The history of modern American Pit Bull Terrier, often abbreviated as APBT, started in England and the early 19th century. The breed resulted from crosses of terriers with bully type dogs. In those times, the ancestors of modern American Pit Bull Terriers were used as working dogs to control unruly bulls for butchers and farmers. They were also used for the cruel sport of bull baiting. However, the historians point out the year 1835 as the turning point in the history of pit bulls, when the practice of bull baiting was replaced by the practice of another bloody sport of dog fighting.
That’s why it won’t be a mistake to say that the breed has fighting origins. The first breed registry for the registration and acceptance of pit bulls was started in 1898 by Chauncy Bennet and called the UKC. He wanted to create an organization that would represent the breed as performance dogs and he added “American” and tried to eliminate “Pit” from the APBT’s name but “Pit” was added back soon. The requirement for a dog to become a part of the UKC was the victory in three fights at minimum, but this requirement became history with the time.
Second oldest organization dedicated to pit bulls, American Dog Breeders Association, was formed in 1909 by Guy McCord. The ultimate goal of the association was to probe the performance quality of a pit bull without actual dog fight. Around that time the AKC registered pit bulls under the name of the Staffordshire Terrier. This was changed to the American Staffordshire Terrier in the year 1972. Pit bulls and American Staffordshire Terriers displayed physically identity until 1936.
It was the year when American Staffordshire Terriers were bred for conformation only and their breed requirements were moving to more and more stringent, while pit bulls were bred for both fighting and conformation shows. American Staffordshire Terriers became flashier with blockier heads, larger chests and a thicker jaw, and pit bulls varied phenotypically. Modern pit bulls can be easily recognized by the following characteristic: they are “blocky and broad, the head’s classic chiseled appearance, packed with bulging muscle, combines character with strength.
” (O’Neil, 1995, p. 5) Breed standards say that an ideal dog should be medium-sized, solidly built, short-coated dog with smooth, well-defined musculature. Ears are small to medium in size, high set, and may be natural or cropped. The dog can be of all colours and colour patterns, except merde. The head of pit bull is the pivotal element of breed type, being large and broad to create the impression of great power, but never disproportionate to the size of the whole dog.
The head should be shaped like a broad and blunt wedge when viewed from the front. The neck should be of moderate length and muscular. The shoulder blades should be muscular as well, and also long, wide, and well laid back. The chest should be deep, well filled in, and moderately wide, but the chest can’t be wider than it is deep. The feet have to be round, proportionate to the size of the body, well arched, and tight.
Faults of the dog include bulky or muscle-bound or fine-boned and rangy appearance, level bite, snipey muzzle, flews, weak lower jaw, short or thick or weak or ewe neck, dewlap, upright or loaded shoulders, elbows turned outward or tied-in, down at the pasterns, front legs bowed, wrists knuckled over, toeing in or out, narrow hindquarters, hindquarters shallow from pelvis to crotch, lack of muscle, straight or over angulated stifle joint, cow hocks, sickle hocks, bowed legs, splayed feet, long tail, curly, wavy, or sparse coat, legs not moving on the same plane, legs over reaching, legs crossing over in front or rear, rear legs moving too close or touching, rolling, pacing, paddling, sidewinding, hackney action, pounding. Serious faults are bulging eyes, both eyes not matched in color, blue eyes, undershot, or overshot bite, wry mouth, missing teeth, gay or kinked tail.
Disqualification is bobbed tail, long coat, merle, albinism, unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid, viciousness or extreme shyness, unilateral or bilateral deafness. As for the temperament, pit bulls are bred to be exceptionally sturdy and extremely human friendly, athletic, courageous, and tenacious. Pi bulls are also “known for being highly adaptable. They can change owners and move to another home with ease, provided their new family gives them attention and love. Pit Bulls are excellent at discerning when to show affection and when to show aggression. ” (O’Neil, 1995, p. 33) What is true, however, is that an owner should carefully socialize and obedience train the dog because pit bulls can occasionally exhibit some level of dog aggression, which is different from human aggression anyway.
But in general, these dogs show strength, indomitable courage, and gentleness with loved ones. This is “a dog that combined the gameness of the terrier with the strength and athleticism of the Bulldog. ” (The Rare Breed Dog Association, 2004, para. 1) As for the breed specific legislation, it generally bans or restricts particular breeds or mixes. A dog of a banned breed can be confiscated by the authorities and killed. A dog of a restricted breed must be confined, muzzled, chained, or restricted in other ways and owners must provide proof of liability insurance that covers dog bites. In some jurisdictions, dogs of restricted breeds and mixes must be identified by microchip or tattoo and have mug shots on file with police.
Pit bulls are banned in Lynnville, Tennessee; Chamberlain, South Dakota; Pawtucket, Rhode Island; Minot, North Dakota; Salisbury and Carl Junction, Missouri; Inman, Kansas; Lockridge, Iowa; Stone Park and Buffalo Grove (restricted), Illinois; North Little Rock, Arkansas. Ohio state declared pit bulls as dangerous and vicious dogs. Many people believe that the application of breed specific legislation is unfair, because it often rests on myths and misconceptions. Breed specific legislation is a regulation of the right to own a dog based solely on the breed of dog, not one’s responsibility as an owner. Pit bulls are largely misunderstood and misrepresented by the public today, and there is a clear and consistent need to debunk some myths and falsehoods about the breed.
One of the most widespread myths about pit bull terriers is that they are inherently aggressive. However, the facts say the opposite. While pit bulls were bred to be courageous and utterly devoid of pain sensations, they were never bred to be aggressive. Pit bulls were not only fighting breed, but family pets as well, therefore no aggression towards humans has ever been tolerated. Moreover, it would be simply impossible to control an aggressive dog before or after a fight. Pit bulls that showed human aggression were typically shoot, that’s why only human friendly lines were desired and perpetuated. Indeed, “[a] Pit Bull with the correct temperament will not threaten to attack a human without a very good reason…” (O’Neil, 1995, p. 32)
The facts clearly show that pit bulls “are not the stereotypical devil dog put forth in media myths. They are companion animals who have enhanced the lives of many through their devoted people-loving natures, positively channeled physical prowess, bravery, and intelligence. Pit Bulls have served key roles in search-and-rescue efforts, excel in agility training, and work nationwide as therapy and service dogs. ” (PAW, n/d. , “The Truth About Pit Bulls”, para. 1) Another popular myth about pit bulls is that they have a locking jaw and 1600 P. S. I. in jaw pressure. But these dogs don’t “have a triple-hinged jaw capable of extraordinary feats of strength.
As any owner of a ball-crazy Golden retriever will tell you, the clamp of the jaw is as much a function of psychology as physiology, and any dog can clamp down beyond the capability of a human to pry open. ” (Keith, 2005, para. 10) Still, there are some important facts an owner should know about his or her dog. Training is very important for pit bulls. “Training is the jewel in the crown-the most important aspect of doggy husbandry. ” (O’Neil, 1995, p. 98) American Canine Temperament Testing Association organized special tests for dogs’ temperament, and 95% of the American Pit Bull Terriers passed, compared to a 77% passing rate for all breeds in general.
Moreover, APBTs had a passing rate that was the fourth highest of all 122 breeds tested. (PAW, n/d. , “Myth-Busters”, para. 5) But there are several things each owner should consider about his or her pet. “Pit Bulls are strong and energetic, so we recommend that owners take them to obedience classes as soon as they are up to date on shots. Pit Bulls suffer from prejudice and misunderstanding, so ownership requires a willingness to consider your neighbors’ concerns and educate them. ” (PAW, n/d. , “Being Aware and Prepared”, para. 1-2) Life with a well-trained pit bull is a sheer pleasure. These dogs “are wonderful, loyal, intelligent companions and are truly people-dogs; they want and need companionship of their owners.
One of their most prominent breed traits is reliability with and friendliness to people, so some people call them ‘pet bulls. ’ Pit Bulls are extremely affectionate and love to cuddle. Pit Bulls also make great athletic partners and often excel in obedience work. ” (PAW, n/d. , para. 1) The dog “is usually very friendly, but has an uncanny ability to know when it needs to protect and when everything is okay [but] can be willful and needs a firm hand. ” (DogBreedInfo. com, n/d. , “Temperament”) So pit bull owners experience so much joy in being with their dogs. However, these dogs are suitable for people possessing certain traits of character.
“If dogs could choose their owners instead of the other way around, American Pit Bull Terriers would probably look for owners who are blessed with high spirits and the joy of living. ” (O’Neil, 1995, p. 37) These dogs make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their devoted love of children. Still, pit bulls are not recommended for those who don’t have enough (or at least some) experience with dogs; wants a dog as a macho status symbol; tends to be irresponsible, lax or neglectful; is not very familiar with the breed; expects to let their dog run around off-leash in public places. (Kovary, 1999) Dogs do well in urban settings but should have enough exercise and other positive outlets for their energy and vitality.
They are generally good with children, but a senior dog is recommended for the households with small kids. Pit bulls are loving and very loyal companions for owners, especially if the owners establish their leadership in a humane and consistent way. Pit bulls should always respect and obey the owner. Therefore, we see that American Pit Bull Terrier is a dog with its peculiar history and characteristics, surrounded by many myths and ambiguities. References O’Neil, J. The American Pit Bull Terrier: An Owner’s Guideto a Happy Healthy Pet. New York: Howell Book House, 2nd ed. , 1995. The Rare Breed Dog Association in the United States of America. “American Pit Bull Terrier: Official U. K. C.
Breed Standard. ” 21 October 2004. 17 October 2005. <http://www. arba. org/AmericanPitBull1BS. htm> PAW. “Pet Bull Corner. ” N/d. 17 October 2005. <http://www. paw-rescue. org/petbulls. html> Keith, C. “Triple-Hinged Jaws of Doom… And Other Myths About the Pit Bull. ” 2005. 17 October 2005. <http://www. doghobbyist. com/articles/PitMyths. html> DogBreedInfo. com. “American Pit Bull Terrier. ” N/d. 17 October 2005. <http://www. dogbreedinfo. com/americanpitbull. htm> Kovary, R. “The St. Francis Terrier — Rediscovering The American Pit Bull Terrier. ” American Dog Trainers Network. 1999. 17 October 2005. <http://www. inch. com/~dogs/pitbulls. html>
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