The Great American Pit Bull Myth

Pit Bulls have been given a bad rap, undeserved because its the owners that have taken the breed and made it into a side-show killing circus freak. Given the proper care and training these are great family pets and work animals.

                                        A Brief on the American Pit Bull

Tell someone that you have or want a Pit Bull for a pet and the usual response is one of fear, shock and loathing. The very mention of the breed elicits strong emotions for the uninformed due to bad publicity and worse, owners that have taken an intelligent, loyal and hearty dog and made it into an undeserved pariah of the canine community. This poor reputation is completely the fault of bad owners who have mistreated, mishandled and misused these wonderful and spirited animals.

It is unfortunate that the Pit Bull breed, one whose natural great strength and sense of protective instinct have been manipulated to turn some of these dogs into overly aggressive, fearful and unbalanced fighting animals. Although originally bred for battle and hunting, it is the abuse of their natural abilities that the breed has suffered its terrible and undeserved reputation.

The real American Pit Bull is actually a name given to several different types of the breed thought to have come from ancient Greece and particularly the Mossler family which is also responsible for the Mastiff breed. American Pit Bull, American Stafford Terrier and the Stafford Bull Terrier, to name a few, are all known by their shorten moniker, “Pit Bull”. This amazing canine was bred from the bulldog and terrier lines and although they posses many of the attributes for fighting, and were used specifically for that purpose by the Greeks, Romans and early American settlers, their real nature is to be loyal, protective and an all-purpose work dog.

Although mostly known today as the back room fighting animal or tough guy breed, there were times when this variety of canine was more of a populist symbol. Some very famous people have owned Pit Bulls including Mark Twain, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Wilson, Thomas Edison, John Steinbeck and Helen Keller. Actor Ken Howard has credited his Pit Bull with saving his life; hardly the personality of a killer.

During World War I a pit bull named Stubby became the lovable symbol for the American war effort after it was learned he had saved the lives of several soldiers during combat. Upon his return to the States, Stubby was awarded medals for valiant service, given the honorable rank of Sergeant, and later be adopted as the mascot for Georgetown University. 

Another famous and equally adorable icon of American life was the Pit Bull on the Little Rascals Show, Petey. With his trademark circle around his eye, Petey was loved by all and was hardly the viscous attack dog that the breed is associated with today. Another symbol of corporate Americana is the RCA Victor pit bull who for years graced the company’s record and electronics division logo as the cock headed little pooch who sits patiently and listens to the record player.

Given the pit bull’s unique blend of strength, loyalty, protective instincts and gainful athleticism, the breed can make a wonderful addition to any active family. Because your pet will behave as you treat them, it is a true reminder of how important that owners know how to train and care for their dogs so they can be the kind of lovable pet every family desires.

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