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The APBT and Aggression

Discussion in 'Dog Debates' started by Sabrina, May 14, 2010.

  1. Sabrina

    Sabrina Moderator

    The APBT and Aggression

    I am going to tell you now, this is a long read.

    However, it is rather easy to understand and contains alot of information that is essential to understanding the American Pit Bull Terrier.

    Let me also say that when I signed up on this website 16 months ago, I was under the impression that “it is all how you raise them†and that my little Bransen could never be aggressive toward another dog, with his goofy smile and amusing play-bows. As my pup grew, so did my knowledge and understanding of this awesome and often misguided breed. I have decided to help people like myself better understand and do my best to pass on the knowledge that I have learned through friends/family as well as the this kind and informative community.

    There is a lot of negativity surrounding the American Pit Bull Terrier - ranging from myths about locking jaws and brains that don’t stop growing, to stories of random attacks and crazed antics – it is no wonder that the general public has come to see them as crazed, vicious monsters.

    The reason I decided to write this article was to clear up the common misconception that the APBT is “vicious†and assist anyone who decides to read this in better understanding the difference between Dog Aggression and Human Aggression.

    (*** Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 due to the 2007 Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act. The federal Animal Welfare Act prohibits the interstate transportation of dogs for fighting purposes DISCLAIMER: The views herein expressed in this forum do not necessarily reflect those of the posters or the forum owners and should be viewed strictly as entertainment and for historical and educational purposes only. The posters nor the forum owners either promote or condone any violations of the "Animal Welfare Act of 1976", or any other Local, State and/or Federal Laws. Again, this post/thread should be viewed strictly as entertainment and/or for historical/educational purposes only! *** )

    The APBT and Dog Aggression

    The topic of dog fighting (also referred to as "matching" or "pitting dogs") is one of extensive controversy. Whether it is brought up in discussion on this forum or in everyday conversation, there seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding and in turn frustration when it comes to this touchy subject. Note when reading this post that all dogs I am referring to are to be assumed APBTs or other fighting breeds/mixes, for logical reasons.

    Matching has taken place in the past and present of various cultures. It is widely estimated that forms of this blood-sport have existed nearly as long as the species has been domesticated. The sport of matching is popular and practiced by many people, legally and illegally relatively everywhere around the globe. However, the actual practice of matching is not the focus of this thread. If you would like to read more about matching and the history of the APBT, please refer to the History section of this forum.

    The main topic that I intend to bring to light with this thread is the misconception that the American Pit Bull Terrier is forced to fight and does not enjoy doing such. On a general basis, this assumption has been consistently proven to be entirely false.

    Fighting to the APBT is like herding to the Collie, hunting to the Pointer, racing to the Greyhound. I am sure you get the point. The same way that all of these breeds (and generally, every other breed of dog) loves to do the job that they were created to do.

    Because when a breed is being established or preserved, breeders are aiming toward not only health and temperament, but for the dog they are working with to have what it takes do it's job well. Regardless of the job said breed is intended for, the most logical way to attain desired traits would be to only breed dogs that showed such traits.
    Think about it. If you wanted to create a breed of dog that was good at a specific thing (in this case, combat) would you breed dogs that enjoyed doing the job and did it well, or would you breed the dogs you had to force to do said job?

    I have had many people tell me “Pitbulls (assuming APBTs) don’t like fighting. They are forced to do it.†While I do understand the compassion and empathy that would make one feel and think in such a way, this statement has been proven false.

    The APBT was bred for generation upon generation to be a fighter, they were molded through years of selective breeding to have the instincts that they have. Retrievers for example, will chase ducks and other birds on instinct. Dobermans will guard their property and pack. Collies will try to herd groups of animals and even groups of people. All of these breeds follow the instincts that have been installed in them by man, regardless of if they are trained or directed to do so, many times even when they're discouraged from it.

    I admit that watching a Collie try to herd other dogs or a Labrador chasing a group of pigeons can indeed be quite a comical situation. However, the thought of an uneducated APBT owner experiencing a similar display of sudden instinct, on the other hand, isn’t something that would be considered humorous at all.

    The point is that after being conditioned for so long to do a certain job, a dog (or other animal) will develop a tendency, an underlying instinct to do what it has been bred to do, without being asked to. This is the same logic used in explaining the process of general domestication.

    Of course, fighting is painful and of course Pit Bulls (and other fighting breeds) do indeed feel pain, as all other dogs do. So why on earth would they enjoy fighting one another? One word: Gameness.

    The phrase “game†refers to an unmistakable trait of eagerness, determination, and drive despite the highest forms of discomfort. Gameness is what makes the APBT what it is, a tried and true working machine, regardless of the job it is given to do. Fighting just so happens to be the job that these dogs (along with many other breeds) were given to do. While the APBT was bred to show no traits of human aggression whatsoever through years of selective breeding, dog aggression in this breed was treated the exact opposite. Rather than being extinguished, it was pursued. When the breed was developed, dog aggression (DA) in the APBT was glorified and amplified. The chance of an APBT being dog aggressive (or at least selective) is practically certain in most cases.

    This is the reason why owners and advocates of this great breed need to better understand the APBTs’ most undeniable traits rather than shrugging them off as part of the common negative stereotypes surrounding the breed. Many members of this forum, as well as other seasoned owners, have experienced this first hand, often on more than one occasion. Even with the best of owners/trainers, DA can add a fair deal of complication to everyday life. Because DA is so commonly a strong and definite trait of the standard APBT, such a quality should be considered even when not visible. This particular breed can indeed be a danger to other dogs and animals when in the wrong hands. Of course, that is not to say that your Pit Bull (or other fighting breed) is a "bad dog" or that you can't keep him/her. With education, good handling skills and wise decision making; Dog Aggression is totally manageable.

    This is the reason why it is so strongly emphasized by the majority of users on this forum to be educated and responsible when it comes to owning this breed of dog. As said time and time again by countless frustrated users on this forum as well as other experienced APBT owners and enthusiasts, Ownership of the APBT is not a job for everyone. This is also the reason why some (many) of us can end up getting angry or frustrated when one (especially an owner of the breed) refuses to take to heart the fact that DA is a common trait of our breed of choice, and that even if your dog has not shown it yet, it can show up.

    Discussing such a concerning topic can become extremely frustrating when someone foreign/new to or wrongly informed on the breed refuses to take advice from knowledgeable owners/fanciers. Whether said person disagrees with this fact or simply misunderstands, it can often turn into a very heated and touchy subject. I am sure you can imagine the way one might feel if they very well knew (firsthand or through others) what they were talking about and have had to continuously go over the same thing a thousand times. (Often getting less than mature reactions.)

    So, just a friendly reminder that when getting advice on such a subject from those who may be more knowledgeable and/or experienced in such fields than yourself, please try to keep your cool and take what they have to say as seasoned advice as opposed to them “coming off as a jerk†or whatever impression you may have gotten.

    And remember, you should always expect a Bulldog to fight.

    The American Pit Bull Terrier and Human Aggression

    Many people seem to think that this breed is a danger to humans. While this is completely untrue; you can’t really blame them. After all, international media has given the general public a quite distorted and misinformed image of what kind of dog the “pitbull†(APBT) was bred to be. The stories on the news and in the Sunday paper rage about child-eating monsters and dogs that will always bite the hand that feeds have caused a very negative stereotype to be pinned to this breed by rampant ignorance and misinformation. Thus giving the public a rather twisted view of the APBT temperament.

    With all these common myths and rumors surrounding the breed, how is one supposed to decipher between fact and fiction? While it is true the APBT was bred to have aggressive tendencies as many ill-informed people will tell you, but never were these instincts aimed toward humans.

    When the APBT was being created, the goal they were trying to reach was to create a dog that a living incarnation of gameness and bursting with the ability to do whatever job they were given to. Which, back then, meant matching.

    The same method that was used to amplify dog aggression in this breed was also used to weed out human aggression. Through generations of selective breeding - sifting through a variety of dogs to find a pair with matching ideal qualities - resulting in offspring that exceed (or at least match) their parents in terms of quality – breeders were able to control the results of the dogs they produced.

    In layman’s terms, they would choose dogs that were proven (through themselves and their ancestry) to have certain physical and temperamental qualities and combine them to produce dogs that had a combination of the qualities that they desired, so on and so forth. When breeding the APBT, the goal of most dog men was to obtain a set of specific traits; these traits were most commonly valued in a particular order: Gameness, Ability, and docility toward man, which created ease of handling. Many dogs will bite anything that comes near them when they are in fight mode. This was not accepted by dog men, as it would indeed complicate the sport to have dogs attacking handlers and referees during a match. Dogs that showed any indication of aggression toward humans were most often culled (put to sleep or otherwise removed from the genepool) without hesitation, as were dogs that failed to prove their gameness/ability in the pit. The only dogs that would be bred were dogs that could prove they were up to code. Over generations, the result was a breed of extremely game dogs with an immense desire to please humans, an amazing ability to fight, comical and loyal, with a history of solid temperament.

    In conclusion, if you are looking for a guard dog, the APBT is definitely not the dog for you.
    If you are looking for a family dog that will be loyal, energetic, and entertaining, you may want to look into them.

    (Keep in mind, here at PBC we always try to be quite courteous and do our very best to educate those who need it about this great breed for one specific reason; we love them.)

    - Sabrina
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2011
    Jody55 likes this.
  2. ShakaZ

    ShakaZ Good Dog

    Good read... Don't forget that there is also the ADBA standard as well... it reads basically the same, but as far as I'm concerned (and this is not always true and may not be true at all) the UKC has mixed a lot of their APBTs with AKC Am Staffs and have possibly watered them down a bit. The "petsmart" books on APBTs always talk about the UKC standard and they never seem to quite do justice to the "true APBT" imo. They never speak on containment never on properly housing or anything. So those type books make me wonder at the UKC APBT. Like I say correct me if i'm wrong about this. But anyway nice read.
  3. Sabrina

    Sabrina Moderator

    Thanks, ShakaZ.

    I totally understand what you mean about the UKC and the waterring down of the PABT.
    The UKC these days seems to care more about $$$ than anything else.

    Of course, as you said it reads the same and the purpose of this article was to educate new/inexperienced owners and lovers of the breed. :)

    I'm glad this got accepted as a sticky, cause I kinda hate exlpaining it over and over. :lol:

    So to whomever stickied it for me (I think it was Shon, could be wrong) THANK YOU! :)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2010
  4. APBTlover09

    APBTlover09 GRCH Dog

    love this post :D
  5. Sabrina

    Sabrina Moderator

    Thanks, APBTlover! :)
  6. Valerie

    Valerie Little Dog

    Thanks for the good info Bransen
  7. Sabrina

    Sabrina Moderator

    No problem, Valerie. :)
    I hope it helped you a bit!
  8. drumlord420

    drumlord420 Puppy

    I totally agree that APBTs have been designed by generation after generation of breeding to be gaming dogs and are quite suitable for fighting. However, I own a APBT who is OBVIOUSLY from that line of dog. The only way to control aggression is to TRAIN YOUR DOG! APBTs need lots of space to run and play, swim, etc...If a person decides to own an APBT, they should make sure that they have the necessary property to accommodate the dog's needs. They should also TRAIN and REINFORCE that training, to ensure that the dog is disciplined and not feeding off of their ancient instincts.
  9. ShakaZ

    ShakaZ Good Dog

    You're right to a certain extent, however I would NOT rely on training no matter how good to the point where I would trust them NOT want to fight, think about it would you be able to train a retriever not to retrieve or a point not to point and flush birds or a herder not to herd. Yeah, it's possible up until the point where instincts overshadow training... and I don't care how good the dog is trained instincts will trump training at times.
  10. Sabrina

    Sabrina Moderator

    I agree that an APBT (or any) owner should do train his/her dog to the fullest extent possible.
    However, to rely solely on the obedience and recall of your dog is just downright foolish.

    One should rely mainly on one thing, themself.
    An owner should rely on his/herself to be resonsible, in control (both physically and mentally) and prepared for the worst at any given time.

    Obedience and good recall are great things to bestow on your dog, but they should not be relied on as a means of control.

    Bad things can and do happen, especially with our breeds of choice, it seems.

    So, it all comes down to being repsonsible and prepared, IMO.
  11. ShakaZ

    ShakaZ Good Dog

    And not being lulled into a false sense of security by the "it's all in how you train them" crowd... more like it's all in how you contain em.
  12. Sabrina

    Sabrina Moderator

    Yes, how you contain/control your dogs is an essential key to the well being of them, your reputation, and in this case the reputation of our breeds.

    How you train and raise dogs is a big factor in their behavior, however training and obedience simple can and do not over-ride instinct.

    For example, Bransen has awesome recall... but if he (or any dog, really) sees a rabbit or something when we're in the bush, he's going after it, training and obedience or not.
  13. Lee D

    Lee D Good Dog

  14. Trudi's Daddy

    Trudi's Daddy Little Dog

    First off, stellar post Bransen.

    Although I am still against dog fighting, you have helped me to better understand why some dog owners feel the need to continue it.
    Moreover, although I may still disagree, I can now respect many of the reasons involved. I did not think that would ever be possible until this moment.

    As for inherent APBT aggression, here I am still a bit confused but only based on traits I have observed in our dog.

    Our Trudi is a rescue and we have every reason now to believe she is an APBT, although there is a chance somewhere in her bloodline the trace of another breed may exist.

    When we first brought Trudi home at nine weeks we had two other dogs already present in the home. Both Dachshunds and both senior in years. Bridgette, who was 14 at the time maintained her dominate role in the home even as Trudi grew in size, Trudi accepted her position without challenge.
    A year after Bridgette passed Marlena, who was two years younger, also died. Trudi, who would often share a bed with Marlena, exhibited signs of morning.

    The only time she even came close to being aggressive with another dog was a few years back at the boat launch of a local lake where she swims. Another dog, an unleashed two-pound yipper, came at her. By the time I was able to move my hands down the leash to her collar Trudi had had enough. I saw the signs she was about to lunge and jerking back her collar gave the command to sit. She sat at once, although she may not have liked it.
    By that time the other owner came over and without so much as an 'I'm sorry' collected her dog and left.
    Trudi actually allowed this little dog to snap at her 5 or 6 times before she began to react.

    As a pup. she is now 8, she would bark like an idiot at any dog being walked on the street past our home. Now, she seems to prefer cuddling with a stuffed toy on the couch and seems oblivious to other dogs unless they actually come onto the property.

    Could the presence of mixed blood in her background have reduced her APBT aggression, or are examples such as these also evident in APBT personalities?
  15. ShakaZ

    ShakaZ Good Dog

    There are cold dogs and there are hot dogs. Since you got her from a shelter you may have gotten lucky.
  16. MJJean

    MJJean GRCH Dog

    Trudi's Dad, dogs are individual within breeds. Some APBT are "cold", some are "Lukewarm" (meaning they may get along only with packmates or certain packmates and certain friends) and others are "hot" and will fight any dog, any time, anywhere.

    My personal APBT is purebred and not a hot dog. She will, however, try to scrap with another dog that comes at her aggressively. She was raised in a pack, spent a lot of time around her original owners friends dogs and never showed signs of DA even over toys and food. However, I know its always a possibility and make sure she is kept contained in the yard and controlled on a leash when in public and I don't let her meet and greet strange dogs ever.

    I recently read an ad on CL about a lady who owned an APBT that she loved very much and was convinced she had to rehome because he fence fought with the neighbors dog a few times. I replied to her ad and suggested either a chain spot or an outdoor chain link kennel to confine him away from the fence and the other dog so that she could keep him. She replied she was going to talk to her husband about setting something up. I really hope she was able to.

    What blows my mind is that she seemed knowledgeable about the breed and yet shocked that this was a problem or that a chain or kennel might be needed to keep him from fence fighting when the neighbors dog is also out.
  17. Trudi's Daddy

    Trudi's Daddy Little Dog

    OK, this supports something I have felt for a long time. Although this is the first I have heard the terms Cold, Hot and Lukewarm applied to dogs, I have always felt, in novice terms, dogs like people have their own personalities.

    We have always considered Trudi to a lover and not a fighter, but we are not blind. When we watched her muscles grow and first looked into her mouth when she yawned, we knew she was a powerful animal.

    We have always taken precautions including always keeping her on a lead and discouraging people in Petsmart from trying to pet her.

    I guess our girl falls into the cold, goofy APBT category and for us that's just perfect.

    I think she will always be more of a threat to her stuffed animals than any living thing and supported by much I have read on this site, we will continue our vigil to keep it that way.

    Thanks guys.
  18. Lee D

    Lee D Good Dog

    :cowboyclap:"but we are not blind"....good stuff TD.
  19. Trudi's Daddy

    Trudi's Daddy Little Dog

    Aw, schucks:o

  20. Being a dog trainer its extremely hard for me to go 100 % on either side of this issue. I see hundreds of dog every day especially pits (seeing as I work in one of the few cities that allow them in my state). I have hard time believing my pit wants to fight, she has been attacked 3 times and all 3 times she didn't bare teeth nore snap at any 3 of the dogs, she laid there and took until I tackled the dog off of her so she could run. But now any BIG dog she sees she will growl at, but I've always corrected her in time so its never made it past that. I can not blame her at all for having fear based aggression towards other dogs seeing as she's been attacked so many times by big dogs. But I completely agree that you can train your dog as much as you want you can never 100% trust them no matter the breed. I have seen so many dogs randomly snap with/without being provoked. And the previous poster who stated you do need to be in control mentally and phsyically was completely right. The biggest thing people need to remeber when owning any dog is SOCIALIZE THEM! My close friend has a very well socialized pit who is 14 and has never once shown any sign of aggression. Licensed breeders of bull breeds are slowly breeding out the aggression but it will be years before it is done. Give your pit things to do that doesn't involve encouraging aggression.

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