Pitt-bulls will certainly kill you! ..... Or will they?

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As we've all (hopefully) read about, the nature vs. nurture debate is not new to the world. In fact I believe most people, myself included, like to believe that the debate is over now-a-days. That events are the cause of both genetics AND environment. While the article I read supports this idea of nature and nurture, there are certain reactions to the article that amazingly point to a multitude of people that believe in one or the other. The article itself, found on morningjournal.com and written by Jason Henry, goes into the safety of pit-bulls and how they could be taken off the "dangerous list". As stated before, Henry does explain how the safety of the breed is determined by both the breed itself and the environment the dog is in, though heavily leaning on the side that owners are at fault. Pit- bulls are in fact a potentially dangerous breed of dog due to the fact that aggression is what they were originally bred for. On the other hand many people believe that they are more dangerous than they really are due to their history and that they "look" mean. One man even went as far as to say "(Pit-bulls) are automatically vicious in the state of Ohio and that has been since 1987, from the day they are born, they are considered vicious." And even now there are severely strict rules for owning pit-bulls. Even the question of the breed coming off the "dangerous list" angers some people. This all seems a little overdone to me. It is my belief that dogs are a product of their owners, if the owners have bad intent, the dogs learn and copy becoming vicious. Now, weather the dog is more likely to become vicious is a question of the breed and its history namely, I think the pit-bull is a more likely breed to become vicious if put under stressful circumstances.
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I agree with you that it is both an environmental and genetic issue because aggression is what pitbulls are hardwired with but if they are raised in a good home that factor can often be well controlled for. My girlfriend owns a pitbull named Lilly and she is the sweetest thing ever and though she looks dangerous due to the breeds reputation she would never hurt a fly. On the other hand my cousin had a pit bull that he raised as a puppy in a good home just to have it attack him one day for no apparent reason. Genetics cannot be forgotten but they can try to be controlled for.

I agree with you both, although the environment the dog grows up in sometimes seems to have a bigger impact. There was a television show on Animal Planet, I'm not sure if it's still on or not. It was called Pit Boss. This company would find and rescue pitbulls, and most of them would behave terribly immediately after they are rescued. They didn't seem to get along with people or other dogs at first. Then later they would show the continuations of the same pitbull's life and you see that after some training and actual attention from their new owners they are a completely different dog. Genetics definitely still play a role, but I think dogs are especially sensitive to their environment.

Along with other comments I would also agree in your conclusion that pit bull are not inherently vicious and that a large amount of blame lies with the owners who breed the dogs to fight and other ferocious activities. The animals themselves have become associate with the idea of vicious dogs and this is a completely unfair assessment. Like all other animals pit bulls act not only because of biological influences but also from learned behaviors. Regardless of the original intent to breed them they have the potential to be either be friendly like most pet owners prefer of vicious if the owner decides to go down that path.

I agree that both nature and nurture influence the dogs' behavior. It is important for an owner to realize that their pit bull could be very aggressive if they do not properly train it. It is possible for any pit bull to be a "good" dog if they are brought up to be so.

I think that, as a larger dog and certainly one that is well built (that neck!), Pit-Bulls know that they are strong. When a little Chihuahua goes ballistic and attacks, no one is going to care; people might even laugh about it. Yet a Pit-Bull is extremely powerful, and certainly a dog we must respect. It is certainly a problem that once a dog gets a reputation, people who want that kind of dog wind up going out and getting it, only to foster the reputation even more. Pit-Bulls certainly have a bad rap for that reason.

I'm personally fond of German Shepherds (working pedigree only!), who have a reputation of their own for biting and being overly protective.

I really like your article and now agree that their behavior is based off both nature and nurture. I have actually wanted a pit bull since middle school because of how so many of them get abandoned, but it was their aggressiveness that kept me away from them, but now I'm realizing that isn't true. Hopefully more people will find out that nurturing plays a part in their development too and they aren't viewed as such dangerous dogs.

I agree with you that with any dog, if they are trained to be aggressive, they will be aggressive. The dog's owner plays a huge role in the dog's upbringing and behavior. Pit-bulls may have a bad reputation, but that is because many of them are bred for dog fights. We also only ever hear about those negative stories, regardless of whether or not there are sweet and gentle pit-bulls. Pit-bulls have been villainized in my opinion, due to their negative media attention.

Thank you all for your wonderful comments that all seem to agree with my own opinion. I was under the impression that this topic was debated and even in the comments of the original article some people were clearly adamant that pit-bulls are the most evil creatures in existence, though they probably have some type of bad experience paired up with the idea. Not only does this idea apply to pit-bulls, in the past there's been phases of breeds of dogs that people have feared to the point that they attempt to ban them, some of those breeds being german shepherds, doberman-pinchers, and rottwielers. People just have to keep their biases in check and be open to the idea that not all of these dogs are bad just like all people aren't bad.

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This page contains a single entry by valen182 published on February 4, 2012 5:19 PM.

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