I’ve been researching dogs for a few months now, and there was a long stretch there when I was seriously considering a Pit Bull.
Don’t think I’m sick.
The practice of dog fighting was/is sick, of course, and it’s very unfortunate their name ties them so directly to that purpose they were originally bred for. But there are many attractive things about the breed, and I trusted my instinct for finding a good animal.
My 2-cents of positive PR: the whole time these dogs were being bred for dog-aggression (just as beagles were bred for their noses and greyhounds for speed) they were being selected for their ability to be man-handled under the stressful conditions of fighting.
A dog that bit under pressure was a dog whose line (if not his life) did not continue. I found an interesting statistic on the site I linked above:
Unlike the myth propagated by the media however, human aggression is NOT a problem specific to pit bulls. In fact, pit bulls tend to do better than average in temperament tests.
Okay, prove it.
The American Temperament Test Society provides temperament testing around the country for dog breeds, and gives a passing score for the entire breed based on the percentage of passed over failed within total number of the particular breed tested. As of December 2003, the American Pit Bull Terrier has a current passing rate of 83.9%, and the American Staffordshire Terrier passes [two specific breeds lumped under the name “pit-bull”] at 83.2%. In comparison, The Golden Retriever passing rate is 83.2%.
So the “average” pit bull appears to be about as stable as the “average” Golden, who, as everybody knows, is the perfect family dog.
I came up with an analogy tonight, and that was comparing the general public’s response to the pit bull-type with the general response of a woman, alone after dark, passing an unfamiliar man. (Come to think of it, she probably wouldn’t mind having a pit bull with her under those circumstances…)
Statistically, that man is not dangerous; there is no reason to assume something bad is going to happen now, other than bad things have happened in these circumstances before.
And, really, to protect yourself, you aught to think that way. I just think it puts in some perspective the instant fear-response that goes along with the name Pit Bull.
Ultimately, I passed on the PB for a similar reason I passed on the Whippet, earlier– while it meets many of my criteria, it is not trustworthy off-leash. One of my goals is to train a Frisbee dog, and that’s just not something you can do on-leash.