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Posted on 03-31-2017

Pit Bulls: To Fear or Not to Fear?
By Dr. Rory Hekking

Our Breed of the Month is the American Pit Bull Terrier, and so far this month we’ve provided some fun facts about the breed that highlight why we think they’re so wonderful. A Facebook post, however, wouldn’t be long enough to address the elephant in the room with regards to this breed: are they dangerous? The short answer is it depends.

Temperament

The United Kennel Club describes the American Pit Bull Terrier as “eager to please and brimming over with enthusiasm. APBTs make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their love of children.” The natural disposition of

the Pit Bull is energetic and affectionate, often long past the typical puppy stages of life. Training requires consistent and firm discipline to guide their energetic and stubborn personalities.

Pit Bulls were originally bred to fight bulls, and subsequently used for dog fighting rings. It is important to read body language whenever introducing any dogs, but because of their muscular build, special attention should be paid to the introductions involving Pit Bulls.

Breed-Specific Legislation

In many parts of the country, lawmakers has passed laws that are deemed “Breed-Specific Legislation.” These laws outlaw or place severe restrictions on certain breeds, almost always including the Pit Bull, in the hopes of protecting those under their jurisdiction. But do they work? A recent study looked into that very question.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (the governing body of veterinarians) analyzed the results of 66 studies looking at breed risk for dog bites. They found no evidence that Pit Bull type dogs posed any greater risk for dog bites than other breeds. Their recommendation is that “dangerous and/or vicious animals should be labeled as such as a result of their actions or behavior and not because of their breed."

Can I get a Pit Bull?

The answer should be a resounding yes! Just like with other dogs, the key is to identify if they fit well with your home situation. Since they are high energy and rambunctious, can you provide lots of activity to burn that energy off? What does their body language tell you? Do they interact well with children and other dogs? Are they confident? If they are nervous, do you have the tools in place to help them with their anxiety?

American Pit Bull Terriers and all of their cousin breeds are often favorites of those who spend time in the veterinary field because we have seen how loving and fun they can be. The stigma around the breed is often negative, but as you get know them, the concerns will melt away.

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