October is Pit Bull Awareness Month, and as such, we'd like to share more information on pit bulls! We have quite a few pit bulls at our shelter, ranging from wiggly, playful goofballs to snuggly, calm couch potatoes, all of whom would love to be your new best friend. According to Best Friends Animal Society, the breeds commonly referred to as pit bulls include American bulldogs, American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, and English bull terriers. The pit bulls in shelters may be a combination of these breeds, plus any number of other dog breeds.
Pit Bull Myths
Unfortunately, the stigma attached to the breed and dogs with a similar appearance means that these dogs often wait longer in shelters awaiting their forever homes. Pit bulls are among many breeds that are overbred, and size/breed restrictions in certain neighborhoods can prevent residents from adopting them.
However, the myths about pit bulls being inherently aggressive and unpredictable may deter some adopters from considering a pit bull. For anyone who lives in a neighborhood without such breed restrictions and is considering adopting a medium-to-large sized dog, we encourage being open to considering pit bulls whose personalities and activity levels match your lifestyle.
The Data on Pit Bulls
Anyone who works or volunteers with shelter dogs knows that every pit bull has an individual personality. These personalities vary widely among individuals, just like they do among individuals of any other dog breed. Applied research on pit bulls shows that their performance on behavior tests is comparable to that of breeds commonly perceived as universally friendly.
The American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) is a reputable organization that conducts behavioral tests on dog breeds. The ATTS test includes "different aspects of temperament such as stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness as well as the dog's instinct for protectiveness towards its handler and/or self-preservation in the face of a threat." The organization reported that 87.4% of American Pit Bull Terriers passed the test. To compare the performance of pit bulls with two breeds with a reputation for friendliness, the pass rate for golden retrievers is 85.6% for Golden Retrievers and 92.2% for Labrador Retrievers.
The History of Pit Bulls
The ancestors of today's pit bulls were bred for a variety of purposes over time. The nonprofit organization BadRap, which is dedicated to dispelling myths about bully breeds, explains that, early on in Great Britain, one of the pit bull's ancestors was bred for the cruel entertainment purposes of bull-baiting and dogfighting, while some were family dogs. Even the dogs used in dog fighting weren't bred to be aggressive toward people. As the ASPCA points out in their Position Statement on Pit Bulls, "Dogs used for fighting needed to be routinely handled by people; therefore, aggression toward people was not tolerated."
When pit bull-type dogs were brought to the United States, they served a dual purpose: family dogs and working dogs on family farms. By the early to mid-1900s, pit bulls were bred to be companions and had a reputation for being gentle, loyal family dogs.
Unfortunately, by the 1980s, dogfighting increased in popularity in the United States, with pit bulls and other bully breeds being victimized in this cruel practice. Even though people had cruelly forced the dogs to fight, the use of pit bulls in dogfighting has led to negative stereotypes and prejudice against pit bulls, even though the majority are family pets.
Nowadays, most dogs, including pit bulls, are bred for appearance more than anything else, and amateur breeders often breed dogs with a pit bull appearance, who may have ancestors from many different breeds. The ASPCA explains, "The result of random breeding is a population of dogs with a wide range of behavioral predispositions. For this reason, it is important to evaluate and treat each dog, no matter its breed, as an individual."
Pit Bulls at LCHS
At LCHS, we have several amazing pit bull and bully breed mixes ranging widely in energy level and personality. Willadeen is a calm and independent girl, but she also LOVES full-body pets and cuddles. Willadeen would love to hang out on the couch and watch Netflix with you!
Felix is a funloving, adventurous bulldog who would be the perfect hiking and running buddy for an adopter who enjoys an active lifestyle. Felix enjoys the outdoors, car rides, and receiving lots of pets. He enjoyed going on a jog-a-dog adventure with volunteer Lauren Nobles, who said that they had a great time and that, despite his high energy level, he barely pulled on the leash.
Diddy is a bouncy eight-month-old pup who loves zooming around the play yard during playgroups and having fun with his doggy friends! This joyful boy is looking for a family who can provide lots of games of fetch, tug-of-war, and visits to the dog park.
We are operating on an appointment-only basis at this time, so if you're interested in adopting, please start by filling out an adoption application online. It may take 24 to 48 hours for your application to be approved, at which time we'll email you to notify you of your application status. Once we approve your application, you may email email@example.com or call us at 334-821-3222 to set up an appointment for a meet-and-greet with the pet of your choice. We can't wait to help you find a fantastic furever friend!