Pit Bull Awareness: Breaking Down Breed Bias

Did you know that October 25 is National Pit Bull Awareness Day?

That’s right. An entire day dedicated to appreciating these often misunderstood dogs. Media sensationalism and breed stereotyping has led to the pit bull terrier being one of the most misunderstood and discriminated breeds.

What is a Pit Bull?

Let’s start by looking at what a “pittie” is and is not. Pit Bull is not actually a specific dog breed. It is more of a blanket term used to describe dogs of similar lineages and characteristics. In fact, the AKC does not recognize pit bull as a dog breed.

So what does that mean? With out getting too far down the rabbit hole — since there are a lot of strong opinion on the subject — the term pit bull or pittie is typically used to describe dogs of the following breeds or mixes:

  • American bulldog
  • American Staffordshire terrier
  • American pit bull terrier
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • English bull terrier
Image courtesy of ASPCA.

Since pit bull is not technically a specific breed, it is often used to describe dogs with similar physical characteristics, such as a short coat, wide blocky head, and muscular build. This is often misleading as many dogs who “appear” to be and are labeled as pit bulls often don’t have any of those breeds in their DNA.

To learn more, check out Best Friends Animal Society’s excellent resources on pit bulls, including their history and breed discrimination.

Breed-Specific Legislation

Breed-specific legislation (BSL), also knowns as breed discriminatory legislation, is the practice of laws being passed to regulate or ban people from owning specific types of dogs — perceived as dangerous and a threat —such a pit bull terriers, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers.

Image courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society.

Not only are these regulations a knee-jerk reaction to the media frenzy over dog bites or attacks, they are short-sighted and don’t truly address the issue. Rather than address the root issue of dog bites, this type if discriminatory legislation incorrectly pins the blame on certain types of dogs, based on reputation rather than facts. There is no proof that BSLs makes communities any safer for humans or other animals.

Read more about BSL, why the ASPCA thinks it is ineffective, and how you can help fight this type of breed discrimination.

Whether you love pit bulls or not, take the time to get to know them and help bust the myths about these friendly, loving dogs.