Most pit bull owners will tell you that their dog is as sweet as pie. Pit bulls are extremely affectionate and loyal dogs. “Traits like human aggression, severe shyness, and instability are not typically found in the APBT (American Pit Bull Terrier) breed, nor are they acceptable. Dogs with these traits are not good representatives of the breed and should not be placed into adoptive homes” (“Pit Bull Rescue Central”). These dogs want nothing more than to please their owner and to be told that they are a good dog. You will usually see them with big, goofy smiles, a tongue out, and a tail wagging so fast you think their behind is going to fly off. The negative image of pit bulls is fairly recent, and the media plays a big part in this. Who wants to hear a bunch of stories about good dogs all the time? The villain is always more interesting. Before this change in image, pit bulls were beloved family pets all across America. In the 1800s, “they were trusted to watch the children while the adults worked in the fields. As the years passed, pit bulls achieved a position of reverence among Americans…” (“Pit Bull Rescue Central”). As a matter of fact, statistically, pit bulls are just as good with humans as any other dog breed- some even more so. The American Temperament Testing Society holds breed evaluations of human interaction every year, basing percentages on pass vs. fail. In 2008, pit bulls beat out the collie and golden retriever with an 85.5 percent. The others’ scores were 79.4 percent and 84.2 percent, respectively. Total average of all breeds was 81.6 percent (“Pit Bull Rescue Central”). That’s a good dog!
One reason for opposition to pit bulls that gets a lot of use is that they were bred to fight. This is true. They were bred to have qualities fit for dog fighting and bull and bear baiting. Such qualities include superior strength and “never back down” mentality; however, less talked about are the qualities that promoted loyalty to humans. It would be much harder for people to train and fight dogs if the dogs actually were aggressive to humans. “‘Pit bulls were not bred to fight humans. On the contrary: a dog that went after spectators, or its handler, or the trainer, or any of the other people involved in making a dogfighting dog a good dogfighter was usually put down. (The rule in the pit-bull world was ‘Man-eaters die.’)… A pit bull is dangerous to people,’ Gladwell concludes, ‘not to the extent that it expresses its essential pit bullness, but to the extent that it deviates from it’” (“Pit Bull Rescue Central”). If a pit bull does not get excited and happy to see a human, even one that it does not know, it means that the dog has not been bred “right”, or that it has not been raised in a good environment. The small downside to this is that there is a chance for the dog to not be such a great guard dog.
Here comes in the question of nature versus nurture. Does it all have to do with the breed? Not at all. Responsible pet ownership is a key component of what goes into a dog’s character. If an animal is treated badly or taught to behave badly, a bad dog is the result. However, if shown love and affection, and taken to training classes, any dog can be a