Pit Bull Myths: “It’s How They’re Raised.”

Pit Bull myths

“Pit Bulls can be really sweet, loving dogs if they’re raised right.

Ever heard someone say that? Have YOU ever said it yourself? I know that when people say this, they mean it with the best intentions, but it’s such a harmful phrase. Let me explain why.

Animal shelters all over the United States are filled with homeless Pit Bulls. And I know you’ve heard me say that the Pit Bull is the most euthanized dog in the country. Both of these things are, in part, the result of people believing that how a Pit Bull is raised will completely determine what kind of dog it becomes. 

Let’s say you go to your local shelter because you’ve finally decided the kids are old enough for a dog. Should you get a puppy, or should you consider an adult dog? You’re just not sure, so you walk through the facility looking at dozens of dogs every age, breed, and size.

You see several adult Pit Bulls, and just like all the others, they’re wagging their tails and trying to get your attention, hungry for love. There’s one you’re particularly drawn to, because he has a beautiful white coat and a coal-black nose and soul-piercing eyes, and you wonder what his story is.

But then you think to yourself, I don’t know anything about this dog. What if he was raised to be mean? How do I know I can I trust him around my children? My other animals? I just don’t know enough about him to take him home.

But the truth is, you have to ask yourself those very same questions about every single dog in that shelter, regardless of breed. You have to ask those questions about a dog you find in a Craigslist ad, or through a breeder, in a pet store, or through a rescue.

Every dog is an individual, just like every human being is an individual. They’re different, just like all people are different. They have varied personality characteristics. Some are good with kids, some aren’t. Some like other animals, some don’t.

But these things aren’t determined by breed. They’re part of what makes up each individual dog.

I know you remember the Michael Vick dogfighting tragedy. Fifty-one Pit Bulls were seized from his home, pulled from deplorable conditions. Most had been abused and tortured, and those that hadn’t been mistreated had witnessed the abuse of the others. Some simply could not be saved, but surprisingly 47 of them went to sanctuaries and rescues to be rehabilitated.

Today some of those dogs still live in sanctuaries, foster homes, and rescues. But an impressive number of them have been adopted and are now living with families – families like yours and mine! Many of them became certified therapy dogs and are true ambassadors of their breed.

Take a look here at Handsome Dan, a rehabilitated, reformed, and rehomed Vick dog. He lets his baby sister read to him every night before bed. 

And here are some photos of Georgia {Handsome Dan’s mama!}, the most recent Vick dog to finally go home!

My point is, these dogs were raised in the worst conditions. They weren’t loved. They weren’t properly cared for. Many were trained to fight, and just as many were used as bait to start the fights.

And yet after being rescued, they still wanted love and companionship and family.

Most shelters evaluates dogs’ behavior before making them available for adoption. There are many criteria that a dog is judged upon, and while there are no absolute guarantees, that is true of all dogs – not just Pit Bull-type dogs.

So I implore you. Rather than get a puppy to raise and mold in hopes of creating the kind of dog you want, won’t you take a closer look at an adult dog who may very well already be the kind of dog you want? Look at who and what a dog is right now, rather than wondering what his past was like. Truth is, his past isn’t nearly as important as his future, and you can be a part of that.

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Christina Berry

Christina is a wife, mom, Virtual Assistant and Social Media Strategist, Pet Lifestyle Blogger, movie lover, recovering Diet Dr. Pepper addict, and planner junkie. She loves helping bloggers and handmade shop owners create successful businesses, and enjoys advocating for pets by volunteering with her local humane society and a Pit Bull rescue. Learn more about Christina and the mission of The Lazy Pit Bull here.

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  1. Jelly says

    I LOVE my rescue “pit” she is the most devoted loving dog EVER !!!! I laugh when we walk her and people cross the street or pick their dogs up…..it’s silly ignorance

    • rich montgomery says

      I will only say this. Rescuing a pit bull type dog is one of the best things I have ever done in my life. Period. If you had asked me 8 years ago, I would have said the same terrible things about pit bulls that make me cringe when I hear or read them. Now, I work in rescue and advocacy, because I learned the truth. I know personally of hundreds of amazing, life transforming stories. Many I know and work with would say the same thing “rescuing a pit bull type dog has been one of the best things I have ever done in my life”. Our dog has change me for the better in ways I cannot even describe.

  2. says

    It can also have to do with breeding, I learned from a lady that raised, breed and showed boxers. Never breed an aggressive dog to another. She always tried to find a mate that would bring out the best qualities of Mom & Dad in the puppies

  3. says

    every time I hear that comment I try to educate them regarding the Victory dogs. I have 2 pits in my shelter that I’m afraid nobody will adopt because of the “way they were raised”. Both are sweet loving, loyal dogs, but both need adopters with Bully breed knowledge. I WILL find them the right homes…………I know I will. Its educate, Educate, EDUCATE regarding the breed……..actually any breed!

    • says

      TJ Stevens, Well spoken :) I just recently adopted a pit mix, she’s 4 yrs old, was HW+ & due to be put down, I too was uneducated about the breed & was scared because of all the negative publicity this breed has gotten, because of the education awareness I realize these dogs aren’t what the media portrays them to be!!! & my new furbaby has been given a second chance! I’ve had several different breeds of dogs, mostly toy breeds & they were more aggressive than any pit I’ve encountered! My pit is the most loving, obedient, loyal, & smartest dog I’ve had, I salute all the organizations & animal lover’s that are out there spreading awareness, if not for them I wouldn’t have such a sweet animal, I myself am & will continue spreading awareness :)

    • Lorna says

      TJ – We just adopted a pit bull from a shelter that had been there for 4 months, simply because she is a pit bull and no one wanted to give her a chance. I can tell you that we thought twice about it too simply because of the reputation the breed had, the fear-mongering by the media etc. It was actually a very tough decision and we thought about it for several days before we filled out the application, but having had her now for over 3 weeks, we have absolutely NO regrets! She is such a sweet, smart, loving dog who is just eager to please – I feel SO lucky to have her!!!

  4. Rmnuss says

    Amen to this story….we have 7 pitbulls ….all from shelters….2 of which were deemed aggressive….which are 2 of the biggest lovers I will ever know and have the pleasure of all the love they shower on me and my family…..I can’t stress enough that a shelter environment is scary just like a pnatentuary would be to you….how would you act in a prison????? Nuff said.

  5. Viola Martini says

    So true about all animals.  I adopted a cat that was about to be put down, a beautiful Himalayan.  They said she bit.  I’ve had her 10 years and she’s never bit me once.  Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts.

  6. says

    Good, Victoria! I’m glad that from now on, you will let people know that it really doesn’t have anything to do with how they’re raised. It’s all about the individual dog! :)

  7. MrngGlory says

    You’re absolutely right Victoria!  That’s how we got Rusty.  He was about two years old when he came to us.  His previous ‘owners’ wanted a fighting pit, but Rusty wouldn’t fight, he was too nice.   Rusty is the sweetest dog I have ever known!

  8. says

    I hear that a lot and it always makes me cringe a little and then explain that, “No … dogs are individuals and have personalities just like anyone, most good, good some bad. I have seen a lot of dogs from horrible backgrounds who are just as sweet as can be. There are dogs that can’t be made mean no matter how much someone might try. And, there are dogs that have been made to fight, but really that was not their choice and they would by nature just want to play and be friendly and when given the choice, that’s what they do.”

  9. Walt Ciaston says

    Great story and great information.  I’ve been reading as much as I can about these pups, and I am starting to become a big fan and hopefully a future owner.

  10. Victoria Canto says

    whenever someone, upon meeting my lovely dog, tells me that “pit bulls can be such nice dogs if you raise them right” i tell them that i got her already a year old from an animal shelter in New Jersey.  then i go on to tell them she was dumped at the shelter because her first owner wanted a mean dog, and she was ‘too nice’. 

    they usually don’t know what to say after that.

  11. Megan says

    My pit bull was not “raised
    right.” When we first brought her home, she was snappy,
    agitated, and didn’t want to come in the house. I convinced my
    husband we should adopt a pit bull, and I wondered if I had made a
    mistake. After few weeks she started to calm down, and within eight
    weeks, she was a different dog. We believe that before we adopted
    her at six months, she had experienced little human contact. She is
    now a goofy social butterfly who has to say hello to all the
    neighbors when we take her out for a walk. She spends the first ten
    minutes at the dog park greeting all the regulars (people) and then
    plays with the other dogs. She remembers everyone she meets, and the
    only dangerous thing about her is her tail (her weapon of mass destruction).

    Our girl is a big cuddle bug and brings us so much joy. All she needed was a chance, and it breaks
    my heart to think of all the dogs that don’t get one. I would
    certainly encourage adopting an adult dog. Puppies are cute, but that
    only lasts a few months, and older dogs are so much easier to
    housebreak and train.

    I have gotten some strange comments
    regarding my dog.

    One woman asked me if she has anger
    issues like other pit bulls?

    I wanted to say: no, but I think she
    may have a drinking problem.

    Another woman told me that pit bulls
    become vicious when they turn two.

    My dog did maul a shoe, murder a garden
    hose, and eviscerate a stuffed animal.

    Pit bulls seem to get the worst from people, and they deserve so much more. 


    • Rebecca says

      What a great comeback. “No but I think my pitbull may have a drinking problem”. What a wonderful way to not insult the idiot with the anger problem comment while outwitting them with humor.

  12. Victoria Fryer says

    I’m so glad you put words to this… It always irritated me in a way when, after I told people I had pit bulls, they say, “Oh, they can be such nice dogs if you raise them right.” It’s almost an underhanded compliment (that is to say, not really a compliment at all). I will never let that comment pass without a response again.

  13. KD Mathews says

    At one point in time when I was actively brokering dogs I always chuckled when pitbull breeders would contact me looking to purchase Shepherds to guard their pitbulls. Funny how a dog that is supposedly so human aggressive is also one of the most stolen breeds in the country. The fact that they required another breed to protect their pitbulls speaks volumes.

  14. jessarenea says

    I agree. I am a professional trainer. I had a dog ( an AKC German-lined GSD with great linage) that was “raised right”, but he was a horrible, fear-aggressive dog! You had to drag him out of the closet, if you wanted him to do anything, because he ate, slept, drank, and used the bathroom in that 4×3 space. I tried to socialize him to people, animals, circumstances, but he got very scared and scary outside of the closet. He was born that way, not even the breeder trusted him when I took him. In the end after 10 months of every training technique I could think of and 3 other master trainers could think of, I decided he was geneticly unsound and put him down. It is, as you said, about the dog. Not any one thing makes a person or a dog.

  15. says

    I agree. ‘Pit bulls’ are involved in serious human aggression incidents at a disproportionate rate. I accept this as true, even statistics are probably exaggerated by relative over-reporting of ‘pit bull’ incidents, and some dogs in media reports called ‘pit bulls’ which aren’t by stretch of the definition. But the reason might be better be termed as about ‘how the dogs are managed’, rather than ‘how they are raised’. The latter as you say tends to imply deeply learned bad behavior that could never be reversed. The great majority of those incidents involved non-neutered/spayed dogs, and aggressive behavior is favorably modified by neutering; same with chaining a dog up, not exercising it, etc. The dominant contributing factors to bad ‘pit bull’ incidents *are* owner behaviors, but not necessarily things that permanently ruin a dog.

    Ours is an escapee from a reputed fighting breeder. She’s stunningly beautiful, awesomely powerful and athletic, colloquially a ‘pit bull’ but the most obvious component of her mixed heritage is Dogo Argentino. That owner wanted her back, for breeding, and eventually found her at the shelter where she ended up, but by then she was spayed so he gave up. I don’t know her exact upbringing, but there’s no reason to think it was very good, and reasons to think it was bad (her ears are completely cut off, she’s deathly afraid of belts, and she trembles if scolded more than very mildly). But it’s hard to describe without droning on a long time, and getting all sappy, just how terrific she is with people: amazing.

  16. JoAnn says

    I have a boxer (M-8+ yrs), a lab mix (F-12 yrs) and we just adopted a pit/boxer mix M-who is almost 1 yr. We had him nuetered a month ago because he attacked the boxer when we weren’t home. (The lab jumped in too and she’s NEVER been aggressive)! He is the most loving dog towards us, especially me, but very strong and hyper (55lbs and boxey). I think he may be ‘jealous’ of other male dogs towards me because he sleeps on the foot of my bed. Last night the boxer and lab were in the floor and he jumped off the bed and attacked the boxer (and again the lab pitched in). I’m torn about what to do with him. I hate to get rid of him but don’t want our boxer to live in fear and be targeted at any given time. We are keeping them separated as much as possible but this is becoming very stressful to us all. We also have 4 grandchildren who are very loud and active and I’m afraid he may bite/attack one of them – not because he’s ‘mean’ but maybe thinking they’re fighting and/or hurting each other or me. Any suggestions would be very helpful as I’m about at the end of my rope…!

    • says

      JoAnn, the problem you’re having is a dog problem, not a Pit Bull problem. People will try to blame it on the Pit Bull, but this is typical dog behavior that happens in all breeds. It does sound as though he is jealous and possessive of you. Pit Bulls are lovers, so it doesn’t surprise me if he’s decided he wants you all to himself. Also, maybe he simply doesn’t like your Boxer.

      No matter what the cause, you’re right that you can’t keep living with it forever. I’m guessing it isn’t going to change, and you don’t want to put ANY of your dogs or your grandchildren in danger. It might be time to start looking for a safe, loving home for the Pit Bull. You want everyone to be safe and happy, and it just might be that your home isn’t the best fit for him.

      • HAVE4PAWS says

        OR she might want to invest in a good trainer first who can teach her how to be the Alpha and control her pack. If this dog is possessive and aggressive he has no business being allowed on her bed to start with. Well meaning people often take on more dogs than they can handle and without some education about how to manage a pack it can go south pretty quickly even if it is a pack of poodles. In the meantime using “crate, rotate and separate” is appropriate until she can get some assistance. I wouldn’t give up right away unless she is not willing to put in the time to make it work because it WILL take time and work. My pack is proof positive of this and it is much much better now that I got training on how to handle it and I know what to do now. 99% of the incidents have gone away.

    • GoBigorGoHome says

      You need to find a way to reduce any competitiveness between them through leadership and training and create positive interactions between them as often as possible. Giving them each treats at the same time when they’re showing zero aggression while close to each other and ignoring them when they’re apart (restrained if required) helps. You’re going to need to control their every interaction for a while. I would strongly suggest calling a few positive reinforcement trainers for advice. See kikopup on YouTube, too. Lots of great videos.

    • CT says

      You indicated you had the pit nuetered because he attacked the other dog. Are your other dogs nuetered as well? My border collie is the sweetest animal ever… until he comes into contact with an intact male dog. He’s very alpha and the testosterone the intact dog emits threatens him and causes him to immediately respond. He’s gotten into several dog fights because of it. If your other dogs are nuetered, I would recommend you start there (for several reasons.)

  17. Angel Storle says

    This is a great article, thank you for writing it.
    I have a pit bull that we rescued from the shelter a few years ago and she is so sweet. She is great with my kids and even loves to play with my cats.
    I think she was abused in her previous home because when we first brought ger home she would shy away from you when you went anywhere near her head and always had her tail between her legs. She is now. Very loved and happy.

  18. S.K.Y. says

    Interesting how the Michael Vick pit bulls–the vast majority of which had never been fought–received stipends of $70,000 PER DOG for rehabilitation before being considered suitable for adoption. And some of those dogs with their $70k stipends still went on to kill other dogs while held at a sanctuary, chewing through two layers of chain link fence to maul the other dogs to death.

    Amazingly, the 9 or so beagles rescued from Michael Vick’s property received no rehab stipends, and all were adopted out to families immediately and have had no problems.

    How come the pits needed $70k each for “rehab” and the beagles nothing, if “the breed doesn’t matter”???

    • GoBigorGoHome says

      Because with that much media, the pit bulls had absolutely no choice but to be perfect ambassadors for their breed. They were also the FAR more abused and needed to learn an entirely new way of living, of reacting and of behaving among human and canine contact. They had spent their entire lives to that point being trained to kill. It takes knowledge, time, patience and a lot of love to erase that.

    • says

      do you think that the reason might be that he was fighting the pit bulls ,so there experiences would be extremely different then the beagles ? or did i miss it some where that the vick beagles were on the torture,fight card program ?

  19. Cam Martin says

    We recently rescued an abandoned pit from a group in California. We live in Edmonton, Canada so our girl has travelled a long way. She approx. 18mos old and has been spayed. Her temperament has been fantastic and she has been very good with all members of our family. She will roughhouse with our 8yr old daughter but never any aggression show, just some friendly “competitiveness”. The organization we found her through told us they monitored her behavior and attitude, and had exposed her to children, other dogs and small animals – and she presumably passed with flying colours, however this past wknd we had an incident. Our neighbours daughter was walking her small do past our house and when Karma (our pitbull) saw them she bolted through the screen door and charged the girl and her dog! The girl scooped up her small dog and tried to shield her from our dog. In an attempt to get to the smaller dog our pitbull seemed to accidentally make contact and nip at the young girls clothes. She was notably shaken and her shirt had tears in it, and of course the neighborhood is quit concerned as we live in an area filed with young kids. Now I believe this behavior could come from any dog breed but because Karma is a pitbull she will get no benefit of the doubt! We have had her now for about 5mos and love our dog, but we need to be concerned about this outburst. What can we do (if anything) to insure this wont happen again? Is this something we can teach out of her? Will socializing her with more people and animals help or will it potentially inflame this type of behaviour? When on a leash she is a very good girl, she is not aggressive, does not pull and is a good walker, but on the rare occasion that’s she’s been off the leash, she bolts and doesn’t listen very well to us. I really, really want to curb this behaviour so we can trust her. We love and trust her within our home, but need to have confidence in her behaviour outside of the house and when exposed to people / animals.
    Any feedback is greatly appreciated.


    • Rebecca says

      Cam, so sorry to hear your dog Karma had an unforeseen outburst like that. The thing is ALL dogs have triggers that could potentially land them into doing something they have never done before. Could be a sound you don’t hear or a smell you’re unaware of that triggers them. Unless you’re a dog mind-reader theres no way of staving off an unprovoked or unforeseen attack. We ALL take a risk when we accept a dog into our homes. I have a deformed thumb because as a child the neighbors Yorkie attacked me. A Yorkie! The owners of the Yorkie thought that breed of dog would never be a problem and yet it was. Don’t want a dog bite? Don’t get a dog! Simple. As long as we can accept that with dogs comes the possibility of a bite then people like you Cam can accept that you did nothing wrong and its to be expected as dogs use their mouths to communicate with. Being unacceptable of a dogs natural behavior is where the problem starts. Continue to be diligent and responsible for your dogs actions (which sounds like you are) is all that can be asked of you. You can do that or don’t have a dog in the first place but those of us in the know know that the companionship and love you get from a dog far outweighs the risk of a bite that may never happen. Oh and maybe getting a rock solid screen door may help too ; )

    • Vanessa says

      Cam~We have a 10 year old female pit bull/lab mix, Honey, and she is the sweetest, silliest, most playful and loving, loyal girl! She loves babies and people, but she DOES NOT like other dogs or cats–plain and simple. We’ve tried individual and group training, and would you believe that in group training where there are other dogs all around her, she totally ignores them and concentrates solely on my husband and me! The trainer asked what we were doing there! Honey had everyone but us fooled….

      The only time Honey is allowed off leash is in her own backyard, which is double fenced (wooden fence with cyclone interior fence) and fashioned so that she cannot see other dogs through the fence or people walking by with dogs. NO EXCEPTIONS! We will not take any chances with Honey off leash in public–she is too important to use to take any chances. If she were off leash, she would stay by us, watch little kids play, go up to other people for loving, but if she sees another dog or a cat–off she goes and we cannot get her to respond to our calls back. It is particularly problematic when other dog owners allow their dogs to be off leash and they quickly shout, “She’s friendly!” Well, that’s all good, but MINE isn’t friendly! It is not worth it to have your girl get in a dog fight or to incidentally, unintentionally injure someone who is holding their pet trying to avoid your dog. It is not fair to her, and not fair to you. You will either be in a position where you will be asked to surrender your dog; move out of the neighborhood; or be responsible for sizable hospital bills. As it has been stated before, such behavior is not because she is a pit bull, but it is her particular nature. I understand that there is a code among dog owners that only recently came to my attention: if you tie a yellow ribbon, scarf, or fabric on your dog’s leash, it is a code/signal that people need to use caution when approaching. The yellow ribbon/scarf/fabric doesn’t mean your dog is necessarily anti-social–it could be recovering from surgery, a new dog that you are introducing to the area, or that it does not like other dogs/animals. In any event, you will put others on notice to keep their distance.

      • HAVE4PAWS says

        Right on Vanessa! You, like me, have also grasped the concept that whatever your dog’s quirks are it is up to us as the Alpha to manage them when we put them in our human world.
        I have a big 21 month old Staffie who is the epitome of sweet love when it comes to people but other dogs outside his pack? uh no…. it is a fight waiting to happen. I have done a lot of work to get him to be ok in his own pack and still don’t ever leave him alone with my little poodle (who he bit even when he was just a puppy himself)….. when we walk and see other dogs we go the other way, especially small dogs who he sees as moving prey…. he is NEVER off leash except at home. Why put him in a situation where his triggers can get him or me in trouble? He has had extensive training and is amazing when it comes to walking and commands but this is an issue that we are not going to train out of him. I am sure if I let him go live with his trainer for the rest of his life he could get this behavior to change but it is not going to happen with just me no matter how much I work on it as I am not strong enough to do some of what needs to be done. My trainer has told me that since I am a single older woman my best avenue is ALWAYS to walk the other way and keep him out of these situations. It has worked well for me and I think is sound advice!

        • Have4Paws says

          Also wanted to add in case someone wants to try and misconstrue what I have said about my bully boy, he is an anxious DOG which is the cause of his aggression towards other dogs, it has nothing to do with his breed. I also have a female Staffie who is totally fine with all other dogs, very sweet and mellow.

  20. amy says

    I’m now going to try to adopt my pit tomorrow. I although had to get a pup because of my older dog I own. Not pet friendly. Cross your fingers for me this all works out. The pup is in a high kill shelter.

  21. says

    I have two pitties, they were both rescued from shelters. My oldest, Oz, had been in the shelter for over a year. He’d gone to every single adoption event and open house but, no one had ever even asked about him till I came along. He was terrified of us the first few days, he wouldn’t come into the house but hid in the yard. If he caught us looking at him, he’d run and hide. It took him a long time to work out his issues but thru continued work on both our parts he’s a wonderful, loving and loyal dog. Our 2nd is a 7 month old rescue that her previous owners got rid of her because of “bad behavior” at the time she was a 4 month old puppy. It doesn’t matter what breed they are, puppies are puppies and have some bad behaviors. She’s a delight and so funny!
    They are wonderful dogs and a delight to be part of our family. WE are the lucky ones to have THEM.

  22. Jennifer says

    Many people use this phrase. I still do, but it’s because I know what I’m talking about. This gets into the semantics of people not understanding the full meaning of wording and taking things out of context. It IS how they’re raised, which to me means, it’s how you treat them. Treat a pit bull or any dog well, and he will be a good dog. Treat him poorly, and he will lash out at others. But if that happens, it’s all your fault, because you’ve allowed it.

    A majority of dogs raised in piss-poor conditions, with the right help, CAN be rehabilitated and be wonderful, loving dogs. I’m tired of people misunderstanding the use this phrase. I don’t believe it’s harmful, and most people who do use it, use it only with benevolent intentions.

    We’re trying to get entirely too PC with our wording, and it’s getting sort of ridiculous.

    • says

      Jennifer, in a way I get the idea that we’re saying the same thing.

      You said “A majority of dogs raised in piss-poor conditions, with the right help, CAN be rehabilitated and be wonderful, loving dogs.”

      I absolutely agree, which is exactly what this post says. The Vick dogs are excellent examples of this. They were raised in horrific conditions and yet many of them have been rehabilitated and retrained, and have now been rehomed into wonderful families.

      But when the average person hears “they’re good dogs IF THEY’RE RAISED RIGHT”, they immediately become fearful of pit bulls whose past is unknown. I see this every day at the shelter and rescue level. People walk right by the pit bulls because, and I quote, “I don’t know how that dog was raised, so I’m not taking a chance with it.”

      You said “Treat a pit bull or any dog well, and he will be a good dog. Treat him poorly, and he will lash out at others.” This isn’t necessarily true, and again I use the Vick dogs as examples. They were not treated well, and yet many of them are wonderful dogs.

      As advocates, we’ve simply got to stop implying that a dog can be judged by his past. Too many dogs with unknown pasts are being overlooked in shelters because too many people believe how he was raised and/or treated before arriving at the shelter will determine the kind of companion he’ll be.

  23. says

    This is a great article.
    My suggestion to all those who hear this comment is to reply:
    “Not so.” “The Michael Vick dogs are prime examples of that. All those dogs had the most horrific beginning to life, yet nearly all of them were adoptable AND several of them have passed the qualifications to become certified therapy dogs to work with children and adults.”
    Jonny Justice, Jhumpa Jones and Hector are living proof that it is NOT how they are raised, it is who they are and how they are treated in the here and now.

  24. joann says

    We rescued our boy, Gus, from a Flea Market at 5 weeks old. I took him to obedience classes where EVERYONE feared him. He was a runner!!!! And when he did they’d all grab up their dogs in fear!! Well, that was 4 years ago! Today, he’s the most loved dog at our Club! He has earned his Companion Dog Title, Rally Excellent Title, Coursing Ability Title, Canine Good Citizen Title,and Therapy Dog Title (he was the first pit to recieve that one). He’s my first Pit….definitely won’t be my last!!! He’s the smartest dog I have ever owned! He’s loving, loyal, gentle, and intelligent! He’s my best friend…people say he was lucky we rescued him. Actually, I’m the lucky one….he rescued me!!!

    • says

      Joann, it sounds like you’ve done a great job with Gus! Thank you for being a responsible Pit Bull owner! We need more of those! Congrats, too, on his CGC and other achievements! That is great work!

      I know exactly what you mean when you say Gus rescued you – same with me. My girl is the best, and I’m the lucky one to have her!

  25. Jamie says

    There is a reason they are not paying stars to promote poodles on t.v. When dog fighting was legal, no one incuding dog fighters promoted pitbulls as pets. After the government made dog fighting illegal they spent millions on a public relations campaign to popularize the breed so they can hide their vicious and sadistic “sport” in plain sight. “stars” are paid a lot to peddle pitbulls on t.v. just like big tobacco used stars to promote cigerettes. Pitbull owners are duped. They are the pawns of wealthy dog fighters that don’t care about victims or pitbulls. Every pitbull owned helps hide dog fighters. We have a sea of one million overbred unwanted pitbull euthanized each year in the USA. There is a billion dollar untaxed economy surrounding pitbull dog fighters. Pitbull owners should know that their choice helps a pitbull die in a fight pit everyday. If you own a pitbull you are supporting dog fighters.
    dupe (dp, dyp)
    1. An easily deceived person.
    2. A person who functions as the tool of another person or power.
    3. To deceive (an unwary person). See Synonyms at deceive.
    tr.v. duped, dup•ing, dupes

    • says

      Jamie, this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. To say that pit bull owners are contributing to dog fighting is ludicrous and offensive to those of us who work so hard to stop this atrocious act. If that’s your opinion, you’re certainly entitled to it, but please don’t come around here spreading that negativity and ignorance.

      • Debbie Bell says

        J. L. Colby, pit fancier/fighter, breeder, author wrote: “Inasmuch as dog fighting is illegal… as long as these dogs are bred there will be pit contests to prove who owns the better fighting dog.”

        He was right, of course. Dog fighting continues, growing more year by year.

        But with his words he also tells us how to end dog fighting:

        Enact and enforce mandatory spay/neuter microchipping MSNM of all pits, pit mixes, all dog-aggressive dogs. If a lab mix is misidentified, no problem, she gets a free spay.
        No responsible, caring pit owner is punished as his dogs ARE spays/neuters already.

        A yard full of chained out pits, all breeding, many scarred, but can’t prove dog fighting, with or with out fighting tools? No problem, the law says they must be spayed/neutered, so they are confiscated and spayed/neutered.

        Many/most who own pits for nefarious purposes, many who own pits for the vicarious power, virility and aggression they provide their owners, would not own a dog if spay/neuter was enacted and enforced. Therefore no dog would suffer in thos environments.

        Breeders of other dogs: know who is buying your pups and for what purpose. When in doubt, spay/neuter before sale, to prevent breeding for increasing dog aggression and reactivity. If you fail and over the many decades (it will take decades to create a “good” game fighting dog from a non-bully dog) and your dog becomes the “next pit bull”, your breed is added to the MSNM law.

        Dog fighters hate this plan as it would put them out of business.

        Pit bully people say to judge every dog individually and they say that pits are “just dogs, just like all other dogs.” I disagree, I believe that pits are different. Those who bred and continute to breed pits KNOW pits are different. Those who fight dogs KNOW that pits are the best fighters.

        But we’ll go with your statement. Pits are just dogs, just like ANY DOG, as it’s management and training that makes behavior, not instinct and heritage.

        OK. If pits are just any dog, no one except for fighters will miss them. Let pits mercifully become extinct. When pits are few and far between, those who would have bought or adopted pits can adopt ANY DOG and manage/train her to be their charming pet.

        • says

          Debbie, I personally believe that we should stop breeding ALL dogs. While 4 million shelter pets die every single year because there aren’t enough homes for them, it’s criminal that there aren’t mandatory spay and neuter laws in every state.

          I find your last paragraph to be extremely narrow-minded. Many people have breed preferences. Families love Golden Retrievers because they’re so good with children. Some people swear that Beagles are the most good natured dogs on the planet. My dog, and most Pit Bull-type dogs I’ve worked with in the shelter and through rescue, is very good natured, loving, and extremely eager to please. She’s the smartest dog I’ve ever known. I’ve had dogs since I was 2 years old, and I’ve never had one that was such a great companion, truly a “best friend”.

          So to say that only fighters would miss Pit Bull-type dogs if they were “extinct” is narrow-minded and definitely leads me to believe you’ve never spent time with these dogs. And if you’ve never spent time with them, I don’t believe you’re in a position to judge them.

          I’m curious as to HOW you feel Pit Bull-type dogs are “different” from other breeds. I’ve lived with dachshunds, schnauzers, yorkies, pekingese, and springer spaniels, and except for their size, none of them were very different from my Pit Bull girl. All breeds have their quirks and things that set them apart from other breeds, but I have yet to meet a Pit Bull-type dog that, when you get right down to it, wasn’t “just a dog”.

          • Max Gold says

            Sadly, one of the pitbulls quirks is to regularly maim, maul and kill innocent people and animals. Its funny how when pitbulls are compared to non fighting breeds of dog, the spruikers of this unsuitable breed for civilised society forget to mention ‘Oh, by the way, pitbulls have killed more people than all other breeds combined” but gee, they make wonderful pets. Oh Brother! The only possible way anyone could ever support pitbulls is to ignore the many victims of serious pitbull attack, and that’s what decent folk everywhere find so offensive. this pretence that pitbulls aren’t regularly harming and killing innocent people and animals.

            • PitOwner says

              Do you find it offensive that I make my living by driving while nearly 100 innocent men, women and children are being crushed and torn apart daily on our nation’s roads?

              Is it offensive to you that I enjoy swimming even though more than 3,500 innocent men, women and children drown each and every year?

              You should be outraged – if you find it offensive that I own a pit bull while 30 or so people are dying annually from dogs.

              How dare you live your life while, everywhere, people are dying every second of every day. And you call yourself decent?

            • says

              I support the idea of mandatory spay/neuter for pit bulls. Banning them won’t work because people will just fight some other breed. If you stopped breeding dogs, they would fight chickens. Let’s get all the dogs we can into good homes, make sure they are not bred, and continue to convict dog fighters. And stiffen the penalties for those suckers until it REALLY hurts.

            • says

              Listen, Max, it’s simple. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but I think you’ll find that around these parts, you’re in the minority. You’ve got your mind made up about Pit Bulls, whether you’ve had any actual experience with them or not, and nothing I say is going to change your mind. I’m fine with that. I can’t change narrow-mindedness, and I’ve stopped trying. All I can do is suggest that before you start making sweeping generalizations and professing that entire breeds should be wiped off the planet, go out and get yourself some PERSONAL EXPERIENCE and then decide. That’s what I did, and I’m a better person for it.

            • CT says

              I’d love to know where you are getting your information from, besides your own one-sided opinion. I used to buy into the hype and be a little skeptical of pits myself. That is, until the day I was luckiest enough to be asked to foster a couple of them and I instantly fell in love. I’m a better person for it everyday. I may have rescued my pit from being euthanized, but he is rescued me a 100x over.

  26. Max Gold says

    People need to move beyond the “It’s how you raise them” nonsense. It has little to no impact on a Pitbull. The current situation is so dangerous now because do-gooders got hold of a fighting breed of dog and have tried to breed the game out of them. And while they have BEEN partially successful, all they have done is made the situation way more dangerous than when just the Dog Fighters had control of this breed. Back then the dogmen would cull a non game Pitbull, and this made it easy to tell which Pitbull was dangerous, THEY ALL WERE.

    Enter the do-gooders and now we have a situation were nobody can tell which Pitbull still has a hefty dose of Game flowing through it’s blood, and which one doesn’t. This is why you often here of well raised pitbull snapping and brutally maiming, mauling and killing.

    You only need to look at studies done with Wolves and Foxes to realise the overwhelming genetic factor and importance of strict artificial selection has on the breed. In one study, wolves raised from pups with love and nurturing still had to be released into the wild after three months because of typical unruly wolf type behaviours. The researchers soon learned, you can’t LOVE the genetics out of a Wolf.

    The study done with foxes highlighted using artificial selection that you could indeed breed the WILD out of a fox after several generations. By breeding a passive fox with another passive fox continually, you eventually domesticated the fox. But reintroduce a game bloodline again, and you risk re-introducing aggressive genes that were bred out.

    So this is the current scenario we have,we have breeders continuing to breed the game into the dog, and other, although well meaning breeders trying to breed the game out, and ironically it is those breeders that are endangering everybody. For those breeders to think they are going to be able to stop a rogue element breeding Pitbulls to be game is Naive. The do-gooder breeders should have never touched fighting breeds of dog. They should have left them in the underworld were they belonged fighting in pits, and if they truly cared, rather than try and change the breed, the should have tried to stop dog fighting.

    A Truly GAME dog needs absolutely NO TRAINING, I often believe people like to spout the “It’s how you raise them” nonsense.to give them some ego gratification when they own a well balanced Pitbull, they delude themselves into thinking that this is because of their super loving and nurturing ability, when all that’s happened is they own a Pitbull that has had the game successfully bred out of it over the generations by a do-gooder breeder.

    And even if it was true that it is “How they are raised”, for domestic dogs to be a suitable option for a civilised society, it needs to have a genetic resilience to mistreatment or no training that doesn’t see it maim, maul and kill if exposed to those conditions. You often hear pitbull defenders blame the owner after a pitbull attack as if that somehow makes the situation acceptable. So, even if it was true, that pitbulls that are neglected or abused then become a serious threat to society, this is just one more reason the breed should be banned, not an reasonable justification of why the breed should be still allowed.

    BAN THE BREED, sterilise the current generation, grandfather them out of existence. Then we will find it easier to locate the underground dog fighters, identify Pitbull owning criminals and eliminate regular maiming, mauling and killing of unsuspecting citizens and their pets. ELIMINATE THE DEED, BAN THE BREED!

    • CT says

      You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but should not be presenting it as fact. I am the proud owner of a yorkie, morkie, border collie and pitbull. My Pit is the most even tempered, smartest, obedient animal in my house. I’d own 100 more if I had the room for them. Here are a few actual facts you should consider before declaring the breed be banned because in my opinion ignorance is more dangerous than any pitbull I’ve ever met…………http://www.austinhumanesociety.org/pitbulliq

    • Mike says

      Ban the breed? Mandatory sterilization for the current generation? kill? Exterminate?

      Wow, sir. Something tells me you are a very intolerant dangerous human. I’d be far more afraid of you than any dog.

      I hope you find peace peace.

    • Agatha says

      I don’t understand your logic at all, and I have a feeling you unfortunately were probably bitten or attacked by a dog before and it is souring your world outlook. I have met so many lovable pitties who were abandoned and it broke my heart that I couldnt take them all home. My mixed dog is incredibly intelligent, loyal and LOVES kids, it startles parents sometimes when they see how his tail wags around children. You sir, need to wake up to reality, and open your mind.

  27. Annamary Howard says

    Sadly, people who believe the “hype” about Pitbulls have probably never been within 50 feet of one. They buy into what they read. If I had done that years ago, I never would have adopted my daughter who was 4 months old at the time. So many “failed” adoption stories, so many horror stories about adoption. Today, my daughter is 28 years old, a wonderful young woman, and a practicing attorney! Back to Pitbulls, I have two in my family, and everyone who meets them falls in Love. They have been with me for over 7 years. They love people, especially children. It breaks my heart that people want to destroy this very special breed of dog. Like they say, “what we fear, we want to destroy.”

  28. says

    I quite agree that Pitbull can be a faithful friend and wonderful family dog as it depends on us, humans! We can make our dogs a kind and devoted companions or even killers, that`s why if you grow up your pet in love it doesn`t matter whether it`s Pitbull or Retriever!

  29. kaitlin says

    I have a 5 month old pit charlie and im raising him with his best buddy my daughter who is 8 months my problemis the looks pparents give me and the comments of being a bad mom for having him around her my own grandma said he’d kill Annabelle have you had similar issues

  30. nancy says

    When my son was 7 y/o, an adult female “sweet precious” family pet attacked him. We were standing together on the sidewalk in front of the home while a friend was looking at a car the family was selling. We were not in their yard. My son was not jumping around or crying, just standing there. The dog, (purebred) came running out the front door at my son. Why? I wish I knew. Why not jump me? Or my friend? We were bigger and should have been more of a threat, if the dog felt threatened. My friend was actually in their yard. I know any dog will attack and bite and all that. But terriers are determined, tenacious dogs, and pit bulls have 3rd most powerful jaws of all dogs. The combination is lethal.

  31. Alberto says

    I know one thing is that Pits genetically have a lot of energy in them. So part of raising them is giving them plenty of exercise so that that energy is not all bottled up.

  32. Agatha says

    I agree…a happy doggie gets tons of exercise. In an ideal world a pittie has a yard to play in, owners who have a love for the outdoors, and (in my opinion) feed him/her a premium, preferably natural dog food. I repeat–this is just my opinion, and based on MY experience, but my pit mix eats natural dog food, and I know he is super healthy, NOT hyper, and well-balanced and friendly. He also was well-socialized, started obedience training, and has parents that give him CONSISTENT, positive training.

  33. Amanda says

    A phrase that I love to use instead when confronted with questions about my rescue pit is, “good owners good pets!”.

  34. Nicole A says

    I just wanted to say thank you for your article. When I first started reading it I was like ahhhh snap here we go another person who hates the pit bulls. As I read through your article my mind changed of course! Your article reminds me of what my Pit must of gone through. My daughter and I volunteer at the Humane Society where we became close to, fostered and now adopted our Pit Bull. His name was Smiley and we just changed it to Canyon. He is to be thought used as a bait dog. When he first came in to the shelter he was emanciated and full of health problems. His teeth are filed completely down, his front left ankle was broken from where they shackled him down, he is covered in scars and he doesn’t have a normal “bark” because of the heavy chains that was around his neck. He was completely terrified in the shelter and when I first brought him home. He has been with us for 3 months now and follows me everywhere now, now that I have that leadership role and trust I have started training and he loves my kids. Please please please spread the word and get these Pits homes they all deserve it!

  35. says

    My part pit part lab is the biggest baby ever! He is such a sweet dog, but my Chihuahua is surprisingly the mean one ha ha! I get so upset when people give me and my dog mean looks at the park like we don’t belong there. I mean come on! Watch out for my Chihuahua if you know what’s good for ya!

  36. Susan Kohlmeyer says

    Thank you! I am guilty of recently saying it’s how they are raised, and several years back I would have said the pit bull breeds are most aggressive and should be banned based on some bad experiences… until I went to the shelter and met the best dog there. She met all my requirements and then some. I am pleased and proud to say I rescued an adult ambassador pit bull who is sweet as can be. She is very submissive around other dogs and I have had to defend her against attack and I was bitten by one of the small dogs attacking us. I can admit my attitude was wrong towards this breed. Everyone makes mistakes, including our pets. Caution should be taken to prevent harm to the animal or people. Inspect fences to prevent escape, learn how to properly train and curb bad behaviors, exercise them or don’t own one, and for heavens sake admit when your wrong and don’t hide your dog leaving the bitten to wonder about rabies risk!!! Sorry for the venting, its just I have found more dog owners I dislike than the dogs themselves.

  37. Rick Bohl says

    I believe part of it is how the dog is raised/trained. The main part is how us as pitbull owners manage the situations we put our dogs in.

  38. Rachel Spallino says

    Really really great article! Thank you for taking the time to stand up for adult adoptable pitties! Hooray for people like you!

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