So, what is a pitbull? One of the first things I learned as a pitbull parent was the the term pitbull refers to several different dogs, including the:
- American Pitbull Terrier
- Staffordshire Pitbull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Pitbull Terrier
And most recently, the
- American Bully
Another commonly asked question is, "where do pitbulls come from"? The most accepted theory goes back to mid-9th century England, where butchers used a dog call bullenbeissers to latch onto a bulls nose in order to subdue it so the butcher could regain control. This practice morphed into a "sport" call bull-baiting. Dogs were put into pits with a riled up bull and spectators would put bets on how long a dog could last and whether it would take the bull down, or not. This is where we get the terms pitbull and bull dog.
Around the 19th century, England wised up and banned bull-baiting. Sadly, this pushed dogfighting underground in the U.K., and English immigrants brought this "sport" with them to America. However, as the immigrants began to spread, the original intent of the breed was brought back into play, and bullies became favorites on farms across the country (Facts taken from Cesar's Way).
In the early half of the century pitbulls were America's favorite dogs. They were:
- featured on Army recruiting posters
- included in advertising campaigns
- stars in Hollywood movies and televisions shows
|Petey from The Little Rascals was a pitbull|
In fact, pitbulls were nicknamed "the nanny dog" during this period because of their gentle touch with children. Parents found that the dogs made excellent companions for their small children. There are numerous pictures on the internet from this time frame showcasing pitbulls and their young charges.
From the 1900's to the early 1980's there was exactly one pitbull attack to make national headlines, and it involved a man who sicced a pack of 26 dogs on one woman (Cesar's Way).
Unfortunately, dogfighting made a large comeback in the 1980's, and the pitbull became the dog of choice for their strength, speed, and unwavering desire to please their masters. Pitbulls also became popular guard dogs for drug dealers and gang members, and these dogs were trained to be vicious. This training contributed to the myth that all pitbulls are aggressive and dangerous. A great quote I found on Cesar's Way sums up the issue of pitbull attacks, "(M)any of the pit bull attacks are due to a skyrocketing number of poorly bred and badly trained dogs raised by backyard breeders, who are trying to cash in on the pit bull's growing reputation as a cheap, but deadly effective guard dog, particularly in urban areas."
So there's a brief history lesson on the dogs we call pitbulls. For a great overview on pitbulls check out Hello Bully's website. It features a terrific slideshow that shares a ton of information on our favorite breed of dog! If anyone believes I left out anything important, please fell free to comment. Also, if there's an area you and your dog are struggling in and would like me to write about, or if there's something you'd like more info on, please let me know. I'm open to suggestions! Now, go forth and spread the word about what great pet's pitbulls make!