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The Shocking, Scary Truth About Pit Bulls: It's Not What You Think

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No other dog breed has fallen victim to stereotypes as much as Pit Bulls have. I've worked with hundreds of these dogs, and almost all of them were sweet, loving, and highly intelligent. None were any more aggressive than other breeds I've encountered. People think they are more challenging and difficult to train, but Pit Bulls and other breeds or mixes that people deem "dangerous"--such as Akitas, Rotweillers, German Shepherds, Chow Chows, and Doberman Pinschers--can be some of the best dogs around.

You'll hear stories in the media about the dangers of Pit Bulls, but those news reports fail to explain that violence involving these dogs has more to do with the type of person who gravitates toward these breeds than the dogs themselves. In fact, a study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence found that people who have "high-risk" breeds such as Pit Bulls have ten times as many criminal convictions as those who had "lower risk" breeds.

Some people may exploit dogs by training them to fight or be aggressive. (A loving pet parent like you isn't going to do that!) Another study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association examined dog bite-related fatalities and found that breed was not a factor. For such reasons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, and many other organizations have publicly opposed breed-specific legislation, as it doesn't help reduce dog bite incidents and deaths. Also, experts point out that if certain breeds such as Pit Bulls are regulated, people with violent or irresponsible tendencies will simply find another breed to manipulate.

Such statistics haven't stopped people from believing what they want to believe. Breed-specific legislation still exists in the United States that bans or restricts Pit Bulls and other breeds. Great Britain has banned Pit Bulls and certain other dogs altogether. Luckily, some of these laws have been overturned, but we have a long way to go. Hopefully, with education, more good people will learn the truth about Pit Bulls and consider bringing them into their homes.

Remember that there certainly are aggressive Pit Bulls, but there are also aggressive Chihuahuas and Golden Retrievers. As I explain in my book Dog Training Revolution, evaluate Pit Bulls as you would any other breed. If you do decide you want one of these dogs, Pit Bulls are extremely common in shelters and rescue groups, so these are the ideal places to go to have your "pick of the litter," often including puppies.

Bottom line: Don't overlook Pit Bulls because of a silly, completely untrue stereotype. It's not fair to the dogs and, frankly, you could be missing out on the perfect pet for you.