I’ll admit I had a bias against pit bulls, but that changed with a dog I rescued from the local animal shelter. Although I am not certain Versa is a pit bull mix, knowing what I now know about the breed — I would not be afraid to own one.
Fact No. 1
Although many breeds are often misidentified as pit bulls, the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club recognizes three breeds known colloquially as pit bulls: the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier.
The AKC describes the American Staffordshire Terrier as a “people-oriented dog that thrives when he is made part of the family and given a job to do.” They also note that even though the dog is friendly, the breed is “loyal to his family and will protect them from any threat.”
Fact No. 3
The breed has been around for several centuries and is believed to be a cross between a Bulldog and a game terrier breed. It has a hunting inclination due to the terrier bloodline.The dogs were originally used in bull-baiting and aggression to other dogs was bred into the line, but dogs that displayed aggression to humans were either culled or euthanized.
Fact No. 4
The breed was brought to the U.S. by immigrants in the 19th century. Farmers and ranchers used American Pit Bull Terriers to hunt or to drive livestock and for family pets.
Fact No. 5
The breed’s popularity reached its heyday in the United States during the first part of the 20th century when they were pets for famous individuals like Helen Keller, Laura Ingalls Wilder and President Theodore Roosevelt. “Pete the Pup,” in the classic TV show “Our Gang,” was a pit bull.
Fact No. 6
A pit bull named Popsicle holds the Texas record for biggest drug bust, having sniffed out 3,000 pounds of cocaine. Three search-and-rescue pit bulls from California, were used at the World Trade Center in the 9/11 aftermath.
Fact No. 7
Pit bulls are often the target of Breed Specific Legislation, but they are not the only breed maligned this way. Other commonly targeted dogs include: Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dobermans, Chows and occasionally Mastiff breeds.
Fact No. 8
In one of the most notorious dog fighting cases involving pit bulls and pit bull mixes — the case against NFL quarterback Michael Vick — only two of the pit bulls and pit bull mixes needed to be euthanized (one for aggression, one for health issues). Out of the 51 dogs rescued, 20 were immediately suitable for foster care while others were sent to sanctuaries before eventually landing in foster homes.
Fact No. 9
Although they are powerful animals for their size, It is a myth that their jaws lock.
Fact No. 10
The American Test Temperament Society regularly test dog breeds to determine, in essence, their compatibility with humans and other dogs. According to the latest data, nearly 87 percent of American Pit Bulls tested passed — outperforming German Shepherds (82%) and Beagles (80%), currently the second and fourth most popular dog breeds in the United States.
- ASPCA: The Truth About Pit Bulls
- AKC: Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier
- PitBulls.Org: A Brief History of the American Pit Bull Terrier