Every year thousands of dogs are placed in shelters because their previous owners did not take the time to research their breed. For a successful life together, it is imperative to know whether a dog's temperament will mesh with your personality and lifestyle. Ignoring this important step can lead to problems for you and your dog. Spare yourself the aggravation of picking the wrong type of dog and do your homework first. We put more thought into buying a car than adopting a pet. A pet, however, is not disposable property. Pets emotionally attach to their owners and do get depressed when an owner drops them off at some strange place never to return again. Although many breeds are abandoned by their owners, this page focuses on the "pit bull"/bully breeds and what you should know before adopting one.
- What's a Pit Bull?
- Huge Myth
- Reasons to Own a Bully Breed Dog
- Would You Make a Good Bully Breed Owner?
- Know Thy Bully
- Why You Should Never Take a Bully Breed to a Dog Park
- Tips for a Multi-dog Household
- Responsible Bully Breed Owners
- Bully Breeds - The Dark Side
- Other Resources
"Pit Bull" is a generic term that is frequently used to describe several types of dogs developed from the English Bulldog and terriers of England. The American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bulldog, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, and mixed breeds that include any of these breeds fall under the affectionately called "bully breed" category.
All "pit bull" owners are drug dealers, gangsters or are involved in dog fighting.
Owners range from physicians and accountants, to teachers, authors and laborers. The most visible segment of bully breed owners is the disreputable one. However, reputable and responsible owners are working hard to dispel this myth.
Some Famous Bully Breed Owners Past and Present:
- Helen Keller
- Fred Astaire
- Humphrey Bogart
- Thomas Edison
- General George Patton
- President Woodrow Wilson
- Mel Brooks
- John Steinbeck
- Mary Tyler Moore
- Barbara Eden
- Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith
- Jon Stewart (from the Daily Show)
- Bernadette Peters
- Jessica Alba
- Michael J. Fox
- Brad Pitt
- Rachel Ray
- Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer (owns several) Video
and the list goes on and on...
Bully Breeds were so loved around WWI that they represented the US in WWI posters.
Media hysteria and bad owners have greatly damaged the reputation of this breed. Every negative incident involving a bully breed dog makes it difficult for those owners who do handle their dogs responsibly. Additionally, dogs waiting to be adopted must wait longer due to the negative perception of the breed.
- They make great family dogs.
- They are tolerant enough to handle even the most boisterous children.
- Bully breeds are snugglers, they want to be close to you and close to the action in the home.
- Bully breeds are not big barkers, your neighbors will thank you. If they do bark, pay attention, they are trying to tell you something.
- Your bully breed will love you wholeheartedly.
- If you're looking for a loyal exercise partner, a muscle-powered bully is up for the challenge.
- Over a century of careful breeding for companionship has produced rock-solid temperaments in the majority of bully breeds who work regularly as therapy, police, and search and rescue dogs.
- Bully breeds have a natural and genuine affinity for people. These dogs have a depth of loyalty that isn't often seen in many other breeds.
The only way to repair the pit bull's bad reputation is to keep them in the hands of responsible owners. Ask yourself the following question to see if you fit that profile:
- Are you an experienced dog owner or a natural leader?
- Can you commit to being a more responsible dog owner than anyone you know?
- Will the dog live as a member of the family, never to be chained in the yard?
- Are you firmly committed to properly socializing and training your new dog?
- Are you able to train with consistency, kindness and patience?
- Are you physically able to handle a strong and active dog?
- Are you willing to have a dog that can never be safely taken to a dog park?
- Are you informed about the biases and misconceptions about these breeds?
- Are you willing to work to help change the public perception of these breeds by doing all of the above?
The media is quick to headline any story of a pit bull type dog getting into trouble, whether the culprit was an irresponsible owner, a dog with a substandard temperament, or both. You'll inevitably have to spend some time educating uninformed neighbors, friends or relatives that your dog is a well-behaved, loving and responsibly owned family member. Owning a bully breed dog is not for shrinking violets.
Being responsible applies to all dog owners. However, it is more imperative when your dog of choice and it's behavior are under public scrutiny. Here are some steps advised by "Bully Breeds" magazine.
Socialize your Dog
Before your pup is 16 weeks old, it should have encountered hundreds of people, places and things. It should have the attitude "been there, done that".
Obedience Training is Paramount
Training enforces the human-animal bond. Dogs love having a job to perform. A well-behaved bully is a source of pride for their owners. People do take notice and it's a great feeling. Also, exercise your bully as a tired dog is a good dog – and has happy owners.
Walk your dog on a leash and keep it under control in public. Don't allow your dog, no matter its breed, to infringe upon other people's space. Bully breed owners should never use an extendable leash. These dogs are strong and can snap this type of leash in seconds. Never allow your bully breed to run loose in an unfenced area.
Spay or Neuter
An altered dog is less likely to roam and is typically more even-tempered than an intact male or females.
Bully breeds are natural diggers and climbers. Never, under any circumstances, for any amount of time, leave your dog unattended in a yard or tied up outside a store or in a car. Dog theft is rampant and a bully breed dog is particularly desirable to thieves due to the popularity of dog fighting. Bully breeds (and all dogs) should live inside of the home with the family. This is so important for the dog's mental well-being as they desire human companionship above all else.
Potential bully breed owners must realize their dog's need for human companionship and the importance of obedience training to prevent dominant behavior. If a dog exhibits dog aggression, the owner must be vigilant in preventing fights with other dogs and maintain control of the dog at all times.
Being a responsible bully breed owner is extremely important for the sake of the breed.
Dogs of the bully breeds are tenacious, strong, agile, very loyal, and have a desire to please their owners. Unfortunately, these traits have attracted the worst of humanity. Unethical people have taken the positive characteristics of these breeds and have turned them on people which accounts for some dog attacks. In the end, the dog pays the ultimate price - death; the wreckless owner gets a slap on the wrist. However, laws are being created to bring harsher penalties against abusers. Animal fighting is now a felony in the state of Illinois. Also, in 2007, President George Bush signed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act into law. This law provides felony penalties for interstate commerce, import and export related to animal fighting activities, including commerce in cockfighting weapons. It will make it much harder for criminals who engage in dog fighting and cockfighting to continue their operations. Each violation of the federal law may bring up to three years in jail and up to a $250,000 fine for perpetrators.
Even hideous mistreatment of these dogs can rarely squelch their inherent goofy and happy nature or their desire to be with people and to please them. This is proven time and time again in cases of dogs rescued from extremely abusive situations such as dog fighting. Given a good home, they can and do bounce back. For prime examples, read about the dogs rescued from Michael Vick's dog fighting compound. See their amazing journey from confinement and abuse to freedom and happiness:
SEE THE UPDATE: From their rescue, to their evaluations, and on their way to happy homes.
- Heart-warming Stories and Press Coverage
- Dog Breed Information Center: American Pit Bull
- The Truth About Pit Bulls