Chances a loved dog could turn?

by jacklyn

Hi me and my boyfriend are considering buying a pit off of a friend who breeds them. Both mother and father are on site and have been raised in a loving family environment. I know you can't believe everything you hear and the bad always out weighs the good.

I have 3 small children--a daughter 3 and two boys 6 and 7. And my boyfriend also has a daughter who is 3. My concern is even being raised with nothing but love, what are the chances the dog could turn on one of the kids or a family member?

I just don't want to be out to dinner one night and get a horrific phone call from the babysitter. Am i just being paranoid or is this not the dog for my family? Please help me....

Gale's Reply:

Hi Jacklyn

When a dog "turns" its almost always for one of two reasons. One is an organic problem like a brain tumor. The other is some form of maltreatment. That's true for ALL dogs--not just pit bulls.

That said, you can love a puppy until you are blue in the face and that will not guarantee that he will grow into a gentle, mild mannered dog that doesn't mind giving "pony rides" on his back. Dogs, like humans, are individuals. Some are more tolerant than others. And, I believe children should be taught to respect that.

In that vein, I think you would be better off adopting a mature dog around 3-4 years of age whose basic temperament and attitude towards children are already known.

But whether you get a dog or a puppy, (puppies ARE more work) I think the main thing you need to ask yourself is whether you and your boyfriend have the time and energy to provide the elements that make a high energy, large breed dog like a pit bull a joy to live with.

Awhile ago, I wrote out a pitbull adoption checklist outlining key factors to consider. Perhaps it will help you in your decision making process.

Good luck and thanks for your question. I wish more people would think to ask themselves this kind of thing before they bring home a pit bull.

For more information on obedience training, visit our Pit Bull Training page.

For help with behavioral problems, check out our Dog Behavior Training page.

Comments for Chances a loved dog could turn?

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Nov 20, 2010
Nanny Dog is the perfect nickname
by: Shaelyn

I had similar concerns when I merged households with a man that had a pit mix. I had two young children to worry about, along with a cat and my own dog, a fears were unfounded and I fell head over heals with the white goofball, who was far more intimidated by my corgi than the corgi was of him

Since that day, our merged household has separated and he took his pit, but I kept the one that we adopted together and she is the best dog I have ever had. My 15 month niece sits on her back and bounces, while pulling on Manda's ears, playing with her tongue, and rough-housing with my pup like crazy and through it all my Manda had that well known, and loved; pit bull grin on her face. The only time she turned her face toward my niece was to lick her and give her a good old fashioned bath.

One night my niece and daughter fell asleep on the bed and Manda was right there, matching the baby's movements with her own, always keeping her from getting too close to the edge of the bed.

Manda has gone from being a dog who had been abused and who should have hated people, to an amazing ambassador for the breed; who proudly struts her stuff while wearing her service dog vest. Yes, she has become more than a pet or companion, she is my guardian angel and I really do trust her with my life.

Although puppies can be great, they are a lot of work and do go through the nippy, wild side of life for a while...even Manda drove us nuts until she was about 3 years old. Suddenly she hit that mark and became the world's best dog, it was kind of funny. Please consider adopting an older dog. They know the rules of the road, are already house trained, have gotten the wild child out of themselves, and the gratitude they feel towards you for saving them will be shared with you every day for the rest of their lives.

Nov 20, 2010
You get what you put into it.
by: Jill

I've worked in the veterinary field for 11 years & rescued pit bull type dogs for 14 years. They're awesome, loyal, goofy dogs & generally make wonderful family pets. I would question if you have the time & energy to properly train & socialize a puppy with the large family that you have. It's a huge commitment, that should include puppy socialization & training classes, getting walked a couple times a day to enforce the bond & work off all that puppy energy ... a tired dog is a good dog, as well as having everyone in the family act in a way that enforces the alpha position of its' human pack. As far as worrying about the temperament of bull terriers, they score higher in temperament tests than Golden Retrievers. Training the kids on how to interact with a puppy & respect it would be key as well. At any rate, they say never to leave children & any dog unattended. The last 3 bull terriers we've rescued (at the ages of 2, 5 & 13) have been absolutely awesome with our grandkids and have never caused any concern. I love the breed, but am a huge advocate of rescuing, not buying. Good luck with whatever you decide.

Nov 20, 2010
by: Anonymous

if u raise the puppy to be gentle he will be fine i have 2 pitts 1 that is a guard dog an 1 that is a love duck wouldnt hurt a fly so its really up to u how the pup grows up an what basic need u want him to play my guard dog has 2 parents that were fought an i tried to make sure he never became like them but it was in his blood so hes my guard dog hes never bite anyone but he would if he was put in that place i have had him since he was 4wks old my 70 year old mom can handle him but if he feels theathened he will let u know the other one is so kind an loving u look in his eyes an she the love he has 4 us so i would tell u to background check the parents before getting the puppy because some traits do get carried on that just what i have to say i would not live my life without a pit in my house they are so loyal an love thier people so do your work an find out all u can before u decide cause we dont need anymore pits in shelters take care ROCK ON PITBULL LOVERS!!!!

Nov 20, 2010
Obedience, Obedience, Obedience
by: Alan P

As a pit bull owner myself, you will never find a more loyal breed, but puppies are a lot of work. If you are contemplating getting a pit pup, then obedience training is the way to go and make sure you include the entire family in on it's training/handling, so it knows that everyone else rules the roost. Bully breeds like to play roughh and accidents can happen even during play time. Even the most loyal dogs can become over excited and nip during play time. Assoociate the dog with all your friends and family. The more you try to prevennt the unexpected, the better your results will be.

Nov 20, 2010
Go For IT
by: Anonymous

If You have 3 small children, you may want to condside an older dog like the other post suggested. There are many many other pitties just waiting for homes in rescues or in shelters that may be on a euthenasia list that are perfectly safe. Most all are put thru a bunch a tests to see what they can and cant take. YOU as an owner of not just a pittie but any kind of dog need to do your part and be responsible and teach not only yourself but your children how to responsibly take care of and treat and animal. I have two, granted we got them as pups but my child absolutley loves them and one even sleeps with her. And tell your neighbor to spay and neuter the ones they have, there are too many being put to sleep every day! Good luck.

Nov 20, 2010
I have 2 young children
by: Michelle

I wanted to let you know that when I got my Pit Bull, Caesar, my children were 3 and 5. He was always good with my children. When my daughter was sick he laid with her on the couch and let her use him as a pillow. The only concern I ever had was his size and if they were running he would sometimes run them over, other than that I never had a problem. Also the reason I never leave my kids alone with either dog! Things can happen and if I'm there, I know exactly what happened. Now he is around my children, who are 8 and 6) and my boyfriends 3 kids,(12, 14 and 19) and still does great with them. I also have a shep/husky mix, Buddy, who is 8, and we have a Cat who is 2 and 2 kittens that are 3 months old. He does great with everyone! I would definitely have another Pit Bull again. When I first got him, my mom came over and freaked on me. She asked me if i had lost mind getting a Pit Bull with 2 young children! After a few weeks of being around him and getting hundreds of kisses from him, she changed her mind, and now is a Pit Bull advocate along with me. The biggest problem I had and still have, is the nasty comments people, usually adults, say in front of my kids about their best friend. I had to explain to my son when he was 5 that sometimes people are scared of Pit Bulls because of the horrible stories written about them, and they just don't know the truth about them. I have had ignorant people tell me I am a horrible mother and should have my children taken from me because I own a Pit Bull. One man even told me I should get rid of Caesar and get a family dog like a beagle, however, we had a beagle when my son was a baby, and she tried to attack him a few times. The last time he wasn't even near her and she went charging at him, so we had to have her put down(she had tried to attack a few other people also, but was small enough that we could handle her.) Any dog can bite, no matter what breed they are. When you have small children, even a small dog like our beagle can cause damage to a child. I would never get rid of Caesar, he is part of our family! And no matter how many people tell me I'm crazy, I know I'm not! It's all in how a dog is brought up and trained. Supervise your children with all dogs, no matter how small or large they are. Love your dog and treat it with respect and it should always do the same for you!

Nov 20, 2010
Go for it!
by: Jess

In my opinion, you have been pondering a pit for a reason, and the old wives tail of pits 'turning' is not all truth. Any dog is capable of becoming unacceptable but it is usually by fault of the owner. In that, I mean they have allowed their children to beat on the dog, drag the pup around by the tail and cause injury that the owners overlook because vet bills can be very costly. In reality, small dogs bite on the average far more than large breed however they do not do the damage a large dog can, so it is ignored. As a pit owner, I can only say nothing but good about adopting a pit pup for you family. When my children were born, we had an adult pit that was very accepting and loving and used to sleep next to the crib and alert me when the babies would cry. Now she is gone, (God Bless Her), and we have continued our family always including our pits and they have been a very dedicated and devoted family dog. Please do not let the stereotype hold up your decision making because should you choose this breed, you will need to stand strong against society and be an advocate when you take them to the store, vet, walks..etc....You WILL get negative feedback, but I promise you, you WILL have an awesome family dog! My children are now 8 and 6 and my dogs are slowing approaching their senior yrs and not for a minute would I think they would harm my family, but I do MAKE me children respect them and they in turn respect the kids! Best wishes!

Nov 20, 2010
Rescuing a bully is a good option
by: Galadrial

I definitely agree with others on here that rescuing one of these sweet little bullies is the best way to go. I have a one year old red nose that I named Mr.Beefy - I resued him when his 19 yo owner was incarcerated on animal cruelty charges. He was scared of everything when he came to us - he actually would run from his shadow :( Mr. Beefy was showered with love and affection from our entire family - myself, my s/o, my three kids (ages 10, 12, and 14), my sister and brother in law, and my 3 yo german shepard, and is now a well adjusted almost gentleman (sometimes he forgets his manners and force his way onto your lap and insist that you give him love)that loves his humans and is completely loyal. That being said - any animal has the capacity to turn. Someone else mentioned on here that you get out of it what you are willing to put into it, and I agree with that statement 100%. I would also like to add that having a good family pet requires responsibility. Watch your animal at all times and don't allow them to be put in a position where they may feel threatened. In many of the tragedies that have occurred, the owners of the animal were not being responsible. Good luck in whatever you decide - your pit bull experience will be deeply satisfying as long as a few ground rules :)

Nov 20, 2010
Be ready for love...
by: Michigan.

Hi, I have 4 small grandchildren. I have never worried about how safe they are around my pit. I guess you could say that i am not a responsible pet owner. I have spoiled her to no end. She is unruly. I always joke about changing her name to Marley. Here is just a small list of her habits. Opening cab-nit doors. Opens stove. Licks baby's till they cry. Takes most of my bed at night. (under the covers). Sits at table like a person. Sleeps on the back of the couch like a small dog. There is no keeping her in any type of kennel. She can chew threw anything. The best one of all is the game we play when she gets to go for a ride. We call it the shitty Chevy game. She must really hate Chevy... I would not triad her for the world. She is my best friend.

Nov 20, 2010
Dog Bites Are Preventable
by: Barbara

Here's the thing about dog bites that people forget when they're tossing around statistics or discussing breed specific legislation - most dog bites are 100% preventable. I have four pit bulls and I don't believe any of them would ever bite someone. Having said that, my dogs are never left alone unsupervised with children - and that is NOT because they're pit bulls, it's because they're DOGS. Prior to pit bulls I had a Doxie, a beagle, and a sharpei mix, and none of those dogs were ever left alone unsupervised with children either - not because of their breeds (although the Doxie was the nippy one) but because they were dogs. I agree with what everyone else has posted; get a pit bull, adopt a more mature and laid-back pit bull who's a few years old (there are so many out there needing homes that are older and want a loving home), enroll your new pit bull in an obedience class and get your kids involved with the training (your dog needs to know that even though they are little humans, they are still humans and humans are always in charge, not the dog), and always always supervise your kids with your dogs. Best of luck to you, please let us all know what you decide!

Nov 20, 2010
I've had several Pits over the years...
by: SunnySouthTexas

... and I've singlehandedly raised my two children from Elementary-school aged to now Juniors in college & high school. Over these intervening years, we've had probably half a dozen Pit Bulls and Pit-mixes. We take in rescue and shelter dogs only.

Our current Pit-mix is a shelter dog who will live with us until he dies. We adopted him at about 10-months old - one of the younger dogs we have taken on. I prefer a dog around a year old so I miss out on all of the frantic chewing and inability to be consistent on potty training and the lack of attention-span when they're puppy-puppies... (Most "other people" prefer the little pups, so it works out well that we want an older one!)

With proper socialization, much like our children, a dog (any dog) will be a wonderful pet. The chances of a Pit or Pit Mix flipping out on you and your family is statistically no higher than were you to pick up a Cocker Spaniel or anything else. (I've, personally, only been bitten by a Chihuaua, a Weimeraner, and a Cocker. The Weimer was the flakiest dog we've ever taken in.)

If you sign up for a Pit or Pit Mix, you are in for the most loving, attention-slut, and loyal dog you will ever own. Our current Pit-mix, Turbo, will do anything - including stepping through any and every command he knows - to get a noggin rub. He'll come up to us, lay his big ol' head on our laps, and if no one responds with the sought-after rubbing - he proceeds to Sit, Lay, Roll Over, Sit, and then Shake with his big ol' paw flapping in the air to an imaginary hand... LOL! Comical to watch, and very endearing to know that he's trying his hardest to please us so we'll rub on his noggin!

Turbo was who my daughter selected for her 12th birthday, when I told her she was old enough to care for her own dog... She picked a Pit that had been thrown from a car window, to a ditch, with his sister - they were so consumed with mange that the shelter crew didn't know what colors they would be. They were 4-weeks old. His sister died of the mange. Eight months later, when we found him, he was JUST THEN beginning to fur in... and he is Tuxedo colored, black & white. is a picture of Turbo, hiking at Enchanted Rock in Texas.

Don't be scared of the breed. Find a Pit that needs a home, check him out thoroughly with your family (research "introducing a new dog to your household"), and make sure he gets the attention and training necessary...

Once you go Pit, you'll never go back! :)

Nov 20, 2010
PIts are great dogs :)
by: Shannon

I think you will be fine with a pit. We have one and we also have cats and he gets along well with us and the cats. Hes a great dog with a great personality. Especially if youre getting the dog as a puppy, and he will grow up with the kids, they will have a wonderful relationship :) Our pit is the biggest baby you could ever meet, plus hes also a great protector. Your kids would not only have a great dog, but great protection. Good luck to you and your family!

Nov 20, 2010
More Comments
by: Gale

Jacklyn: In addition to the comments on this page, some folks have left comments for you on Facebook as well.

Nov 20, 2010
Pits are great dogs
by: Karen

We have a rescued pit - was a 1 year old sick stray - now 4 and 63 lbs of love. He is fantastic with our 12 year old but thinks little furry things that run away are dinner (from whe he had to eat whatever he could find). Pits are no more likely to 'turn' than any other dog - typicaly only if very frightened or abused. In fact, pits have an excellent track record of forgiveness of abuse and recover to be great family dogs. I would prefer to adopt a dog that is 3 to 5 as opposed to a puppy - so many good dogs being put down in shelters and puppies are a LOT of work. Good luck and get a pit!

Nov 20, 2010
pitbulls the best dogs ever!
by: Dean Sr

pitbulls r the best dogs for young kids. as they are very protective of them as they were their own. as i have had a red nose pit with my two sons(6months and 2 1/2)he is the best with them, he just lays there and takes what they can dish out. he really loves those boys! he is teaching my youngest to crawl. so yeah i would say most deff get one!! a loved dog returns that love ten fold!!!

Nov 20, 2010
by: kate

I love it when people with children consider adopting a pit bull. They are great dogs. I adopted mine when he was 5 months old and if you won't be able to commit to taking a young dog for a walk at least once a day, I would recommend adopting an older dog. That way you also have a good idea as to his/her attitude toward children and smaller pets. My dog is a really sweet dog, but he was a little nippy when he was little (still mouths when he wants to play but we're working on that). He does get along with the small dog and the cats that we live with, but sometimes his energy annoys them. It all depends on how much time you want to put in to the initial training. Pitties are driven to please theyre owners, but they need guidence on how to do so.
I recommend adopting because there are so many pit bulls turned into shelters every day and they are extremly difficult to adopt out. Most of the population are not as open minded as you are. I really think rescue dogs know that you save them and they are greatful for it.
I hope you find the right dog for your family!!!:)

Dec 22, 2010
by: Anonymous

STOP!!! Don't buy from the breeder!!! There are hundreds of thousands of pit bulls killed in the US every year in dog pounds. please go there and save one. If you are trying to get a good friend, a pet, then get one from the pound. You will forever remember how you saved this life, and more importantly, so will the dog!! Please! I beg you!

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