Given their unpopular reputation, it is easy to make a lot of assumptions when it comes to Pitbulls.
Yet, despite their reputation, there is a lot more to Pitbulls than most people know about. One of the most common questions that we have come across is “are Pitbulls good with kids?”
To answer this one, we had to look through both fact and fiction, getting a clear idea of what Pitbulls are actually like.
It is also important to know how to treat your Pitbull and how to acclimate him around kids. Here’s what you need to know.
To begin with, let’s clear up the air about Pitbulls. The term itself can encompass many different dog breeds. Many bulldogs are all lumped together under the tag “Pitbull,” but Pitbull should refer to the American Pitbull breed.
By nature, Pitbulls are affectionate and loyal. They love their families and will defend them to the death, which is one of the factors that can scare some people out there.
As a rule, they love humans and are more likely to be your friend than anything else. They have even been referred to as nanny dogs, due to their nurturing disposition.
Why Are People Scared Of Them?
So if by nature Pitbulls are not scary, why do they have such a bad reputation?
There are a couple of things that have caused their reputation to backslide, creating a culture that fears the breed rather than embracing it.
- Dog Fighting: Absolutely the biggest catalyst in the negative reputation of Pitbulls has to do with the knowledge and awareness of dogfighting. Pitbulls have been bred to fight in pits, hence the name. They are abused and starved and then put up against each other as people bet on the dog that they hope will live. Pitbulls are good at the illegal practice, creating the assumption that fighting is all the breed is good for.
- Strong Bite: Another cause for the fear surrounding Pitbulls has to do with the strength of their bite. A common rumor is that Pitbulls have the strongest bite. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Pitbulls are nowhere near the top of the strong bite list, but they also do not have a weak bite. The PSI of a Pitbull’s bite is around 235, putting the breed nowhere near the top. That said, 235 PSI can be strong all the same.
- News stories: Unfortunately, stories that include dog bites are often highlighted by the news. The issue is that the media often makes it seem a lot of bites are happening all of the time, but the truth is that it is just sensationalized by the media to provide a common threat that people can get interested in.
Should you always approach a strange dog with caution? Absolutely. But with their nasty reputation, it does not mean that your beloved Pitbull is going to do anything beyond adoring his family.
What About Pitbull Bans?
It is also true that the breed has been banned in various locations around the world. The breed is banned in 12 countries around the world, including New Zealand, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Poland, Norway, and Puerto Rico.
The bans vary from place to place. In some locations, it is ok to have rescued one, but illegal to breed them. In other locations, the breed is completely banned and any dogs found will be terminated immediately.
The reasons behind the bans is the same as the reasons that people fear the breed. The bite is strong, they have a public record of biting people, and the breed has been historically bred to fight and kill other dogs.
It is normal to be intimidated, but not all Pitbulls can even act aggressively if they wanted to.
Nature vs Nurture
The biggest factor here is the concept of nature versus nurture. The question is whether a Pitbull is nasty by nature or if that is something that has happened to him, because of a lifetime of poor treatment.
If you can acclimatize them to your vibe, you should have a mild-mannered and loving dog rather than one that is vicious and out to get you.
If you have ever met a dog that has been abused and neglected, you will have noticed that the dog either cowers from humans or the dog is poised to attack.
Both are defense mechanisms and a result of poor treatment rather than any kind of indication about how the dog’s personality really is.
There is still a prejudice around that says regardless of how a Pitbull is raised, the dog will be aggressive.
While some dogs, not breeds, have a higher tendency to be defensive that has more to do with the individual dog rather than the breed on the whole.
Why Pitbulls Made Good Pets
Let’s do a quick rundown about why Pitbulls make excellent pets.
- No grooming required: One of the nicest things about Pitbulls is that you do not need to worry about grooming them. They are incredibly low maintenance. They do not need frequent baths or need to be brushed.
- They are healthy: It can be very frustrating to adopt a breed with a dog that is riddled with diseases.
- They love people: In general, the breed is a people-pleasing breed. They love their people. They crave attention and love approval. It is not a dog that is going to hide when visitors come but will come out and ask for attention.
- They are naturally athletic: The breed is also very athletic by nature. They will happily workout with you and do not tire easily. They excel at agility competitions as well.
- They are cuddly: This might not be a selling point for all dog owners, but the breed itself does have a tendency to love to cuddle. They like the physical contact that comes from hugging and snuggling, making them a loving companion too many. It also means that they will cuddle up to most people without any trouble.
So…Are Pitbulls Good With Kids?
The ultimate question of course is whether Pitbulls are good with kids or not. Speaking to Pitbull owners who have had the dogs as part of the family, the first answer is yes.
Unless there is a pre-existing condition with your Pitbull, if you have adopted a puppy, you have no reason to fear that your puppy is going to attack your children.
As members of the family, Pitbulls harbor a reputation of being sensitive, fun, and pretty easy-going. The breed likes children on the whole and is incredibly tolerant and patient with them.
They see themselves more as a protector of children rather than seeing the children as a threat. Pitbulls are great therapy dogs for many children, acting as calm family members and not as a source of stress.
If you have very young children or babies, the dogs can also be around them, but just be cautious. A Pitbull is not a babysitter and should not be babysitting your children for you.
Do not leave your babies or children alone in a room with a dog of any kind, no matter how loving and wonderful the dog might seem.
The temperature of the room can change when it is just a dog alone with a small child and it is true that with any breed, you need to be controlled and careful about how the dog interacts with your young children. It will save you a lot of potential heartaches.
It is also important to remember that Pitbulls as a breed are not actually very big dogs. They are muscular and stout, but they are often short and small in stature.
The only concern that you should really have with Pitbulls is if you decide to adopt a rescue Pitbull.
This is because rescues often have an unknown history and with the risk of Pitbulls being used as fighting dogs, it should not be a concern that you easily disregard. Instead, you should try to be aware of the state of the dog before you decide to adopt it.
Rescuing an unwanted dog is wonderful and kind, but it is not always the safest idea if you have children in the home. If a rescue was kicked often, for example, it might cow away from children at first, only to lash out at them later.
Unless you have older children, it might be best to avoid rescue Pitbulls if their history is truly unknown and if they have no experience around children.
You can always try to foster one or take a Pitbull in for a trial period but do so with caution and patience.
You will need to watch the dog around your children at all times and you also need to be careful about your children forming bonds with a dog that they might not be able to keep in the end.
How To Introduce A Pitbull To Kids
The last thing that we want to cover is if you have decided to adopt a rescue or a Pitbull in general, is how you should introduce your new dog to children.
The best thing to do is to bring the dog around children immediately after you adopt him. Socializing a dog to be around children is recommended for all breeds, including Pitbulls.
To do this, you will want to have supervised interactions. Teach the children to be calm and gentle with the dog and how to play with him nicely.
If the dog is establishing boundaries, it is important to respect those all of the time. This includes when a child is simply trying to play or cuddle.
On the other side of things, it is also a good idea to praise your Pitbull when he shows love and affection.
If you can show him what it means to be a good dog, he will be able to continue to display that specific behavior for you, establishing a healthy relationship instead of a contentious one.
Even if you have adopted a brand new puppy from a breeder, teaching your children the dog’s boundaries will allow them to build a positive and trusting relationship that should last a lifetime.
If you are ready to bring a Pitbull into your hope, just do so deliberately and with intention. Planning well will set you up for a positive relationship with your dog and ensure he’s a good fit for your family.
Make sure the breed is allowed where you live as there are restrictions in some locations or if you are a renter, sometimes that breed is off-limits to rentals.
With good research and preparation, you can add a Pitbull as the most loving and newest member of your family.