For almost two years, I felt like I had failed as a dog owner because my Bully mix (Pitterstaff/AmBully, at best guess) turned out to be dog aggressive.
“It’s all in how they’re raised!” is a sentence that makes me cringe. Anyone that owns a DA APBT or Bully breed probably knows what I’m talking about. While it is a great sentiment on the ability of dogs to overcome horrible situations, it ignores essential facts about canine behavior while simultaneously putting the blame on dog owners.
One of the first pictures I have of Zuni and I, on a camping trip in early 2012.
Zuni, my craigslist rescue, wasn’t even a year old when I got her. Her history before being picked up off the streets by a friendly married couple is unknown. But she was a fantastic dog and I took her absolutely everywhere with me - she even came to my high school once and assisted me with a theater presentation. We went to the dog park weekly, ran agility, practiced obedience, and played disc anywhere there was enough space for her to run. When I started working at the kennel, she would go to daycare during my shifts. Zuni was so good with other dogs that she was used as a neutral dog to test newcomers for the daycare program.
I did everything right with her. Knowing her breed, I felt an additional sense of responsibility. I couldn’t raise a dog that would contribute to the “dangerous pitbull” idea. But I can’t control genetics and breed tendencies. My breed isn’t dangerous, but ignoring what my breed was meant for is absolutely dangerous.
Around two years of age, the dog aggression began. We consulted with several trainers and tried so many methods that it makes my head spin thinking about it. The best answer we could get from anyone was that she was fear aggressive. I worked with that for nearly a year, but couldn’t ever agree with it. I know fear aggressive dogs, I work with them frequently. Zuni’s behavior and body language certainly wasn’t fearful - she would strain at the end of her leash, every muscle standing out, eyes locked onto another dog with an intensity that terrified most people. It was the same way she looked at squirrels. I’ve broken up two fights, and both times I knew she’d never quit until she couldn’t get to the other dog.
I didn’t make any progress with Zuni until I accepted the fact that dog aggression was a part of her temperament. I stopped blaming myself for her behavior and I stopped seeing her dog aggression as the sign of a “bad dog.” I stopped trying to make her like every dog she met and instead taught her to ignore other dogs in public and focus on me. I don’t allow people to bring their dogs near her and we certainly don’t go to the dog park anymore. I took months introducing her to Maya and making sure that they had the space that they both needed. She’s able to run agility without losing focus and has done narcotics detection drills off leash in a room with 30 other dogs.
Zuni’s happier now, I’m happier now. Life goes on.
I was asked to write a post on this recently by a few different people who thought it’d be a good idea, so that’s what I’m going to do. Hopefully, this will help some of you out there understand what your dog is.
So, it seems that everyone thinks they own a pit bull or every dog is a pit bull. They say “if it looks like a pit bull, it’s a pit bull” which is simply not true, because the question here is what does a pit bull look like? A lot of people will tell you that you can’t base a dog off its looks which is true and false.
The term pit bull is a very thrown around term that is used very loosely. The question I get asked the most is is my dog a pit bull? Now, without a pedigree, you’ll never really know. Then again, in many cases, people can and will tell you that your dog is not a pit bull, because in some cases, yes, it can be based off a dog’s looks.
The shelter/rescue labeled him as a pit bull, so he must be a pit bull, right?
No. Shelter/rescues do not bring in American Pit Bull Terriers, and if they ever do, they are usually immediately euthanized (from what I have seen). I have personally never seen a pit bull in any of my local shelters or rescues before, but have heard of very few people bringing them in, and they were immediately euthanized (because of dog aggression). Your average shelter/rescue, no matter how many dogs they have dealt with in their lifetime, are not equipped to handle a breed of dog such as a pit bull, most people aren’t, that’s why the majority should not own one.
Shelters bring in dogs they like to label as pit bulls because they have not done the proper research on pit bulls, and have no idea what they are or what they look like. So, it would be a safe bet to call your dog a mixed breed. If you want a true pit bull terrier, you should of not gone to a shelter, because any dog labeled as a pit bull at a shelter is a mixed breed dog.
Do your research on pit bull terriers, and I mean taking YEARS doing research on them. You can’t research a pit bull terrier for a few days, weeks or months and say “this dog is right for me”. If you do, you’ll be in deep shit. Spend time around real pit bull terriers. If you just want a bully breed mutt, shelters are filled with those.
If you are seriously interested in American Pit Bull Terriers, you will take the time to greatly research them. Here are some recommended books on the breed:
He looks like a pit bull, so does that mean that he’s a pit bull?
I want to make something loud and clear: not all pit bulls look the “same”. And, without a pedigree (proof of lineage/bloodlines), you have a mutt. I’m not sure how to say it, but I’m just going to say it like this: pit bulls come in different shapes and sizes. Does this mean that if your dog weighs 100 pounds that it is a pit bull? No. Because pit bulls do not weigh 100 pounds. I’d like to say the average American Pit Bull Terrier weighs between 25-60 pounds, on average. It’s pretty rare to even see an APBT that weighs more than 60 pounds, The ones I see are usually 25-55 pounders. So, they are medium sized breeds of dogs - not large sized breeds of dogs. They are not large breeds. If your dog weighs more than 75 pounds, it’s either fat or not a pit bull.
Now, I want us to take a look at some examples of different looking pit bull terriers. And, just because your dog supposedly looks like one of the dog’s below does not mean that it is a pit bull. Here are some examples of different pit bull terriers:
What exactly IS a pit bull? What should a pit bull look like?
This seems to be a very hard question for me to explain to some people,
simply because there’s so much history and detail that goes into telling
one what a pit bull actually is. It’s not about the simplicity of
telling someone what is and isn’t a pit bull, it’s about how much
they’re willing to listen and learn, and the mass majority of people
aren’t willing to listen or learn. That being said, you have to quickly
come up with a short, but informative answer.
The general public has no idea what a pit bull is and that is the honest truth. The general public believes that a pit bull is anything labeled as a pit bullor anything that supposedly looks like a pit bull, whatever the hell that may mean. Basically, they think “it has a blocky head, it’s a pit bull” or “it looks mean, it’s a pit bull”, “it has a spiked collar, it’s a pit bull”, “it attacks someone or something, it must be a pit bull”.
As explained above, in a previous answer, I stated that the average pit
bull terrier weighs between 25-60 pounds. If you’d like to take a look
at the conformation standard of the pit bull terrier under the ADBA,
as seen here.
Aren’t there multiple types of pit bulls?
No. There is only one pit bull, which would be the American Pit Bull
A dog who is of unknown lineage is one who is a mixed breed. He
can not be called a pit bull or pit bull mix.
I’ve unfortunately had my fair share and have come across many people who claim to be educated on this subject, yet go around and educateeveryone
that there’s multiple pit bulls. Lots of rescues spread this bullshit.
Rescues, shelters, animal rights - they are why this breed is so fucked
My dog’s papers say he’s a pit bull, so that must mean he’s a pit bull, correct?
No, this does not mean your dog is a pit bull. I could easily register
an American Bully as an American Pit Bull Terrier. This proves that
papers cannot tell you your dog’s breed. When it comes to register
papers, you can basically put any breed on their as long as they get
their money. So, just because your papers say that your dog is a “pit
bull” doesn’t mean that he is. You must have a pedigree to prove that.
What’s so bad about calling my dog a pit bull?
The harm is that you are spewing misinformation. If we labeled our dogs
correctly, I honestly believe there wouldn’t be BSL against pit bulls.
If you got your dog from a shelter, call it a mixed breed.If you got
your dog from a rescue, call it a mixed breed.If you got your supposed pit bull off
Craigslist, call it a mixed breed. If someone were to ask “is that a
pit bull?”, all you have to say is “no, my dog is not a pit bull or pit
bull mix.” Believe me, you’d be doing more GOOD for your dog and the entire “pit bull” population.
Isn’t the American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull
Terrier and American Bully all the same breeds as the American Pit Bull
NO! NO! NO! All four of these dogs are completely separate breeds
of dogs. Now, for a quick history lesson, the American Staffordshire
Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier originally started out
as the same breed of dog, but quickly became separate breeds after being
used/bred for different purposes and having different characteristics,
traits and appearance.
Let’s take a look at some more, and even a few better examples (see the above examples at the top) of American Pit Bull Terriers:
Now, we can take a look at the American Staffordshire Terrier:
Now some examples of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier:
And, finally we shall take a look at the American Bully (below) –the most commonly mistaken breed of dog to be a labeled as a pit bull.American Bullies are not pit bulls. Please, do us all a favor and if you have an American Bully, call it an American Bully, and please do not call it an American Pit Bull Terrier.
Now, let’s take a look at mixed breeds (these dogs are not pit bulls):
I was told my dog was a red nose, blue nose or gator pit bull. What exactly do these terms mean?
Well, red nose, blue nose and gator (gator head, gator mouth, gator, etc) are not types of pit bulls, and are definitely not bloodlines. All of these terms were and are made up by back yard breeders,therefore, they are not legitimate.
There is such thing as an OFRN (Old Family Red Nose) bloodline, but the chance of you owning a red dog and it being OFRN is about zero to none. OFRN is quite hard to come by, and is being kept and selectively bred.
Is it true that the pit bull terrier isn’t really a breed of dog?
I have no idea where one gets that the pit bull terrier isn’t a breed of dog, of course it’s a breed of dog! Pit Bull means American Pit Bull Terrier.
American (Pit Bull) Terrier is the only breed of dog with pit bull in its name!