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The coined term “man’s best friend” is known by almost every American citizen, meaning that dogs are the perfect companion for a person. When thinking of this phrase you do not automatically exclude a certain breed, but in everyday life certain breeds are not given these equal opportunities. At home I have two American Bulldogs, who are the sweetest and are too dumb to even know how to hurt a fly, but since they have the stereotypical Pit Bull/Bulldog look, they still get the dirty looks and snide comments. Dog breeds such as Pit Bulls are treated differently by people daily due to stereotypes that they have unrightfully been given. These stereotypes may have been placed onto Pit Bulls due to their history and potentially even their appearances in the media. There has even been legislation passed against these breeds that prohibits them from residing in certain areas. Pit Bulls are undeserving of these stereotypes and the hate they endure based on their history and the over-masculinization the breed is subject to.

The history of the Pit Bull plays a substantial role as to why they are judged so harshly. Many breeds of dogs are bred to do a specific task, and a study tells us, “today’s Pit Bull is a descendant of the original English bull-baiting dog—a dog that was bred to bite and hold bulls, bears and other large animals around the face and head,” so this could play into why people have the preconceived notion that Pit Bulls are fighters and will bite them. While biting is in their bloodline, another source relays that “there’s no data that shows they’re more likely to bite people or another animal, and published studies point to other breeds as more likely to be aggressive towards humans. In fact, their history predicts the opposite: When Pit Bulls were bred for fighting, the last thing dogfighters wanted was a dog that would turn on their human handler.” Being bred to dogfight and being bred to go after small animals are two very different things, though. Sources let us in on “Dogfighting [being an] inhumane bloodsport where dogs who have been bred, conditioned and trained to fight are placed in a pit to fight each other for spectator entertainment and profit,” as opposed to being bred with the duty of catching animals to help do a job. Pit Bulls may have a reputation and been bred to hunt animals down, but they were also bred to be incredibly loyal to their owner or the family. Pit Bulls are wonderful family dogs, and people oftentimes feel safer with a dog like a Pit Bull around as well since they are family dogs, so if there is ever a threat to the family, they can use their boar-catching abilities from the past. The ASPCA tells us, while Pit Bulls are great family dogs, some states have laws against certain breeds such as the Pit Bull, and some apartment complexes will not allow residents if they own a Pit Bull. BSL, or breed specific laws, “typically comprise the ‘Pit Bull’ class of dogs… In some areas, regulated breeds also include… dogs who simply resemble these breeds. Many states, including New York, Texas and Illinois, favor laws that identify, track and regulate dangerous dogs individually—regardless of breed—and prohibit BSL. However, more than 700 U.S. cities have enacted breed-specific laws.” These restrictive laws are unfair and based on inaccurate information.  

When imagining a dangerous dog, people will typically think of the stereotypical Pit Bull in the media, or other similar breeds. This is why the media and music industry promoting this inaccurate stereotype is so harmful. People will believe what they see and hear on television without looking into the true facts, so they will demonize Pit bulls without knowing the last thing about them. Pit Bulls are a perfect, loving family dog. The Pit bull is the perfect “companion and family dog breed. Originally bred to “bait” bulls, the breed evolved into all-around farm dogs, and later moved into the house to become “nanny dogs” because they were so gentle around children,” according to outside sources. At home, I have had the pleasure of owning three American Bulldogs. While they are not Pit Bulls, they are very similar and get the same sort of reputation. One of these dogs was 120 pounds, and was the most loving, caring, gentle giant in the world. He was scared of bubbles and would not hurt a fly, but the breed’s reputation says the opposite. My friend, Meghan, has a 70-pound Pit Bull that just wants to snuggle with anyone and everyone. Harsh lies are why dogs like this are being wrongfully put down in shelters, since people are too scared to adopt them. Not only is the stereotype false, but it is actually the smaller dogs that tend to be more aggressive or bite more. One study shows that, “in 2015 more canine attacks on humans were reported from Jack Russells than from other breeds often seen as more aggressive, including Pit Bull and Staffordshire bull terrier-type dogs.” These little dogs are often more short tempered and likely to nip at people or even attack them. Since smaller dogs like this are not seen in the media (i.e. movies, music videos, etc.) portraying violent or scary roles due to their size, they are not given the blame that is instead wrongfully passed on to the Pit Bull. Another source that backs up the claim that the smaller dogs are oftentimes more aggressive than Pit Bulls states, “In almost every measure, out of the 35 most common breeds, Chihuahuas were reported as the most aggressive, especially toward bigger dogs they have not seen before… The American Pit Bull Terrier -a breed often portrayed as highly aggressive- consistently ranked as one of the least aggressive dogs, where it was still below Miniature Schnauzers.” While these little dogs can be snippier, how a dog acts can all boil down to the treatment and training received from the owner. If the owner is a mean, violent person that wants the dog to come across as a threat, many times that dog will be aggressive. All dogs, no matter what breed, should be treated with love by their owner. There is no reason to purchase a pet if your intention is not to love the animal with your whole heart.  

I am of the distinct belief that there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. The truth of the bull breeds is that they could be aggressive towards other dogs, as they were originally bred many years ago, but that is vastly different from attacking a person. Knowledgeable dog breeders know that dogs such as the Labrador Retriever, the American bulldog, the Pit Bull, and the German shorthaired pointer all have extremely high prey drives, meaning they will aggressively chase whatever prey they were bred to catch, but this does not translate into aggression toward humans. On the contrary, dogs that were bred to hunt or work were genetically made to be friendlier toward people since they were always with their handlers. Dogs with a high civil drive, such as Doberman pinschers and Rottweilers, were bred to attack people, and have a higher chance to attack a person due to their genetic background, but above all, the number one thing that makes a dog bite is fear. A scared dog will bite more than a confident, secure dog. A loved dog won’t bite.  

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Julia Vitella

Emmanuel '24

Hi! I am a marketing major and a management minor at Emmanuel College (Boston)! Woohoo!
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