Is the Pit Bull the right breed for me?

Things you should know before you make that big commitment.

Many people who obtain a Pit Bull really aren’t cut out for Pit Bull
ownership – they learn the hard way. But you don’t have to, and this
website is your stepping stone to success with your Pit Bull if you decide this is indeed the breed for you.

It is hoped that The REAL Pit Bull site will be one of many steps taken in the quest for knowledge about the breed. Please see the Resources section for recommended reading, organizations, and links to other Pit Bull and related sites on the Web.

There is no such thing as “too much
research” if you are thinking of
adding a Pit Bull to your family.

Pit Bulls tend to be prone to dog-directed aggression and are in general a breed with a high prey drive (they like to chase/catch small and sometimes not-so-small animals). Early training and socialization helps to curb and control these tendencies, but there is no “cure” for a dog that is dog-aggressive or possesses prey drive – it’s all about management. If you are the type who expects your dogs to run in a free-for-all group, likes to visit the off-leash dog park, or are squeamish about separating animals when you cannot be there to supervise closely, the Pit Bull is not for you.

Pit Bulls are prone to developing
dog-directed aggression and a breed with high prey
drive. If you have other animals
at home, supervision between them
and the Pit Bull is a MUST. Never
leave a Pit Bull unattended with
other animals.

Pit Bulls can be escape artists. It is advisable to have
two-fold protection: a topped kennel run in a yard surrounded by a
privacy fence, for instance. Better yet, just don’t leave your dog outside unattended.

In some areas, Pit Bull ownership is subject to special rules and
regulations, such as requiring muzzles in public, while other areas
ban Pit Bulls altogether. Many insurance companies will deny home
owners coverage if there is a Pit Bull on the property, and it can also be very difficult to rent with this breed. Check the laws in your area before bringing a dog home, make sure your insurance company won’t drop you, and learn more about breed specific legislation by clicking here.

In some locations, Pit Bull
ownership is subjected to stringent
laws, or may even be illegal. Some
insurance carriers will deny coverage
if you own a Pit Bull. Know the laws
in your town and state!

“I think they breed is right for me, now what?”

Assuming you’ve done all the proper research, know what constitutes a good American Pit Bull Terrier, and have come to the conclusion that you are indeed up for the responsibility of owning one of these great dogs, it is now time to start looking for one of your very own. But what sex should you consider? Should you bring home a pup or an adult? And where should you get your Pit Bull? Read on!

Does sex matter? Yes and no. If your Pit Bull will be an only-dog, sex is merely a personal choice. There are no great behavioral differences in this breed between the sexes. Male or female, the choice depends more upon personal preferences and sentimentality. If you do have another dog at home, however, it is wise to bring home a Pit Bull of the opposite sex. Although dogs of different sexes can and do get into fights, dogs of the same sex are more likely to fight, fight more often, and fight more seriously.

Dogs of the same sex are more likely
to fight. If you already have a dog at
home, seriously consider a Pit Bull of
the opposite sex.

A puppy may seem the right choice when deciding on what age Pit Bull you should acquire. But an adult dog is most likely the wisest choice for your first Pit Bull, unless you have a lot of prior experience raising large, working and/or terrier breed puppies. Raising any puppy is hard work, but Pit Bull pups take the cake. Housebreaking takes a lot of time in the first few months, and if you work fulltime, a puppy of any breed is not something you should consider. Puppies chew, and soil the house, and need a lot of early socialization and training. Socialization is most important prior to 16 weeks of age, so you are limited in terms of time span.

Anybody with blissful, trouble-free thoughts of a puppy they once
owned have probably repressed the memories of the trying adolescent phase! Remember, most dogs get surrendered to shelters and rescues around the 6-12 month mark. Because of the breed’s tendency towards dog aggression, early socialization is important. A Pit Bull needs to learn to ignore and respond to his human in the presence of other animals. Remedial socialization and training is never easy and will never bring the dog to the point he’d have reached had these things been worked on during the formative months.

Puppies are hard work, especially
Pit Bulls. Unless you have sufficient
time to devote to a pup, an adult
may be a wiser decision.

Many people have the mistaken belief that if they “raise it with the kids and cats”, that means it will be a perfect adult, non-aggressive and a friend to all. This is one of those urban myth type things that has an element of truth to it but has gotten a bit distorted and exaggerated the more it’s been passed around. The subject has been hotly debated by behaviorists for decades, but most are now in agreement that both environment (how and where an organism is raised) and genetics play an important role in adult temperament and behavior. Environment “acts upon” genetics and genetics help determine how an organism responds to environmental stimuli. That is partly why two organisms raised in the same environment can turn out so different.

What does this all mean for you? Well, raising a pup with your other
pets and/or children, training him “right” and so on, will all have a very positive effect on the pup’s behavior as an adult. However, in the end, you cannot completely discount genetics.

A dog with good genetic makeup will have a huge leg up when raised in a healthy environment, and sometimes despite a bad environment may still end up a-ok (which many an abused/neglected rescue dog has demonstrated). A dog with bad genetic makeup will always have bad genetic makeup, and despite the best efforts to raise and train him properly, an owner will always be fighting an uphill battle. In some cases, all the training and love in the world cannot overcome a dog’s genetic problem behavior tendencies.

This is all important to grasp not only for so-called abnormal behavior, but also in terms of dog- aggression in Pit Bulls. As a whole, the breed is susceptible to dog-aggression (this sort of aggression is NOT considered ‘bad’ or ‘abnormal’ per se). Despite being ‘raised with’ other dogs in a family, a Pit Bull may still end up dog-aggressive – even towards his housemates.

Although proper raising and training
are important in teaching a dog how
to be a well-mannered family member, it won’t
“cure” a dog who is
temperamentally incorrect or prone
to certain behaviors like dog-
aggression.

An adult, fully-matured Pit Bull ( 3 years of age or older), is a wise
choice for your first Pit Bull. A dog of this age has manifested, for the most part, his true temperament and personality. He’s done growing and past the rowdy puppy stage. He’s very much “what you see is what animal reaches maturity (usually after 2). With puppies, you never quite know how dog-aggressive they’ll be as adults. Adopting an adult Pit Bull affords you the luxury of being able to be matched with the dog that will best fit into your unique situation. Worried about bonding? You need not. Pit Bulls re-home exceptionally well and bond fully to new find
plenty in the kennels of rescues throughout the country.

With adult (3 years and older) dogs,
what you see is what you get.
Adopting an adult dog will allow you
to choose the kind of dog best suited
to your home. No guess work, no
worries that a pup might not mature
into the dog of your dreams.

Where to get a Pit Bull?   A) An ethical breeder;  B) A rescue that
specializes in Pit Bulls; or C) a shelter/all-breed rescue.

Let’s first look at option A. There are numerous breeders of American Pit Bull Terriers. Some are very selective, dedicated, ethical people who only produce the most sound, stable puppies and place their dogs in carefully screened homes, and keep in contact with purchasers throughout the dogs’ lives–this is the type of breeder you should purchase from. Sadly, too many breeders producing Pit Bulls are not knowledgeable about proper breed temperament, health and dog care. They sell their dogs to anybody who can pay them. This type of breeder cares little for the breed, and is only out to make a buck. Avoid this type of breeder like the plague! Also beware the well-intentioned, but uneducated “backyard breeder”.

So where do you find an ethical breeder? Breed magazines, dog
publications, national breed clubs, and the Internet are all helpful
resources. You WON’T find ethical breeders in want-ads or ads tacked up on your local supermarket’s bulletin board. Also beware the breeder that casually advertises “Pit Bull Puppies For Sale” over the Internet, sites that offer “mail order” puppies, or those that advertise more than one breed of dog.

For more information on what constitutes an ethical breeder, why you should buy from one, and where to find one, please visit Breeding page.

Now for option B. Rescues obtain their dogs a variety of ways and from various places: shelters, owner turn-ins, abusive situations, breeder rejects, strays, etc. There are some truly amazing, wonderful dogs in rescue awaiting homes. But choosing a rescue organization is something that takes time and consideration, the same as if you were selecting a breeder to purchase from. Walk away from any rescue that tries to force a dog on you or one that hands over an animal without asking you a million and one questions. Ask the rescue what their policy on adopting out human-aggressive dogs is. Rescues that attempt to rehome dogs that have been knowingly aggressive towards humans should be scratched off your list. And all reputable rescues thoroughly evaluate their dogs prior to placement.

Rescues are a valuable resource, both for the dogs they help and the
people looking for that special companion. Nothing feels quite so good as knowing you saved a life, and adopted dogs can make some of the most wonderful pets imaginable. There are many homeless Pit Bulls that need caring owners, and by obtaining a dog from a rescue, you are helping to put a dent in the overpopulation problem. For more information on rescues and rescued dogs, please see the
Recommended Rescues page.

Option C: Dogs in shelters and all-breed rescues many times are not
properly evaluated for temperament and since they come from
questionable backgrounds, it is quite possible you may stumble across a dog with poor temperament. These organizations may not have the breed-specific knowledge to really guide you in your decision to adopt a Pit Bull, either, so you may be matched with a dog that is ill-suited to your specific circumstances. Good dogs can and do come from shelters and all-breed rescues, and some are truly Pit Bull-savvy. Screen a shelter/all-breed rescue before you decide to adopt from one!