The American Pit Bull Terrier is a dog that has received a lot of publicity both in support and in criticism of the breed. But by and large, the majority of Pit Bulls have proven themselves as very good pets and service animals. Before you bring home a 'pittie' as they are so often affectionately referred to, you should do some research to ensure that you are bringing home a safe, healthy animal.
First Things First-Know Your Dog Breed
The one thing every responsible American Pit Bull breeder or enthusiast will tell you is that you must take the time to research and learn about this breed. Pit bulls are active, loyal, loving dogs, but they also come with some negative temperament characteristics that cannot be ignored for a successful dog ownership. This does not refer to the large public perception that APBT's are vicious killers, because most have proven not to be with proper breeding and rearing; this refers to other characteristics of the breed which include
Aggression towards other dogs-at some point, many pit bulls will develop dog aggression and a strong dislike of any other dog, even other pit bulls
Keen ability for escape
Tendency towards strong preying instinct which may be problematic with small animals like chickens, cats, livestock, etc.
The American Pit Bull Terrier also has a strong need for strict boundaries and a firm yet loving upbringing. To keep them healthy and happy, these dogs require a lot of exercise, and without it weight, health, and behavioral issues tend to become a problem.
Additionally, the American Pit Bull Terrier, although overall a healthy dog, is subject to some hereditary and congenital health problems, so owners need to be prepared for that possibility.
The Breeder Matters
Buying an American Pit Bull Terrier from a responsible, recommended breeder is an absolute must. Because of the wide abuse of these animals and because of irresponsible breeding to produce undesirable temperament traits in fighting dogs, the breed has been plagued by instability and issues with bad temperament.
Good breeders will not breed animals that are unhealthy and may pass on hereditary and/or congenital health defects. Good breeders will not breed animals of bad temperament. But the so-named "puppy mills" that produce pit bulls in mass to turn a fast dollar or to supply dogs of ill-temper for illegal purposes such as dog fighting and drug protection will.
To find a good breeder, ask other pit bull owners and your veterinarian for recommendations. Also look for breeders through American Pit Bull Rescue leagues and nationally recognized kennel clubs such as the American Kennel Club. Each of these resources will also be helpful in determining how to identify good specimens and good breeders.
Individual Dog History
The breeding history and ancestry of the pup in question can tell you a lot about your prospective pet. A good breeder will be able to tell you about, or better yet show you, the parent(s) and give you details as to their temperament and overall health. This should give you information that you can use to predict (to the degree possible) the nature and health of your dog. If the breeder does not have any information to give, look for your pit bull elsewhere.
Pit bulls are dogs that are very much creatures of their upbringing; as such, good training and positive discipline from the start is essential to raising and maintaining a good American Pit Bull Terrier which will reward you with all the best the breed has to offer. Alternatively, a dog with a dark or uncertain history may be unpredictable and, although rescues and training have rehabilitated many an APBT, you need to seriously consider the risks involved in bringing home a dog that you can know nothing about. However, when you have taken the time to know your responsibility as a pit bull owner and learn about your dog's individual lineage, owning an American Pit Bull Terrier can be a very positive and rewarding relationship for years to come.