Breaking the Pit Bull Stigma: A History of the "Nanny Dog"
A Natural Caretaker
Pit bull breeds are naturally strong, intelligent, and courageous. Their main goal is to please their owner. In the early 1900s, pit bulls were given the title of “Nanny Dog." They were known to be faithful, loving, and loyal, especially when it came to children. A child's safety was practically guaranteed. So what happened?
What Happened to the Nanny Dog?
Pit bulls were not considered nannies without good reason. They were even considered the most beloved dog breeds in England and the United States.
To find out how pit bulls developed such a bad rep, we'll take a look at the following:
- The Breeds: History and Development
- Behavioral Habits: Training and Abuse
- False Stigma: Facts and Figures
Finally, I will use my personal experience of owning a pit bull to demonstrate why these dogs are still the best! Hopefully, this information will clear up any misconceptions surrounding the breeds.
Did You Know?
The term "pit bull" is not used to distinguish a single breed, but a GROUP of breeds!
The Breeds: History and Development
There are four breeds that fall under the "pit bull" umbrella:
- The American Pit Bull Terrier
- The American Staffordshire Terrier
- The Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- The American Bully
The most common breed is the American Pit Bull Terrier. A cross between terriers and bulldogs, American Pit Bull Terriers were first brought to the United States in the late 1800s from Staffordshire, England. They later became the symbol of American strength and courage during World War I.
A Dog of Many Trades
There are two origin strains of the pit bull breeds, one of which is the American Pit Bull Terrier. This first strain was originally used for guarding and dogfighting. They were stoutly built, with square heads and firm jaws.
When they were brought to the United States and dog fighting became banned, the American Staffordshire was developed. This strain was a mild-mannered, smaller-framed dog that was used to hunt and drive livestock. (They made great pets, too!)
Unfortunately, the wrong kind of people still found the first strain attractive to use as guard dogs for illegal activities. Now, these people are training pitties to attack and kill whatever comes near. They are being taught to be aggressive.
A Happy Ending for This Pit Bull
Behavioral Habits: Training and Abuse
The methods by which some people are training their pitties are deplorable! They are chained up, taunted, beaten, and starved. You can only abuse an animal for so long before you change their behavior permanently.
Taught to Kill
Pit bulls are trained to be aggressive by using other people’s pets as bait. Cats, rabbits, and other small animals are used to draw out the dog's attack instinct. When you beat and starve a dog before throwing it a "snack," what do you think it is going to do? They are also given smaller dogs to practice fighting with. If they don’t kill their opponent, they are beaten severely.
False Stigma: Facts and Figures
One of the most tolerant, patient, and gentle dogs is now being portrayed as the most dangerous. Because of their bad reputation, at least 2,800 pit bulls are put to death every day—by far the highest of any specific breed. Before pit bulls were labeled as the most agressive, Rottweilers were considered to be the most aggressive breed of dog. Before that, it was the Doberman and the German Shepherd. Banning laws have been disputed in regards to each of these breeds, but nothing has been implemented.
The Data Doesn't Lie
In temperament tests operated by the American Temperament Test Society, pit bulls were rated the second-most tolerant. The most tolerant dog was the Golden Retriever, and the least tolerant was the Chihuahua.
It has been said that the pit bulls' jaws locks and that they have the most powerful bite among dog breeds. This has made people wary of their temperament, but neither of these statements are true. Their jaws do not lock, and the dog with the most powerful bite is actually the Rottweiler.
Lola: Proving Them Wrong
At one time, my daughter owned a pit bull named Lola. (My ex-husband now houses her.) I was really quite upset with the two of them for getting this dog without my permission. However, she ended up being a cherished and valued member of our family!
Lola is the sweetest dog you'll ever meet. Her best friend, Audi, is a Boston Terrier less than half her size. She loves people and I never worry about her being around my grandchildren. She is very protective of them.
Don't Judge a Pup by Its Breed
I hate to see anyone or anything get a bad rep for no good reason. Pit bulls are terribly misunderstood, and it has been my mission to provide the facts so everyone can understand how wonderful these dogs are. So before you judge a dog by its looks or breed, maybe you should judge its owner instead!
Do you believe pit bull dogs are naturally aggressive or trained to be aggressive?
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© 2012 Sheila Brown