A history on Pit bulls

Dogs have been man’s best friend for centuries. We tamed them from wild beasts into creatures that like to sit in your lap and sleep, but not every dog has the luxury of being loved for just living. In fact one breed is hated for it. 

    Dog breeds are characterized by certain physical and behavioral traits. Each breed was developed to perform a specific job, whether that job is hunting rabbits, retrieving downed birds, herding livestock or sitting on people’s laps. When developing a breed, breeders typically select only the dogs that performed their job best to produce the next generation.

 

Physical abilities and behavior are both important factors for any breed big or small. A well-bred dog should have both the physical attributes necessary to perform its job and the behavioral tendencies needed to learn said job.It is not a surprise that certain dogs that are in the same family resemble one another . Pointers for example are more likely than Poodles to point, and sheepdogs are more likely than lap dogs to herd. However, while a dog’s genetics may predispose it to perform certain behaviors, tremendous behavioral variation exists among individuals of the same breed or breed type. It’s also important to note that some dog breeds are now bred for entirely different jobs than those for which they were originally made for. For instance, certain strains of Golden Retrievers are now being bred as service dogs, a far off cry from their original job of retrieving downed birds. 

   Pitbulls are one of the most misunderstood breeds of today. Descending from the English bull biting dogs which were bred to bite and hold large animals— such as bulls and bears— around the face and neck. When the blood sport of bull baiting was outlawed in the 1800s people turned to pitting their dogs against one another. When it was realized that breeding a larger and slower bull baiting dog with a smaller and quicker terrier produced even more agile and quick dogs they used them for the fights. Some pit bulls were selected and bred specifically for their fighting ability. That means that they may be more likely than other breeds to fight with dogs. It doesn’t however mean that they can’t be around other dogs or that they’re unpredictably aggressive.  Other pit bulls were specifically bred for work and companionship. These dogs have long been popular family pets, noted for their gentleness, affection and loyalty. And even those pit bulls bred to fight other animals were not prone to aggressiveness toward people. Dogs used for fighting needed to be routinely handled by people; therefore aggression toward people was not tolerated in the least.  Any dog that behaved aggressively toward a person was culled, or put down, to avoid passing on such an undesirable trait. Research on pet dogs confirms that dog aggressive dogs are no more likely to direct aggression toward people than dogs that aren’t aggressive to other dogs. It is most likely that the majority of today’s pits are the result of random acts of breeding. Two dogs that were mated with care for the traits that were being bred. As a result of this a large population of dogs have a wide range of behavioral dispositions. Some pit bulls were selected and bred for their fighting ability. That means that they may be more likely than other breeds to fight with dogs. It doesn’t mean that they can’t be around other dogs or that they’re unpredictably aggressive.  Other pit bulls were specifically bred for work and companionship. These dogs have long been popular family pets, noted for their gentleness, affection and loyalty. And even those pit bulls bred to fight other animals were not prone to aggressiveness toward people. Dogs used for fighting needed to be routinely handled by people; therefore aggression toward people was not tolerated. Any dog that behaved aggressively toward a person was culled, or killed, to avoid passing on such an undesirable trait. Research on pet dogs confirms that dog aggressive dogs are no more likely to direct aggression toward people than dogs that aren’t aggressive to other dogs.

     Behavior develops through the interaction of environment and genetics. They work as a team to determine the personality of a breed. This is an especially important consideration when we look at an individual dog versus a breed. Many diverse and sometimes subtle factors influence the development of behavior, including, but not only early nutrition, stress levels experienced by the mother during pregnancy, and even the temperature in the womb. And when it comes to influencing the behavior of an individual dog, factors such as housing conditions and the history of social interactions play crucial roles in behavioral development. The factors that feed into the expression of behavior are so completely intertwined that it’s usually impossible to point to any one specific influence that accounts for a dog becoming aggressive. This is why there is such variation in behavior between individual dogs, even when they are of the same breed and are bred for the same purpose. 

All dogs, including pit bulls, are special  individuals. Treating them as such and  providing them with the care, training and supervision they require, and judging them by their actions and not by their DNA or their physical appearance is the best way to ensure that dogs and their human counterparts can continue to share safe and content lives together.

photo credit: Caesarsway.com