Thinking of Getting a Pit Bull? Important Things to Consider!

Updated on October 29, 2018
KathyH profile image

Freelance writer for Textbroker, BlogMutt, and Constant Content. Published author in Neon Rainbow Magazine. Lived in Las Vegas for 8 years.

Getting A Pit Bull Needs To Be A Carefully Made Decision

Photo of a Pit bull.
Photo of a Pit bull. | Source

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.

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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2015 KathyH

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    • profile image

      Kt 

      2 weeks ago

      Rottweilers actually have a stronger bite than pitties. Both that I've personally owned were the sweetest things on earth. Im actually more afraid of German shepherds - which I've been bitten by.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR

      KathyH 

      2 weeks ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Sara! I did change this to remove a reference to shark bites after doing some more research. The abuse some of these dogs have been through is horrible! No animal should ever be treated that way! Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

    • profile image

      Sara Nelson 

      2 weeks ago

      Please do true extensive research before writing an article like this. When you are talking about "Pit Bulls" you need to be specific. Pit bull refers to a grouping of dogs each of which have a different temperament. To say that "pits" have a bite force stronger than a shark is completely false. Of dog breeds Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a 1000 lb bite force Rottweilers are next with around 360, pitbulls average 265. Rhodesians were breed to hunt lions hence the bite strength.

      Did you happen to do any research as to how horrifically these breeds are abused. Of all abused dogs, "pits" make up over 75% of the abused dogs. If you want to do some good how about writing about that instead of putting out false information.

      Articles like this are the reason that there are so many negative feelings toward all pit bull breeds.

      I own a "pit" Staffordshire Terrier, that was used as a bait dog, they filed his k9s down to the gum so he would talk be able to defend himself. After they were done with him (2 years if his life) he was chained in a junk yard for another four. Even after all of that he is the sweetest pup. Loves people and small dogs, he is obviously afraid of large dogs due to his past. Though when he sees them he is not aggressive.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR

      KathyH 

      2 weeks ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thank you, William! I have made some changes to the article which I feel have improved it. Sounds like you've raised a wonderful dog that's given you many years of joy!

      And thank you, StephAces! I appreciate your thoughtful addition to this article!

    • profile image

      StephAces 

      2 weeks ago

      Rottweilers have the strongest bite, followed by German shepards, and then pit bulls. Around 70% of bites are perpetrated by intact males, with around 90% of death by dogs being caused by intact males. What's the TYPE of dog that is spayed/neutered the least? Pitbulls, which is backed up by the fact that there are so many of them.

    • profile image

      William 

      2 weeks ago

      As an owner of pitbulls all my life and im 61 now and my current pit is a 110 pound baby, i had to laugh at all of the inaccuracies of your article. For one about the bite, a shark comes in second to a pit? LOL. The pit does not even have the strongest bite in the canine world. That would be the Kangal dog. And the bite and shake is not exclusive to pit bulls. All dogs do this. It comes down from wolves who do the same thing. Owners who are attacked by their own pits are owners who have been abusive or neglectful, my pit is by my side every minute i am home and sleeps in my bed. When i shower he lays by the tub til im finished. When i walk him and people come up to pet him he is overjoyed and will jump up on them to lick them with gusto. As with any dog you raise them right they will act right, you raise them wrong they will attack, that is any dog out there. Mu pit has never even growled at a person let alone tried to bite. Please dont put articles like this out there with so much misinformation in it as it just feeds the anti pitbull crowd and is unfair to a wonderful loyal intelligent dog.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR

      KathyH 

      5 weeks ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thank you, Casey! I agree especially about getting your dog from a reliable source! Very important!

    • profile image

      Casey Swift 

      5 weeks ago

      The problem with this article is not only the fact of no sources, but how this isn't about dogs in general. Every dog should undergo this type of scrutiny as every dog had an equal chance to be aggressive. Personally, I've been bitten by more chihuahuas than a pit bull, which I have never been bitten by. My family owned pitbulls when I was a child.

      When getting a pitbull, you should always get the dog from a reliable source, like a rescue organization, a registered breeder, or even a shelter. Usually they will all carefully vet the dog to determine if it has any bad traits or is dangerous.

      Please consider that if you have a child, you must be careful getting any type of dog. You also have too teach your child how to properly behave around animals and watch them closely around unfamiliar and familiar animals.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR

      KathyH 

      6 weeks ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      I think you've made a good point, Jeanelle. A lot does have to do with the owner and owners need to be responsible. Getting professional training and proper socialization for the dog is probably a good idea.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR

      KathyH 

      6 weeks ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Hi Tiffany! I stated that I am not an expert, but I 'm simply trying to point out some things to consider before getting any type of bully breed of dog. It should be a carefully considered decision and one made in an educated way. Thank you for adding to this with your thoughts and insights!

    • profile image

      Tiffany 

      6 weeks ago

      What a load of uneducated rubbish. This is nothing more than uneducated opinion trying to sound authoritative.

      Pitbulls are commonly misidentified ALL THE TIME. even amount of veterinarians, and do you know my? There is no such thing as a pitbull. There are breeds that are bully breeds and their multiple different types, but quite often boxers and other types of dogs are confused with them.

      No, they don't have locking Jaws or a bite stronger than a shark good grief. Their jaws are not even as strong as German Shepherds or Rottweilers.

      ATTS temperament testing, which tests dogs in unexpected situations from a child running up to them up to a gunshot, without the guidance of a trainer commanding them to see how they react on instinct, lists pitbulls as one of the highest in terms of temperaments.

      Of Michael Vick's 17 dogs, 16 of them, in other words all but one, were rehomed successfully, many of them in families with children and this was years ago so I'm sure if something had happened, people like you and the media would have been all over it. The only one who wasn't rehomed and had to go to an animal sanctuary was the prize mother, who had her toenails and teeth removed (and I am sure not humanely)so she couldn't fight back and was repeatedly bred on essentially a rape machine for dogs. So I think we can cut her a little slack for not wanting to be around any more people.

      Pitbulls are not pack animals so their Instinct relates to other animals, not humans. On any given day a pitbull will take a person over another animal hands down. And that instinct is trainable out. Untrained they can be animal aggressive, some of them, but they are not naturally people aggressive. In fact, it is there deep desire to please humans that made them good fighting dogs, because they would do anything for the affection of their master. If you would research and try to understand the training methodologies of these monsters, THAT is what they exploit, not aggression.

      You have a lot to learn but I've certainly come to realize that this is not a site anybody should use for helpful information about pets. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    • profile image

      Jeanelle 

      6 weeks ago

      first of all you saying that these attacks are caused by animal instinct is completely BS I've worked with the breed for over 16 years I've seen the worst of the worst and yes sometimes they can't be fixed because of neurological issues or what have you but it's all about the owner is how the dog turns just like bad parents have bad kidssame thing for a dog it only does what it is not taught or is only scared of what it wasn't shown so it's all about the owner has nothing to do with animal instincts

    • profile image

      Alan Hughes 

      2 months ago

      Pitbull not a breed, but a type of dog. We have an American Pitbull Terrier, and for the last eight years, been the best a pup could be.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      3 years ago from San Diego California

      As a letter carrier I have a natural aversion to Pit Bulls. That said, I have seen some wonderful pit bulls, young and old, that are so docile they get chased around by the Chihuahua in the yard. The difference is in upbringing, I believe, and probably also in genetics, as you have suggested. There are most certainly breeders who deliberately engender aggressive characteristics in these animals to sell them to drug dealers, dogfight rings, and the like. Great hub.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR

      KathyH 

      3 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Great advice, DrMark1961! Thanks so much! I think you're right. She did tell me that the mother dog looked thin, and they thought maybe that's why the pups were sold so young. Thank you, I'll be sure to tell her!

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 

      3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Kathy, thanks for this interesting article.

      Bob was spot on when he discussed the problems with breeders. They may have sold the puppy so young because the mother did not have enough milk and they did not want to bottle feed, or they just didn't want to keep all the puppies around.

      Anyway, tell your friends to read about bite inhibition since the pup was taken away too early and never learned it from her mother. Also, make sure they socialize the puppy with other dogs every day so that he does not grow up with dog-dog aggression.

      They are great dogs (I have one) but those new owners need to do things right, from the start!

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 

      3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Thanks, Kathy. I'm trying to get more active again here, also. I work 6 days a week now, so I don't have that much time. There sure is a lot to write about, though.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR

      KathyH 

      3 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thank you so much, Bob! Your kind words mean so much and you've added so much to this hub! It's great to connect with you again, too! I'm planning to write here more often and will read your hub, too.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 

      3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hi Kathy, long time, no see! It's nice to connect with you again!

      The fact that your friend was sold a 4 week old puppy, the breed doesn't matter, is one of the reasons why many veterinarians no longer put any faith in what breeders say or recommend.

      To be a breeder, all you need is a pregnant dog...no education, no certification, no minimum competency standards, no oversight...anyone can call themselves a breeder. It sounds like your friend's breeder operates a puppy mill style business.

      Pretty much everything you wrote about pit bulls applies to almost any dog. The way a dog is trained and maintained has almost everything to do with the temperament it eventually adopts.

      Pit bulls aren't the only dogs to be black listed by insurance companies; there are a number of them. And if you lie to your insurance company about the breed of dog you have, you could be prosecuted.

      Up until a few years ago, many communities, counties or states were adopting Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) which prohibited certain breeds of dogs within their borders. Pit bulls were a favorite target. At that point the only defenders of dogs facing prejudice were shelter workers, who were largely dismissed as bighearted, but misguided, by the politicians.

      Then, veterinarians, behaviorists, trainers and other professionals (even the American Bar Association) started testifying at public hearings in favor of those dogs, pointing out that no breed is inherently vicious. Suddenly, states were enacting legislation that prohibited cities and towns from adopting BSL.

      I wrote a hub about the subject, and at the time of the writing, 13 states had prohibited BSL and the list is growing.

      A good first step is to talk with a veterinarian. They'll provide good guidance and can refer you to reliable sources of information as well. If people know groomers, dog walkers, pet photographers or others who work with a variety of animals, they're good resources also. And, be careful of the Internet...it's loaded with good information, true...but it's also loaded with bad information.

      You raised a most important point in that folks need to do some homework before acquiring any pet. Voted up and useful.

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