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Discussion Starter #1
I have spent quite a few days this last week researching Pit Bulls and everything related, including what dogs fall into the mix.
After sifting through thousands of articles and social media attempts at trying to convince one way or the other, I have become deafened by both sides of the debate by senseless, shortsighted, and closed minded information.
I am on the fence if it is at all possible to have an objective and informative resource to get to the bottom of the hysteria regarding all things Pit bull, and I think if it can be achieved, this may be the place.

I ask that all participants keep an open mind and stick to documented facts from "reliable" sources.
Personal experiences can alter the objectiveness I am hoping for but welcome these experiences if the breed is not generalized by this experience.
eg...
Pitbulls are not bad, my kid plays with ours everyday and has never been bitten.
Or...
Pitbulls should be banned because my family member was attacked!

I would like to get to the bottom of the hype. What is true and what is fiction.
In regards to questions, it would be great to have answers backed up with a source so that the source can be verified or challenged as fact or fiction by a source.

BSL
Is this a last resort or is it a case of enough is enough?

Off leash/on leash/muzzle
Restriction of breed, look, character, or does it matter?

Pit bull to dog bite
Crazy/untrained Pit bull or defensive attributes?

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Discussion Starter #2
I would like to know if Breed specific laws work. I am not informed enough it seems to have an opinion and want the facts. I see so many contradicting statistics but do not know how Pit bulls seemingly become the source of instigation for these laws. Breeds that look similar can have entirely different breed traits and will be subject to these laws by a vague definition of breed like "Pit bull"
 

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I have no experience with pitbulls, but here is what I think.

Pitbulls when trained (just like any dog) make good dogs. Also a dog reflects the owner. For some reason the pitbull appeals to shady people who don't treat the dog well. As a result the dog is of course bad. Just like any other type of dog in that type of circumstance.

BUT since pitbulls were bred to keep on attacking, even though the opponent is giving up and showing signs of submission, the breed is all the more dangerous when it chooses to attack. Though I heard that human aggression was bred out of them as much as possible by the people who bred them for fighting. So attacks are rare but fatal.

Please correct me if I am wrong. I am really curious what others have to say.
 

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I have only ever met one aggressive pit-bull and that was when my rottie was 6 moths we were at the park (one of the first times we were there) and in comes an aggressive pit no warning whatsoever, went for my pup.
I have since learnt this dog is rarely out of the house, untrained, not neutered.

However, every pit-bull since then has been an absolute sweetheart!
One client in particular he insists on sitting in my lap every time he is in clinic!
 

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The laws in Australia are that pit-bulls are banned breeds, and if owned must wear a muzzle at all times (at home and outside of home) is never allowed of leash, and when is home must be kennelled.
 

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we had BSL removed in a few states in Germany there were neither less nor more cases of SoKas acting aggressive towards humans or other dogs.
It's good for the shelters though at my local shelter 2/3 of the dogs there are part bully breed and people won't adopt them out when they pay 3 times as much for taxes than other companion breeds every month.
the BSL only hits the good owners that care. the owners that don't care to train their dog and pass the dog-leadership test often also don't register their dog and don't pay taxes. :I
laws are awesome, but informing people is much better.
not only on the dog owner side, but but also informing people without a dog, how they can help themself and prevent situations from excalating. a running child is much more likely to make a dogs chasing drive kick in, than a child acting calmer.
 

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One thing that I think people neglect to acknowledge about BSL is that 80% of the time, being born a pitbull is a death sentence even WITHOUT BSL. They are, as I like to call them, the most popular puppies and the least popular adults. Shelters are crawling with pitties who got ditched as soon as they got too big, too strong and too exhuberant-- as soon as they no longer made their owner look 'cool'. They say that to walk into a shelter as a pittie is pretty much lethal.

I don't agree that they are monsters, but I do agree that they are more dog than most can handle. I don't believe it's "all in how you raise them". They are not bred to be mellow, biddable, tolerate-anything spaniels. They are terriers and can manifest all the traits that come with the territory: They are iffy with dogs, kids and small animals and can be energetic and even a bit temperamental.

Your question really hits home with me today as I got the news that a bully mix I had been helping to train was put down for "snapping at a child". Take that for what you will. I don't know the whole story yet, but I can't help but wonder if the story would not have ended so badly, had the dog been homed with a family that didn't have a small kid. IMO not a good fit for:

a) A dog not raised around kids (she was a rescue).
b) A terrier, a breed known to be on the mouthier, nippier side of the spectrum.

I don't know that a ban would really solve all problems, but I really wish bullies were less popular than they are. They are not bad dogs, some of them even make fantastic family pets (Thinking here of @MRSbullies' girl who 'mothered' a guinea pig) but I think they require a special type of owner that is prepared for every possibility about owning a 60 lb terrier.

@MrsCunningham WOW that's crazy legislation. I can't imagine that much can be done bylaw-wise if owners decide to let their dog run loose in the home, so long as nobody reports it. Still, that sounds like a crappy life for a dog. I'm surprised they wouldn't just ban them outright rather than stipulating that any animal spend most of their waking hours in a kennel.
 

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Parents use to breed pit bulls when I was in school. Always use to have 4 or 5 around. Just like any other dog, really depends on how you treat and train them.
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@kelly528 Yeah not a nice life for a dog at all poor things. The rule also applies to any dog that has been deemed dangerous (if they attack other dogs or people)
 

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One thing that I think people neglect to acknowledge about BSL is that 80% of the time, being born a pitbull is a death sentence even WITHOUT BSL. They are, as I like to call them, the most popular puppies and the least popular adults. Shelters are crawling with pitties who got ditched as soon as they got too big, too strong and too exhuberant-- as soon as they no longer made their owner look 'cool'. They say that to walk into a shelter as a pittie is pretty much lethal.

I don't agree that they are monsters, but I do agree that they are more dog than most can handle. I don't believe it's "all in how you raise them". They are not bred to be mellow, biddable, tolerate-anything spaniels. They are terriers and can manifest all the traits that come with the territory: They are iffy with dogs, kids and small animals and can be energetic and even a bit temperamental.

Your question really hits home with me today as I got the news that a bully mix I had been helping to train was put down for "snapping at a child". Take that for what you will. I don't know the whole story yet, but I can't help but wonder if the story would not have ended so badly, had the dog been homed with a family that didn't have a small kid. IMO not a good fit for:

a) A dog not raised around kids (she was a rescue).
b) A terrier, a breed known to be on the mouthier, nippier side of the spectrum.

I don't know that a ban would really solve all problems, but I really wish bullies were less popular than they are. They are not bad dogs, some of them even make fantastic family pets (Thinking here of @MRSbullies' girl who 'mothered' a guinea pig) but I think they require a special type of owner that is prepared for every possibility about owning a 60 lb terrier.

@MrsCunningham WOW that's crazy legislation. I can't imagine that much can be done bylaw-wise if owners decide to let their dog run loose in the home, so long as nobody reports it. Still, that sounds like a crappy life for a dog. I'm surprised they wouldn't just ban them outright rather than stipulating that any animal spend most of their waking hours in a kennel.
I'm sorry for the dog. It's sad that dogs get killed for being brought to the wrong fmaily, because the new owner didn't do their home work researching. :(

I think this post tells everything.
Dogs aren't monsters, but there are a lot of dog breeds bred for one specific job and as awesome good they are at these specific tasks, their abilities to perform like that makes them a unfitting match for the typical 0815-dogowner.
It's a fact, that some breeds have special requirements to their owner and their new home and it has not only to do with how you raise thre individual dog.
Some breeds come with being prone to same-species aggression, some come with prey or protection drive... if you the new owner doesn't specifically state they know the risk and they can work with a certain behaviour or even want it, I'm all for discouraging people to own that kind of breed.
not only with SoKas but also with other breeds like JRTs for example.
I've seen so many fat, sad, badly behaving, neurotic JRTs. ;n;
 

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I completely agree with @kelly528. People get so wrapped up in just thinking of them as "Pit Bulls" that everyone forgets about the "terrier" portion. A lot of their characteristics (feisty, mischievous, energetic, and smart) are simply terrier traits, not simply "pit bull" traits, and it doesn't help that they are BIG terriers. I have seen many people with pit bull puppies, since they are next level adorable, but then I never see them again as adults. I also see people really doing what they can to amp up the "meanness" factor of their dogs.

I've met super awesome pitbulls, and I've met nasty pit bulls. But I've also met nasty Aussies, Labs, and Goldens.
 

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Since I see some comments in both directions (it's genetic/it's enviroment) just gonna put this here...
https://paws4udogs.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/its-all-in-how-theyre-raised/
and suggest looking at the research from Tufts and Dr. Dodman on behavior.
A dog's temperament is the result of both genetics and environment....
Genetics gives sort of a potential range for temperament. Environment seems to determine where in the range the dog will end up.

As for personal experience with bullies... The regular bullies at the facility I teach at and take classes (a couple mixed rescues, a PB Staffie, and a couple PB Am Staffs) are lovely. Some are good with any dog, others are more dog selective but not going to start anything due to training and management. They all are ok with dogs working around them and are friendly with people. Those I encounter in the shelter vary widely ime. Not surprising as most of these ''pit bulls'' are bully mixes (combos of different bully breeds, non bully breeds, and multi-generation mutts) and not exactly bred with a purpose or standard in mind. I personally find it really hard to generalize them and tend to just go with what I see in front of me.
 

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I'll answer in blue.

BSL
Is this a last resort or is it a case of enough is enough?
The only thing BSL accomplishes is to cause law abiding owners to not own pit bulls. The ones that do not follow the law will still have them. It's also proven that BSL does nothing to lessen dog bite cases, only dog bites by the banned breed. Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) FAQ I NCRC IMHO for BSL to work you'd have to switch to Species Specific Legislation and ban dog ownership. BSL does not stop careless, uncaring people from owning dogs and I think it's those that are responsible for the majority of dog bites.

Off leash/on leash/muzzle
Restriction of breed, look, character, or does it matter?
I'm not sure what you mean? Are you still questioning BSL or do you mean should Pit Bulls be muzzled, or kept on leash? If the latter, I don't think any breed of dog should be muzzled just because they are that breed, now if the dog is known to act aggressively then it should be muzzled regardless of the breed. I think all leash laws should be followed no matter the breed, and I think that it's best to err on the side of caution when it comes to pit bulls and just keep them on leash in public places and not take them to dog parks, simply because of the hysteria surrounding them. An example would be if I were to let my little, aggressive, dog run around loose and it ran up to a put bull, that was also unleashed, and attacked it, if that pit bull retaliated 10 to 1 the headlines would read loose Pit Bull attacked dog even though my dog was the one who started it. Now if that Pit Bull had been on leash the owner could fight the headline.

Pit bull to dog bite
Crazy/untrained Pit bull or defensive attributes?
Pit Bulls tend towards dog aggression, not all of them do but enough so that it's considered a trait in the breed. Some are fine with all other dogs and would never think of fighting, some hate all other dogs and would kill them given half the chance, most fall somewhere in between. If the dog is genetically predisposed towards dog aggression then all the socialization in the world will not cause it to be fine with other dogs BUT the owner can work towards getting the dog to tolerate other dogs and not go into must fight mode. Those who say that "It's all in how they are raised" are incorrect, but that's true of all breeds of dogs, genetics play a large part. Pit Bull Rescue Central
The Pitbull and Dog Aggression https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/training/understanding-dog-tolerance-pit-bulls


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I agree with @kelly528 and @Shandula, a lot of their traits are terrier traits. My little 6 lbs terrier has a lot of traits I used to associate with pit bulls- she's very intense, everything she does she puts a lot of energy and emotion into. She has a very high prey drive and obsesses over water (hoses, fountains, waves) and squirrels. She also bites (toys, not people!) and WILL NOT let go. Because of these traits we've been working on impulse control stuff and "drop it."

I've met lot of pit bulls and mixes through working at daycares and at my local humane society and they vary how they get along with other dogs and animals. Some are the sweetest dogs with everyone, some have high prey drives, some are dog selective, some are dog aggressive. The dogs at my current job that can't be in high energy play groups are mostly pit bulls and mixes because they get so overstimulated and will try to break up play or bully or start fights. Usually fine in low energy groups with mellow dogs though.

That said, I've never met one that was human aggressive. I've been bit by a poodle, corgi, and little terrier/chi mix. The only dogs that have really scared me were a "silver lab," a maltese, an akita, and an American bulldog. The maltese and bulldog were more assertive in their aggression, barking and lunging at me. The "lab" and akita did that quiet, low growl, froze, and stared with "hard eyes." That was the scariest- those were truly aggressive dogs, I didn't even go near them. One was at the shelter and ended up being put down. Never had a problem with a pit bull being aggressive towards me though, and they're one of the most common dogs, especially when I worked at the humane society.

It's hard to find objective facts and opinions since the word "pit bull" is such a loaded and misunderstood term. Many people don't even know what a "pit bull" is and use it to describe a generic type of dog. Half the people are convinced that they're insane, evil monsters and the other half think they're perfect, flawless angels. The truth is they're neither and both of these views are equally harmful to the breed. They're just dogs.

Something to keep in mind about "pit bull attacks" is that most of that information and statistics come from the media, who are REALLY bad at identifying dog breeds- I've seen boxers, lab mixes, bulldogs called "pit bulls" though whether the media is doing this on purpose to create sensationalism or whether they genuinely don't know, I'm not sure. They also don't always report when another breed attacks. No one wants to read about a "poodle attack" or a "lab bite."

I'm not for breed specific legislation, but I do think dogs that are dangerous to the public should be euthanized. Dogs that have shown that they're a legitimate danger to people and other dogs. I think this would more effective and fair than BSL for reducing dog bites and dog attacks. I'm all for judging "the deed, not the breed." It bothers me when the pit bull people who say that don't follow through when a pit bull does attack though. They go to ridiculous lengths to justify what the dog did and "save it" even if that means separating it from its owners, keeping it isolated, defanging it, etc for the rest of it's life which I think is abuse.
 

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I have done research, and BSLs so not work in reducing the number of attacks as far as I know.

In my opinion Pits, or what I consider most Pits--bully breed mixes, are not the dog for everyone. Like a German Shepherd, Rottweiler or Doberman, you should have dog experience before you own one because they are powerful and can be prone to aggression.

In my experience and research they can be wonderfully sweet, tolerant, and forgiving animals. They can also be a canine monster, who are genetically programmed and trained to kill. Many are something in between. Some don't do well with other dogs but that could be said about any breed. In my job we will sometimes have 4-6 intact bully mixes who don't know each other in a pen playing together. Even when some fights have broken out occasionally the bite inhibition some dogs demonstrate is nothing short of impressive. But Pits are held to much higher standards than other dogs because they're seen as so dangerous. Behavior that might be seen as normal aggression, exuberance, playfulness, or so on might be considered cute or funny in a Lab or husky, will be seen as threatening or scary in a Pit.

It is very, very hard to find anything non-biased about Pit bulls. It's like abortion or other issues where it's so far left or right it's crazy and you can't get balanced info. But I will say it's heartbreaking to be at my shelter and see nasty dogs of other breeds get adopted and pulled by rescues, while plenty of perfectly good (better dogs!) Pits get put down.
 
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I think that a lot of people who intentionally own pitbulls, by which I mean people who buy the dogs from breeders (mostly BYB) rather than rescuing a stray or shelter dog, do so for the exact reasons that Pit Bulls have such a bad reputation.

I think that that same desire for a 'tough' 'macho' dog that lead these owners to choose a pit bull also leads them to, probably inadvertently, raising the kind of dog that earns pit bulls that reputation.

This all based on feelings, I have no hard data.
 

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I think what ive heard is that there is no statistical difference in dog bites and deaths after and before the introduction of BSL.

In fact the Dangerous Dog Act of 1997 (uk) was studied in my law class as a badly thought out and implemented legislation rushed through as a result of a moral panic.

Another even if we do accept the premise that pit bulls are dangerous how do you decide what is a pit bull if there isn´t a pedigree? A boxer mix or an english staffordshire terrier mix or off standard could easily be mistaken for a pit bull. They are not a very distinguishable breed.

And as others have mentioned its the same with any over popular breed whether its pit bulls, goldens and labs even poodles. I know in Iceland where it takes one bad litter of aggressive dogs to ruin the reputation of a breed, irish setters got a bad rap, chihuahuas, small poodles they got a bad reputation for a while because they were overpopular and overbred and bad individuals were allowed to breed.
 

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The fact is... They're just dogs. The reason I think they often aren't perfect for first time owners if that many people don't acknowledge or want to deal with propensity for dog aggression and prey drive. Because they're large terriers, many can't live safely with other dogs or small animals. They can range from completely dog friendly to totally dog aggressive, just like any other type of dog. They just happen to be more likely to err toward dog intolerance and aggression than others. They are not more likely than any other dog to be human aggressive. Sure, you could have temperament issues with any shelter mutt due to poor genetics. But I wouldn't be more worried about a BYB bully breed over a BYB of any other similarly sized dog or larger.
 

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I agree with all of the comments. My little mutt, who I think is a terrier mix, has a personality that seems quite similar to many of the pitts I've met. She is so passionate about everything that she can be quite overwhelming at times, even though she is less than 20 pounds. She also seems to have a high pain threshold, which is something that I've read about pitbulls. I can't count how many times she's run into me at full speed or enthusiastically jumped up at me and hurt me badly with her hard head.

About a year ago, I was playing with my dog using a big flirt pole, and as she chased the toy, she ran into my leg with such force that it caused my ankle to buckle and knocked me to the ground. I heard several cracks and felt so much pain that I was sure that she broke my ankle at first. I decided to wait it out, and eventually the pain subsided, but my ankle is still much more sensitive than before. I've never known another dog, especially a toy dog, that would hit me with such force. And she didn't even react once she hit me. It was like she didn't even notice!

My dog is just so exuberant about everything. When we visit my parents, she is so excited that she runs all over the place and jumps on the bed and all over my dad's papers and is basically like a crazy dog. I realize that I could probably tame her behavior with more training, but I've never had a dog with such an intensity as Skipper. She is adorable and very, very sweet, but it's like her passion just overwhelms her at times.

I can't imagine having a giant Skipper. I can barely handle her jumping and pulling and rambunctiousness sometimes, and she's just 17 pounds. If she tried some of her antics as a 40-pound dog, I don't know what I'd do.

I also think that sometimes people overreact to bad behavior from a bully breed, when they'd hardly notice the same behavior from another dog. My dad and I were doing some community service with a group at some downtown housing projects early this year. We were playing with some kids, and one of them had a pitbull puppy. When my dad started swinging a girl by her arms, the puppy, who had been quite friendly before, became upset and bit my dad's ankle. My dad will use that event to support his opinion that pitbulls can suddenly and inexplicably turn vicious. In my opinion, the puppy was just acting like an untrained terrier puppy. The kids were somewhat rough with it, and it didn't appear to be well-cared for at all. The sad thing is that the pitbull puppy will probably grow up to be an untamed, unpredictable dog, because of the environment it is raised in, thereby perpetuating my dad's generalizations.
 
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The bull & terrier was the originator of the pit bull (and the staffie & the bull terrier) so for it to have terrier qualities is not unusual if you think about it. And I think that's where some of the problem lies - the average joe (so not thugs & want-a-bes) get a pit bull thinking that'd it is going to be more bully [bulldog, etc.] and are just not prepared for that dogged terrier attitude.

Unfortunately, the pit bull is the "fad" dog to the thugs - and BYB breeders - because of the demand. A few have mentioned that a pit is gotten because the owner wants to look tough, and that's what it is for a majority of people... they want to look tough.

BSL bans pits where I live, but that doesn't keep people from wanting to "look tough" [tattoos (gang or prison) and/or excessive scarring in highly visible places, etc., getting nasty dogs (there's a guy here who has a rottie mix that is definitely ill trained & behaves badly)]. In my job we work with druggies / criminals and other thugs all the time, 70 even 80% of the dealings with the "tough guys" is nothing more than posturing on their part and if you don't flinch they're the ones backing down.


But ultimately it's not entirely the breed's fault - though certainly a dog aggressive breed doesn't help in that respect - however, proof of it is more the human's fault... in the 90s, a large majority of dog to human attacks were rotties according to bite stats websites.

And I mean, any dog is as capable of attacking given the "right" conditions. Ill training, owner with no control / discipline, nervous dog [human], etc. My aunt just last weekend was telling me how she watched as what was later proven [cause cops were definitely called, along with animal control] a Mastiff took off from its owner (whose recall was garbage) and viciously mauled a young Standard Poodle at the dog park in front of her and the poodle's owner. The Mastiff only let go of the poodle - it was shaking the poodle like a rat - when a man ran up and pretty much kicked the dog in the side of the head [sure not exactly humane but the Mastiff's owner was standing like a slack jaw apparently and neither aunt nor poodle's owner wanted to tangle with the Mastiff in case it turned on them].

Yet if you asked the average person what they thought of an Mastiff the common response would be - big "dopey" dog. Hardly vicious / not dangerous.
 
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