Monday, April 25, 2011

Designer Pit Bulls

As you may know- many different types of dogs masquerade as "American Pit Bull Terriers" or "pit mixes" or "pitbull type dogs." Winnie sometimes looks more like a lab than the 1/4 Staffie terrier that she is, but I think of her as a pittie-mix. Bruno is mostly mutt (maybe some Dalmatian and boxer) but he is certainly a pit-mix (my mother says "its the shape of his head!" and apparently that's all that matters.)

Last weekend was Easter weekend: we were home with Bruno and my Mom asked- What is a pit bull after all? Can you have a pure-bred pit bull?

I answered no- there is no such thing. I decided to write a post about the different types of dogs that are considered pit-bulls and the ones that really shouldn't be.

To me- a "pit bull" is a type of mixed-breed dog that looks a certain way and has a particular affection for people, they tend to have smooth coats, have short folded- or up straight ears, be 35-55 pounds and somewhat muscular with a short snout and a square-shaped head. A lot of shelter dogs fall into this category. (As I showed in a previous post, all of these dogs are considered Pit mixes at Animal Care and Control of NYC:) reminds readers: "A "Pit bull” is NOT a breed. It's a generic term often used to describe all dogs with similar traits and characteristics known to the public as "pit bulls." When we use the term “pit bull” here, it should be understood to encompass American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers." Here is some more info on pit bulls at Pit Bull Rescue Central.

The Animal Farm Foundation writes, "Over time, we realized that the dogs we were helping were not necessarily pure bred American Pit Bull Terriers, but dogs that people called "pit bulls." "Pit bull" is not a breed or breed mix, but an ever expanding group that includes w...hatever an animal control officer, shelter worker, dog trainer, politician, dog owner, police officer or newspaper says it is."

However, Backyard-breeders and people who have developed the breed for its tough-look, large head, muscles and sometimes fighting ability do advertise their dogs as "American Pit Bull Terriers." I do not consider these dogs to be "pit bulls," they are often double the weight of an average pit-bull type dog and have very specific characteristics that would be better categorized in their own new breed. Backyard breeders are breeding their dogs based on what is trendy- like this new "tri-color trend."

This dog's puppies are being sold for $1000 each online as "ABPT"s:

It would take genetic analysis, but I would venture to say that a dog like this is as different from a typical "pit bull type dog" as a pit-bull is from a bulldog.
These dogs' (probably actually mixed with bulldogs) puppies are going for $2000 each:
This one is advertised as being "XXL" and "Extra Wide" with "thick bones, wide chests" and somehow "pure bred, top of the line, blue ribbon"
This 92 lb monster with his "26.75 inch head" is somehow considered a pit bull terrier even though he is 2-3 times heavier than the standard pit-mix.

These dogs are bred to look as beefy as possible-- like this when they are only 2 weeks old (this one goes for $3000 by the way.)
It only takes a brief online search of "pit bull puppies for sale" to find horrifying pictures like this-poor dogs treated like masculine extensions for their owners' self-esteem.

Breeders of all types of dogs evolve the breeds they work with through generations of selective breeding, and the same thing is happening here- pit bulls selected and inbred over many generations are being bred to be bigger, tougher, and more serve-looking.

This practice has gone on for centuries to produce guard dogs and working dogs, but the problem here is that these dogs are being sold to people who do not know how to handle them- who often refuse to neuter them- and who want to breed them themselves to make money. This ends up putting more genetically aggressive dogs into the stray and unwanted dog populations and floods many city shelters. It also hurts the reputation of "pit bull type dogs"- dogs that may be smaller, better with children, and less dog-aggressive like these:

How exactly are these dogs considered the same breed? I think it might be time to gather the "real" APBT "breeders" out there who seem to be merging their dogs with bulldogs and selecting for large/short characteristics and form a new breed, a breed that can be standardized like all the others. That way, these pittie mixes and be recognized as different and unique from this other "designer" breed of dogs.

What do you think? What do you consider your pitties to be?

1 comment:

  1. Nice article. One thing to keep in mind when you see the "Spot the Pit Bull in this Picture" poster is that a dog breed is not a scientific classification. You can not determine a dog's breed through DNA testing because there are no genetic markers for a dog breed. The DNA test used in that poster is bogus -- it's a novelty item as accurate as your astrology chart. It will get equally erroneous results if you test a group of golden retrievers, rhodesian ridgebacks, dachshunds or any other dog.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...