7 Pit Bull Facts Every Dog Lover Should Know

Pit bulls are among the most lovable dogs in the world. Of course, I’m also aware of their troubled reputation. Thanks to years of misinformation and bad press, they’re among the most misunderstood pets. I’m a pit bull person myself, and I know firsthand what a joy it is to share my life with these goofballs. There’s a reason pit bull lovers can’t stop showing off their pride on, well, everything they own.

The truth about pit bulls is simple: They’re sweet, smart, hilarious, loyal companions. And we’re not the only ones who think so. Ken Foster’s beautiful book “I’m a Good Dog” continues to climb the charts, and National Pit Bull Day has been established in their honor. To mark the occasion, we’ve gathered some of the most interesting, impressive, and surprising facts (plus a few unfortunate myths) about pit bulls.

The truth about pit bulls is simple: They’re sweet, smart, hilarious, loyal companions.

A “pit bull” might not be a pit bull (we can explain)

Shelters are full of cute bully dogs labelled as pit bulls, but in fact, there are far fewer actual pit bulls than you may think. The American Pit Bull Terrier is the only recognized pit bull breed, but the term “pit bull” is often used as a catch-all to describe a wide array of dogs with common characteristics. Due to diverse, unregulated breed standards across dog registries, as well as the unfortunate excess in “backyard breeding,” it’s very difficult to claim one true standard for a pit bull (though you can read about APBT standards here).

As noted by respected pit bull rescue organization BADRAP, “dogs commonly identified as pit bulls are quite often a mix of multiple breeds.” This results in shelters being full of bully dogs who may or may not be “pit bulls,” but can have a harder time finding homes due to the name and bad press. While it’s tempting to look at any short, muscular dog with a lightbulb-shaped head and label it a pit bull, it’s likely that dog has a lot more going on genetically. For this reason, it’s essential to evaluate the individual dog rather than the breed.

Pit bulls are American heroes (even though they come from England)

Pit bulls, as we know them, probably descended from the Olde English Bull Dog, which were used for sport (“bull baiting“) in 19th century England (source: BADRAP). After bull baiting was deemed inhumane, Olde English Bull Dogs were cross-bred with terriers to create smaller, more scrappy dogs for fighting. But once these sporting dogs made the crossing from England to the United States, they took on far more responsibilities and became true American icons.
In the early 20th century, pit bulls were revered as family dogs, mascots, and military heroes. During World War I, pit bull-type dogs represented American forces on posters and in the field. Their loyalty and bravery made them the perfect “spokesdog.” Take Sergeant Stubby, for example, the most decorated dog to have served in the U.S. military(source: FIGHT4THEM). This brave boy, a a likely pit bull predecessor, served alongside human soldiers in the trenches in France during World War I. He received the purple heart, was promoted to sergeant, and lived to a ripe old age in retirement alongside his handler.
These days, pit bull heroes come in all shapes, sizes, and responsibilities, from explosive-sniffing search dogs to therapy dogs. You can read about more pit bull heroes here.

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