Monday, June 25, 2012

The Sordid History of Pit Bull Fighting in 19th Century England

Additional Note: The following blog was cited in a paper, History of Dog Fighting in the World, which appeared in the April 2015 issue of the Journal of Animal Science Advances, 5(4), 1234-1237, by Professor Orhan Yilmaz of Ardahan University, Turkey, and two of his colleagues.    

I have been critical of anti-pit bull legislation on a number of occasions, and have mentioned my opposition in at least five blogs here.  This has led to unpleasant—mostly anonymous—emails addressing me as or equating me to the orifice on my backside. (I do not post these accusations, not because I can’t accept criticism or don’t tolerate cussing, but because I hope that I am encouraging reasonably intelligent discourse and such emails vastly disappoint this expectation.)  In describing dog attacks involving pit bulls, I have also been accused of supporting breed-specific legislation by shining too much of a light on which breed of dogs is responsible for attacks.  

Recently I received an email arguing that because the pit bull was created to fight, and with a temperament and physical characteristics appropriate for this activity, it is inherently much more dangerous than other dogs.  That difference justifies, in the commenter’s mind, a certain legal separation of pit bulls from other breeds. It was recommended that I look into the history to satisfy myself that pit bulls are in a class by themselves and should be kept “on a shorter leash” than other dogs. 

This criticism is fair up to a point.  While occasionally adding bits and pieces concerning the history of pit bulls in pieces I write, I have largely remained focused on recent legal decisions and research on dog bites.  It is time to say something about the early history of pit bulls, which transpired not that long ago, and in England. 

Invention of the Pit Bull Terrier  

To understand the origin of the pit bull, one must go back two hundred years to a time when two dogs fighting to the death in an arena was as acceptable as two prize fighters punching each other in Las Vegas is today.  It was considered an advancement when dogs were no longer allowed to bait bears and bulls, though enforcement of the laws criminalizing these contests was probably lax even at the beginning of the 19th century. 

Phil Drabble, writing a history of Staffordshire Terriers and baiting sports in 1948, says that when bull baiting was outlawed, fighting between bulldogs was used to replace it.  While bulldogs had the necessary aggressiveness, they lacked an appropriate level of agility, so various crosses were tried, the most successful being with terriers, eventually producing a group of bull terriers. 

Lt. Col. Clyn (1948), in his brief description of the Bull Terrier, elaborates:

“Bulldogs, though more active than the modern type, proved too slow in the fighting pit and breeders were concerned with increasing the Bulldog’s speed and agility without sacrificing his power to bite.  To achieve this end Terrier blood was introduced and the resulting cross-breeds were called Bull-and-Terriers or Bulldog Terriers.  These when bred together eventually produced a distinctive type which, early in the 19th Century, became known as Bull Terriers.”

John Henry Walsh, writing as "Stonehenge," says in The Dogs of the British Islands:  

"The Bull Terrier, like his chief progenitor, the bulldog, is now without a vocation, dog fights being prohibited by law, and rat pits being equally out of the question. But, unlike the bulldog, he is an excellent companion for the male sex, being a little too violent in his quarrels to make him desirable as a ladies' pet. Careful crossingsaid to be with the terrier, but also alleged to be with the greyhound or foxhound, or both-has produced a handsome, symmetrical animal, without a vestige of the repugnant and brutal expression of the bulldog, and with the elegant lines of the greyhound, though considerably thickened in their proportions."

The first plate depicts two show dogs that Walsh saw as excellent examples of the breed. As to the dog's behavior, Walsh states:
 
"The bull terrier is still judged by the fighting standardthat is to say, he must have all the points, mental as well as bodily, which are necessary to the fighting dog. If of pure bull parentage or nearly so, he is unfitted for the office; for, instead of laying hold and shaking his adversary for a time with great force, and then changing to a fresh place of attack, as the fighting dog should do, he keeps his hold tenaciously, and never changes it but on compulsion. The infusion of terrier, greyhound, or foxhound, or whatever may be the cross, gives activity of body in addition to the above mental peculiarity, and thus is created an animal calculated to take his own part in any combat, whether with one of his own kind or with any of our native larger vermin, or even with the smaller felidae of other lands. His temper is sufficiently under control to prevent his intentionally injuring his master, under the severest provocation, and he is admitted to be, of all dogs, the most efficient protector against attack in proportion to his size and muscular powers. He is a very cleanly animal in the house, and many years ago I had one which, being by accident confined in my bedroom surreptitiously for four days, under the care of a person who fed him, but neglected to let him out as directed, for fear of discovery, never once relieved himself of any of his secretions, by which he very nearly lost his life."

Genome research has put the Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Miniature Bull Terrier in the same group as the Bulldog.  See vonHoldt et al. (2010). A recent study (Larson et al., 2012), in a supplemental table S1, stated that the Bull Terrier was created "by crossing English Bulldogs with several breeds including Black and Tan Terriers, Spanish Pointers, English White Terriers, Dalmations, Greyhounds and Whippets in order to create a dog breed that would fight other dogs."

A Show Dog Has to Fight

Pit Bull Terriers were of various colors but a show dog, Puss, entered in a show at Cremorne Gardens near Chelsea was all white and was a big hit.  Part of Puss’s history is given by Clyn:
“On the day of the show there could be no question that Puss was much smarter and more graceful than her old fashioned rivals, but the old breeders were convinced she could never hold her own in the pit; tempers frayed, and heavy wagers were offered at odds against Puss till Mr. Hinks could bear it no longer.  Refusing to profit by his rivals’ ignorance, Mr. Hinks backed Puss at even for £5 and a case of champagne against the best known fighting dog present in the show.  The challenge was accepted and the contest took place immediately in an improvised pit just outside the show. Tradition says that within 30 minutes the old fashioned champion was being laid to rest while Puss, almost unmarked, was back in the show, where she received First Prize.”

Dog shows have apparently changed somewhat in the last century.

The older type of dog was re-crossed with the newer type in the earlier 20th century because the white variety was prone to deafness.  The second plate shows a father and son, which Ash (1927) describes as “of the famous Paddington strain, never beaten.”  The caption says that the father had killed two dogs.  Ash relates an account that when a famous fighting dog gave birth to a litter, church bells were rung in Wednesbury. 

Dog Fighting in the 19th Century

By 1860, according to Drabble, there were two preferred types of fighting dogs, the English Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, but the former was developed more for show than courage.  The Staffordshire Bull Terrier continued to be bred for the pit.  At the Westminster Pit, fights were held between dogs, cocks, dogs and monkeys, dogs and lions, and dogs that were required to kill large masses of rats. 

Drabble goes into detail:

“The pit itself was roughly 12-18 feet across, with a boarded surround about three feet high, over which the spectators could watch.  Each dog was handled by his second and, after the preliminary formalities concerning the stakes had been completed, each dog was weighed in the pit.  It is common for owners of bull terriers which develop a taste for fighting, to boast that their dogs will 'kill anything' and that this dog or that ‘killed an Alsatian’ (or something equally big) ‘in ten minutes.’”

Watching a dog being torn to pieces for ten minutes was apparently something some dog fanciers were then excited by watching and, unfortunately, some still are. Drabble says that in fights before spectators, dogs were usually required to be within a pound of each other. As to timing. Drabble says that “two dogs would sometimes take as much as two hours to decide which was the better and rarely less than 25 or 30 minutes.”

Trickery practiced by dog owners included rubbing a dog “with acid or pickle or pepper or anything to discourage his opponent from biting him.”  To prevent this, both dogs were often washed before the fight began, sometimes with milk, which was supposed to neutralize acid.  Also, “each setter was allowed to ‘taste’ (or lick) his opponent’s dog both before and after fighting.”  Clyn says that the taster was sometimes a third party who was given a shilling to assure that “no corrosive chemical or other poison had been rubbed into the coats of the contestants.”

The beginning of the fight was rather formal:

“When the preliminaries had been completed a coin was tossed to decide which dog should ‘scratch’ first.  They were taken to opposite corners of the pit where each second held his dog between his knees so that the other dog got a fair unobstructed view of his opponent’s head.  On a word from the referee, the dog wich had to ‘scratch’ first was liberated and had to go across the pit to attack his opponent.  A line was drawn cross the centre of the pit, which was known as the Scratch, and the opposing dog could not be loosed until the attacker had crossed this line.  When he crossed the scratch the other setter could loose his dog when ever he liked and it was judgment here that won or lost many battles.” 

Being held put a dog at a disadvantage, but Drabble says that if the setter kept holding and the dog that had been released did not attack the dog being held, the match was forfeited to the dog being held. 

Once the dogs began to fight, the setters could leave the pit.  They could encourage their own dogs but could not speak to the opponent’s dog.  Neither dog could be touched again until both stopped fighting.  If the dogs stopped fighting, a setter could pick up his dog and the round was counted as expired.  “One minute was allowed for sponging down and making ready for the next round, and the referee gave warning after 50 seconds so that both should be ready when the minute was up.” 

Rounds were not set times but were ended when both dogs ‘faulted,’ i.e., ceased to be engaged in fighting, so a round might go for 20 minutes or more.  “A battle of an hour or more might have twenty scratches, or one dog might be killed in the first scratch.”  Drabble notes that in old prize ring rules, fighters fought until one fell. 

A dog that failed to scratch in his turn lost.  “If a dog was killed in the pit the other had to stay at him for ten minutes at least and he could still not be handled by his setter till he faulted.” Thus, dogs were encouraged to continue to maul a dead opponent for the entertainment of the watchers.  Once the mauling dog finally faulted, he was taken to his corner.  The scratch rules had a curious result at this point:

“If it was the dead dog’s turn to scratch the battle was automatically lost.  If it was the live dog’s turn and he did not scratch, he lost the battle although he had killed his opponent.” 

Since the live dog would know by smell that his opponent was dead, it must have been a matter of training to get the dog to fake an attack at that point.  

Writing in 1948, Drabble says that the sport was rare in Britain after the turn of the century, “but game terriers are still bred and exported to America where the sport is still perfectly legal in some States.”  This, of course, was true even at the time Michael Vick was arrested. We have the British to blame for the preferred dog fighting breed in America.  

To get a dog in fighting trim, Drabble has a number of recommendations:

“The first considerations in getting a dog fighting fit are therefore his wind and the removal of all surplus fat.  He must be given constant hard exercise to get him muscled up and in dead hard condition, this can be best achieved by giving small quantities of highly nutritious food with an absence of starchy food during training.  The jelly from cows’ feet and an adequate supply of fresh green food forms a good basis. Plenty of hard walking on a lead with a wide collar so that he can lay himself down and pull helps to strengthen his back and loin muscles.  An old motor tyre or other piece of rubber hung up so that he can jump up, catch hold and shake himself about on it is simply vital.  The damage a fighting dog does is not so much by the sheer force of his bite as by shaking when he has got hold.  And his neck and back muscles are essential for this.  Plenty of running and jumping for a ball that bounces well strengthens all the muscles he uses in turning and twisting, and produces the required agility.” 

The advice rings a little too true.  One must wonder how Drabble came by it.  He describes the proclivities of the breed:

“Puppies will fight to kill at three months and bitches are as keen as dogs.  Yet some strains are remarkably friendly to other dogs and will put up with unusual insults before being goaded into fighting.  When once they get a taste for it, they would rather fight than do anything in the world.”

That untrained pit bulls will readily attack other dogs is demonstrated by a recent incident in Florida.  

As to those who participate in dog fighting, Drabble says they are general of “a low parentage” and “are usually as willing to fight each other as to watch their dogs.” 

Drabble recounts that efforts to ban dog fighting at first met little success:

“There was little initial interference from the law, since it was possible to fight two dogs in any hollow or shed without attracting much attention, for fighting dogs fight silently.  They were easy to get away afterwards, as they could always be carried in a sack if their condition was likely to draw suspicion. And dog-fighting had the advantage over bull- or bear-baiting in that at least both animals wanted to fight instead of the victim having to be fastened with a rope or chain with no chance of escape.”

Bull Baiting

Drabble says that Bulldogs “were developed for no other purpose” than baiting bulls.  See also R. and W. Livingston (1885).  This activity did not begin as a sport, but rather because of the belief that beef was more tender when cattle were excited by dogs before being killed.  The dogs were thus, at first, the same dogs used for driving cattle.  The sport—for it soon came to be onewas long popular in England and Drabble describes the devotion of Queen Elizabeth I to watching it as “anything but spinsterish.” 

The tide began to change with James I, who in 1620 refused to license houses for bull-baiting and it was forbidden altogether on Sundays.  Cromwell forbade the sport altogether, though this may have been because he saw the gatherings as having the risk of turning political in a way that would not favor his control.  The Restoration brought it back. 

Bulldogs used in baiting weighed under 50 pounds, and Drabble discusses the importance of their jaws.

“The object in bull-baiting was to grip the bull in a tender enough part of the face to hold him still or throw him.  Tremendous power of jaw was necessary for this and nostrils set far enough back to allow normal breathing without letting go.” 

As to the fight itself, Drabble states:

“When all was ready the bull was tethered to the stake by a rope about 15 yards long attached to the base of his horns…. [The dog] would not rush madly at the quarry but creep on his belly, stealthily, as close as possible.  If the bull was a ‘green’ bull, which had never been halted before, he would bellow and lower his head towards the dog but do little else, for he didn’t know what he’d got coming to him.  If, on the other hand, he was a ‘game’ bull, which had been baited before and proved his mettle in the ring, he would not get at the extremity of his rope but would leave himself enough slack to charge when necessary.  He would lower his head and keep his forelegs close to prevent the dog slipping between them and getting hold.  The aim of the dog would be to creep along and wait for an opening, when he would dart in and ‘pin’ the bull by laying hold of his tongue, eyepiece, lip or nose.  The bull would not try to impale him but slip his horn under his belly and toss him high enough into the air to suffer damage when he fell.  The dog’s owner was well aware of this and he would be ready to try and break his fall by catching him in his apron or deftly slide a light pole under him, in mid-air, down which he could slide in comparative immunity.  If the bull was successful and the dog not much hurt he was let go again since he was expected to be game enough to go back so long as he had still the strength to crawl.”

Some dogs were killed by the bull’s toss, and some dragged their entrails behind as they tried to find safety.  If the dog got a good grip, the flesh of the bull might be torn away by the dog as the bull shook to free himself. If the bull gave up, the dog’s jaws might have to be pried apart with a tool to get him off the bull. 

Drabble says that the last bull-bait took place about 1838. 

Although bulldogs were still a popular breed when Drabble wrote in the mid-twentieth century, he cautions against imagining “that the monstrosities wheezing at modern dog shows in the classes for bulldogs are like the animals” that baited bulls.  “Instead of being disproportionately squat and broad, like some great toad, the bulldogs which were used in the ring were finely proportioned dogs, little heavier in build than a modern Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and taller for their size.”

This is one case where breeding for show had the advantage of taking a dog away from its violent past.

Bear Baiting

Next to bull baiting in popularity was bear baiting, but Drabble says that “bears did not provide such good sport as the bulls.  For one thing too much manipulation was necessary to prevent the dog from being killed.”  The bears were “usually a mass of festering fly-blown sores which had resulted from the lacerations of earlier ‘baits’. They were led by a chain and ring in the nose and their muzzles were scarred or raw from the chafing of their chains.”

By about 1750, the sport had largely disappeared. Nevertheless it seems not to have gone away completely because, a depiction in Real Life in London from about 1821 shows men in the audience dressed in nineteenth century coats and leggings.

There is no end to the ingenuity of cruelty and we have only touched the surface. Drabble describes fights between groups of bulldogs and lions, dogs and monkeys, and many other horrors. When the contest was between a dog and rats, the sport was how many rats the dog could kill in a specified time. 

Guarding Function

Clyn relates a story that perhaps demonstrates there are occasions when a dog with the skills of a bull terrier might provide a legitimate defense function:

“The breed has a reputation for fighting which it does not really deserve; I think this is founded partly on the breed’s history as a fighting dog and also partly on the shocking efficiency of the few savage Bull Terriers about; the modern dog is but little less powerful than his ancestors, and a nice tempered White Bull Terrier bitch, well known on the bench, created something of a sensation in Burma some years before the War while defending her master who was attacked by an armed dacoit [bandit].  Within a few moments the dacoit was dead and the dog’s owner was paid a substantial reward that had been offered for the dacoit dead or alive.”

Conclusion

Bulldogs were able to escape their history as dogs used to bait bulls because the practice came to an end and no netherworld of gambling on fights between dogs and cattle lasted very long after the official ban.  Bears became too rare, and too protected, and, as described above, fights between bears and dogs were too difficult to manage in any case.  Unfortunately, dog fighting was only gradually outlawed in England and the United States and often not enforced when it was outlawed.  The sport had time to move underground, to develop a culture and venues where the morons that engage in it could meet with fellow enthusiasts.

Many of the potentially more dangerous breeds descend from war dogs, which probably means they descended from types of dogs that guarded the flocks. Outlawing a breed only means that other breeds including large dogs with powerful jaws will soon be preferred by those sick strains of humanity who feel that the suffering of animals is amusing.

The Michael Vick case brought public attention to the amount of dog fighting that occurs in the United States, and demonstrated that those who participate are often not gang members.  It also brought to everyone’s attention the frequent lack of enforcement of laws prohibiting dog fighting, and significantly changed enforcement patterns in most of the country. 

Despite the specific and violent purpose that explains pit bull origins, this is human history more than canine history, and I continue to believe that breed specific legislation will do little to diminish dog fighting or pit bull attacks.  It is serious enforcement of anti-dog fighting and dog bite laws that will accomplish that.  And despite the fact that this is already a trend, more effort is needed both in arresting and punishing those responsible for such inhumanity and stupidity.

Sources:
  1. Alken, H. (1903). The National Sports of Great Britain. D. Appleton & Co., New York.
  2. Ash, E.C. (1927). Dogs: Their History and Development.  Ernest Benn Ltd., London.
  3. Clyn, S.H. (1948). Bull Terrier.  In The Book of the Dog (Vesey-Fitzgerald, B., ed.). Nicholson & Watson, London.
  4. Drabble, P. (1948). Staffords and Baiting Sports. In The Book of the Dog (Vesey-Fitzgerald, B., ed.). Nicholson & Watson, London.
  5. Egan, P. [writing as Anonymous] (1821). Real Life in London.  Methuen & Co., London.
  6. Evans, R.D., and Forsyth, C.J. (1997).  Entertainment to Outrage: A Social Historical View of Dogfighting.  International Review of Modern Sociology, 27(2), 59-71. 
  7. Jesse, G.R. (1866). Researches into the History of the British Dog.  Robert Hardwicke, London (in the final chapter of Volume II, discussing the rise of the pit bull terrier in the early 19th century).
  8. Larson, G., Karlsson, E.K., Perri, A., et al. (2012). Rethinking Dog Domestication by Integrating Genetics, Archeology, and Biogeography. PNAS (doi/10.1073/pnas.1203005109).
  9. Livingston, R., and Livingston, W. (1885). The Bull-Dog. In The Century Magazine, May 1885, 3.
  10. Walsh, J.H. ("Stonehenge") (1859). The Dog in Health and Disease. Longman, Green, Longman, & Roberts, London. 
  11. vonHoldt et al. (2010). Genome-Wide SNP and Haplotype Analyses Reval a Rich History Underlying Dog Domestication.  Nature, 464, 898.
  12. Walsh, J.H. (1882). The Dogs of the British Islands (4th ed.). Horace Cox, London.  
Thanks to L.E. Papet for comments and corrections.  
    1.       

    15 comments:

    1. As the caretaker of two pit bull mixes, one of which is a Pet Partners therapy dog, thank you for continuing to be a voice of reason. I've been on the other end of nasty incidents and judgments simply because of my dogs' looks, despite the fact they are two awesome canine citizens who participate in agility, nose work classes, attend dog daycare and live with three indoor kitty cats.

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    2. I am struggling with all this. I rescue and rehome dogs and a few have been pit mixes - and thank goodness all went well. Still, the problem I have with need for prior proof of aggression is that quite frequently with pits the first sign is a horrific mauling or fatality. Just a couple of examples: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/animal-rights/pitt-bull-mauls-veternary-clinic-worker-laura-miller-arm-amputated ; and http://www.truecrimereport.com/2011/08/darla_napora_pregnant_pit_bull.php

      This is extremely rare with other types of dogs, but almost daily there is a pit type attack that surprises the owners and others that knew the dog. Usually the owners may not have been expert dog people, but they are not all gang members who let their dogs run loose either.

      I have had a couple of amazingly wonderful pit mixes myself (rescues who stayed) so I understand the love of these dogs. But I have also had a child tell me what it felt like to be eaten (and lose an arm) while conscious. That is pretty life changing.

      We regulate risky cars, kids toys, their pajamas, swimming pools, etc. It just does not seem right that anyone should suffer a horrific mauling so that I or anyone else has the "freedom" to own any dog or animal we want. In reality I have lost my own rights to walk my own dogs in my neighborhood because we are no longer safe due to the vast numbers of pit type dogs in my area.

      It is omplicated, and my beliefs have changed as the numbers of pits has increased. I also don't see that we are making any headway at all in reducing the numbers of these dogs that are bred, abandoned, neglected, abused, and / or killed in shelters and in the streets. If we are not improving safety and we are not saving the dogs - what are we doing? Shouldn't we look at other options?

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    3. Hi Gini, the two incidents you mention (Darla Napora and the vet tech attack) are very unusual. In Ms. Napora's case no one will ever know what happened, as she was alone. Pretty much every canine expert will tell you that a dog does give signals when an occurrence like these events happens. We just aren't reading the signals leading up to the attack.

      You can go to many websites of behaviorists, veterinarians, trainers, geneticists, and even Science Daily studies, who will tell you that pit bull type dogs are no more likely to bite or attack than other dogs and that all dogs are capable of great harm--the larger the dog, the greater the harm. Dr. Ian Dunbar, Dr. Patricia McConnell, Dr. John Bradshaw, Victoria Stilwell, Jim Crosby, Janis Bradley, Dr. Jim Ha/Companion Animal Solutions, Jean Donaldson, Dr. Sophia Yin, National Canine Research Council, Association of Pet Dog Trainers, 4Paws University, Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, etc. have reams of information about the reason behind dog attacks. Geneticist Dr. Kristopher Irizarry has recently been interviewed a few times talking about the fact that pit bulls genetically are not more likely to attack than any other breed and especially what people are calling pit bulls these days, which are any dog with a large head and stocky body.

      The final paragraph of this blog sums it up nicely. Breed bans are not the answer. There have been breed bans in place in areas for over 20 years and as you point out, pit bull type dogs are rampant. Bans have obviously not worked. Ban or regulate one breed of dog and the criminal types will move on to the next "bad boy" dog of the moment and so on and so on. That's like saying that if we get rid of all guns in our country, it will solve the problem of criminals having access to them. There's a reason they are called criminals, same as dog fighters and just plain bad owners who do not appreciate what a wonderful companion a dog is. They don't care about public safety.

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    4. Im also struggling with this. Historically this breed was engineered to be an agressive breed. I recently experienced an unprovoked attack. There was no signal prior to attack and it comes from a family with children that care for it very well. In addition i worked trauma. Of 22 of dog attacks...... 14 were pitbulls. The others chows and a few other breeds. Im sorry but its difficult to trust an animal genetical built to defeat much larger animals. Insight on this appreciated.

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      1. We have to look at the outstanding population of these breeds. If an area is populated by 80% Caucasian people, 15% African American People and 5% Hispanic people, Caucasian people are going to be the leading cause of violent crimes simply because their numbers are much larger then people of other ethnicities.

        You also must look at all the different type of breeds that are being called 'pit bulls'. If we lumped all the different 'shepherd' type dogs into the same umbrella turn like we do 'pit bulls', then these breeds would face the same issues.

        We are calling dogs 'Pit Bulls' because these dogs have large, blocky heads and short muscled bodies.

        http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/findpit.html

        Can you find the pit bull?

        When you take into account that ALL of these breeds (and mixes of these breeds) are often times FALSLY prosicuted as 'pit bulls' it makes statistics even more condeming for the breed.

        I have had more people ask me if my PURE BRED and REGISTERED American Staffordshire Terrier was a boxer then I have ever had people correct the right breed.


        Also, as a dog trainer, I have had to seek more medical attention for bites from small dogs then I ever had in my 13 years of owning and training 'Bully' breed. And it was a Germans Shepherd who almost took my nose off.

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      2. The very fact that some breeds have been mixed with pitbull has caused these attacks! And no, if you lumped all terriers together, or all pointers together they still wouldn't have as many attacks as pitbulls. Don't fudge the numbers, they don't lie. But pit nutters do, and will say anything to keep their dogs even though they know they may attack humans or other dogs. And yes, most dogs will give signals when about to attack or being agitated, but NOT the pitbull it was bred to not give any warning signals in the pit, so no you are totally wrong on that as well!

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      3. No you are wrong, even if you lump all terriers, or all pointers, or any other class they would still not be as many deaths or maulings as pitbulls have! Also, yes other breeds give warning signs when about to attack, but NOT pitbulls they were training to never give any warning in the pit so you are totally wrong on that!

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    5. I absolutely loved everything you wrote its people like you that highlight my day when I can actually find real history on a dog breed like the pitbull or Staffordshire terriers.I love this breed just like my own family they are deeply rooted in how I was brought up as a child and the way I will bring my children up loving them. THANK YOU!!!

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      1. From dogbreedinfo.com:
        "The American Pit Bull Terrier was bred as an all-around farm dog, working the farms as a cattle/hog dog. Some chose to turn their talents into the sport of pit-fighting. The breed’s tenacity and accompanying strength are unmatched in the canine world. As rich and captivating as the breed’s history is, the Pit Bull’s future is more worthy of commentary. Some proponents of the breed argue that this breed is the original bulldog of the past. Old prints and woodcarvings show reason to believe this. They show dogs that look exactly like the breed today, doing things the dog is still capable of doing."
        This is the original working and bull baiting dog of England. The APBT is arguably the most versatile and popular breed on earth. I agree with you they make for great pets, as I have two bulldogs (APBT). They were not bred to fight. They were bred to work and for interaction with humans. Highly tolerant, powerful, fearless, social, intelligent, agile, loyal, and protective. This dog has all the qualifications to excel and be used for anything any other breed of dog can be used for, even dog fighting. More than anything, these dogs make for great family pets. They are not more dangerous than any other dog, as you and I know, but they are a very versatile working breed with power and agility that give them the ability to cause serious damage when they actually do go on the attack (which is rare when we are talking about the average bulldog).

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    6. I just want to verify that pit bull is not a breed but is referring to 5 different breeds. I love pits and I don't believe in judging a dog based on other dogs bad circumstances isn't right. people just need to be responsible for all dogs in general. my pits have never bittin anyone yet I was attacked by a lab. they are suppose to be family dogs. just depends on how the dog is raised.

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    7. they were also first made to pull plows and herd large cattle and other livestock

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      1. Exactly. From dogbreedinfo.com:
        "The American Pit Bull Terrier was bred as an all-around farm dog, working the farms as a cattle/hog dog. Some chose to turn their talents into the sport of pit-fighting. The breed’s tenacity and accompanying strength are unmatched in the canine world. As rich and captivating as the breed’s history is, the Pit Bull’s future is more worthy of commentary. Some proponents of the breed argue that this breed is the original bulldog of the past. Old prints and woodcarvings show reason to believe this. They show dogs that look exactly like the breed today, doing things the dog is still capable of doing."
        This is the original working and bull baiting dog of England. The APBT is arguably the most versatile and popular breed on earth. They make for great pets, as I have two bulldogs (APBT). They were not bred to fight. They were bred to work. Highly tolerant, powerful, fearless, social, intelligent, agile, loyal, and protective. This dog has all the qualifications to excel and be used for anything any other breed of dog can be used for, even dog fighting. More than anything, these dogs make for great family pets. They are not more dangerous than any other dog, but they are a very versatile working breed with power and agility that give them the ability to cause serious damage when they actually do go on the attack (which is rare when we are talking about the average bulldog). But if power is what makes a dog more dangerous, then there are other breeds that are larger and stronger that have bulldogs beat in how much damage they can do.

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    8. From dogbreedinfo.com:
      "The American Pit Bull Terrier was bred as an all-around farm dog, working the farms as a cattle/hog dog. Some chose to turn their talents into the sport of pit-fighting. The breed’s tenacity and accompanying strength are unmatched in the canine world. As rich and captivating as the breed’s history is, the Pit Bull’s future is more worthy of commentary. Some proponents of the breed argue that this breed is the original bulldog of the past. Old prints and woodcarvings show reason to believe this. They show dogs that look exactly like the breed today, doing things the dog is still capable of doing."
      The APBT is the original working and bull baiting bulldog. Original bulldogs were never slow. They were capable of lightening-fast movements and fast turns and could avoid being trampled and killed by large game like bulls and bears. APBTs also have a high pain tolerance and will see a task through to the end. This made them a good choice for dog fighters after bull baiting was banned. They even weigh the exact same as the original bull baiting bulldogs (around 50 pounds like you said).

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    9. Though I may not be able to comment as intelligently as the others within this blog, nor can I say that I have a credible opinion, I love this. Shows a great mixture of personal emotion and documented fact. Also I found a viable picture a research paper I'm doing. So thank you good sir. Also I'm likely a few years too late for this to be seen or noticed.

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      1. This article shines damning evidence on this breed, so I don't know how people can be commenting that pitbulls are no more likely to attack than other breeds this article proves otherwise! How can the author be against BSL when he has uncovered evidence that would support BSL

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