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Pit Bull Fact & Fiction

Everything you need to know about Pitties.

Shelters across the United States, including ours, often see Pitties struggling to find homes for much longer than the other dogs. Why?

It’s easy to come to conclusions about Pitties based on the number of them who are homeless, anecdotal evidence, and even laws that point fingers at this breed (which is actually a collection of breeds) in particular. However, there is frequently a wide gap between public opinion and the truth about Pitties.

If we accept rumors instead of digging deeper for facts, these dogs will unnecessarily languish in shelters. If you want to make a difference for shelter

dogs, a great place to start is by educating yourself about what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to Pitties.

Pittie Fact #1: In the early 1900s, Pitties were deemed “Nanny Dogs,” because they were

known to be so loving, loyal, and faithful–especially to children.

Before they had a reputation for negative behaviors, Pitties were known for their loyalty and love. This is what we see everyday at DCSPCA. These adorable goofballs with the square heads are some of the most affectionate and affable characters at the shelter. We only wish that people coming in to adopt would get to know them the way that we know them.

Yes, some dogs need some behavioral help, but that is true for all breeds, not just Pitties in particular.

Pittie Fiction #1: Pit Bull breeds are naturally aggressive and dangerous.

Pit Bulls have a stigma associated with them due to historically being bred for fighting or other aggressive activities.

“While many backyard breeders are breeding the dogs for aggressive activities, that doesn’t mean the dogs are aggressive,” explains DCSPCA Canine Lead Trainer Jodi Arnold. “In fact Pit Bulls do better in behavior evaluations for friendliness towards people than the average dog. They’re just dogs, and they want to be loved like any other dog. Once people see these are goofy, loving, normal dogs, their perception changes.”

Not only can Pitties be some of the most sweet and good-natured dogs, they can be lifesavers.

A Pit Bull in California saved her family from a house fire. Read all about pup Sasha’s rescue of her family here.

Athena, a Pit Bull in Brazil, recently saved the life of her petite Chihuahua sibling, Pulma, when she fell into the pool. Read the whole story here.

Pittie Fact #2: There are more Pit Bull breeds in shelters than other breeds, and they often take longer to get adopted than other dogs.

“Part of the reason those dogs stay in a shelter for so long is because many apartment complexes or landlords don’t allow the breed,” explains Jodi, who has worked with many Pitties, both in her own home and in shelters.

Negative media coverage and fear-mongering means that many people coming to shelters won’t consider a Pittie for adoption, no matter how sweet and good-natured a dog is. This leaves Pitties to remain in shelters longer than other dogs.

Pittie Fiction #2: Pitties are aggressive because of their genetics, and nothing can change that.

“Any dog’s genetics could potentially predispose them to behave in unwanted ways, but genes are not the only factor that comes into play when a dog’s personality is being formed,” explains Jodi. “Dogs of any breed, not just Pitties, can be raised to have aggressive tendencies if that is what the owner wants, or if proper boundaries are not set during training.”

When dogs are raised with consistent training and positive experiences starting from when they are young, pups of any breed can make wonderful companions and trustworthy family pets.

Pittie Fact #3: Pitties are some of the most abused dogs on the planet.

Denied basic needs to encourage aggressive behavior, killed in dog fighting rings, and bred over and over again for profit, these dogs—typically lovable goofballs by nature—are some of the most abused animals on the planet.

Pittie Fiction #3: Laws protect us from Pit Bulls.

The truth is that laws discriminating against Pitties are just that: discrimination. In 2022 it became illegal in New York state for insurance companies to exclude families with Pit Bulls from their coverage, or to charge more based on the breed of a dog. In fact, some Pitties help officers enforce laws and protect the public.

Kiah, a Pittie who spent some time right here at DCSPCA, went on to become a full-fledged police K9 in Poughkeepsie, helping officers to protect and serve the community.

“I never had Pit Bulls growing up,” says Jodi. “I didn't know much about them, but now I have 5, and have fostered 5 more. They were all loving and sweet dogs. I don't think I will ever have another breed.“

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