Pit Bull Origins
The Pit Bull terrier breed was born of a cross between English Bulldogs and terriers during the 19th century in the United Kingdom. They were used as guard dogs, shepherds and particularly in barbaric gambling events such as; bear baiting, bull baiting, rat pits and dog fights. As these events generally took place in a pit, the name stuck. Bully Breeds, which is a much larger category of dog has its origins much further back in Ancient Greece; the Molosser is the common ancestor for many dogs characterized by a short muzzle, pendant ears, large frame and large bones. It was crossbred with a wide variety of other breeds to obtain big dogs with any other desired traits.
Myth: Pit Bulls are the Most Aggressive Dogs by Nature
Pit Bulls were once known as nurse dogs for their gentle disposition and caring loyalty towards children. Parents would not only let their children play with the dogs, but some even left the dogs to look after their children in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Any dog can be raised and trained to be aggressive, especially if neglected and kept from socializing with other dogs and people. When comparing the temperament of a pit bull to a shih-tzu one can’t fail to think the only reason for the inverted perceptions of the two breeds is solely based on appearance (admittedly if the larger dog were to attack a person the damage done would be far more severe). However, the incidence in number of bites between the two can’t even compare, but have you ever heard “man bitten by Maltese” on the evening news? Also remember to have your dog spayed or neutered, to help control populations and decrease aggressiveness in males.
What to Feed Pit Bulls
Pit Bulls should eat a diet high in protein, with meat as the primary ingredient. Many of these dogs can have an allergic reaction to corn, potatoes, soy or wheat, foods containing these should be avoided. Also, Chicken and Beef can cause skin irritation; keep an eye on your dog and watch them for nibbling on the skin or excessive scratching. Feed your adult dog 1 cup of food 2 or 3 times a day.
Pit Bull Puppies should be fed softened dry large breed puppy food (still meat first, but with extra calcium and phosphorus for their growing bones) 2 or 3 times per day after weaning (6-8 weeks old).
Myth: Pit Bull Brains Outgrow Their Heads
This is a lesser known myth, yet still propagated by detractors of the breed. It was founded about Doberman Pincers in the 1960’s and has since been applied to many large breed dogs. There is no healthy dog breed that this can be considered an often or even occasional concern with, let alone pit bulls or bully breeds.
There is a very rare condition, found in Cavalier King Charles Spaniards, syringomyelia, in which the brain is damaged. It affects neurological function, causes severe pain, weakness and partial paralysis. This can cause the dog to be aggressive, but it will also lack the ability to really attack.
Myth: Pit Bulls Can’t be Trained
Like any myth it is a ridiculous statement to try and make about an entire breed of dog. With patience, consistency and work, pit bulls, as with most dogs, can be trained to do all manner of activities, tricks and jobs. Their loyalty and tenacity make them great service animals, and their temperament makes them excellent therapy dogs. In the early 20th century the US had a pitbull as their mascot in World War 1 propaganda, and Sergeant Stubby was the most decorated military dog in Army history to that point and the only dog to hold a rank, sergeant, earned through battle. There are many other pit bulls and bully breeds to have helped the police as trained drug sniffing dogs and as part of counter-terrorism units.
Myth: Pit Bulls Have Locking Jaws
Although the jaw muscles of the pit bull are impressive and the size of their gigantic noggins seems like it could be true, there are no significant physiological differences between pit bulls and other canines. In a more common-sense approach, if their jaws locked how would they eat? Nevertheless, when a dog is trained as a police or military dog they are trained to clamp on and not let go in order to restrain their subject. I would suggest this may be the foundation of the myth, but very few pit bulls, relative to the number of German shepherds, Rottweilers and Malinois’, are used by military and paramilitary forces in the United States; so, if it were the origin, why isn’t the same myth applied to those breeds too?