Pit Bull Terrier
Facts About a Persecuted Breed
FACT: APBTs are the most stable people-friendly dogs in existence.
Problems occur with cross-breeding to 'snappish' breeds or irresponsible upbringing.
Visit our historic APBT picture page
Caring for and keeping an APBT
Say you've found a stray APBT, tried unsuccessfully to locate the owner, and now you want to try to keep the dog temporarily or permanently... you have questions. Lots of them. Here, we attempt to answer some of the common questions that have been put to us by people unfamiliar with the breed.
How do I test for dog-aggression without endangering either dog?
Have both dogs restrained SECURELY. You can do this by either placing one
dog in a sturdy kennel where he/she can see outside and bringing out the
second dog on a leash (make sure neither dog can escape). Bring the two
close enough for them to sniff one another. See how they react.
You can chain the APBT up temporarily while you bring out the dog on a secure leash (don't try this with a dog that's big enough to get away from you!). You may want a second person present. If the APBT acts calm or friendly upon seeing the dog at a distance, bring the new dog closer until or unless the APBT begins to growl or bark aggressively (barking alone isn't a sign of aggression). If no aggressive posture is exhibited by either dog, then bring the two close enough to sniff noses, but be very careful to keep control over the leashed dog. Make sure the APBT is at the end of the chain before bringing the new dog that close.
If all goes well after you've introduced the dogs in such a way, and you want to try the two dogs off-leash, have at least two strong people present at all times. Keep in mind that it is rarely a good idea to have two adult males play together unless they have been raised together and they are supervised at all times. Even dogs raised together can get into dominance issues that lead to fights.
How high of a fence do I need? You need at least a six foot fence. Be warned, however, that many APBTs can jump even a six-foot fence if motivated. Six-foot privacy fences are a good idea because the dog can't see all the temptations that pass by. However, observe your own dog. Some dogs are jumpers, others are not. If you do have a dog that is a jumper, consider combining an electric gate with a physical gate. Or put a hot wire at the top of the gate.
What kind of collar and leash do I need? You need strong ones! Forget about plastic clamp collars. They can break. Get a thick nylon or leather buckle collar and a strong 4' to 6' leash. Make sure the dog's neck cannot slip through the collar. Harnesses and head halters are good as they are more secure. Use these only if the dog pulls on the leash or if the dog's neck is almost as thick as his/her head (which I've encountered once or twice - learning a valuable and potent lesson).
What kind of weather can APBTs withstand? APBTs are sturdy dogs, but in hot weather they need lots of water and shelter from the sun. In the winter, they need an insulated dog house or other appropriate shelter and a nice blanket. Try not to keep them outside in extreme temperatures, but, if you have to, make sure they have adequate insulation. In very hot weather outside, consider buying a cool pack made for dogs. In very cold weather, buy a microwavable heating pad (retains heat for 12 hours), and place these under the dogs blanket in the insulated dog house. Basically, these dogs are best kept as indoor/outdoor dogs.
Are APBTs good around cats? APBTs are dogs. Like any breed, some dogs are great around other animals, and some aren't. If the dog has been raised around different animals, odds are that he or she will be fine with them. However, don't trust the dog alone with any animal for at least a few months. Use your own judgement. Take time to observe the dog interacting with other animals (after you've tested him or her properly, of course). Some people will tell you never to leave an APBT alone with another animal, even if the two were raised together. That's good advise, but there are exceptions. I've known several people who've raised two APBTs together without encountering any problems. My own family has had many APBTs and have encountered no problems by doing so (if they've been raised together, or if they've established a solid, friendly relationships). However, an APBT owner should always be cautious when he/she has two dogs in the same household. Generally, it is best to separate the two at night and supervise them together as much as possible. Also, this breed doesn't fully mature until about 3 years of age, so be advised that a PIT BULL that seems dog friendly may develope dog aggression when he or she reaches full maturity. It is best never to leave two APBTs of the same gender alone together, no matter how great they seem to get along. It takes less than a second for a dominance issue to start, and, hence, it is not recommended to leave two dogs of the same gender alone together.
I've found a stray APBT and want to turn it into the shelter. Should I? First CALL the shelter and ask what they do with APBTs. Many shelters and humane organizations have mandatory euthanization policies for APBTs, even puppies. Many people have called me saying they turned the dog into the shelter and didn't know about the policy. Once they found out, they tried to get the dog back, but the shelter refused to give them the dog. Once you turn a dog into the shelter, you release all custody to the shelter.
A 6-year study in Palm Beach County of "most severe dog bite by breed" shows the top 10 breeds who have been identified in this comparison.
|A German Shepherd||16.4|
|Living in a house with 1 or more children||3.5|
|Chained in the yard||2.8|
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