American Pitt Bull Terrier Essay

1057 words - 4 pages

If you were told a story about a woman who was mauled so viciously by a dog that she had to undergo the world’s first face transplant. What breed would initially come to your mind? If you said a Pit Bull, you are among the majority, but you would be wrong. It was a Labrador retriever. Why do you think so many people would assume it was a Pit Bull? In the 1900s, the American Pit Bull Terrier was commonly portrayed on American war propaganda posters to represent the country's strength, determination, and dignity. The loyal and loving breed has been a companion to people such as Helen Keller, President Theodore Roosevelt, President Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Edison, and General George Patton. Today, the American Pit Bull Terrier is inaccurately identified as a violent, aggressive and an unpredictable breed of dog. What is the truth about the American Pit Bull Terrier? Are they truly the monsters described by Oklahoma State Representative Paul Wesselhoft as “gargoyle appearing animal with claws and fangs the size of a tigers” (Bellamy 10A) or are they simply misunderstood? How has this breed’s image gone from one extreme to the other over the past years?
The American Pit Bull Terrier can be traced back to England in the 19th century where initially the breed was created to combine the gameness, speed, and agility of a Terrier with the strength and athleticism of a Bulldog (Bolhafner 39). According to Stahlkuppe, “gameness is the willingness of a dog to continue fighting, or hunting, or pulling a cart, or defending its owner, through great stress, intense pain, and even until death” (61). Stahlkuppe goes on to describe the Pit Bull’s gameness as “Awe inspiring” (61). Once in America the breed was initially utilized in bear and bull baiting and later in sport to fight other dogs in a pit, which led to their name (Stahlkuppe 21). Over the years, these dogs were continuously fought to the death until only the strongest of the breed remained. As a result, Stahlkuppe states that Pit Bulls “have become the most genetically, instinctively, and physically best fighters in the dog world” (6).
American Pit Bull Terriers have never been human aggressive, sense dog fighting began breeders would kill any pit dog that showed signs of aggression towards humans. The dogs had to be good around humans to deal with the large amounts of spectators watching their fights. Furthermore, before prize fights, the owners of each dog would bathe each other’s animals to ensure poison was not placed on the hair around their throats and body, so they had to be comfortable around strangers (Devlin 37). Any human aggressive behavior had been bred out of the Pitt Bull over time as much as breeding them to be superior fighters. The breed evolved into the American Pit Bull Terrier of today, which according to the UKC, “aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable.” Pitt Bulls do however; retain their quarrelsome nature towards other...

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