October is a month full of special days. While Halloween is at the forefront of most minds, dog lovers know that October is devoted to the dogs! You see, October is National Pitbull Awareness Month, and for those dedicated pit bull lovers, National Pitbull Day is actually on October 26. Not only is October special to bully breeds, but it is also deemed National Adopt a Dog Month. With over 5 million dogs in shelters being labeled as pit bulls, it’s no wonder that these two special dedications fall within the same month. It also should be no surprise that this month’s spotlighted feature breed is none other than, the pit bull!
Basic Characteristics of Pit Bulls
Ok, first things first! A “pit bull” is not an actual breed. Pit bull is, more or less, a term used to describe big, muscular, blocky-headed pooches, such as the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Bulldog, the American Pit Bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. All pit bulls are derived from dogs that were originally a cross between some type of bulldog and a terrier
Since there are quite a few breeds categorized as a “pit bull” there isn’t a standard “one size fits all” when it comes to features. Each of these bully breeds share the distinguishable large, blocky head and sturdy muscular frame, including a wide chest, and a short coat.
Depending on the lineage a pit bull comes from, determines the size, weight, and color. Typically pit bull breeds weigh around 60-70 pounds and are a medium height, about 20-21 inches. However, there are “pocket pitties” who are smaller, with a height of 12-16 inches and weigh less-usually around 30 pounds. Coat color can range from black, white, brown, fawn, sable, grey, blue, red, or a mix of each of these colors.
Pit Bull Temperament
“Pit bulls are the most aggressive breed known to man.” “They are known as land sharks because of how they attack without warning.” “That breed has been known to do some really horrible things to humans and other animals.” “They have strong power locking jaws that help them attack and kill.” Ummm…WHAT?!
These are some of the many uneducated and absolutely ridiculous statements people associate with bully breeds. Thanks to these absurd accusations and complete ignorance, it’s no wonder so many pit bulls end up in shelters every year. Let’s take a look at some of the facts that make beloved bully breeds truly remarkable!
One true fact about pit bulls is they are aggressive…aggressive snugglers that is! Pit bulls are natural lovers and adore spending time with their families. Most love nothing more than to lounge on the couch and cuddle with their pet parents while snoozing the day away. Many pit bulls suffer from spatial awareness, meaning they do not realize their size and try to scooch their way into their owner’s laps. Although this is equivalent to having a 60-pound hippopotamus sitting on your lap, all good pit bull owners accept their pups for their constant need to cuddle.
While bully breeds can be total couch potatoes, they are also very eager to please their owners. They have playful personalities and always want to have fun. Their big goofy smiles prove it! They crave attention and affection and will do anything their owners ask of them, making them easily trainable and great family dogs, including those with young children. Bully breeds can be extremely tolerant with young children. As with any breed, it’s always important to supervise and educate children on how to behave around animals.
Contrary to popular belief, pit bulls make horrible guard dogs! This is due to the fact that they love people so darn much. As much as people discriminate against pit bulls, they never discriminate against humans and love unconditionally. With that being said, if their pet parent is being threatened, a pit bull won’t hesitate to protect them, but this is the case with most loyal canines.
Due to reputations and false accusations, it is extremely important to get your pit bull into obedience courses as soon as possible. This will benefit your pittie when it comes to training and socializing purposes. Socializing plays a major role in any dog’s life, so remember to get your pit bull around as many people, kids, and other animals as often as possible. Since pit bulls are so eager to please, obedience training should be a piece of cake!
Exercising your Pit Bull
While they may not want to go run a marathon, bully breeds are extremely athletic dogs. They do love to play and run around, however, if you must skip a daily walk, they certainly won’t mind one bit. Again, these couch potato dogs will be just as happy cuddling with you.
One activity this breed thrives in is agility, thanks to their strong muscular frames. Pet parents may want to think about enrolling their dog into an agility-type class or obedience competitions as their pittie grows to help keep their mind and body active and to continue to encourage socialization.
It is critical to take the exercise needs of this breed very seriously. If you find yourself working long hours during the day or don’t have time to dedicate daily to your pit bull’s exercise, consider hiring a pet sitter to help ease your mind by playing with your dog when you are unavailable.
Do Pit Bulls Need Grooming?
Another wonderful thing about bully breeds is the fact that they are very low maintenance when it comes to grooming. They have a short coat that rarely needs brushing or bathing. That’s not to say your pit bull won’t enjoy rolling in things he shouldn’t-but seriously, what dog can resist rolling in something good and dirty?! So an occasional bath to keep the coat clean is about as far as pit bull parents will need to go in terms of grooming their pup.
Additionally, pet parents need to be considerate of other grooming needs. This could include trimming nails, checking and cleaning ears on a weekly basis, and checking those pearly whites. Staying up-to-date on grooming and hygiene for your pittie will keep him healthier and happier in the long run.
Vet/Medical Care for your Pittie
The lifespan of a bully breed is anywhere from 8-10 years. Bully breeds are typically healthy, however, they are vulnerable to health issues, just like any other breed.
One big health concern among bully breeds is hip dysplasia. This genetic condition is the result of the cartilage that protects the femoral head deteriorating, creating bone-on-bone friction. Hip dysplasia causes severe pain and loss of hip function.
Another genetic condition bully breeds are susceptible to is congenital heart disease. Although it can be genetic, this disease can be triggered by parasites, such as heartworm, or obesity. Maintaining a healthy diet and using a heartworm preventative can help reduce the risk of your pittie contracting this disease.
Eye disorders, such as Cherry Eye, as well as skin disorders, like eczema, are also known to be relevant in bully breeds. Luckily, these disorders are treatable through veterinarian treatment or surgery.
It is always a good idea to have a discussion with your vet about any health concerns you may have regarding your pet. Remember to stay up to date with routine vet care and be in tune with your pet and their behavior. If something seems “off” with your pet, make sure you seek veterinary assistance to help treat conditions to prevent them from getting worse.
It is no secret that vet bills can escalate quickly, especially when it comes to an emergency or surgery. It is never a bad idea to consider getting your fur baby a pet insurance policy to assist in paying those vet costs.
Bringing a Pit Bull Home
Unlike popular beliefs, pit bulls are truly a breed for anyone. With that said, potential pet parents really need to consider all these attributes before getting one. If one or more of these features do not coincide with your current lifestyle, please choose a different breed. Due to the fact that some areas do not support bully breeds, check to make sure there aren’t any breed-specific legislation, or BSL, bans in your area. Since it is National Adopt a Dog month and considering the high number of bully breeds in shelters across the nation the only real option for bringing a pittie into your home is the Adopt, Don’t Shop option! Florida has an abundance of dedicated pit bull rescues. Check out the Plenty of Pits, Sniffing Snouts Pit Bull Rescue, or Luv-A-Bull for more information on volunteering, fostering, or adopting a pittie in need.
As always, Space Coast Pet Services is available for all your fur baby needs, including dog sitters, walkers, and even home visits. Contact us or visit our website today for a full list of services.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, in 2016 she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, bonded, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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