"I think I want a Pit Bull. What should I know?"
Be prepared to do extensive research prior to actually bringing a Pit Bull
into your home. It's the only way to avoid surprises and problems in the
future. Many a person has brought home a puppy without knowing
what they are getting in to, regretting it deeply later on. Research will:
A) prepare you for life with a Pit Bull by giving you an understanding of
the breed's nature; and B) help you choose a good dog from a breeder
or rescue since you will have a better idea of what to look for.
You need a lot of time to spend with your Pit Bull. Pit Bulls love to chew!
Some of them enjoy digging. If they are bored, they will find a way to
entertain themselves. Moreover, an under exercised dog will have a
large amount of excess energy that will be utilized in some
inappropriate way if not channeled properly, be it running around the
house, jumping on people and play-biting, pacing, and so on.
Early socialization and training--and lots of it--are a MUST with this
breed. Pit Bulls are very powerful, active animals who must be taught
their proper place in the home, and how to act around both people and
other animals. Waiting until a problem develops before taking any sort
of action is not the way to do things. Once ingrained, problem behaviors
can be extremely difficult to break. Prevention is easier than treatment.
Plan on attending a positive training class with your dog.Pit Bulls aren't a "hands-off" breed.
Plan on training, lots of exercise,
and plenty of socialization for your
Do not get a Pit Bull if you are not prepared to deal with and manage
dog-aggression and high prey drive. Pit Bulls tend to be prone to
dog-aggression and are in general a breed with a high prey drive (they
like to chase/catch small and sometimes not-so-small animals). Early
training and socialization helps to curb and control these tendencies,
but there is no "cure" for a dog that is dog-aggressive or possesses
prey drive - it's all about management. If you are the type who expects
your dogs to run in a free-for-all pack, likes to visit the off-leash dog
park, or are squeamish about separating animals when you cannot be
there to supervise closely, the Pit Bull is not for you.
Pit Bulls are prone to developing dog-aggression and are a high prey drive breed.
If you have other pets at home, supervision between them and the Pit Bull is a MUST.
Never leave a Pit Bull unattended with other animals.
Pit Bulls are escape artists! They will casually remove themselves from
enclosures that would safely harbor just about any other breed. It is
advisable to have two-fold protection: a topped kennel run in a yard
surrounded by a privacy fence, for instance.
In some areas, Pit Bull ownership is subject to special rules and
regulations, such as walking on a leash under a certain length,
muzzling, insurance, and special housing/kenneling requirements. Other
areas ban Pit Bulls altogether. Many insurance companies will deny
home owner's coverage if there is a Pit Bull on the property. Check the
laws in your area before bringing a dog home, make sure your
insurance company won't drop you, and learn more about breed specific
legislation by clicking here.
In some locations, Pit Bull ownership is subjected to stringent laws, or may even be illegal.
Some insurance carries will deny coverage if you own a Pit Bull. Know the laws
in your town and state!
"I think a Pit Bull would be a good match for my lifestyle. Now
Assuming you've done all the proper research, know what constitutes a
good American Pit Bull Terrier, and have come to the conclusion that you
are indeed up for the responsibility of owning one of these great dogs,
it is now time to start looking for one of your very own. But what sex
should you consider? Should you bring home a pup or an adult? And
where should you get your Pit Bull? Read on!
Does sex matter? Yes and no. If your Pit Bull will be an only-dog, sex is
merely a personal choice. There are no great behavioral differences in
this breed between the sexes. Intact males may be a bit more
territorial, prone to dog-aggression, and dominance issues. Neutering
at an early age will diminish or outright eliminate the differences. Male
or female, the choice depends more upon personal preferences and
sentimentality. If you do have another dog at home, however, it is wise
to bring home a Pit Bull of the opposite sex. Although dogs of different
sexes can and do get into fights, dogs of the same sex are more likely
to fight, fight more often, and fight more seriously.
A puppy may seem the right choice when deciding on what age Pit Bull
you should acquire. But an adult dog is most likely the wisest choice for
your first Pit Bull, unless you have a lot of prior experience raising large,
working and/or terrier breed puppies. Raising any puppy is hard work,
but Pit Bull pups take the cake. Housebreaking takes a lot of time in the
first few months, and if you work fulltime, a puppy of any breed is not
something you should consider. Puppies chew, and soil the house, and
need a lot of early socialization and training. Socialization is most
important prior to 16 weeks of age, so you are limited in terms of time
Anybody with blissful, trouble-free thoughts of a puppy they once
owned have probably repressed the memories of the trying adolescent
phase! Remember, most dogs get surrendered to shelters and rescues
around the 6-12 month mark. Because of the breed's tendency towards
dog aggression, early socialization around other animals is important. A
Pit Bull needs to learn to respond to his owner in the presence of other
animals. Remedial socialization and training is never easy and will never
bring the dog to the point he'd have reached had these things been
worked on during the formative months.Dogs of the same sex are more likely to fight.
If you already have a dog at home, seriously consider a Pit Bull of the opposite sex.
Puppies are hard work, especially Pit Bulls.
Unless you have sufficient time to devote to a pup, an adult may be a wiser decision.
Many prospective owners look to a puppy because they feel "safer"
with one, believing that they can train and mold it into whatever type of
adult dog they desire, and won't have to worry about the dog turning
"vicious". If they "raise it with the kids and cats", that means it will be a
perfect adult, non-aggressive and a friend to all. This is one of those
urban myth type things that has an element of truth to it but has
gotten a bit distorted and exaggerated the more it's been passed
around. The subject has been hotly debated by behaviorists for
decades, but most are now in agreement that both environment (how
and where an organism is raised) and genetics play an important role in
adult temperament and behavior. Environment "acts upon" genetics
and genetics help determine how an organism responds to
environmental stimuli. That is partly why two organisms raised in the
same environment can turn out so different.
What does this all mean for you? Well, raising a pup with your other
pets and/or children, training him "right" and so on, will all have a very
positive effect on the pup's behavior as an adult. However, in the end,
you cannot completely discount genetics.
A dog with good genetic makeup will have a huge leg up when raised in
a healthy environment, and sometimes despite a bad environment may
still end up a-ok (which many an abused/neglected rescue dog has
demonstrated). A dog with bad genetic makeup will always have bad
genetic makeup, and despite the best efforts to raise and train him
properly, an owner will always be fighting an uphill battle. In some
cases, all the training and love in the world cannot overcome a dog's
genetic problem behavior tendencies.
This is all important to grasp not only for so-called abnormal behavior,
but also in terms of dog- aggression in Pit Bulls. As a whole, the breed
is susceptible to dog-aggression (this sort of aggression is NOT
considered ?bad? or ?abnormal? per se). Despite being ?raised with? other
dogs in a family, a Pit Bull may still end up dog-aggressive ? even
towards his housemates.Although proper raising and training
are important in teaching a dog how to be a well-mannered family
member, all the training in the world won't "cure" a dog who is
temperamentally incorrect or prone to certain behaviors like dog-
An adult, fully-matured Pit Bull ( 3 years of age or older), is a wise
choice for your first Pit Bull. A dog of this age has manifested, for the
most part, his true temperament and personality. He's done growing
and past the rowdy puppy stage. He's very much "what you see is what
you get". An adult dog adopted from a reputable Pit Bull rescue will
have been temperament tested and shown to be healthy and sound. If
you have other animals at home or are worried about ending up with a
highly dog-aggressive dog, an adult is an excellent idea.
Dog-aggression in Pit Bulls may not show itself to full extent until the
animal reaches maturity (usually after 2). With puppies, you never quite
know how dog-aggressive they'll be as adults. Adopting an adult Pit Bull
affords you the luxury of being able to be matched with the dog that
will best fit into your unique situation. Worried about bonding? You
need not. Pit Bulls re-home exceptionally well and bond fully to new
owners, even as older adults. And if you are searching for variety, you'll
find plenty in the kennels of rescues throughout the country.
With adult (3 years and older) dogs, what you see is what you get.
Adopting an adult dog will allow you to choose the kind of dog best suited to your home.
No guess work, no worries that a pup might not mature into the dog of your dreams.
Where do you get a dog? There really are only three choices: A) from an
ethical breeder; B) from a reputable rescue organization that
specializes in Pit Bulls; or C) a shelter/all-breed rescue.
Let's first look at option A. There are numerous breeders of American Pit
Bull Terriers. Some are very selective, dedicated, ethical people who
only produce the most sound, stable puppies and place their dogs in
carefully screened homes, and keep in contact with purchasers
throughout the dogs' lives--this is the type of breeder you should
purchase from. Sadly, too many breeders producing Pit Bulls are not
knowledgeable about proper breed temperament, health and dog care.
They sell their dogs to anybody who can pay them. This type of breeder
cares little for the breed, and is only out to make a buck. Avoid this type
of breeder like the plague! Also beware the well-intentioned, but
uneducated "backyard breeder", and pet shops should be avoided at all
So where do you find an ethical breeder? Breed magazines, dog
publications, national breed clubs, and the Internet are all helpful
resources. You WON'T find ethical breeders in want-ads or ads tacked
up on your local supermarket's bulletin board. Also beware the breeder
that casually advertises "Pit Bull Puppies For Sale" over the Internet,
sites that offer "mail order" puppies, or those that advertise more than
one breed of dog.
Now for option B. Rescues obtain their dogs a variety of ways and from
various places: shelters, owner turn-ins, abusive situations, breeder
rejects, strays, etc. There are some truly amazing, wonderful dogs in
rescue awaiting homes. But choosing a rescue organization is
something that takes time and consideration, the same as if you were
selecting a breeder to purchase from. Walk away from any rescue that
tries to force a dog on you or one that hands over an animal without
asking you a million and one questions. Ask the rescue what their policy
on adopting out human-aggressive dogs is. Rescues that attempt to
rehome dogs that have been knowingly aggressive towards humans
should be scratched off your list. And all reputable rescues thoroughly
evaluate their dogs prior to placement.
Rescues are a valuable resource, both for the dogs they help and the
people looking for that special companion. Nothing feels quite so good
as knowing you saved a life, and adopted dogs can make some of the
most wonderful pets imaginable. There are many homeless Pit Bulls that
need caring owners, and by obtaining a dog from a rescue, you are
helping to put a dent in the overpopulation problem. For more
information on rescues and rescued dogs, please see the
Recommended Rescues page.
Option C: Dogs in shelters and all-breed rescues many times are not
properly evaluated for temperament and since they come from
questionable backgrounds, it is quite possible you may stumble across
a dog with poor temperament. These organizations may not have the
breed-specific knowledge to really guide you in your decision to adopt a
Pit Bull, either, so you may be matched with a dog that is ill-suited to
your specific circumstances. Good dogs can and do come from shelters
and all-breed rescues, and some are truly Pit Bull-savvy (for an example
of a breed-savvy shelter, check out the Liberty Humane Society in
Jersey City, NJ!). Screen a shelter/all-breed rescue before you decide to
adopt from one![/align]
What You Should Know Before You Bring An APBT Home