Pit-Bull dogs, the law and families.

Apropos of this thread in IMHO, where astro asked what the worst dog for a family to own. I chimed in that the obvious choices were the Pit-bull and Rottweiler, based on what I hear in news and see in law - as the American Pit-Bull Terrier (and other “Pit-Bull” breeds) is restricted in several countries.

Initially I thought this view somewhat uncontroversial, as Pit-Bulls and Rottweilers both have pretty viscous reputations - these statistics put the “Pit-Bull” breed at number one, with 60 total fatalities between 1979 and 1996, with Rottweilers and German Shepards being number 2 and 3, respectively. I was quickly called on it, however, perhaps justifiably. So, in the name of fighting ignorance let’s have a proper debate on it.

We can all agree that preventing dangerous dog attacks (especially against children) is something that needs to be addressed - what is the role of the Pit-Bull breed and the law in accomplishing this? The UK implemented the Dangerous Dogs Act, which includes restrictions on Pit-Bulls, in 1991 following a series of dog attacks. However, the act has been criticised as both inadequate or going too far, especially in regards to banning breeds. From the above link;

So, what’s the solution? How dangerous are Pit-Bulls (is that even a meaningful term?) and why do they have such a grim reputation?

What does “properly trained” mean in terms of time and effort? Does it take longer to “properly train” a pit bull, as opposed to a collie or a spaniel?

I agree that the reputation of Pits is ‘viscous’, if by that you mean persistantly sticky. :wink:

‘Proper training’ is more about the owner than the dog, I think. Socialization during the formative period for puppies is what is going to make the most difference in every adult dog. Communication is key between dogs and humans, and having some basic commands for your dog will go far. And a well-exercised dog is often a calmer and more well-behaved dog. It’s up to the owner to implement training and exercise, and to take each dog’s personality and behavioral issues into consideration and then supervise and control him accordingly.


My own uneducated research (I’ve kept dogs, but never a Pit-Bull type breed) yields somewhat contradictory information. This from the Kennel Club;

In other words, a lot more than you’d need with other breeds, giving creedance to the idea that Pit-Bulls are inherently dangerous (with risk towards children, given their powerful build and ability). However, the preceding sentence states;

However, the stories from the original thread (this, this andthis) all show unprovoked attacks on children - and I wasn’t looking particularly hard.

So I’m none the wiser.

You are in for it. do not post for about a week. Do not read this thread again for a while. Run.

I wonder if history will repeat itself. Again.

Oh, please. GD hosts debates on abortion, gun control, religion, etc. and you’re telling me that dangerous dogs are the flashpoint? Hopefully we’re all capable of civilised discussion, my motives are not to incite but to…well look at the board’s tagline.

There have been a couple very big debates in general questions and great debates. If you do a search you should be able to find them easily. I would avoid the pit thread as thats mainly people calling each other poopy heads. If you read any of those threads you should be as informed as any reasonable person could hope to be.

I don’t want to post anything controversial that might start the trainwreck, but I will say that pitbulls do as a breed have issues with dog aggression, and there is a debate about how this dog aggression effects other aspects of their personality.

I did a quick search, the only big thread on it I could find was a pit (no pun intended) thread in 2004. In lieu of hijacking a IMHO thread with GD style discussion I decided to just cut out the middleman.

You shall see many variations of “With proper training, a pit bull is no more dangerous than a(pick any small fluffy lap dog)”

Of course, with proper training a hand grenade is no more dangerous than a popgun.

Actually, since you can’t search with three letter words (like “pit” and “dog”), I’m not sure it’s really that easy…

Apparently, upholding this board’s motto isn’t a moderator’s job?

I would read this thread.

Make of it what you will.

Thanks for the link valleyofthedolls, that didn’t come up in the search.

“Proper training”?
“No more dangerous than a …”

So tell me, which takes more extensive proper training to make a dog family friendly-a collie or a pit bull?

Assuming that family doesn’t involve other animals, about the same.

What people who know little to nothing about dogs and temperament evaluation don’t take into account is the difference between dog-aggression and person-aggression. Pits tend to be dog-aggressive and have a high prey drive, but have little to no person-aggression. I mean, really, how much use do you think a fighting dog is if you can’t handle the damn thing without it eating you up? They’re bred to go after the other animal, fiercely and with no quarter, and to simultaneously be docile and obedient to their human handlers.

As the person who has to hold the animal while someone takes blood, gives injections, or sticks a probe up its ass, I’d take the pit bull long before the collie, and I’d rather work on a million pits than single minpin or shar pei.

A loaded question, how clever. Except not. With the caveat that there are variations within breeds, IMHO a pit bull is a better family dog. Herding breeds and kids are often, though not always, a bad combination.

But really, what is the point of your question? What do you think it proves? There are many dogs that might be considered less approprate than a collie for a family, Jack Russells and Dalmatians spring to mind. Using the collie as an example would you then insist Jack Russells and Dalmatians are as dangerous as (using your other example) a hand grenade?

In any event, you’ll have to go piss in somebody else’s sandbox because I’m not interested in playing. Another poster (in the thread I cited) explained the fear mongering surrounding pit bulls far more eloquently and thoroughly than I can. If you or anyone else choose to think zebras whenever you hear hoofbeats, that’s your problem not mine. I just hope this board is more discerning when the powers that be choose new moderators.

It depends on where the dog came from and what temperament it was born with. I’ve spend my whole life in dogs and hands down the worst bite I ever got was from a Cocker Spaniel. :cool:

The problem with discussing pit bulls is defining the term. The law lumps all dog breeds and mixes that “look like a pit” together, including the AKC breeds of Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier (which looks the most like a “pit bull”) and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. A dog from a breeder of any of these who is focused on temperament will not be any more likely to be dog aggressive than any other terrier or working breed. The problem is that it is much harder to find a breeder of one of these than a pit bull. So any random “pit bull” you see on the street is more likely to be bred either to fight or for the pet market than carefully for temperament and health.

Just as most other things in life, no one breed is going to be the best for all families. People need to do their research on the various breeds to find out which best fits their particular situation, then some more to find good quality breeders, instead of just grabbing something from the papers or the pound. As a general rule, the rarer breeds are usually in better shape both for temperament and health than the real popular ones since they haven’t had puppy mills and backyard breeders pumping hundreds of thousands of questionable dogs into their gene pools.

This discussion always tickles my funny bone a little because it is such deja vu. In the past, the exact same things have been said about Dobermans, German Shepherds and Chows as are currently said about “pits”. And now Rotts are starting to eclipse pits in bad-assery. It isn’t about the dog or the breed, it’s about the breeders and the owners.

Here’s a shocker for you-are you ready for it?

The point of my question was…to get an answer! It wasn’t “clever”, or tricky or deceptive. I just wanted to know if it takes longer to make a pit bull family friendly then other dogs that are usually considered family pets. Pit bulls may be the best freakin’ pet in the world, but that doesn’t have anything to do with my question.

Your first post:

Your second post:

Why is it that I don’t believe you? As I said before, I’m not interested in a pissing match but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. With the caveat that there are variations among a given breed, IMHO, pit bulls need less training than collies to be good family pets.

Herding breeds are bred to to well, herd. To bite, to snip, to nip and bang around those creatures that aren’t paying attention when the herding dog tells them to go in a certain direction. IMHO, it takes a lot of socialization and training for these dogs to overcome their instincts and not do to children what they would do with sheep. They are also protective of the flock and given the job they were bred for, very independent-minded. You are aware Lassie was a television show?

Pit Bulls were specifically bred to be people friendly. The issues that apply to herding breeds do not apply to them as a general rule. This isn’t to say pit bulls don’t require training. They do. They are energetic and strong dogs that need direction (as do many other dogs often chosen for family pets). As another poster pointed out, they can be dog-aggressive, as well. If a family feels that this would be difficult to accomodate then they shouldn’t get one just as a family unable to accomodate a herding dog’s instincts shouldn’t get a Collie. As with most things in life, you get out of a dog just as much as you put into it.

This appears congruent with cases seen in the UK (I can’t speak of the situation worldwide). Pit-Bulls, whether due to a natural aggression or the ease of training them as such, are used as, well…

BBC - Inside Out - North West - Dangerous dogs (an article written in the wake of a lethal Pit-Bull attack on a five year old girl).

The background of such animals may be from operations like this, dog fighting;

Clearly this isn’t the fault of the breed - although one wonders why it seems to be Pit-Bulls that are usually selected. But this isn’t much consolation to the victims of their attacks.
While criminal practice like training illegal breeds for dog-fighting or other aggressive behaviour is obviously an explanation for why a disproportionate amount of attacks seem to be from Pit-Bull breeds, it seems unlikely that this is a complete explanation - particularly given global restrictions on them.