Pit bull is the common name for a type of dog descended from bulldogs and terriers. The pit bull-type is particularly ambiguous, as it encompasses a range of pedigree breeds, informal types and appearances that cannot be reliably identified. Formal breeds often considered to be of the pit bull-type include the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The American Bulldog is also sometimes included. Mixed-breed dogs which physically resemble these breeds often get labelled as "pit bulls" by shelters. Many of these breeds were originally developed as fighting dogs from crossbreeding bull-baiting dogs (used to hold the faces and heads of larger animals such as bulls) and terriers. After the use of dogs in blood sports was banned, such dogs were used as catch dogs in the United States for semi-wild cattle and hogs, to hunt and drive livestock, and as family companions. Despite dog fighting now being illegal in the United States, it still exists as an underground activity, and pit bulls are a common type used.
|Origin||Britain (England / Scotland)|
|Dog (domestic dog)|
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, "owners of pit bull-type dogs deal with a strong breed stigma; however, controlled studies have not identified this breed group as disproportionately dangerous." Because owners of stigmatized breeds are more likely to have involvement in criminal or violent acts, breed correlations may have the owner's behavior as the underlying causal factor. Some jurisdictions have enacted legislation banning the group of breeds, and some insurance companies do not cover liability from pit bull bites. Among other roles, pit bulls have served as police dogs, search and rescue dogs, and several have appeared on film.
Pitbull type dogs scored 23%[clarification needed] out of all the breeds tested by the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS). The ATTS measures different aspects of different breeds temperament, and conducts 10 subtests which measure the dogs stability, shyness, aggressiveness, friendliness and protection of handler as well as self protection. Aggression is not a characteristic of certain breeds. Pitbull type dogs and golden retrievers have no significant difference in aggression.However, the ATTS website disclaimer notes: "The data presented on our web site is raw data; it is not a scientific study nor is there any statistical significance attached. We have no control over who brings their dog to the test and there is no accurate data as to a dog breed’s population in the US.
Pit bulls were created by crossbreeding bulldogs and terriers to produce a dog that combined the strength of the bulldog with the gameness and agility of the terrier. In the United Kingdom, these dogs were used in blood sports such as bull-baiting and bear-baiting. These blood sports were officially eliminated in 1835, as Britain began to introduce animal welfare laws. Since dogfights were cheaper to organize and far easier to conceal from the law than bull- or bear-baits, blood sport proponents turned to pitting their dogs against each other instead. Dog fighting was used as both a blood sport (often involving gambling) and a way to continue to test the quality of their stock. For decades afterwards, dog fighting took place clandestinely in small areas of Britain and America. In the early 20th century, pit bulls were used as catch dogs in America for semi-wild cattle and hogs, to hunt and drive livestock, and as family companions. Some have been selectively bred for their fighting prowess.
Pit bulls also constitute the majority of dogs used for illegal dog fighting in America. In addition, law enforcement organisations report these dogs are used for other nefarious purposes, such as guarding illegal narcotics operations. use against police, and as attack dogs. On the other side of the law, pit bulls have been used as police dogs.
In an effort to counter the fighting reputation of pit bull-type dogs, in 1996 the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals renamed pit bull terriers "St. Francis Terriers", so that people might be more likely to adopt them. 60 temperament-screened dogs were adopted until the program was halted, after several of the newly adopted pit bulls killed cats. The New York City Center for Animal Care and Control tried a similar approach in 2004, relabeling their pit bulls as "New Yorkies", but dropped the idea in the face of overwhelming public opposition.
Currently, there are a number of breeds that are recognized by different associations which fall under the term "pit bull". The Federation Cynologique Internationale currently only recognizes three breeds: the Bull Terrier, the Miniature Bull Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The Canadian Kennel Club also recognizes these breeds, as well as the American Staffordshire Terrier. The American Kennel Club recognizes the Bull Terrier, the Miniature Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier as breeds also.
Dogs termed pit bulls share similar physical characteristics, but the morphological variation among bully breed dogs makes it difficult for even experts to visually identify them as distinct. While mixed-breed dogs are often labeled as pit bulls if they have certain physical characteristics, such as a square-shaped head or bulky body type, visual identification of mixed-breed dogs is not recommended by the scholarly community. Some of the breeds which often get mistaken for pit bulls (but which are not genetically pit bulls) include the Cane Corso, Dogo Argentino, Dogue de Bordeaux, and others, but because these breeds did not originate with the crossbreeding of bulldogs and terriers, they do not fall under the term "pit bull".
Dog attack risk
Violent interactions between humans and canines have been studied by the U.S. government, notably the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as academic veterinary researchers. The interpretation of these studies, breed identification and relevance issues, and variable circumstances have given rise to intense controversy.
In a 2014 literature review of dog bite studies, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that breed is a poor sole predictor of dog bites. Controlled studies have not identified pit bulls as disproportionately dangerous. Pit bull-type dogs are more frequently identified with cases involving very severe injuries or fatalities than other breeds, but the review suggests this may relate to the popularity of the breed, noting that sled dogs, such as Siberian Huskies, were involved in a majority of fatal dog attacks in some areas of Canada. Bite statistics by breed are not tracked by the CDC, AVMA or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). State Farm Insurance spokeswoman Heather Paul stated "Pit bulls in particular are often misidentified when a bite incident occurs, so reliable bite statistics related to the dogs’ breed are unreliable and serve no purpose." The White House stated that "the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at twenty years of data about dog bites and human fatalities in the United States. They found that fatal attacks represent a very small proportion of dog bite injuries to people and that it’s virtually impossible to calculate bite rates for specific breeds".
In a 2000 review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which examines data from both media reports and from the Humane Society of the United States, pit bull-type dogs were identified in approximately one-third of dog bite-related fatalities in the United States between 1981 and 1992. However, the review notes that studies on dog bite-related fatalities which collect information by surveying news reports are subject to potential errors, as some fatal attacks may not have been reported, a study might not find all relevant news reports, and the dog breed might be misidentified. The AVMA has also noted fundamental problems with tracking breed in dog bite-related fatalities. In a 2013 study of 256 fatalities in the United States from 2000 to 2009, the AVMA determined that valid breed determination was possible for only 17.6% of cases.
Contrary to popular myth, pit bulls do not have "locking jaws". There is no physiological "locking mechanism" in the jaw muscle and bone structure of pit bulls or other dogs. Pit bull-type dogs, like other terriers, hunting and bull-baiting breeds, can exhibit a bite, hold, and shake behavior and at times refuse to release. Pit bulls also have wide skulls, well-developed facial muscles, and strong jaws, and some research suggests that pit bull bites are particularly serious because they tend to bite deeply and grind their molars into tissue. A dog's bite strength is dependent on the size and strength of the dog, not its breed. Breaking an ammonia ampule and holding it up to the dog's nose can cause the dog to release its hold.
Widely reported pit bull attacks in popular media have resulted in the enactment of breed-specific legislation (BSL) in several jurisdictions. In some cases, breed-specific bans have been reversed or prohibited by state legislation.
Breed-specific legislation has been largely found to be ineffective at reducing the number of dog attacks. Research has indicated that there is resistance by those who work in the adoption industry, applying a sharper distinction before allowing a dog to be labelled as a pit bull, as well as objections from veterinarians.
Many of the jurisdictions that restrict pit bulls apply their restriction to the modern American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and any other dog that has the substantial physical characteristics and appearance of those breeds. Such jurisdictions include the Canadian province of Ontario, and the U.S. cities of Miami and Denver. However, a few jurisdictions, such as Singapore, also classify the modern American Bulldog as a "pit bull-type dog". In the United Kingdom, a pit bull is an American Pit Bull Terrier.
The ASPCA said that, along with putative over-reporting, false reporting was a major contributor to public perceptions about the breed.
In England and Wales, the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991 prohibits the ownership of American Pit Bull Terriers, along with three other breeds; the Act also bans the breeding, sale and exchange of these dogs. Similar legislation exists in Australia. Under Irish law, American Pit Bull Terriers must be lead by someone at least 16 years of age, kept on a short strong lead, be muzzled, and wear a collar bearing the name and address of their owner in public at all times. In Germany the importation of pit bulls is banned among other breeds.
Dog owners in the United States can be held legally liable for injuries inflicted or caused by their dogs. In general, owners are considered liable if they were unreasonably careless in handling or restraining the dog, or if they knew beforehand that the dog had a tendency to cause injury (e.g., bite); however, dog owners are automatically considered liable if local laws hold an owner strictly liable for all damage caused by their dog, regardless of carelessness or foreknowledge of a dog's tendencies. Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically provide liability coverage from US$100,000–300,000 for injuries inflicted by dogs; however, some insurance companies limit their exposure to dog bite liability claims by putting restrictions on dog owners that they insure. These restrictions include refusing to cover dog bites under the insurance policy, increasing insurance rates for homeowners with specific breeds, requiring owners of specific breeds to take special training or have their dogs pass the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen test, requiring owners to restrict their dogs with muzzles, chains, or enclosures, and refusing to write policies for homeowners or renters who have specific breeds of dogs.
Owners of rental properties may also be held liable if they knew an aggressive dog was living on their property and they did nothing to ensure the safety of other tenants at the property; as a result, many rental properties forbid pit bull-type dogs and any other breeds if the rental property's insurance will not cover damage inflicted by that type of dog. The dog breeds most often targeted by insurance companies include pit bull-type dogs, Rottweilers, German Shepherd Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Akitas (Akita Inu and American Akitas), and Chow Chows.
In 2013, Farmers Insurance notified policy holders in California that it will no longer cover bites by pit bulls, Rottweilers and wolf-dog hybrids. A spokeswoman for Farmers said that those breeds account for more than a quarter of the agency's dog bite claims.
Air carrier restrictions
|Air France||Safety||Category 1 dogs, as defined by the French Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, are not permitted for transport in the cabin, or as baggage or cargo. These so-called "attack dogs" do not belong to a particular breed, but are similar in morphology to the following: Staffordshire Bull Terriers or American Staffordshire Terriers (pit bulls), Mastiffs and Tosas.|
|Alaska Airlines||Health||Dog breeds, including Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers, fly at their owner's risk, with no additional compensation if the dog suffers injury or dies during transit. The airline may refuse to accept the dog if it feels that outside temperatures are too extreme for the animal's safety.|
|American Airlines||Health||American Airlines will not accept brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs as checked luggage.|
|Delta Air Lines||Safety||"We have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk", the airline said.|
|United Airlines||Health||Will not accept reservations for the following brachycephalic (or short- or snub-nosed) dogs and cats and strong-jawed dog breeds*, out of concern for higher adverse health risks.|
Notable pit bulls
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Pit bull breeds have acted as war dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs, actors, television personalities, seeing eye dogs, and celebrity pets. Nipper, a mongrel at times seen as a pit bull, is the dog in Francis Barraud's painting His Master's Voice.[contradictory] Pete the Pup, a character from the movie series The Little Rascals, was played by pit bull type dogs. Other noted pit bulls include Billie Holiday's companion "Mister", Helen Keller's dog "Sir Thomas", Buster Brown's dog "Tige", Horatio Jackson's dog "Bud", President Theodore Roosevelt's pit bull terrier "Pete" who once bit the French ambassador, "Jack Brutus", who served for Company K, the First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, Sergeant Stubby, who served for the 102nd Infantry, 26th (Yankee) Division during World War I, and Sir Walter Scott's "Wasp".
Contemporary significant pit bulls are: Weela, who helped save 32 people, 29 dogs, three horses, and one cat during Southern California's widespread flooding in 1993; Popsicle was a drug detection dog for U.S. Customs and worked on the Texas—Mexico border where in 1998 he made the then biggest cocaine drug find ever made at the Hidalgo Texas Port of Entry; Norton, who was placed in the Purina Animal Hall of Fame after he rescued his owner from a severe reaction to a spider bite; Titan, who rescued his owner's wife, who would have died from an aneurysm; D-Boy, who took three bullets to save his family from an intruder with a gun; Star, who, while protecting her owner, was shot by police in a video that went viral; and Lilly, who lost a leg after being struck by a freight train while pulling her unconscious owner from the train tracks. Daddy, Cesar Millan's right-hand dog, was famous for his mellow temperament and his ability to interact calmly with ill-mannered dogs.
In 2005, two American lawyers used a pit bull logo and the phonenumber 1-800-PIT-BULL in a tv-ad to convey that they were "especially fierce litigators." The Supreme Court of Florida ruled that this use was in breach of Florida Bar advertising rules. White supremacist groups such as the Keystone State Skinheads have used a graphic of a pit bull as their logo.
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