Animal and human aggression in pit bulls

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Animal and human aggression in pit bulls

    It is often said by the media, some rescue groups and many animal rights organizations that animal aggression in pit bulls equates to human aggression. This misconception is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the pit bull today.

    Animal aggression in pit bulls, particularly American Pit Bull Terriers, can be attributed to their original purpose, which was dog fighting for more than one hundred years in the breed’s making. Even though their purpose is shunned by society, and rightfully so, their purpose is not far off from the hunting, tracking, herding and retrieving dogs in the sense that they were bred to interact with and possibly attempt to control other animals. Other breeds, mainly terrier breeds, also have a level of animal aggression because of their own purposes and do not pose a threat to humans on a wide scale in the least. The fact is, animal aggression and human aggression are two completely different entities.

    Human aggression in pit bulls, or most any other breed is something that would deem the dog to be unstable. This does not necessarily mean any dog or pit bull that bites an individual is human aggressive because there are many reasons that a dog may bite a person with justifiable causes that can be worked with. A few of these justifiable bites that can be managed through training (both with dog and owner) would include: Food aggression bites (a dog that feels threatened over its food and is biting or growling as a gesture of warning), redirected bites (a dog that bites because it is frustrated and bites because it wants to do something that it is being refrained from doing), fearful bites (a dog that bites because it has been neglected, beat or otherwise traumatized by prior environmental exposure), accidental and unintentional bites (a dog that bites a person accidentally due to the owner’s misjudgment, i.e. holding a hand too close to the bite area of an object while playing). Most of these particular types of bites can be managed and possibly even fixed through training and nurturing. However, in American Pit Bull Terriers, cases such as these are few and far between.

    As previously mentioned, American Pit Bull Terriers were originally bred exclusively for dog fighting. Even though the act of dog fighting is immoral, in any sense, this purpose posed as a useful tool in creating a stable breed due to the human interactions under the obvious stress levels of the dogs at the time. Whether the pit bulls were fighting for their life or because they wanted to, whichever way you want to look at it, they were repeatedly handled and separated by humans. Over the course of several decades, this human interaction was naturally imposed on the breed and created their most stable temperament towards humans. There were, however, a few anomalies in the breed where human aggressive dogs were encountered, and it is said that most pit bull breeders of yesteryear did not use these types of dogs in their breeding programs. There were some that did use these human aggressive anomalies in their breeding program if the dogs were able to be handled in a way to lessen the risk of getting bitten while being fought, were good fighters and won consistently. Even though some human aggressive (at any level) dogs were bred, human aggression was not bred for, was an undesirable trait and the dogs were bred strictly for the task they were created for, much of the time human aggressive offspring were few and far between.

    Animal aggression in pit bulls, as well as several other breeds, can contribute to aggression toward most any animal, including, but not limited to dogs, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, or even cows, horses, etc. Animal aggression is not something that society should fear, but instead learn to deal with and maintain as has been done in the past. The change in society from breeds of dogs offering a helping hand in life turning to their utmost need for companionship only, has left society in awe when a dog simply executes an action based upon what it instinctively knows rather than going along with what is expected of it. Dogs are not machines and have been genetically bonded with their past for countless generations. It is time for society to come to peace with dogs and understand that they are creatures of nature and habit rather than blame them for the inevitable and lack of one’s own misconception of their breed of choice.
    "It is fatal to enter a war without the will to win it."
    -- General Douglas MacArthur

  • #2
    Extremely well written and accurate. Unfortunately, many people group bully looking dog as "pit bulls" when they are mixed breed mutts that are bred by backyard breeders that breed based on a dogs color or looks. Some of these become unstable dogs and when something happens it's a "pit bull". TV personalities like Tia Torres and Cesar Milan help perpetuate that untruth by calling every bully looking dog a "pit bull" even when it's over 100 pounds. 🙄 Each time I read about a pit bull attack the picture shows a bully looking dog but I have never seen an APBT. Not saying it hasn't happened but the dogs in the pictures are not APBT's.
    The only real pit bull, the American Pit Bull Terrier is just that, a terrier, not a huge beast that will be advertised by these BYB's al XL's. From stories I have read, by respectable dog men, dogs that showed human aggression were often culled as to not pass that trait along. No owner or handler wants to have to worry about getting injured by their own dog. Most APBT are very human friendly unless abused and it is because of this that they are not naturally good watch dogs. Strangers approaching the dogs are more likely to get a friendly greeting then an attack unless the dogs were trained elsewise. Animal aggression is different. It can be managed but not erased. As stated above, it is genetic.
    I own 2 bully mixes that are mutts and there are times I have to insist that they are not pit bulls because of what the general public thinks a pit bull is. I have been told more then a few times that I don't know what I have. I tell them I know what I have, mutts that came from the shelter and have no peds. All we can do is to keep informing people and fight to clear the terrible reputation these wonderful dogs have had hung on them.