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Pittie History


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

1935.

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