Jun 262012
 
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A couple of days ago, Liliana sent me a link to one of her favorite blogs: Love & a six-foot leash.  I had visited this site before and enjoyed looking at the photos of Aleksandra’s dogs, and the dogs that she fosters.  Aleksandra and her family help a few unlucky pit bull-type dogs by taking the unloved and often mistreated dogs into their home, caring for and loving them, and then ultimately, finding them their perfect family and forever home.  Aleksandra’s mission, however, is much larger than rescuing and placing some dogs in new homes with loving families.

Pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs suffer the misfortune of a maligned reputation.  Evening news reports of vicious attacks on innocent people ring in the ears of moms, dads and children.  I will never forget the time when Lili and I were walking our two American bulldogs on the small, shop-lined streets of Cape May, NJ, and a young child, about six or seven years old, pointed at our dogs and cried out, “Devil dogs! Those are devil dogs!!” The parents were obviously embarrassed as they shushed the boy and quickly disappeared into the crowd of vacationers, but it was too late; the damage had been done.  From that day forward, I always wondered what people were thinking about my muscular, blocky headed dogs as they watched them at the end of their six-foot leashes.  Aleksandra’s greatest mission is to affect change in the way people see and think of pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs.  As with every other person who has ever had the privilege of knowing these wonderful, loving companions, she understands that the harsh, discriminatory views of these dogs is a product purely of misinformation and ignorance.

In a post titled, “One of these dogs is (or is not) like the other: Defining a “pit bull” dog”, Aleksandra presents her readers with a pop quiz.  Above a photograph of her two blocky headed dogs, Aleksandra asks one question: Which of her two dogs is a “pit bull” dog? The multiple choice answers are:

A) Both
B) Neither
C) Chick only
D) Doodlebug only

Photo: Juliana Willems. Site: Love & a six-foot leash.

Yes, her dog’s names are Chick and Doodlebug.  She refers to the pair of them as, Chickerdoodle

Aleksandra recently had a DNA test done on Doodlebug, and I guess, previously had one done on Chick.  The quiz poses an interesting question: What is a pit bull?  We must be able to define exactly what a pit bull is if we want to have any success on this quiz!

If a pit bull is any dog with a muscular physique, then the answer is A) Both.  If a pit bull is any dog with a blocky head, then the answer is A) Both.  If a pit bull is any dog with large jaw muscles, then the answer is A) Both.  If a pit bull is any dog with a stocky body and short fur, then the answer is A) Both.  If a pit bull is any athletically built dog with almond shaped eyes, then the answer is A) Both.

At this point, it looks like I’m going to Ace this quiz.  For all the criteria that describe what a pit bull is, the answer is always A) Both.  Is it really that simple though?  Is there something in the breed name that can help us decipher what a pit bull is?  To follow up on that question, is “pit bull” a breed of dog?  In my mind, No.  Pit bull is not a breed of dog.  Pit bull was a descriptive title given to dogs that were used for a specific type of entertainment – dog fighting.  The fights were often held in rings, rooms, yards and actual pits.  Dog fighting grew in popularity in Europe during the seventeenth century, but as we all know, the roots of these blood sports go back much further.  Tournaments ‘pitting’ beast against beast, beast against man, and man against man were popular in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and no doubt, have a longer history than we are aware of.

Let’s look at the etymology of the name, “pit bull terrier”.  When most people think of ‘working animals’, images of draft horses, mules, oxen, and even elephants are probably what go through most people’s minds; however, before dogs became the most popular, beloved companion animals that they are today, they also performed work for their human masters (some still do).  The work ranged from guard and attack duty, to herding grazing animals and mushing sleds through ice and snow.

In medieval England the sport of baiting was very popular and drew large crowds who were enthralled by the excitement, blood and gore of the events.  Baiting consisted of the unleashing of one or more trained dogs to attack and bring to submission another animal, most commonly a bull; hence the name, bulldog.  Baiting was more than just a sport, however.  The baiting of bulls was a practice used to render the meat of the bull more tender and nutritious, and in many towns, butchers were required by law to bait bulls before slaughter or face a penalty.

The story goes that after a few particularly bloody and gory baiting events – more than one at which a dog was slowly dismembered by his master while the dog held steadfastly to the bull to show off his dog’s unrelenting tenacity – people began to condemn the sport of baiting.  After some time, baiting was outlawed.  The illegalization of baiting lead to the rise in popularity of dog fighting.  Some historians believe that in order to create better, and perhaps, smaller fighting dogs, some type of game terrier dogs were bred with bulldogs.  Whether this is true or not, no one can say with one hundred percent certainty, but it does explain the ‘terrier’ in pit bull terrier.

Now that we’ve dissected the name, “pit bull terrier”, it appears that the moniker describes a dog with a certain job.  This is similar to when we refer to a person by his job or professional title, such as, doctor or janitor.  It’s not a DNA thing; it’s a job title thing.  Concerning pit bulls and DNA, that brings up another Question – What exactly is a pit bull terrier?

It seems that there is no definitive answer to what a pit bull is.  The genetic makeup of pit bulls is a mystery.  There are some people who claim to know the genetic pieces of the true, original pit bull, but of all those people who claim to know, no two agree.  Are today’s true American pit bull terriers direct and untainted descendants of the original bulldogs of old England?  Or are American pit bull terriers the product of a cross between the original bulldogs of England and some unknown terrier dogs?

In my opinion, it is very unlikely that the original bulldogs of the early nineteenth century and earlier England survive in pure form as today’s American pit bull terrier.  The likely-hood that a working dog breed whose job he was displaced from almost two hundred years ago, remains genetically unchanged, is extremely slim.  As previously stated, once bull baiting was outlawed by parliament in 1835, the popularity of dog fighting exploded.  Some records indicate that game terrier dogs were introduced to the bulldog gene pool for the purpose of increasing tenacity and endurance.  Breeders guarded their pit fighting dog’s pedigrees in secrecy for competitive reasons.  This secrecy of breeders suggests that crossbreeding did occur, and was probably quite common.  When one looks at artist’s renditions and photographs of fighting dogs during the sport’s heyday, it becomes apparent that there is no clear and consistent phenotype.  I think that the evidence, along with common sense, suggests that the original bulldog and today’s American pit bull terrier are two distinct breeds.  To go a step further, I do not believe that pit bulls exist as a genotype.

So then, back to Aleksandra’s Chick and Doodlebug.  Are they pit bulls?  Is either one a pit bull?  Since neither Chick nor Doodlebug are involved in dog fighting, I do not believe that either of them are pit bulls.  Not in the strictest sense anyway.  That’s not to say that I don’t refer to my sweet, lovable and super social, Tommy, as a pit bull.

Society has come to associate certain physical characteristics in dogs as identity markers of pit bulls.  I guess this is where the term, pit bull-type dogs comes from.  Chick and Doodlebug look like what most people think of as pit bulls, but they are not pit fighters, and their DNA proves conclusively that they are, as units (that sounds funny), completely different breeds.

To reiterate an earlier point, I do not feel that a specific DNA sequence determines whether or not a dog is a pit bull.  The sole determiner for pit bull identification is the job that a dog performs.  If a dog is toted around in a Gucci purse and wears designer doggy attire, then it isn’t a pit bull.  If a dog spends his days watching television on the couch with his master and enjoys the occasional dropped potato chip, then that dog is not a pit bull.  If the dog is trained to be animal-aggressive and participates in organized dog fights once a month, then that dog is a pit bull.

To answer three of Aleksandra’s questions:

•    Is Chick less of a pit bull after his DNA test, which revealed no SBT or AST?  No, Chick is no more or less of a pit bull now than before.  He was not a pit bull before the DNA test, and he isn’t one now.
•    And is Doodlebug more of one?  Doodlebug isn’t a pit bull either.  The fact that he shares some DNA with breeds that have been identified as pit bull-type dogs really has no significance.
•    And can two mixed-breed dogs that share zero common breeds both be “pit bull” dogs?  The answer to this one is yes.  Again, pit bulls are defined by the job that they perform.

And the answer to the pop quiz: is B) Neither.

I am glad that Aleksandra created her pop quiz, because it motivated me to write this post.  I enjoyed learning the results of Chickerdoodle’s DNA tests, and I’ll always happily give in to any excuse to look at photos of dogs.  Unfortunately, it also makes clear a growing problem and a threat to anyone who loves pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs: breed specific legislation is a flawed concept that can take your beloved pet away from you.

People in government wield the power to take your pet away from you by force, as occurred in Denver, CO in 1989, Winnipeg, Canada in 1990, and other places around the world.  Pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs are classified as dangerous breeds, but they are so loosely defined by the various governing bodies that almost any dog can be labeled a pit bull or pit bull-type dog, and consequently taken from your possession.  It’s scary to think that under different circumstances, both Chick and Doodlebug could be removed from their home by force because they look a certain way.  They could be classified as a dangerous breed even though they share no common DNA, as evidenced by their Wisdom Panel Insights DNA test.  How could two dogs with no common DNA be considered the same dangerous breed?  I guess we know which answer from Aleksandra’s pop quiz proponents of breed specific legislation would choose.  What a shame – fear from ignorance.  I think we as a people have seen this phenomenon before.

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  35 Responses to “Pitbulls and DNA Tests”

Comments (35)
  1.  

    Thank you, Carlos, for this gem of a post. It really took me by surprise to see somebody write so thoughtfully about a question that we obviously think about a lot in our home, but the rest of the world seems to think is an easy one to answer. We’ll look forward to reading future musings of yours on Liliana’s blog. Best, Aleks & Ben (plus Chick and Doodlebug)

    •  

      Thank you, Aleks! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post. I think that the DNA test results from Chick and Doodlebug are so interesting, because they bring up a lot of questions. My post may have gotten some negative feedback, but I think it’s all due to emotional responses from people who love and care about pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs. I’m glad that there are people out there who care enough to defend these dogs. Thank you for your contribution to the world!

  2.  

    Well said!!

  3.  

    “To reiterate an earlier point, I do not feel that a specific DNA sequence determines whether or not a dog is a pit bull. The sole determiner for pit bull identification is the job that a dog performs. If a dog is toted around in a Gucci purse and wears designer doggy attire, then it isn’t a pit bull. If a dog spends his days watching television on the couch with his master and enjoys the occasional dropped potato chip, then that dog is not a pit bull. If the dog is trained to be animal-aggressive and participates in organized dog fights once a month, then that dog is a pit bull.”

    This is an astonishingly and dangerously ignorant point of view. First of all, the fact that someone engages in the silly pass time of dressing up their dog does not mean that the dog is not potentially animal aggressive, REGARDLESS of breed. Indeed, I’m sure you could take dogs right off the yards of dog fighters and dress them up or carry them in gucci bags and for sure they’d be happy to swipe fallen potato chips in your living room. You want to judge dogs based on what their owners do. Some of the nicest dogs I’ve known came from abuse situations and some of the nastiest from homes where they were pampered and allowed to use aggression displays or actual bites to get their petulent way. Please rethink this.

    •  

      Hi John, thank you for your reply. I agree with almost everything that you wrote; however, I think that you may have misunderstood some of my points that I was trying to make. I never made the claim that a dog who gets dressed up by his owner could not be animal aggressive. I also never made the claim that a fighting dog would not enjoy fallen potato chips. I never met a dog that would turn down potato chips!

      You say that I “want to judge dogs based on what their owners do”. I find this comment funny, because on one hand, we do not want to judge a dog simply because he was owned by a degenerate looser, dog fighter. The dog might be the sweetest and most loving dog you’ve ever known, right? Well, on the other hand, if the dog attacks his rescuer or a child or anyone for that matter, then we who love pit bulls don’t blame the dog, right? NO! We blame the person who abused the dog! We blame the environment in which that dog lived! You see, this is one of those things that goes both ways. People who love these dogs will almost always take the side that puts the dog in a favorable light. I get your point, but I hope you see mine too.

      I know that some of the “nicest dogs” come from abuse situations, including fighting dogs. Really, I get this. The other example that you gave, however, ‘nasty pampered dogs’ do not belong in the same context as fighting dogs. Not at all. They are the product of ignorant dog owners who do damage to their dogs with love and good intentions. A nasty fighting dog and a nasty pampered dog are two completely different beasts.

      I guess my point of view isn’t astonishingly dangerous after all!

      Thanks John

  4.  

    While I agree that the term “pit bull” is being used way too often and usually incorrectly these days, I think it is ridiculous to say that a dog cannot be a Pit Bull unless it has been fought!! If I have a German Shorthaired Pointer who doesn’t have a clue how to point, he is still a Pointer. If I have an English Bulldog who has never participated in the cruel “sport” of bull baiting, he is still a Bulldog. If I have an American Pit Bull Terrier who was bred for and is being kept as a pet rather than for the cruel “sport” of dog fighting, he is still a Pit Bull. A Pit Bull is an American Pit Bull Terrier, not a victim of dog fighting.

    •  

      Ok, this is getting silly now. Is this Christina from Love and a Leash’s FB page? I apologize if not.

      You wrote: “I think it is ridiculous to say that a dog cannot be a Pit Bull unless it has been fought!!”

      I’ll point out that in my post, I wrote: “That’s not to say that I don’t refer to my sweet, lovable and super social, Tommy, as a pit bull.”

      I have a dog. His name is Tommy. He is sweet, friendly, sociable, and he has never been involved in fighting. I refer to him as a pit bull. When someone asks what kind of dog he is, I say, “he’s a pit bull”. Do you grasp the point that I am attempting to make here? I wrote what I wrote in my post because it is how I feel. It’s not like I am a legislator trying to pass a bill into law here. It’s just my opinion, and you don’t have to agree with it. You are obviously being defensive, but I am not sure what exactly you are trying to defend.

      Here is a passage from http://www.bulldoginformation.com/bull-and-terrier-breeds.html that I think does a fine job of helping me make my point:

      “The concept of ‘dog breeds’ is relatively recent and was not in use until the advent of the first dog clubs and dog shows at the end of the 1800’s. Before that, dogs were categorized according to their function, not their morphological traits. Early classifications include ‘types’ like hunting dogs, mastiffs, lapdogs, retrievers, water dogs, bull dogs, etc. all referring to a job description, not a ‘breed’. As a result, selective breeding was based on performance, never on looks or confirmation to a ‘standard’. For example, any dog that did the work of a bull dog and was good at it, WAS a bulldog, independently of his looks.”

      Again, I’m writing my opinion. Some will agree with me, some won’t, some will at least understand the point I’m trying to make, some just won’t care, and I see now that some people will totally ignore the point that I was trying to make, and argue about something totally irrelevant to the original intent of the post.

      Do you not see that if everyone agreed with you about a pit bull being a pit bull, then all dogs that look like “pit bulls” could be targeted by BSL proponents, and no blocky headed dogs would be safe? My position provides a defense for people wanting to have and protect their “pit bull-type” dogs, but yours leaves them indefensible.

      Maybe you think I’m an idiot and a jackass, but I hope you realize that I love these dogs. I know you do too, and ultimately, that’s what is most important.

      •  

        “You are obviously being defensive, but I am not sure what exactly you are trying to defend.”
        I am trying to defend the breed I love, the American Pit Bull Terrier (and the AKC equivalent the American Staffordshire Terrier).

        “The concept of ‘dog breeds’ is relatively recent…”
        Yes, I knew this information. That doesn’t mean that there are no dog breeds now, though, does it? If that’s what you are trying to argue, you should mention other breeds rather than just the Pit Bull.

        “Do you not see that if everyone agreed with you about a pit bull being a pit bull, then all dogs that look like “pit bulls” could be targeted by BSL proponents, and no blocky headed dogs would be safe?”
        That is exactly what many groups these days are advocating for. Groups like Animal Farm Foundation, Bad Rap, StubbyDog and others are trying to convince everyone that any dog that looks a certain way is a “pit bull.” Animal Farm Foundation’s Facebook description says that a “pit bull” is “an ever expanding group that includes whatever an animal control officer, shelter worker, dog trainer, politician, dog owner, police officer or newspaper says it is.” I disagree with that kind of advocacy, I think (like you said) it leaves more dogs in the hot seat. I also disagree, however, with saying that no dog is a Pit Bull unless it has been fought. I think the more important thing is to show that Pit Bulls and dogs misidentified as “pit bulls” are great dogs that deserve love and protection just like any other dog.

      •  

        I understand that you are trying to defend the breed that you love. I am not sure if you think that I am, in some way, doing the breed harm. It is definitely not my intent to do that. I love all dogs and have a special place in my heart for pit bulls.

        I do acknowledge that dog breeds exist, and in my opinion, they existed before they were recognized as such. My post was not about other dog breeds, and that is why I did not mention them.

        Pit bulls are generally great dogs. A few exceptions come from bad breeding, abuse, etc.. Pit bulls, particularly fighting pit bulls, believe it or not, are some of the most stable dogs in existence. Again, I am not referring to modern fighting dogs. I also do not agree AT ALL with what those groups are advocating. I suppose that they are technically correct, but that doesn’t make it right, and I think it is a terrible shame. Thank you for writing this, I would like to learn more about what these groups are saying regarding this whole issue.

        Regarding what you wrote about dogs misidentified as pit bulls, that’s a big, messy subject, and frankly, my brain is too tired to go into that now. Maybe another time!

        One more thing, the fact that I referred to pit bulls and fighting pit bulls as the same dogs above did not elude my conscience. It’s just a damn tricky topic!

      •  

        I think we ultimately agree on many points.

      •  

        I was always fairly sure that we did.

  5.  

    Also, I would like to point out that DNA tests are not AT ALL accurate at identifying dog breeds. Most can’t even ID pure bred dogs, let alone breed mixes. I really wish people would stop taking so much stock in DNA tests and claiming that they “prove” a dog’s breed.

    •  

      I’m not sure what to say here. You are right about DNA tests regarding their accuracy at identifying dog breeds. The thing is, you are still missing the real point of the post. It’s okay, not everyone will get it.

      •  

        Perhaps I misread it, but in your article you claim that the DNA test is proof that the two dogs pictured are not Pit Bulls. I am simply trying to make the point that DNA tests should not be used as evidence or proof of a dog’s breed until they are more accurate at identifying dog breeds.

      •  

        You did not misread anything. That part was necessary for the rest of the post. Even though I recognize the unreliability of canine DNA tests, Aleksandra’s post got me thinking. I chose not to write a post denigrating Aleks’ use of, and subsequent post about the DNA test she had done on her dogs. I went with it, and wrote a post of my own in hopes that it would provoke thought. I guess I succeeded??

      •  

        I still want to get a DNA test on our dogs, just for shits and giggles = )

        Xo,
        ~ me = )

      •  

        It certainly appears that you did succeed at making a thought provoking post!

      •  

        Yes, and now my brain hurts 🙂

      •  

        That’s why we did a DNA Test — for shits n giggles. I just happened to find the results somewhat believable for both our dogs and very interesting at the very least 🙂

      •  

        Well, I’m glad you had the tests performed. As Liliana mentioned, we would like to have them done for all of our dogs too. It will be interesting to see if the results from one of our dog’s DNA test are in line with the results of her parents’ test (we have all three). If we do have the DNA test done, I’ll be sure to share the results in a future post.

  6.  

    Well, I work a job where I have to evaluate dogs and while you can make a good case that there always is a human at fault somewhere when a dog goes bad, be it the breeder, owner or whoever, some dogs DO go bad and I an 100% AGAINST rescuing such dogs. Aggression against humans doesn’t correlate much with aggression towards other dogs or other animals. So one thing I never blame when a Pit Bull turns human aggressive is its dog fighting ancestry. At most, that ancestry imparted a power and tenactiy that CAN make a human aggressive Pit Bulls more dangerous than a lot of other human aggressive dogs, but even that aspect can be and has been overstated. If you’ve ever had to deal with a surly Mastiff intent on doing damage, you’ll realize that size means power and any dog as powerful as some of the biggest specimans don’t need much tenacity to overwhelm a human. So, please, ‘Pit Bull’ the standard nickname of a breed of dog. The breed tends to be human friendly. Exceptions should be dealt with accordingly. You can dress up any dog, put any dog into a Gucci bag or let any dog eat falling potato chips. But Dobes are still Dobermans and Rotties are still Rottweilers and Pit Bulls are still American Pit Bull Terriers. This main campaign to deny the truth and spread ignorance in the name of some cockeyed form of “enlightenment” really needs to stop.

    •  

      John, I’m not sure why you are telling me that you are 100% against rescuing dogs that have gone bad. I guess I see where it’s coming from, but it does not really relate to the topic of the post, nor is it a point that I was making in my reply to your previous comment. You are right that aggression in dogs toward other animals does not often correlate with aggression toward humans. Historically, fighting dogs that displayed human aggression were culled. Again though, this does not really relate to anything that I’ve written. I never even mentioned anything about human aggression, and I most certainly DID NOT say that fighting dogs were human aggressive. I’ve been trying to break that misconception for a long time!

      Yes, large size in dogs does equate to power. Mastiffs possess incredible power and can stop any human. My 82 pound American Bulldog completely dominated a 180 pound English Mastiff when the mastiff charged my wife. There, I just made three completely irrelevant points too.

      I’m not on a campaign, John, but I feel confident in my knowledge of pit bulls and pit bull history. The fact that you write, “pit bulls are still American Pit bull Terriers” is pretty naive. We may despise dog fighting, but we must study it and the history of the ‘sport’ if we are to understand pit bulls.

  7.  

    Carlos, I am telling you about my evaluation duties because YOU brought up dogs that go bad and the propensity of some people to talk about those dogs in terms of their owners as a defense of your own choice to classify dogs by their owners’ behaviors. I already pointed out that a lot of abused dogs do NOT go bad. I will also add that some dogs that do go bad are not abused, but pampered to the point that they are allowed to use threat displays and even bites to get their way. Still others apparently have their screwiness largely hard-wired into them. Those are the ones where breeders or people that allowed a random litter CAN bear some of the blame. But ultimately, regardless of reason, rescuers have to evaluate the DOGS THEMSELVES. Yes, some dogs can be brought around to where the public can adopt them safely. Some can be brought around to where expert owners can keep them safely. Unfortunately, there are more deeply problematic dogs than there are expert homes to take them and there are also some dogs that really no one can keep truly safely. They aren’t common, but they do exist. The LAST thing I would encourage rescuers to do is to assume that the most problematic dogs “must have been abused” and therefore deserve the most pity and therefore should be the focus of rescue. They have NOT all been abused. Some have been PAMPERED into psychotic levels of brattiness. Many are anywhere from very difficult to impossible to fully bring around and are therefore disturbingly capable of injuring people and other animals and dragging the reputation of ALL Pit Bulls and/or rescue dogs deeper into the mud. So again, do NOT classify dogs according to their owners’ behaviors, and certainly don’t classify them according to naive assumptions about prior owners’ behaviors.

    •  

      John, I’m beginning to believe that you are just looking for a platform to be heard/read from. You continue to bring up points that are completely irrelevant to the original post. How many times are you going to tell me that you evaluate dogs at your job? To be honest, I have a low opinion of the tactics and methods used by many (not all) so-called “professional” dog evaluators, and their general knowledge of dog behavior. I do agree with you that the “dogs themselves” need to be evaluated, and not the people who were in procession of them up to some point in time. Thanks, John ‘Sherlock’ Richardson. Mighty keen of you, sir. I know you like to be heard/read from, and I also know that it’s going to kill you to not be able to get the last word in, because that’s just the kind of person you are, John, but I think you should go and write off-point somewhere else.

  8.  

    This article is so informative and very important. In light o BSL, this article proves that any look-alike dog can be threatened by BSL. This is why we must fight BSL with everything we’ve got. I set up a group on LinkedIn on this very subject! It’s called PIT BULL ADVOCATES,LOVERS & SAVIORS. You should check it out.

    Thanks for this. It’snow on my group site.

    •  

      Lorraine,

      Thank you for your kind words. This post stirred up some emotions among several advocates of pit bulls, pit bull-type dogs, and American pit bull terriers. It’s clear to me that everyone who commented on the post, whether here on lilisnotes or on Love and A Six-Foot Leash’s facebook page, loves and cares for these dogs. I’m glad that it got people to think about our dogs, and the ideas that threaten them. I will write a follow up posts to “Pit Bulls and DNA Tests”, so please come back occasionally to check; it will take some time to finish.

  9.  

    Thanks for the comment and the compliment. Sorry your other comment disappeared into the ether.

  10.  

    Carlos-
    Thank you for this article. I love my pit bull more than anything and it’s really nice to come across a blog that is fighting for them and not against them.. I could probably sit here and type for hours about how i feel on this topic but I won’t because it would just cause more argument. But i would like to disagree with anyone who says that a human aggressive dog can’t or shouldn’t be rescued. I’ve seen many dogs that are aggressive towards humans be rehabilitated and integrated back into a household. Just because they aren’t perfect doesn’t mean that they can’t be healed.
    Anyhow, Thank you again for loving and caring for these brilliant loving beasts.

    •  

      Amanda,

      Thank you for reading my post. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I agree with you that, too often, good dogs with some behavioral ‘issues’ are deemed ‘bad dogs’. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I am not a big fan of many so-called dog behaviorists and the tactics that they use to determine whether a dog is or is not a good rescue candidate. On the other hand, I know that there are some people out there that are very good at what they do, and their classifications of some dogs as dangerous, should be heeded. I also understand the liability issues for rescues and shelters in adopting out potentially dangerous dogs. It’s a tough job with tough calls to make. I’ve seen dogs that were deemed dangerous that would have done fine in a home with experienced handlers. Part of the problem is that most people, though they may have owned dogs before, are not really equipped or knowledgeable enough to take on hard cases. And nothing that I’ve just written is pit bull specific.

      I do love these (and all) dogs, and I will continue to write about them. Thanks again for stopping by.

  11.  

    Dear Carlos,
    Two and a half weeks ago, here in Denver where us unfeeling souls who don’t understand how lovable pit bulls/American bulldogs are, my 12 year old border collie mix and my 105 lb wife were walking in a neighborhood, when a fun loving American bulldog who has never been trained to fight, and who loves her master so much, and is just a f… sweetie, ran out of its back yard, crossed a street, ran a half a block down, turned the corner on to the cross street and hurled itself at my dog, shredding her. The dog was so powerful, that my wife got injured as well trying in vain to get the sweet loving American bulldog off of our dog. The dog will not be put down, as it should be, cuz it is not a “pit bull” but rather an “American bulldog.” In Maryland where I grew up, and people are more tolerant of sweet affectionate “pit bulls” and “American bull dogs, ” which is to say they are not banned (as they should be) my old best friend finally too, a loving affectionate “American bulldog” away from his daughter after the dog, who had never been trained to fight, so is not a “pit bull” first attacked his brother who was rushed to the emergency ward and then a few months later shredded his actually loving and affectionate yellow lab, who was fortunate to survive, although had to breath through a tube in her throat for several months. Two other friends who also have a “pit bull” and an “American bulldog” had to pull their fun loving affectionate “American bulldog” who had never been trained to fight off of another dog whose ear it had just ripped off. I hope your dogs chock on a chicken bone!

    •  

      Bill,
      I’m very sorry to hear about what happened to your dog and your wife. It was a tragic incident that should have never happened. I understand that it has caused you incredible sadness and anger, and that is what compelled you to write your comment on my wife’s blog. You wrote from an emotional place rather than an intellectual place, and for that I suppose you can be excused; however, you should understand that emotions such as yours can only bring you to dark and ugly places, and cause men to be trifling and hateful, ignorant and spiteful little creatures. I hope your 105 lb wife is a bigger man than you.

  12.  

    Hi: one point- American Pitbull Terrier is defiinitely a distinct breed, as much as Rottweiler, etc. There are two separate purebred registries in the USA founded specifically to regulate breed identification, because of the AKC’s refusal to accept the breed for registration. The American Staffordshire Terrier is the show version of the American Pitbull Terrier: The Staffie bloodline is founded on APBT blood, with a breeding program initiated in 1936 designed to placate the AKC in its campaign to keep the fighting breed out of its registry.

    This is factual, historical information that hyou can easily access. I get really tired of hearing folks pontificate that “American Pitbull Terrier” is not a breed. Misinformation breeds ignorance. The starting point is to acknowledge the truth, and then act accordingly: the APBT has been bred on “performance” lines for hundreds of years, and the genetic tendency of a purepred APBT is to be dog aggressive. That’s it. The rest is up to interpretation and training.

    •  

      Hi Jeremy. Thank you for visiting our blog and taking the time to respond to a post on a topic which you are obviously passionate about. I appreciate that you care enough about these dogs to dig into the history of the breed/”breed”, instead of just buying into so much misinformation and just plain bullshit that is out there. And it’s a shame, but the misinformation and BS comes from many sources; some that detest these dogs and some that love them.

      I respectfully disagree with your Rottweiler comment (at least, sort of), but don’t have the energy, at the moment, to go into why. Sorry, I know that’s crummy on my part. Even among so called experts, from today and a hundred years ago, there is so much incongruence of information, that to think you, or I for that matter, have all the correct answers is just plain silly. I began my path on research of American Pitt bull Terriers back in year 2000 during a cross country trip (best time of my life: exploring this beautiful country with my beautiful wife and learning about the gladiator breeds). These books were the gateway for me (also some others not photographed): Apparently I cannot post photographs normally in the comments section!!!!! I’ll see if I can fix tomorrow.

      dog books

      I’ve also spoken with and traded written correspondence with several people knowledgeable on the topic. Please, Jeremy, don’t mistake me for someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to APBTs (or Subarus). I wrote “Pitt bulls and DNA Tests” for a particular audience. You were not my intended audience. And if I were on my account on game-dog, I would not have shared that post. I am not ashamed of what I wrote, but part of effective communication is knowing who you are communicating with. I know two real dog men who read the post and commented to me privately in a positive way. They gave me some crap, but it was all in good fun, and they didn’t feel the need to accuse me of being ignorant or of pontificating on the APBT breed! I get where you are coming from, though, as I too get tired of that, Jeremy.

      “The American Staffordshire Terrier was the show version of the American Pitt bull terrier.” Is that true today? Some argue that the two lines have diverged into distinct dogs. I tend to agree with those folks. Then again, I tend to think that many of the monstrous abominations that some breeders are calling APBTs are so far from the original bull and terrier dogs that it makes me want to crawl into bed and polish off a jumbo box of bon bons. OK, it actually makes me want to do something else, but I am not going to elaborate on those feelings here.

      It’s past my bed time, so one more thing: ADBA > UKC. Purely opinion, but come on man!

      Thanks again for stopping by, and you are welcome back anytime. I just hope that you understand that this blog is really just for fun, and it’s mostly about my dear Sasha who has cancer. Maybe someday I’ll write a multi-part post on APBTs that fully goes into what I know, what I think I know, and what I know I don’t know! Oh, and my opinions, of course 🙂 Be well.

  13.  

    Great article and interesting comments. Here is the real issue, if any animal is extremely aggressive in nature andtraining then that animal is a problem and so is the OWNER. We all know that dogs in general want to be in the pack or leading it. Any owner who can not become alpha and or abuses the alpha condition to cause an animal to become a menace to any other animal needs to have his right to own any animal REVOKED permanently and accross all state lines.

    So if there is to be legislation, then that legislation shojld be directed at OWNER rights for ANY and ALL animals, not about a breed or type of animal.

    Meanwhile, there is MUCH case law that states all changes in law require grandfathering of current conditions. No court can allow the siezure of your animals because a law was passed, it simply will not fly legally. Also no personal property may be siezed wihtout due process, and no law can sieze property in itself, nor court uphold such siezure without recompense….remember that any government MUST bond or pay for property they seize, period.

    Now all this being said, this applies in a perfect world where the law is applied and where one has the $$ to defend ones self.

    This is why ALL of us must at all times try and reduce the income and ability of all government agencies and to assure that our constitutional rights are held sacred. It comes back to the basics…..liberals want to take all rights and pass crazy laws to protect people beyond the means and balances of society. As an example, the current electrical codes are changing, Where at one time special protective circuits were required in bathrooms and near water, they will now be reequired in all circuits at an additional cost of around 20-60 per circuit, about 400-1000 more per house. There is no statistical basis even at 6 or 8 sigma that would show cause for such legislation..to protect less than a handful of people a year from freak accidents of some strange kind (whether a death was incurred or not). Also, this legislation continues with your receptacles being required to have auto safety closure to stop children from inserting metal objects in to the recpetacle. Any child who can not follow instructions and safety teachings of thier parents should be subject to “survival of the fittest” theology. Of Coarse this would require that a parent accentuate stern warnings with memorable experiences to assure compliance. THe same as “stay out of the street”, here in FL they are changing neighborhoods with “speed humps and reducing the legal limits to 12 or 15 mph and still damageing cars…..to protect one child on a street who refuses to learn to stay out of the street.

    Enough said.

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