I love a good discussion, and I can’t think of better topic than this. The same discussion has been going on for as long as there have been performance animals, and I can’t help but think that our ancestors – the ones who developed performance animals by selective breeding spent far more time thinking about the issue than most of us do. Think about it – no TV, no books, nothing but time to observe and consider how to better the animals which your life and livelyhood depended. After all, if your horse went lame and couldn’t plow the field – you starved. If your dog let a fox wipe out your chickens – you starved.
So saying that all dogs are born with equal amounts of genetic drive to me, seems to be saying that our ancestors inbred and linebred and produced all those specialized breeds for nothing. Because, if a champion fighting dog is “made”, not born, than why not just start out with a German shepherd? A German shepherd has genetic “aggression” and “strenght”, so why not just raise one of them up to be a pit champion? Because you can’t. It has been proven time and again that the toughest german s hepherd on the planet will turn tail and run after just a few moments with the appropriate pit bull.
What I personally think confuses people is the fact that so many pit bulls are NOT DOG AGGRESSIVE. This is something that takes a little looking into to understand, and I can see how someone looking at the breed could be confused and say “well, if THIS one is nice to other dogs, than THAT one must have been abused, or trained, or “baited” or some such thing…” And, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. With ANY performance bred animal, there will be a significant amount of animals in the litter which will lack the “type” being bred for. Think of a litter of show puppies; the mom can be a champion, the sire can be a champion, but the chances of more than one, maybe two in the litter earning their championships is rare. Why? Because Nature is always trying to drag a race back to its origins, (its called “The Drag Of The Race” in genetics). And the “average” for dogs is NOT a show winner, and is NOT a pit champion. That is why breeding MUST be SELECTIVE. You select for the “type” you want, and keep breeding that. If it were easy, ever horse breeder could win the Kentucky Derby!
My rather extensive research into the families and litters surronding some famous pit champions shows me that the pit bull, like all other performance animals, produces about the same amount of “typey” to “non typey” pups in a litter. Breed to pit champions together and you will get fighters and you will get curs. Breed two curs together and chances are, if you haven’t done this for dozens of generations, you may still get a fighter or two. There have been the occasional “all champion” show litters, and “all pit champion” fighting dog litters, but they remain EXTREMELY rare.
This duality in the breed explains the reason why the breed could be so widely popular at the turn of the last century, and at the turn of this century (funny, how cyclic fads work, eh?) and so many pit bulls could live with people completely clueless about how to treat a “typey” pit bull – without a problem. But it also explains how so many, many people got their dogs into trouble… The breed, right now, is in the end stages of having been a “fad dog”, like the cocker spaniel and Doberman before it. Right now, at this time, there is a huge flux of dogs which are the result of backyard breeding. These are animals with NO “TYPE”. The vast majority don’t look like pit bulls or act like pit bulls. Walk down any shelter kennelway and you see cage after cage of dogs called “pit bull” which are built like a labrador, have shepherd like hair, or are overly short, english bulldog mixes. Most alarm bark like a common street dog. Probably one in 1,000 would be “game”. These dogs can teach us nothing about pit bull “type” in temperament, character or structure. I’m not saying they are “bad dogs” – heck, I LOVE dogs, and they can’t help how they are bred… but I AM tired of people calling dogs with zero pit bull “type” (in temperament, character or structure) “pit bulls”.
And this, my friends, is why I harp and bitch and scream about breed stewards. The majority of people will be content to accept what has happened to the breed due to its turn as a fad. But some of us are not. Nor should we be. EVERY BREED which has been wildely popular has suffered, and has only come back due to the hard work of a small core of dedicated breed stewards. It takes education. And it takes a deep understanding of what – exactly – is “pit bull type”. And that is why I have started this thread, to get a discussion going on what pit bull “type” means to YOU…