The Most Aggressive Breed Of Dog

What Is The Most Aggressive Breed Of Dog?

What was the first thing to come to your mind? If you thought “pitbull,” you’re not alone. Many people believe that pit bulls (and pitbull-type dogs) are inherently dangerous, but this isn’t true. And yet, time and time again, we hear warnings against having a bully breed as a pet for children, or we see people shy away on the street when the neighborhood pit shuffles down the sidewalk.

What Is A Pitbull?

Before we move forward, we need to clarify the word’s meaning. “Pitbull” is often used as an umbrella term; technically speaking, a true pitbull is an American Pitbull Terrier. In most cases, the word is used to encompass a range of breeds, including APTs, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and American Staffordshire Terriers (both also known as “staffies”), and pretty much any other dog that shares certain characteristics: a stocky body, a wide, flathead, and a “smiling” mouth. For this post, “pitbull” will refer to any dog that fits this description because most dogs with these characteristics are victims of breed-specific legislation and discrimination, regardless of their pedigree.

A Bite Out Of History

So if the idea of pitbull aggression is not true, where do all the myths and misconceptions come from? Most of it comes from the breed’s historical use in fighting, either in dog versus dog matches or even further back, when they were used to bait and torment larger animals (bulls, bears, and the like) during fighting events.

Around the turn of the 20th century, pit bulls were used for other jobs around the house. They were highly intelligent, gentle, and incredibly loyal; they were popular guard dogs. We’ve previously discussed on DogPages, that they may have even been used as “nanny” dogs. Although this bit of history is highly debated, it should be said that it is never a good idea to leave children unattended with any breed of dog.

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During the World Wars, pit bulls were often used to symbolize America’s ferocity and fighting spirit. Decorated with captions like “We’re not looking for trouble, but we’re ready for it” and “We’re not afraid,” posters were used to build support for troops and the war.

Despite this mixed history, most people today associate Pitbulls with what they are perhaps most known for dogfighting. This illegal bloodsport began with the fall of bull-baiting, which was outlawed in 1835. Fight dogs are usually raised in isolation, which increases the odds of dog sensitivity and reaction, and they are conditioned to be aggressive. They are shown no love or kindness from their “owners,” When they are thrown into the ring, they are often left there to fight to the death.

As dog-fighting developed into a popular underground sport and betting ground, the practices of “cropping” ears and docking tails also became popular. The idea is that by shortening or cutting off the ears entirely and removing the bottom, it is more difficult for a dog to be grabbed and latched onto in a fight. This also tends to make the dog scarier and more aggressive-looking, which is why it is still a popular practice for owners of non-fighting Pitbulls today, who may be attracted to the breed for its “tough” reputation.

The “best” fighting dogs often come from a long line of “winners” – parents who have consistently survived fighting throughout their lives. Selective breeding maintains aggressive behaviors and strong builds, while smaller and weaker dogs are often used as “bait.”

What Is The Truth?

So, where has all that history led us? Most everyone, dog owner or not, has a charged opinion on Pitbulls. Some people cannot look past the history and the tarnished reputation that humans have forced upon the breed, while others fight valiantly against the stigma.

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The simple fact is that any dog – Pitbulls, German Shepherds, Labradors, chihuahuas, mutts – can be aggressive, either in behavior or nature, but no dog is born that way. Like people, a dog will grow into whatever it is shaped to be: Dogs raised with love and tenderness will return that gentleness tenfold. But dogs raised to fight and attack also reflect that – although rehabilitation may be possible, even for former fighting or bait dogs. Popular shows such as Animal Planet’s Pitbulls and Parolees show us that a little love goes a long way in changing the course of a human or animal life.

Ask any pit bull owner, and they will likely tell you that the most dangerous thing about their pup is their breath – or their strong, wagging tail, or their frequent and slobbery kisses. The internet is flooded with images of happy pits, smiling and cuddling with their human friends, and even children and baby animals! (And for the record, both the ASPCA and the AMVA are against breed discrimination and staunchly defend Pitbulls.)

Despite these heartwarming testimonials and images, owners of pit bulls still face a great deal of discrimination against their beloved pets.

What Is Breed-Specific Legislation?

Breed-specific legislation (or BSL) refers to any law or rule that prohibits certain dogs from public or private spaces, usually at the state or community level. For instance, most apartment complexes have rules about the permitted breeds. Leasing offices are even allowed to discriminate against breeds by name, and the most often targeted species are American Pitbull Terriers, staffies, and “pitbull-mixes.” (Other breeds that you might see on a not-allowed list include German ShepherdsChow ChowsRottweilers, and Dobermans.)

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While housing restrictions are the most common form of BSL and what most people are likely familiar with, there are even more forms of this insidious practice. It is illegal to own a pit bull or pit bull-type dog in some states and cities!

Moving Forward

The important thing to understand about Pitbulls and any dog breed is that under the right (or wrong) conditions, they can grow to have aggressive tendencies. But bad dogs are not born; they are made. An owner who crops their dog’s ears and dresses them with a spiked collar may perpetuate the “evil pit” myth; people see these things and immediately associate them with meanness, so perhaps we should all be more mindful of how we present our dogs to the world.

As dog owners, we are caring and empathetic people. We see our furry companions as more than our best friends—they’re our family. None of us would ever think of laying a hand on an animal in anything less than a friendly gesture, so we must take a stand against BSL and other forms of breed discrimination. When we allow such a harmful stigma against a particular breed of dog, we also allow their systematic mistreatment to continue. As long as we show that we don’t care about Pitbulls, people will continue using them for horrible purposes. And doesn’t a man’s best friend deserve better?

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