There’s a lot you probably know or think you know about your adorable pit bull. They are a fascinating and powerful breed, and in this article, we’ll have a look at some interesting facts about their history and breed, as well as other exciting titbits.
Fact 1: ‘Pit bulls’ Do Not Exist
Then why am I reading this article? You may ask. Well, the term ‘pit bulls’ is a bit of a misnomer. In fact, the American Kennel Club does not recognize pit bulls as a distinct breed. What we think of as the pit bull is normally a number of pit bull type dogs in the same family .
This will normally include bully breeds such as the American Pit bull terrier, the Staffordshire Bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, pit bull terriers, and the American Bully. Many mixed breed dogs with pit bull characteristics are falsely labeled as ‘pit bulls.’
While these dogs all look rather similar, with their short, stocky builds and wide heads, they're actually a bunch of different dog breeds from the same family.
However, we’ll still call them pit bulls because family is family.
Fact 2: Pit bulls Are Not Only Fighting Dogs
Most people think of pit bulls as fighting dogs, which doesn’t help with stereotyping them as aggressive.
The great ancestors of pit bulls, primarily the English Bull-baiting Dogs, were bred to be powerful animals. They were tasked with holding down large animals, such as bulls, in fighting rings known as ‘pits.’
However, when this was outlawed, many of the original Bull-baiters were bred with terriers to make better companions. While some were bred to do better in dog fights, this wasn't true for all pit bulls. In fact, neither the terrier nor the original bull baiter was particularly vicious nor aggressive breeds.
Many baiters also retired, with some people breeding them to become better companions and guard dogs. People have given them the nickname ‘Nanny dogs,’ although there's not much historical evidence besides them being included in many family photos.
Fact 3: Pit bulls Do Not Have a Lockjaw
It's a common myth that pit bulls have the ability to lock their jaws once latched onto a target and that they are impossible to shake off.
While it's true that pit bull-type dogs, especially breeds like the American pit bull terrier, do have a powerful bite and strong jaws - they don’t even rank in the top ten most powerful dog bites worldwide . And are usually outclassed by mastiff breeds.
Also, it's physically impossible for most mammals to lock their jaws, and your pit bull is no exception.
Fact 4: Pit bulls Can Socialise Well With Other Animals
On top of their bad reputation as vicious dogs, the pit bull is sometimes accused of being antisocial and aggressive towards other animals, especially smaller dogs or cats.
The pit bull does indeed have a high prey drive, something passed down from its hunting terrier ancestors. This instinct might be stronger in breeds with more terrier blood, such as the American pit bull terrier.
However, this does not make them more likely to attack a smaller animal than any other terrier breed. In fact, many pit bulls have found work as cattle dogs and have been shown to work well with other smaller animals and other dogs.
The key to cross-species socializing is ensuring your pets meet under the right circumstances. Allow your pets to get used to each other's smells and meet in a calm, relaxed atmosphere.
Disclaimer - Any dog is capable of being vicious or attacking another animal. This paragraph is not an excuse to be negligent when it comes to introducing or monitoring your animals. Always be cautious around animals your pit bull is not familiar with.
Fact 5: Baby Pit Bulls Have a Unique Wrinkled Forehead at Birth.
When a pit bull is born, they tend to have a uniquely wrinkled forehead. This little extra bit of skin will smooth out as they age until they look like the pit bulls we all know and love. However, this is particularly interesting as scientists can’t really explain why this happens to pit bull pups specifically.
Fact 6: There Are a Number of Famous Pit Bulls
The pit bull has been popular since the mid-1800s and some are quite famous.
Both President Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson reportedly owned pit bulls, who lived with them at the white house during their stay there. While we can't tell the exact breed, they seemed to be the American pit bull terrier.
Another famous pit bull made it to the White House in the early 1900s. That would be Sergeant Stubby, who was a venerated hero and mascot for the American army in World War One. He saved many lives by warning of incoming gas attacks and catching a German intruder.
A female pit bull called Sallie-Ann was also regarded as a wartime hero and mascot. She guarded a number of isolated and wounded Union soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg. This brave girl gave her life protecting these men and has been awarded a statue in her honor in Pennsylvania.
However, it's not just the history books that carry tales of brave pit bulls. A pit bull named Weela from California apparently saved a young boy from a rattlesnake.
When a dam burst in her area in 1993, Weela saved 30 humans, 29 dogs, 13 horses, and one cat. Partially through delivering supplies to the stranded and partially through direct rescue.
Fact 7: Pit Bulls Can be Very Intelligent
In the Coren test - a test that tested the trainability and ability to understand commands of around 138 dog breeds - a number of people were surprised to hear that the American Staffordshire Terrier ranked 48th in intelligence.
While that may not sound that impressive, it still puts the American Staffordshire terrier at above-average intelligence. Many trainers also agree that the pit bull is a relatively easy dog to train compared to many dog breeds.
Fact 8: Pit Bulls Do Not Make Great Guard Dogs
A lot of pit bulls are brought to be guard dogs. This makes sense, given that many of them can look quite intimidating, and a pit bull that is trained to attack intruders can be very dangerous. They can also be very protective of their owners.
However, most pit bulls still don’t make great guard dogs . Most canine behavior specialists agree that due to their terrier blood, they tend to be too friendly towards strangers and lack a lot of the territorial behavior that makes for a good guard.
Regardless, the pit bull is generally a pretty observant dog type, so they may still be good for warning against and intimidating potential intruders. But If you want a serious guard dog, then it's best to look at other breeds.
Fact 9: BSL Does Not Greatly Reduce Dog Attacks
BSL or ‘Breed Specific Laws’ are laws that regulate or ban the breeding or owning of certain dog breeds or impose certain laws regarding allowing dogs into public spaces. These laws normally target dogs identified as pit bulls.
However, most cities have found that, statistically, there hasn’t been a significant drop in dog attacks. Dog attacks still happen, sometimes frequently, even in areas where there are no pit bulls or pit bull mixes.
The only places that have noticed a decrease are normally areas that have regulated pit bull breeding. Meaning that there are fewer puppy mills and irresponsible breeders in the area. This also means that less unneutered males would be wandering around unsupervised.
The SPCA has called for a review of many of these laws, calling for abolishing BSL and instead enacting ‘Breed neutral laws’ that will target the actual issues of dog attacks at their source.
An unfortunate side-effect that has been noted of BSL is that it has encouraged more criminals and insecure individuals to own pit bulls as ‘scary’ dogs. Thereby making the problem worse through irresponsible ownership.
Fact 10: Pit Bulls Can and Like Wearing Clothes!
Most pit bull terriers have short hair, which is great for grooming but can make them more susceptible to cold weather or sunburn! Especially for particularly short-haired dogs.
Dogs who suffer from anxiety or who have been through a stressful time may feel comforted and protected if they have something safe and warm wrapped around their bodies, and a particularly bright outfit will make your dog more visible to cars when out in public.
While not every individual dog may like clothing, there is no indication that any breed prefers it more or less. Pit bulls may especially benefit from the extra layer and identification it provides. It's hard to be terrified of a friendly dog in a comfy sweater.
We at Sparkpaws have taken care to make sure that almost all pit bull breeds, from the short American Staffordshire terrier to the big, bulky American pit bull terriers, will also get to experience the protection and comfort of a well-fitting and good quality doggy outfit.
From their fascinating breed history to their unfortunate and sad original purpose to their incredible feats of heroism, there is a lot to learn and say about pit bulls. Not all of their fascinating qualities could be contained in one article, but we hope you learned something you did not know before.
We are sure you have many interesting facts about the pit bulls you have known in your own life and are prepared for an exciting summer ahead!