The Pit bull is one of the most misunderstood dog breeds and, despite the bad press that these animals get, they can make great companions. In fact, they are extremely sociable, loving creatures when brought up in the right household. Contrary to the popular myth, they are not guard dogs, and do not tend to be naturally aggressive. They are, in fact, bred to be people friendly. Pit bulls make wonderful pets to those who treat them well, but please remember that it is illegal to own a Pit bull in some countries and communities. Please check before getting a Pit bull that it is legal to own one in your area. Council, state and government websites are good places to find out this information.History
The origins of the Pit bull are not clearly defined, but we know that part of its heritage lies in the time of the Norman Conquest, when dogs were used to subdue bulls when they became difficult to control. These "bull biting" dogs were taught to latch on to the ring on the bull's nose and not let go until the bull calmed down. This later led to a sport called bull baiting. This was a very inhumane sport which involved putting dogs in a ring to fight with and latch on to bulls. The dogs were bred to have very good fighting traits, with only the best fighters being selected to breed from. The resulting breed was named the Bulldog.
By the 1800s, this Bulldog breed had grown to look a lot like the Pitbull we see today. Around this time, the bull baiting sport was banned. In its place, people developed a sport called "ratting". As the name suggests, this involved putting dogs in a pit with several rats and seeing how many they could kill in a certain space of time. It's thought that the pit aspect in this sport was where the name "Pit bull" later came from.
These later versions of the ancient Bulldog breed were bred with Terriers, which were very good at hunting small game, and the breed that resulted (the Pit bull) was an excellent ratter because it had the genetic traits of both the Bulldog and the Terrier, yet was smaller and more agile than previous dogs.
The first Pit bulls were originally bred in Staffordshire, England, hence the Pitbull's alias, the Staffordshire Terrier. The Pit bull breed was noted for its strong drive to pursue and fight its game (the rat) to the bitter end. This was a dog that simply refused to back down when in the midst of a fight. Unfortunately, this meant that Pit bulls began to be used in another popular sport, dog fighting. This was a brutal sport where two dogs were put in a ring to fight to the death. The Pitbull was considered to be a champion in this area, and seldom lost a battle. Eventually, this cruel sport was banned but sadly, there are still those that hold illicit dog fights out of public view.Character
Pit bulls are outgoing, people-loving dogs which can bond strongly with their human owners and can sometimes develop strong dependencies on them. Pit bulls need owners that are even more confident than they are, who can be firm, fair and affectionate at the right times. In order to become well-rounded, obedient dogs, they need a good balance of exercise and discipline before they receive any affection. They can be quite strong willed if given the chance. However, Pit bulls are naturally eager to please their owners and will be open to learning new commands or tricks. They respond very well to positive reinforcement with praise and treats for good behaviour. Contrary to popular belief, the Pit bull is not very good at being a guard dog. They simply love people too much! The exception to this is when a Pit bull is purposely trained to be aggressive - in which case he will become a danger to all people, even his owners. This practice is very unethical and only serves to reinforce common stereotypes associated with this misunderstood breed. Lastly, because of the Pitbull's origins as a fighting dog, it has a tendency to be aggressive towards other dogs. Of course, this doesn't apply to all Pit bulls, just the ones who have inherited this particular trait from their parents, or who haven't been brought up in loving homes. To avoid this, you should take the time to properly socialize your Pit bull puppy from a young age.Health
In general, Pit bulls are very healthy, sturdy dogs with a low rate of disease when compared to other dogs. There are a few conditions that do affect the breed from time to time and you should be sure to familiarize yourself with these. They include hip dysplasia, cataracts, allergies, parvovirus and heart disease.Grooming
The great thing about Pit bulls is that they have a low maintenance coat that is short haired, smooth and easy to look after. Once a week you will need to brush them with a good quality, soft bristled brush to remove any loose fur and, if you like, you can wipe them down with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris. The degree to which a Pit bull sheds can vary, but if you find your dog is shedding quite a lot, then you should increase your grooming sessions to several times a week.Exercise
The Pit bull has endless reserves of energy and an athletic, muscular body that needs a lot of exercise. Many people report that their dogs just love to clown around. They might have bursts of energy and suddenly speed around the house one minute. The next minute they will be wiggling on their backs on the carpet. One of the best things you can do for your dog is give him plenty of outdoor exercise as this will benefit him both physically and mentally.