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Choosing a Dog: Is A Pitbull the Right Dog for You?

"Choosing a Dog" photo by M. Gupta
red and white pitbull Choosing a dog is a decision that will affect you and your family for many years to come. Some people like to approach the task by learning about various breed characteristics and seeing which ones fit best with their lifestyles.

Another approach is to assess whether your lifestyle fits well with the dog you are considering. This pitbull adoption checklist can help you decide if your lifestyle and personality are suited to adopting a pit bull.

Here's a Snapshot of the American Pitbull Terrier

Size - The standard for the breed is 35-65 lbs for males and 30-60 lbs for females.

Temperament - Higher than average stability. Pit bulls are generally affectionate, intelligent and fond of humans. There may be situational aggression towards other dogs.

Energy Level - High

Health Problems - Pit bulls are generally healthy as a breed, but should be checked for hip problems.

Grooming Requirements - Regular baths and nail clipping. Pit bulls do not require professional grooming to maintain a healthy coat.

Training - Basic obedience is a must due to high energy level.

Are you interested in learning about breeds other than the pit bull terrier? Here's a site that is dedicated to helping you choose the breed that's right for you: The Best Dog For You.

Some More In-Depth Information About Pitbulls. . .

Size - While the standard for the breed ranges from 30-65 lbs, there has been a growing trend towards larger dogs. This may be due in part, to intentional (and misguided) cross-breeding with larger bull breed types like mastiffs.

Consequently, if you are choosing a dog based partly on size, and you adopt a pitbull puppy of uncertain parentage, be aware that you could conceivably end up with a 70+ lb dog once it is full grown.

Temperament - It surprises many people to learn that the American Pit Bull Terrier (as well as its close cousins the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier) ranks highly as a stable and people-friendly breed. As of March 2011, The American Temperament Testing Society had tested just under 31,000 dogs of all breeds.

The percentage of dogs for all breeds combined that passed the test was 83%. APBTs as a group passed the test 86.4% of the time--higher than cocker spaniels, collies, golden retrievers and a number of typical "family dog" breeds.

So, you might rightly wonder, if that's so, why is there so much hype about pitbulls "attacking" people? There's not a single, one sentence answer that will suffice. But, the factors that have contributed to the general public's skewed perception of the APBT include:

  • Breed identification is not an exact science--especially where pit bull type dogs are concerned. A number of breeds and mixes have physical attributes similar to the APBT and as far as the general public is concerned they are all "pitbulls". It has now been documented that a number of attacks blamed on pit bulls actually involved other dog breeds.

    To see what I mean about the mistaken identity issue, check this out this page on breed identification. Then, see if you can find the "bully".

  • APBTs and dogs that resemble them are routinely chosen for their intimidation value. Some guys (yeah, it's pretty much a guy thing) just want a bad-ass dog to enhance their bad-ass image. Sometimes criminal activity is involved--sometimes not.

    Either way, dogs that end up in these situations are generally encouraged to be territorial and suspicious of strangers. Further, they are often neglected, abused and mistreated in ways that would make any dog mean.

  • It is widely known that pitbulls were originally bred as fighting dogs and that makes some folks understandably skittish. What is not as well understood is that dog aggression and aggression towards humans are two totally different things.

    In fact, a fighting dog that bit its handler would have been disqualified from fighting and most likely destroyed by its owner. Dog fighting is (mercifully) now illegal in all of North America. Today's ethical pitbull terrier breeders are no longer breeding for dog aggression and high prey drive.

    Some APBTs do still exhibit those traits to some extent, however. So, it's important when choosing a dog to consider other pets that are currently part of your household.

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