The American Pit Bull Terrier is a dog that was descended from the much respected bull dogs and terriers. They have a long and varied history that dates back to the early 1800's.
The American Pit Bull Terrier-Historically Speaking
It is true that the American Pit Bull Terrier was bred for a number of characteristics that can be misconstrued as negatives, especially in a family dog. But it is also true that alongside their breeding for temperamental characteristics of dog aggression, unparalleled bravery, high thresholds for pain, and a tenacity to fight to the finish, these dogs were also bred as loyal, devoted, dogs that showed a high affection for people.
The pit bull's affection for humans makes it an extremely loving and devoted pet under the right circumstances; but under the wrong circumstances, and when specifically bred for negative purposes, the dog can easily go the other way and become the killer it is often known to be.
In the early years, many pit bulls were bred for their great companionship and working characteristics and they served admirably in their functions. But another branch of the breed was singled out for dog-fighting, animal fighting, and illegal activity that has resulted in the development of a sort of pit bull sub-culture.
How Pit Bulls Became A "Menace"
All pit bulls are certainly not "menaces" to society; the overwhelming majority of them, in fact, are not. But the use, treatment, and breeding of many members of the breed has directly resulted in the negative reputation the dog has today.
Even in the early years of dog and animal fighting, Pit Bulls were trained to respect and love their owners. In the dog fights of the 1800's, owners were actually in the 'Pit' with their dogs. But as the despicable sport went further underground, the desire to maintain human and dog bonds was lost. The American Pit Bull Terrier bred for sport was a neglected, unhappy animal that was trained to hate and kill. And to make bigger and better fighters, the dogs with the worst temperaments were selected for breeding-because every dog fighter loves a winner.
To make matters worse, pit bulls have been adopted in modern times as the dog of choice for illegal drug dealers and bred for similar distemper. The neglect and misuse of these dogs has contributed to the bad-temperament gene pool that has spilled over into the general dog population through puppy mills with substandard breeding ethics.
Is The Pit Bull A Lost Breed?
Despite abuses in the history of the American Pit Bull Terrier, all is not lost for this breed. Responsible pit bull breeders are making all the difference. Today, pit bull breeders and enthusiasts are making strong efforts to promote responsible pit bull breeding practices and ownership. Through education, these devoted pit bull lovers are teaching owners what to expect from their dog, and how to properly raise, train and maintain it. Breeders are also "culling" the dogs of bad temper and restricting the breeding of unstable dogs, so that the best in the breed can emerge in the generations to come.
Nevertheless, there is work to be done on the American Pit Bull Terrier as an overall breed. Those who hope to own one of these dogs and reap the many rewards of living with a good specimen must choose their animal and care for it responsibly.