As pit bull fans like to say, pit bulls are not like other dogs, and we must agree, but not for the reasons they would like. As a natural result of a long, bloody heritage, pit bulls have a set of behaviors and motor patterns which differ from other canines.
|Pit bull attacks A/C officer|
Those differences emerge often in the following notable pit bull behaviors:
- Performing a remarkable escape in order to attack a victim.
- Entering a stranger's house to torture and kill the animals living inside.
- Unexpectedly mauling an owner or other family member.
How can we explain this? Do we chalk it up, as the pit bull promoters would have us do, to a problem exclusively of "bad owners"? How then do we explain so many kindly, loving pit bull owners like Darla Napora who have been suddenly betrayed and mauled by their well-treated and well-behaved pit bulls? No, we have to look at the genetic characteristics of the breed - this should be patently obvious. Only someone with a very specific agenda could deny the reality of breed-specific characteristics. Why do pit bull fans refuse to accept or understand the role of genetics in pit bull behavior?
Certainly, we can all agree that pit bulls are canines, along with wolves, coyotes, jackals and domestic dogs, which cover an incredible range of size, shape, temperament and behavior profile. If humans varied in size as much as different breeds of domestic dogs, then adult humans would range in height from about 2 feet tall to 33 feet tall - a remarkable variation!
One marvels at the flexibility of canine DNA, expressed in the sheer variety of characteristics for which domestic dogs have been bred - quite apart from size and shape, a remarkable variety of behavior and temperament is on display. From common ancestors have emerged dogs bred to point at birds, or to retrieve downed birds with soft mouth.
Shepherd types were bred to herd livestock, while the livestock guardians were bred for the complementary role of guarding and protecting livestock. Livestock guardians are remarkable to see in action. For hundreds of years they have had the job of acting independently to protect herds of livestock, using gradually escalated measures - only as much force as is required - to deal with any threat to the flock. Over the past several centuries they have capably performed a difficult role.
The bull dog, on the other hand, was created and bred to torture livestock - as far back as 1500, sadistic britons watched bull dogs torture doomed bulls, and bear cubs were raised in Bear Gardens specifically to be tortured by bull dogs. After these barbaric practices were outlawed in 1835, the dog men, needing a new target for their sadism, decided that watching dogs kill other dogs in the fighting pit would be a worthwhile new pastime, and the pit fighting bull dog or "pit bull" was born. The early pit fighters found that mixing terrier with the bull dog made for a more energetic bull dog, creating a more relentless attacker, the pit bull/terrier mix, known as the "Staffordshire Terrier".
Dog fighters who brought their Staffordshire "pit bull" terriers to the new world renamed them "American Staffordshire Terriers" and to this day, a registered AmStaff can also be dual registered as an "American pit bull terrier".
There are a lot of names and nicknames for these purpose bred canines, and their derivatives (e.g. the American Bulldog). Perhaps in an attempt to disassociate these breeds from their bloody past, several new names have been given - some of them, like the "New Yorkie" or the "St Francis Terrier", did not stick, but other deceptively cute and harmless names like "Staffie" or "AmStaff" are in current use. (The deceptive labeling of pit bulls as other breeds by shelters is a subject for another blog post.)
Regardless of what new names are given them, these canine IEDs continue to make headlines with bloody, violent surprise attacks on innocent animals (though only a small fraction of such attacks are ever reported) and to a lesser degree, on unsuspecting people - people who thought they knew these animals well.
Pit bulls are indeed special - but not in any sense that should be celebrated.
Partial list of pit bull home invasion attacks
Should pit bulls be called "life flight dogs"?
Pit bulls allowed to abuse animals