"The Pit Stop Sanctuary"
Pit bulls are descendants of the original English bull-baiting dog-dogs who were bred to attack bulls, bears and other large animals around the face and head. They were taught to hang on without releasing their grip, until they were exhausted from fighting and from loss of blood. Although animal baiting was banned in the 1800's, people decided to try fighting dogs against each other instead.
As the "sport" of dog fighting developed, enthusiasts bred a lighter, more athletic canine. These dogs made their way to North America, the ancestors of pit bulls today. The problems started when these dogs gained the attention of people looking for a macho dog- and to meet their demands, unscrupulous and uncaring breeders are producing puppies that are not only aggressive to other dogs but to people, too.
The breed eventually to be known as the American Pit Bull Terrier was
selectively bred specifically with the idea of it becoming the ultimate
canine gladiator. But by virtue of the fact that so much of the breed was
made up of versatile bulldog blood, the breed also proved adept at a
number of non-fighting activities, including those which the bulldog had
been used for. Also, the traits (specifically gameness) bred for in pit dogs
were surprisingly relevant in other arenas. Gameness is defined as the
willingness to see a task through to its end, even under penalty of
serious injury or death. Gameness was the trait most cherished in a
fighting dog for obvious reasons, however this same trait proved useful in
other areas--a dog who had the tenacity to hold a wild bull or boar,
steadfastness to protect his master's home and property, and extreme
tolerance for pain which made for a very stable dog less likely to bite out
of fear or pain was terribly useful in rural old England, and later on in
America. So while a core group of fanciers focused on the fighting uses of
the breed, and bred with the pit in mind, others kept dogs for a variety of
tasks. And indeed, some family/working dogs were used in the pit and
some pit dogs were also family/working dogs. There was never a clear
line drawn between ‘fighting dogs’, and ‘non-fighting dogs’ in those early
years of the breed.
Pit Bulls were imported to America shortly before the Civil War, and used
in much the same manner as they were back in England. But in the USA
the breed solidified and was named--the American Pit Bull Terrier. Strains
of the fighting dog that remained in England later came to be known as
Staffordshire Bull Terriers. There is speculation as to how closely related
the Stafford and Pit Bull are as a breed, but the most convincing case is
made up of claims that they are a similar breed, developed during the
same time, made up of similar but separate strains of bulldog and terrier
blood. Cousins, but not brothers. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier became
recognized as a breed by the English dog registry, the Kennel Club, in