Are Pitbulls Good Family Dogs?


If you ask someone what a Pitbull is, you’ll likely get several responses. That’s because many breeds that fit the description of a muscular, stocky dog. It’s an essential consideration when discussing whether they make good family pets. The short answer is that any pup raised by responsible pet owners that provide their dog with a healthy lifestyle makes an enjoyable companion—including Pitbulls.

Getting any animal is a commitment. How you raise and socialize your Pitbull are the keys to your success. The needs of any pet cover the basics of food, water, and shelter. Having a Pitbull—or any dog for that matter—also means adequate veterinary care, daily exercise, and proper training. However, you likely face other challenges, including local regulations and negative social stigma.

What Is a Pitbull?

Let’s begin by defining just what a Pitbull is. Remember that the term describes several breeds, including:

  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • American Pitbull Terrier
  • French Bulldog
  • English Bulldog
  • Bulldog
  • Bull Terrier
  • American Bully

It’s worth noting that the French Bulldog and Bulldog are the second and fifth most popular breeds, respectively, according to the American Kennel Club. That speaks volumes about their desirability as a family pet. However, myths and half-truths still exist in part because of the history of some Pitbull-type breeds.

Many people raised these dogs as fighters or for baiting. Qualities, such as strength, viciousness, tenacity, and courage, were preferable in the ring. However, not all of these breeds fit that mold. For example, people raised French Bulldogs more as companion animals than anything else. Let’s consider some of the common misconceptions about Pitbulls.

american pitbull terrier
Image credit: Voltgroup, Shutterstock

Myth: All Pitbulls are mean.

Breed alone isn’t a reliable way to gauge a dog’s aggressiveness. A survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association found that collies and toy breeds were more likely to bite than Pitbulls. A study published in the journal Animals came to a similar conclusion, noting that defensive aggression was more likely with mixed breeds and shelter pets.

The researchers also pointed out that incidences were associated with anxiety and fear. Remember that makes these behaviors survival instincts. The dogs are simply acting as evolution has shaped their responses to a potential threat. That’s where how one raises the pet comes into play.

The statement by the National Animal Control Association Guideline says it all. “Dangerous and/or vicious animals should be labeled as such as a result of their actions or behavior and not because of their breed.”

True: How an animal is raised is a better gauge of its personality.

The period between two and seven weeks is critical for pets as the ideal time for socialization. That means exposing your dog or cat to new people, places, and other animals, if applicable. However, it doesn’t end there. A study published in Scientific Reports found that dogs that are active and socialized are less likely to be anxious or fearful. It also boils down to the owner-pet relationship.

You don’t have to be a dog owner long to know how to read your pet’s emotions. The same thing applies when you look at the question from your pup’s point of view. Often, they’ll mirror your feelings. A study published in the Journal of Forensic Science took this information one step further by looking at the owner’s personality and aggression in their pets.

The researchers found a compelling correlation between individuals demonstrating criminal behavior and the viciousness of their dogs. It’s another unfortunate and unintended consequence of the Pitbull’s past.

pitbull terrier
Image Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock

What Are Some Tips for Raising a Well-Behaved Pitbull?

It’s imperative to get a puppy that is at least 8 weeks old, preferably 12 weeks. Pups need this time to spend with their mother and littermates for development and learning social skills. Getting a dog at this age means that it’s less likely to have behavioral issues.

As we mentioned earlier, getting a pet is a serious undertaking that you shouldn’t take lightly. It involves a time and financial commitment as long as the dog lives. It’s your responsibility to ensure that its basic needs are met. It also means you must socialize your Pitbull properly when young and train it to behave appropriately.

These things apply no matter what breed you get if your aim is a good family dog.

The other essential takeaway is to provide a home that is secure and safe to prevent your pet from becoming fearful. Positive reinforcement is a much better training strategy than punishment. Praise and the occasional treat will work wonders toward this goal.

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Final Thoughts

It’s unfortunate that many people have stereotyped Pitbull-type dogs like the American Staffordshire Terrier as a dog that is more vicious and dangerous than other breeds. As we’ve shown, many other factors determine a pup’s personality, particularly its owner’s behavior and the environment in which the dog lives.

Ultimately, these things will decide which pup makes the best family dog. As long as you’re committed to the long haul, you can invite any puppy into your home, even a Pitbull.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay



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