Important Things to Consider Before Getting a Pit Bull
Deciding to Add a Pit Bull to Your Family Should Be a Thoughtful Decision
With a friend of ours recently acquiring a four-week-old pit bull puppy, my first reaction was aww, how cute! After looking into it a bit more, however, I have come to believe that the decision to become an owner and parent of a pit bull should be a very well thought out decision, and one that is not simply based upon "how cute!"
All puppies and baby animals begin as darling little creatures that are hard for many people to resist! This particular puppy is still being fed by a bottle, which led me to believe that she probably shouldn't have been sold at such a young age. As it turns out, she was bought from a breeder who was only into breeding these dogs for profit. Normally, a puppy should be eight weeks old before they are sold or adopted out.
Consider Both Sides of the Argument Before Making a Decision
In the case of our friend, she basically only read things on the Internet that said that pit bulls have unfairly gotten a bad reputation and that they make wonderful family dogs. She had read about how they grow up to be great dogs if they are well-loved and treated well. She believes that if they are raised right, they will be fine.
To look at and to believe only one side of the argument is not really the best way to go into a decision of this magnitude. It is better to consider the other side as well. There are people out there who either have been bitten or attacked, or both, or who know someone who has. They tell quite a different story. Some of these people were seriously injured or even killed by what they thought was a wonderful family pet. I've heard stories from those who said that their dog simply "snapped" before attacking them.
I think it's like the animal trainers who work in zoos or in shows that use animals. When you consider the famous Siegfried and Roy show in Las Vegas, they thought they knew the animals they worked with daily very well and that being attacked couldn't happen, or at least that the chances were very small. In their case, it did happen and Roy was viciously attacked by a tiger in October of 2003, ending the pair's career.
The most important thing to be aware of is that these are animals. Even though they have become domesticated and share our homes with us, they still have that bit of animal instinct inside of them that I don't believe will ever be taken out of them. Even giving them love and treating them well can't take away the basic animal instinct that has been bred into them for centuries. Caution is advised, even in the case of family pets that you think you know very well. When pets are near babies or children, for example, they should always be supervised by an adult for safety reasons. Male pit bulls should also be neutered, since an estimated 70 percent of attacks involve unneutered male dogs.
What Causes the Horrific Injuries When an Attack Happens?
The biggest thing that causes injury to people or animals is the method pit bulls and other strong biters use instinctively when they bite. It is sometimes called a grab and shake method. They have very powerful jaws and have a very strong grip on anything they grab with their teeth. They hold the item and shake it as a matter of instinct. When it comes to the bones and soft tissue of people or animals, this causes extreme injuries that are known as mauling.
The things that make the injuries even worse are the traits that pit bulls and other breeds with a strong bite have as a result of genetics. They grab onto something with a tenaciousness that is almost unmatched in the animal world. When a pit bull is involved in holding the object it has bitten, they often show a very heightened level of pain tolerance, making it easier for them to continue to attack even when someone tries to stop them.
In a very sobering fact, at least 50 percent of those attacked by a pit bull were the owner of the dog or a member of the owners family. This is a pretty strong example of thinking that you know your pet very well, but when nature takes over, it can be unstoppable. I read someplace that you can't "love" the natural instinct out of a pit bull. You can raise them in a warm, loving environment, just to have something snap inside the dog one day.
There are also pit bull owners who have been successful in owning their dog for the average lifespan of the dog, which is about 14 years, without problems. I honestly think that the way an owner raises the dog is most important in how the dog will behave as an adult. I believe genetics can also play a part in whether the dog you get will be well-behaved and an exemplary family pet. The thing you have to consider before getting one is, do you want to take a chance and hope for the best?
Consider Both Financial Costs and Time Costs
Pit bulls need to be socialized at a very young age, and from what I have read, they need to be socialized again when they become about the age of an adolescent. Obedience lessons are a highly advised thing when deciding to own a pit bull. I've also read that pit bulls are extremely intelligent and learn quickly, making the obedience training you get for them very effective.
You must also establish at a very young age that YOU are the pack leader. You must be able to enforce discipline and codes of acceptable behavior or be ready for potentially unpleasant consequences. They must know that you are in charge, from puppy-hood on.
Another important consideration is that the average pit bull needs daily exercise due to high energy levels. This can vary according to the dog's temperament. The average, however, is about an hour of exercise to three hours a day. You have to be willing to make this type of a commitment. If you live a couch potato lifestyle and your idea of walking the dog is walking him 1/2 block and back home again, the pit bull may not do well. They can become frustrated, which can lead to problems.
Veterinary expenses are a given. You should get the pit bull spayed or neutered, and possibly micro-chipped for identification purposes. And of course, they need to have all the shots that are recommended by your veterinarian.
You also need to think about food expenses. Pit bulls can grow to be pretty large dogs and can have a very healthy appetite. With the very short hair they have, grooming is usually not a problem and shedding is normally not a problem either.
One expense that many potential owners are not even aware of is this. If you decide to rent a home or apartment in the future, you may not be able to rent a place if you intend to move into it with a pit bull. It depends on where you decide to rent and the rules in place for the rental property. In another important consideration, if you own a home, you have to tell the company that provides your homeowners insurance that you have brought a pit bull into your home.
The insurance company will normally increase homeowners insurance rates when they learn of your new pet. This is because pit bulls are considered to be a high risk. That is, if the homeowners insurance company even covers pit bull expenses.
In some cases, the insurance company will make the owner sign papers saying that insurance will not cover any damages caused by the pit bull (i.e. medical and lawsuit expenses of anyone who is injured, or expenses from law suits if another person's pet is injured or killed). If this happens, you as the owner of the pit bull take on all financial responsibility if your pet injures or kills a person or an animal.
On the other hand, if you keep it a secret that you've added a pit bull to your home and the insurance company finds out about it, they may cancel your policy and you could have difficulty obtaining another policy. It's important to check your insurance companies policies and be aware of them. Being aware is better than being blindsided later if something happens.
I Was Attacked as a Child
I have experience with a dog attack as a child, but it was NOT a pit bull that did the attacking, it was a German Shepherd mix. I still have a very faint scar at the top of my nose, right between my eyes (it just looks like extra tissue there now since this happened a long time ago). It was scary to see teeth coming at you and not knowing what to do to stop it.
Due to this experience, I can tell you that it is not only Pit Bulls that can attack! I think any type of dog could attack if they feel provoked or if they feel as if they're in any type of danger.
Any time a family is thinking of adding any type of dog to their family group, it's smart to make the decision in a carefully thought out way. Professional training can be a good idea I think for ANY breed of dog and can make a real difference in teaching dogs proper behavior and good manners. If you do decide to adopt a Pit Bull or any other type of dog, I wish you the best and hope you have a truly positive and loving experience.
This article was not meant to be an article bashing just one breed, although the facts and statistics do show higher rates of attacks from certain bully breeds. I hope you adopt a good puppy and have a positive experience.
Make the Decision After Careful and Thoughtful Consideration
I am not an expert on pit bulls. I may have made errors in writing this, even though I tried to be as accurate as possible.
I believe that the decision to bring a pit bull into the home should be a very carefully considered decision, and not one that is made on a whim or a feeling of "how cute, I want one," the way that one of our friends decided to get their pit bull puppy.
I think the owners of a pit bull should know what they are getting into. If you are an experienced dog owner and are willing to invest the time and effort in training your dog to be a great citizen, then you will probably be fine.
If, however, you are an inexperienced dog owner, or even a first time owner, I've tried to cover some things to think about before making your decision. There is information out there about the best dog breeds for your personality type. The best dogs are those that are well matched with their owners personalities and temperaments. I believe it's always best to make a wise, well-thought out decision.
An Interesting Article Using Statistics from TIME Magazine
- But, My Pit Bull Would Never Attack - May Be Wishful Thinking | Boston.com
Pit bulls make up 6 percent of the dog population in Canada and the US, but they are responsible for 68 percent of dog attacks and 52 percent of dog-related deaths since 1982.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Where did you get the information that pitbulls have the strongest bite, or, have one of the strongest bites in the animal world, with the bite of a shark coming in a close second? I have to ask because this is the type of stuff that feeds the hysteria about this breed. It is a ludicrous assertion to say such a thing, and in my opinion, one should not be writing anything about the breed unless they are an expert.
I got my information from places like:
In this article, the information also came from studies done by National Geographic. I try to use reliable sources.Helpful 82
Where did you get a lot of this misleading information?
One resource was https://www.dogsbite.org/dangerous-dogs-pit-bull-f... - if you look at the bottom of the first page, there are 23 source notations at the bottom of the page for reference. I also use .gov and .edu resources a lot, plus for this article, I used some insurance company information as well.Helpful 60
Where did you get the idea that all Pit Bulls are aggressive?
They’re not all aggressive. I think a lot depends on how they’re raised and what’s going on in a moment if they do respond by biting. I think any animal can become aggressive if they feel cornered or threatened.Helpful 52
What kind of dog have you personally owned? And what makes you think that you can judge pit bulls? This article is very judgy. Where's the positive stuff about them?
We had a beagle for about 12 years when I was growing up and more recently, our son’s Shih-Tzu was living with us for a year. There are positives to all dog types, along with things people should be aware of before becoming a dog owner. It’s a big commitment and one that people should be dedicated to making when they get a dog. Animals are not a whim or “disposable.”Helpful 36
© 2015 KathyH