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Breed Information

Pitbull Extreme is completely against the very cruel sport of pit fighting, past and present. We believe there is absolutely NO justifiable reason to throw two dogs in a pit and watch them tear each other apart.

Following is basic breed information for anyone who is interested in acquiring a Pit Bull*, for those who already have one or more and would like to learn more about the breed, or simply for anyone who would like to understand these great dogs a little better.

This page discusses the most notable traits of Pit Bull type dogs, including the potential for dog-aggression. You will learn here that while Pit Bulls make great family companions in the right hands and living situation, they require intelligent, responsible and dedicated ownership. Unfortunately too many people obtain these dogs for the wrong reasons or have little understanding of the inherent traits this breed possesses. It is unfortunate that one of the original purposes of the APBT was (and still is for many) dog-to-dog combat, but it's a fact that can't be denied or ignored. It's very important that every potential Pit Bull owners understand the selective breeding that took place to make the dogs of today and the inherited characteristics that are potentially within this wonderful breed.

Pitbull Extreme is committed to informing current and future Pit Bull owners so they will have a better understanding of their dog and will provide responsible and caring ownership.
*Pit Bull is NOT a breed. It's a generic term often used to describe all dogs with similar traits and characteristics often known by the public as Pit Bulls. This article is addressed to owners of any "Pit Bull type dogs" including APBTs, AmStaffs, and Pit mixes.

Remember that little is known about the background of rescue dogs. Some may be gamebred (from fighting lines); some may be registered show dogs, some may be Am Staffs, some may look like APBTs but might be mixed with other breeds, etc. Since there is no way to know for sure unless you have the pedigree of the dog in hands, we recommend to follow the guidelines offered in PBRC for any type of "Pit Bull."

Basic Breed Overview
Pit Bulls are wonderful animals who deserve a chance to have a good life like any other dog. However, it's important to remember that Pit Bulls are not just any other dog - They are a little more of everything a dog can be.

Pit Bulls have great physical and mental characteristics that make them excellent partners for responsible, active, and caring owners. On the other hand, these same outstanding qualities can make them a little difficult to handle for people who don't have a lot of experience with dog ownership or for those who don't understand the breed very well. Luckily, Pit Bulls are very responsive to training and eager to please. It is therefore strongly recommended to take them to obedience classes as soon as they are up to date with their shots. (Pit Bulls are prone to distemper and parvo, so it is important that they receive all their vaccinations before coming into contact with other dogs or going places that other dogs frequent.) A well behaved and obedient Pit Bull will be a great ambassador for the breed and help fight prejudice and misconceptions.

Pit Bulls are very adaptable and will even do well in urban living provided they have enough exercise or other positive outlets for their energy. Many Pit Bulls are easy going couch potatoes, but can also be quite rambunctious until they mature. Maturity can come pretty late with this breed (2 to 3 years old in some cases). Pit Bulls remain playful all their life and have a great sense of humor. These dogs will make you laugh like no other.

Pit Bull are strong, energetic, agile and powerful dogs. They are also very resourceful and driven. "Determination" is one of their most notable trait. Whatever they set out to do, they put their heart and soul into it... Whether it is escaping an inadequately fenced yard to go explore the neighborhood, or destroying your new couch when left home alone, or climbing into your lap to shower you with kisses! They just don't give up easily.

Stahlkuppe (1995) writes "The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), or the AmStaff, is certainly not the right pet for everyone. Being a powerful dog, it will require sufficient and adequate control. Some prospective elderly owners or children, will not be able to supply that control... A first-time dog owner, in the minds of many experienced dog breeders, should not buy an APBT or an AmStaff!. An insecure person who wants only an aggressive dog to bolster some personal human inadequacy should never become an owner of one of these dogs. An uncaring or negligent person should not buy an AmStaff or an APBT (or any other dog for that matter)."

An other very important characteristic of the Pit Bull dogs, is their amazing love of people. These dogs are indeed remarkably affectionate, and crave human attention. They are wonderful cuddlers and nothing beats a belly rub. In fact, most Pit Bulls think they are lap dogs!

Dunbar (1999) writes: "Today, a properly bred Pit Bull is so exuberantly happy upon meeting her owner's friends (or even friendly strangers) that new owners sometimes worry that their dog is too sweet and fun-loving to protect their home and family... A multitalented companion, the well-trained Pit Bull is suited for a variety of exciting activities. He excels at obedience, agility and weight-pulling competitions, events which showcase intelligence, trainability and strength. In addition, the Pit Bull's pleasant nature makes him an ideal candidate for therapy work with people."

Human aggression, severe shyness, and instability are not traits typically found and accepted in the Pit Bull breed. Dogs with these traits are not good representatives of the breed and should not be placed into adoptive homes.

Like any other breed, Pit bulls could develop behavior problems if mishandled, abused, poorly bred, unsocialized, etc., that could result in inappropriate aggression. Any large, strong and powerful dog who attack can do a lot of damage. This is why serious temperament evaluation is so important when dealing with dogs of certain size and potential. Unlike the myth propagated by the media though, human aggression is not a problem specific to the Pit Bull breed. In fact, Pit Bulls tend to do better than average in temperament tests.

The American Temperament Test Society provides temperament testing around the country for dog breeds and provides a passing score for the entire breed based on the percentage of passed over failed within total number of that particular breed tested. As of March, 2001, the American Pit Bull Terrier has a current passing rate of 82.3%; American Staffordshire Terrier passes at 81.6%; and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier passes at 71.7%.

Pit Bull type dogs make wonderful, loving, and very loyal companions. It is important however, to understand the breed's nature, to provide a structured environment, and to establish a positive leadership role. In order to do so, PitBull owners must understand the original purpose of the breed and respect its limit and potential.

The Breed's Original Purpose
Humans have created very specialized dogs through emphasizing desired traits and eliminating unwanted ones. It is no different with the Pit Bull breed. The American Pit Bull Terrier has been 'selectively' bred for hundreds of years to fight other dogs. This is the sad "work" these dogs were created for. In the same way that Labradors were bred to retrieve birds, APBTs were bred to face other dogs in mortal combat. Even in dogs that are not recently bred from fighting lines, the urge to rumble can arise at any time. Not to strongly emphasize this fact is to be negligent. We would be equally negligent if were we placing Beagles and failed to educate the adopter about why the specific traits that scent-oriented, hunting dogs, bred to work in packs, present certain challenges to those who wish to obedience train their hound.

We can't blame specialized breeds for behaving like they were bred to. Certain specific traits were selectively bred into the dogs and are now part of the breed's character. It's like the digging instinct of many Terriers, the herding behavior in Shelties, the compulsion to run in Greyhounds, etc. Your Pointer may have never spent a day on a real hunt, but he may still point and flush birds as his ancestors were bred to do. We don't have to condone or glorify it, but dog-aggression is not uncommon with Pit Bull type dogs. Owners must recognize and accept this fact or they wont be able to provide competent ownership and have fun with their dogs.

It's a mistake to think the fighting gene can be easily trained or loved out of a dog, or that early socialization will guarantee your Pit Bull will always get along with other animals. Even though PBRC does not in any way condone animal fighting, it does acknowledge the importance of understanding the special traits of the breed and advocates education about proper and responsible Pit Bull ownership. You can have all the dog experience in the world, but it is also essential to understand the distinctive features of the type of dog you own or work with -- in this case, a dog with an important fighting background who requires extra vigilance around other pets.

There are precautions to take when owning Pit Bulls, especially in a multiple-dog environment. Unfortunately these precautions are often viewed as an acceptance for the sport of pit fighting when nothing could be further from the truth. PBRC believes that knowing how to avoid a fight, as well as how to break it up if despite all efforts one strikes, is proof of smart and responsible Pit Bull ownership.

Take note that a fight can strike suddenly and for no apparent reason. Warning signs can be very subtle with Pit Bulls and even completely absent in certain cases. Two dogs may be best friends for years, sleep together, cuddle, play, even eat from the same bowl, and one day something triggers one of the them and boom! Often, the dogs act like best friends as soon as the fight is over. They might even lick each other's wounds. You have been warned though - They will do it again and get better at it every time.

Never trust a Pit Bull not to fight...

It is not necessarily a hate of other dogs that will cause Pit Bulls to fight, but rather an "urge" to do so that has been bred into the breed for many generations. Pit bulls may fight over hierarchic status, but external stimulus or excitement can also trigger a fight. Remember that any canines can fight, but Pit Bulls were bred specifically for it and will therefor do it with more drive and intensity than most other breeds.

Pit Bull owners must also be aware of the remarkable fighting abilities of this breed and always keep in mind that Pit Bulls have the potential to inflict serious injuries to other animals. A Pit Bull may not even be the one starting the hostilities but chances are he will fight like a pro if he has to. Keep in mind that Pit Bulls are almost always blamed no matter who started it, and often end up paying the price at the hands of the authorities.

The typical pit bulldog is a unique and wonderful animal, but, like the majority of working breeds, he is not the type of dog you should get if you are looking for a pet to take to the dog park or to the lake on Saturday afternoons. Many pit bulls can and do behave like the "average" generic, low-drive dog, but it is unfair to expect EVERY pit bull (or any other member of a working breed) to do so. Pit bulls are tough and intelligent animals, historically bred for a willingness to test their mettle against larger and stronger animals and against each other. It is not uncommon for an adult pit bull to be quarrelsome toward other dogs, and to expect him to be otherwise is unfair to the dog, to yourself and to the community in which you live. Good intentioned but ignorant owners who obtain a pit bull, convinced that the dog's temperament is ultimately influenced only by "how you raise them" do tremendous damage to our dogs as well as being grossly unfair to their dog . Aggression toward other dogs is common in many breeds - the AKC standard even calls for dog aggression in some breeds like the Akita - and most Rottweilers, Dobermans, Malamutes, Malinois and other working type dogs can be expected to show little tolerance toward strange dogs. So dog aggression, responsibly handled, is not something which should stop you from enjoying many activities and sports with your dog. However, IT DOES require responsible handling of your dog. If you are not willing to put the time, money, thought and effort into managing your animal, then do not get a dog. People who truly love the breed DO NOT have dogs which contribute to the current overpopulation problem, DO NOT allow their dogs to get out "even once" and cause problems in the neighborhood, and DO NOT dump (get rid of) their dogs when their living situation changes. The love of a dog is for life...

With all that said, some Pit Bulls get along great with other pets and may live happily with other dogs without any incidents. We just can't assume that this is true for all of them or take it for granted. Pit Bull owners need to have common sense and don't set their dogs up for failure.

Every negative incident involving a Pit Bull adds to the breed's reputation and jeopardizes our right to own these great dogs - Keep your Pit Bull out of trouble!

In closing, please remember that animal-aggression and people-aggression should never be confused as they are two different traits. Unless they have been very poorly bred and/or specifically "trained" to attack humans (often through abusive methods by undesirable individuals), Pit Bulls are by nature very good with people. They are in fact one of the most loving, loyal, friendly, and dedicated companions one can have. Many Pit bulls are indeed too people-oriented to make good guard dogs.

Pitbull Extreme hopes this article will help people understand why so many of us are deeply dedicated to these wonderful dogs. Not only do Pit Bull dogs need more help, compassion and understating than other breeds, but they will pay you back with more love and loyalty than you could ever dream of.


2002 Pitbull Zone by Gatekeeper. All rights reserved. All other copyrights are the property of their respective owners.