October is designated Pit Bull Awareness Month with the 27th being the focal point of the month for Pit Bull Awareness Day. This is the day to celebrate the breed and break down stereotypes of the nature of Pit Bulls. The dog was once called the “Nanny Dog,” so what happened? Why does this breed get such a bad rap? That’s why BestBullySticks.com wants to start the conversation with you. We’re going to talk about 4 myths about Pit Bulls and “Bully” breeds.

#1 Pit Bulls and “Bully” breeds are aggressive.
Some cultural thought suggests that pit bull type dogs are inherently aggressive toward people. The history of these breeds originate in England, where all “bully” breeds have their ancestors. English baiting dogs were bred to grip and hold bulls, bear and large animals. After bull baiting was banned, dog-on-dog fighting began. These owners bred small, agile terriers with large, heavy bulldogs to create fighting breeds. These dogs eventually led to breeds like bulldogs, mastiffs, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Boxers and Bull terriers.  There really is no such dog as  “pit bull,” but simply dogs that have the same general look.

However, the term “bully” doesn’t suggest a temperament problem against people. Unfortunately, these dogs were bred to fight dogs, and still today are more likely to be aggressive toward their fellow dogs and not people. In fact, the American Temperament Test Society found that, on average, most dogs are 77% likely to have a good temperament. Pit types were above average with an 82% or better. So needless to say, pit bulls that exhibit aggressive behavior are atypical.

Temperament depends on many different factors including reproductive status, sex, training, socialization and more. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) found these very interesting facts.

  • More than 70 percent of all dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs.
  • An unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than is a neutered dog.
  • A chained or tethered dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than a dog not chained or tethered.
  • 97 percent of dogs involved in fatal attacks on people in 2006 (the most recent year statistics are available) were not spayed/neutered.

#2 Bully Breeds attack without warning
 No dog attacks without warning. To say a dog attacks unprovoked, is probably also saying that a person failed to see the warning signs of fear or frustration. These warning signs manifest themselves in certain body signals such as a high, stiff tail, ruffled hair, pinned back ears and a low body posture. Anger can be caused by pent up frustration from being pinned in a yard without any freedom or poor socialization.  No matter the case, no dog attacks without warning, including bully breeds.

#3 It’s not safe to adopt a Bully Breed from a shelter
Although you won’t know the dog’s background or prior health issues, there are so many loving bully breeds that need love and care. Many rescues assess the dogs in their care to aid any potential adoptive parent in their choice. It’s also the adopter’s responsibility to be knowledgeable about the pet they want to adopt and ask questions pertaining to that pet. Adult dogs are easy to read because it’s easy to see where they are, what the need and how they’ll most likely act in certain situations. Raising a puppy won’t necessarily guarantee that an adoptive parent a problem-free future. The ASPCA encourages families interested in adopting a bully breed to bring their whole family and any current dog to meet the potential new family member.

#4 Banning Bully Breeds will reduce dog bites and fatal attacks
While the good intention of wanting to bring about safety is a noble thought, breed-specific legislation is only addressing the symptom to a larger problem. Laws against a breed, which otherwise is a docile and loyal breed, just make the problem worse. For example, irresponsible owners have been known to ignore licensing requirements, micro-chipping and vet visits, all of which are public safety hazards. Responsible owners with well-behaved dogs are punished for no reason. A better way create a safer community would be to make animal fighting illegal, enforce dog licensing, leash laws and anti-tethering laws.  For more information about pit bulls read these ASPCA articles on pit bulls and things to consider about pit bull adoption.

We hope that this National Pit Bull Awareness Day/Month, you can help debunk some of the bully breed stereotypes. Pit Bull advocates are everywhere and most likely there are awareness events being held in your state or community. Visit the National Pit Bull Awareness Day website to see what event are in your area. (Scroll down to see the listings by state.) You can even register your event if you are planning something in your own community.

What do you think of Pit Bulls and other “Bully” breeds? What have been your experiences? Tell us in the comments section.