Zen and the Art of Dog

Pitbulls Are The Best Dog Breed for Kids and Families

I used to volunteer at a local animal shelter a few years ago. The shelter was desperate for dog walkers. So, whenever I could, which was usually 4-5 times a week, I would come and walk dogs. I was often asked what the best dog breed for kids is.

This shelter was a helter skelter mess in a forgotten store front on a busy street. It was difficult to notice driving past; I only found out that the shelter was there because my dog trainer introduced me to it.

The woman who ran the shelter (let’s call her Wanda) worked hard and did her best to make it a sanctuary. She regularly pulled the “red flag” dogs from the central city pound- dogs that were about to be put to sleep. There were many that she couldn’t pull.

The shelter was filled to the rafters with dogs and cats. One particularly dog had been there forever. Her name was Chloe.

She came into the shelter system as a police confiscation because she was abused. According to the police, she was found chained to a tree outside and had been left there for days.

The knock on Chloe was that she was dog aggressive and difficult to control. After languishing at the city pound for almost a year she was put on the kill list.

Wanda pulled Chloe and Chloe sat around at her shelter for another year before I started volunteering.

Chloe caught my attention because of all the dogs I walked at the shelter she was the most pit bull like and also the most affectionate. It was a joy to walk her.

I walked her for months, and for months no adopters showed an interest in her. Finally, around July 2017, my wife and I made the decision to bring her home with us. This was supposed to be a foster situation but eventually it ended up as a “foster fail”.

Chloe has fit in well with our other two puppies and now our baby. She is very gentle and affectionate and eager to please. She is mainly a couch potato- she barely gets up from her nap even when someone comes in the door.

Anyway, Chloe is an example of a larger problem with our dog culture. Millions of animals are needlessly put to death because of our obsession with the myth of dangerous pit bulls. I want to try and do my best to dispel that myth and explain why pit bulls make the best dog breed for kids.

Any Dog CAN Be Dangerous

The danger of owning any dog gets lost in the narrative of dangerous pit bulls. Even dogs that don’t show signs of aggression can be dangerous. An overexcited but otherwise silly and lovable dog can knock an unattended child down the stairs. A newcomer in your yard can set your playful dog jumping, scratching and mouthing all over them. This is not aggression, but over excitement.

More often than not what we consider a failure of the pit bull breed is actually the failure of an owner to properly care for their dog. This failure is not breed specific but could happen regardless of breeding.

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once wrote that there are “Lies, damned lies and statistics”. This saying is nowhere more apt than in the pit bull narrative. Sure, pit bulls have accidents, either because they are neglected or abused. Other dog breeds have accidents, too. However, the statistics indicate that pits are a more significant problem because there are so many pit bulls.

If you take the full scope of statistics, what you’ll find is that pit bulls are one of the more benign breeds. Check out this chart from pitbull info:

Now I’m not calling for a ban or crack down on malamutes, chows or any other breed. All I’m calling attention to is that pit bulls get an unfair wrap only because there are so many of them

Bred To Have a Gentle Temperament With Humans

The name “pit bull” has become a catch-all for numerous “bully” breeds and even mutts that resemble a bully breed.

It is true that most of the bully breeds originated in England and were bred for generations for fighting pits. What also never gets mentioned is that this breeding included culling dogs that turned their aggression on humans. A handler needs to physically restrain or separate a dog during a fight, for example. A dog that turned on its handler would not be bred.

If it’s true that breeding plays a primary role in a dog’s temperament, then it’s also true that pit bulls have been bred to be particularly trainable and gentle to humans.

This is why I trust Chloe or any other well trained pit bull around my infant son completely.

Comfortable With Both an Active Lifestyle and Being a Couch Potato

My Husky, Denver, needs a lot of exercise. If he’s not worked out everyday he gets himself into trouble.

This fact is true of a lot of breeds, most particularly the working breeds.

Pits are pretty comfortable napping all day. They can also keep up with you if you want to take them for jogs, hikes or want to have an active lifestyle.

(Many dogs are couch potatoes because of arthritis. Definitely check out this post if you think your dog might be arthritic).

Pit Bulls are Short Haired Dogs

Denver sheds a metric ton (check out my post here to read more about living with a husky).

Chloe also sheds. However, her fur is so short as to be nearly unnoticeable. This is true for most short haired bully breeds.

They are not hypoallergenic, though!

Millions of Pits are Put To Death Every Year

This fact is truly horrifying. More than just the dogs that are put to death, additional millions languish in shelters. They never get to see sunlight, they rarely get the human affection that they were bred to crave. They sit in their mess and slowly lose their minds.

Saving a pit bull is worth it for this reason alone.

If you’ve read this article I hope you’re considering getting a dog and I truly hope you’ll consider adopting a pit from your local shelter. Every dog deserves a loving home and this is especially true of the forgotten pits. That’s why pit bulls are the best dog breed for kids and families.

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