn’t been killed yet, perhaps you should bring it inside. Honestly, what are you thinking? If you can’t get animal control to take care of dogs intruding on your property, then it’s irresponsible to let your cat stay outside. Forget the right and wrong of the dogs…consider your cat’s safety. Once the cat is safe, deal with the canine problems.

  47. I was told, my entire life, how TERRIBLE Siamese cats were.
    “They are nuts and violent. Do not get one”
    Well, I got two of them anyway.
    I gave the best treatment, and nurturing, that I knew how.
    Mine are the most affectionate and fun cats that I have ever had the pleasure of being friends with.
    They are wild and “crazy” in such a nice way.
    I’m so glad that, in this case, I did not listen to the fear and prejudice of others.
    HOW-SOME-EVER………..
    when it comes to anything that RESEMBLES a Pitbull,
    my personal experiences have been, shall we say, less than comforting.
    I now ere on the side of caution when it comes to this breed,
    or any mix thereof
    and will continue to do so.
    Thanks.

  48. PS:
    Yes, I know, there are plenty that are sweet as the day is long,
    and I love them,
    but it is my personal choice to be cautious with this breed,
    or derivative
    based on my own experiences.
    Others have had different experiences.
    and I am glad that they have,
    and i sincerely hope that they continue to do so.
    Best wishes to all,
    and God bless.

  49. The only dog that ever bit me was a pit bull type dog.

    However, when I saw a painfully thin, half-mauled pit beside the road, I stopped and took her home with me anyway. If any animal had a reason to be aggressive, it’s her. The vet actually pulled two BBs out of her side–someone was very unkind to this poor dog.

    She’s now a fantastic pet, sweet-natured, goofy, and friendly. Loves my other two dogs and my cats–in fact, she and the little kitten are pretty good pals.

    So to those of you who have had bad experiences with pit bull type dogs: I hear you. I did too. I still have a scar from the dog that bit me. You can’t judge them all by the actions of one or two, though. They’re just dogs, just like any other dogs.

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