Pit Bull Temperament
The Pit Bull temperament is known for being courageous, affectionate, and friendly. They are known as the life of the part by clowning around and being goofy towards their family, friends and strangers. The Pit Bull temperament has been known to have a very strong character, sound nerves and an extremely intelligent mind. This makes the Pit Bull an ideal pet and companion for large households that have children. The Pit Bull temperament is such that they will be loving and playful for the most part but also strong and vigilant when their family members need to be protected. That being said, it will never be necessary for you to train your Pit Bull temperament for guard or attack because they are naturally inclined to do so when the need arises in their environment. This does not mean that Pit Bulls do not need to be trained -because it does- and we will talk about this in a bit.
If all this is true, then why is there such a huge emphasis at all times on the aggressive and killer Pit Bull temperament? Perhaps, a look at the history of the American Pit Bull terrier will explain the situation. Pit Bulls are medium-sized, solidly built, short-hair dogs that have ancestry in England and Ireland. They were bred first to bait bulls and bears. When this was deemed to be inhumane, rat-baiting and dog-baiting became the more suitable use of the Pit Bull. Pit Bulls were used in both of these sports and because of the prevalence of putting them in the pits with rats, the name ‘pit’ was added to its name. Because of humans engaging them in inhumane behavior, the Pit Bull temperament has a high prey drive, a strong personality and high guard dog instincts. While this has been made to sound dangerous by media and many other sources, the reality is that in many cases (since we have not researched everything) the Pit Bull temperament can very well be controlled by proper training and socialization. It is also just as true that Pit Bulls can be loving and loyal dogs. This means that it is up to us humans to decide how the Pit Bull acts.
The Pit Bulls are in reality NOT the best of guard dogs because they’re very friendly towards other people, even strangers. Aggressive behavior towards humans is highly uncharacteristic and highly undesirable in this breed. The Pit Bull temperament may turn aggressive towards people who they think are about to harm their family or threaten them. They are also inclined to have similar feelings towards other dogs, especially male dogs from other breeds and other large dogs. Of course, the Pit Bull temperament varies from one dog to the next and so their sensitivity to other dogs shall vary as well.
In order to save the tainted Pit Bull name and maintain your Pit Bull temperament, it is crucial that the Pit Bull is socialized from an early age. You will know that your Pit Bull temperament is properly trained and socialized when he or she is not the instigator in a situation. Instead, the properly trained and socialized Pit Bull will shy away from a challenge. Moreover, the Pit Bull temperament is such that when trained properly you can control how the dog reacts in every situation and never tries to protect you or do anything for that matter without your permission first.
Part of knowing the Pit Bull temperament is knowing that they have a high prey drive. That being said, you should always exercise caution as you are thinking of putting a Pit Bull in close proximity of cats, rabbits, hamsters or other domestic animals that they have not been socialized with. This again is a natural instinct that can be controlled by the human trainer.
In September, 2000 a meta-analysis conducted by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was published which examined dog bite related fatalities (human death caused by dog bite injuries) over a 20 year period from 1979-1998. The study examined 238 fatalities in which the breed was known. The study was surmised to covered approximately 72% of known dog bite related fatalities during that period. Over a 20 year period, “Pit Bull-type dogs” were involved with more dog bite related fatalities than any other breed. However, in the latter half of the study another unnamed breed accounted for more dog bite related fatalities than Pit Bulls.
“Despite these limitations and concerns, the data indicate that another unnamed dog and Pit Bull-type dogs accounted for 67% of human DBRF (dog bite related fatality) in the United States between 1997 and 1998. It is extremely unlikely that they accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities… However, breeds responsible for human DBRF have varied over time.”
– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Regardless of speculation on temperament of the American Pit Bull Terrier throughout the years, the breed recently has consistently received acceptable scores from the American Temperament Testing Society, scoring 86.8% as of February 2013. The average passing rate for all breeds tested is 83%.
American Pit Bull Terriers have been banned from or restricted in several countries, municipalities, cities, counties and military bases under the notion that they are inherently aggressive toward people and other animals. There are many dog parks and apartment complexes that will not let Pit Bull owners use their property. Recently, Toronto Blue Jay’s pitcher, Mark Buerhle was forced to part with his Pit Bull due to Toronto’s policy outlawing the dog breed. There is not much support of the belief that the Pit Bulls inherently aggressive. The only evidence that we have is on a case-by-case basis. Many of us have read articles on newspapers and the internet that make us think and feel a certain way about the Pit Bull temperament. While we are not professionals and are here only expressing our point of view, we strongly suggest you do your own research before getting a Pit Bull or socializing with one.
If you are about to get a Pit Bull from a breeder or adopt one for your household, there are a couple of others things about the Pit Bull temperament that you will want to keep in mind. Often times, there is such as emphasis on ‘whether a Pit Bull is aggressive’ that we tend to overlook the other things that determine the Pit Bull temperament.
Firstly, Pit Bulls are athletic dogs that need to be exercised on a daily basis. Especially as a puppy, and also as an adult, a bored Pit Bull can chew up your clothes, shoes and couch if you are not taking the time to take them on a run, walk them for a long period of time, or do some other activity with them that will exercise their bodies and stimulate their minds.
Secondly, while Pit Bulls are extremely social dogs with humans and children alike, because of their strength and exuberance, it is recommended that they be with older children only.
Thirdly, since Pit Bulls are such intelligent dogs with high stamina and brain power, it is recommended that they be put in training and obedience classes. They are very enthusiastic learners and most finish as the head student of the class wherever they go.
Fourth, as a Pit Bull owner, it is your job to make sure that the reputation of your dog breed is maintained and even restored sometimes. While there is a lot of discrimination against Pit Bulls, you can change that by making sure that you are a well-educated dog owner and that your dog is well-trained to always follow your directions.