Earlier we touched up on the origins of the fighting arena which included this dog. From Rome to Britain, these dogs were used as fighting sport dogs which ranged in battles with other Pit Bulls, to lions, to animals as fierce as cage bulls, in which this dog invariably got its name.
In order to understand the influence that created the Pit Bull of today and what could be a dire future for the Pit Bull of tomorrow, you should be aware of its roots and origin. This remarkable and yet controversial dog is a mixture of strength and softness, between fun and serious business, all wrapped up in loyalty and love.
Where did Pit Bulls come from and why were they branded as the most vicious dogs that were ever to walk the planet?
During the sixteenth century, the cruel practice of bull-baiting was the favorite pastime of the British. Bull-baiting is a spectator sport in which one or two dogs were released and would try to grab a bull (which was chained to a stake) by the nose. This exhibit of tormenting the bull often lasted for hours for the purpose of entertainment. The British also had a misguided belief that torturing the animal before killing it made its meat more tender. For these reasons, bull-baiting became very popular to everyone from all walks of life.
This atrocious sport finally became illegal in England at around 1835, but that only forced the dog fighting fans and gamblers to conduct their own covert matches underground. And although organizing an underground bull-baiting event would have been a difficult task, setting up a dog fight in a barn or back room without being caught was quite easy.
The sport favored a somewhat smaller and swifter dog than the ones that were used at baiting bulls and other large animals. Many historians believe that the stocky bull-baiting dogs were crossed with the more swift and alert terriers to create a small, strong, and agile breed that was named Bull and Terrier. Other historians think that the Bulldog of the time was very similar to today’s Pit Bull and it was a simple process of choosing and breeding the most successful fighters.
As the Bull and Terriers or Bulldogs became less recognized for their bull-baiting ability and began to be more popular for their fighting skills in the pits, these breeds became known as Pit Bulldogs, or as we call them today, Pit Bulls.
Nowadays, Pit Bulls are recognized as fun loving dogs that would make wonderful additions to any family. But that way of thinking has not always been the case. Before they were considered great pets, these dogs once endured awful prejudice and unfairness because of their ability and strength.
Although dog fighting is considered illegal, fans and supporters continued to carry out the sport with minimal interference from law enforcement. In the 1970’s however, the American Dog Owner’s Association (ADOA) decided to lobby against dogfights. The association successfully brought public attention to pit fighting, helping to push it into the shadows and completely put an end to the sport.
But that did not stop the supporters and enthusiasts to carry on with the game. Dog fighting continued and went underground. Instead of turning people away, the sport’s illegal nature only attracted more people, many who whom knew more about the game’s pay-offs but had very little knowledge about the Pit Bulls.
Knowledgeable breeders of fighting Pit Bulls could no longer disclose information about training methods for fear of getting caught by the authorities. For this reason, novice dog trainers as well as Pit Bull breeders began using cruel practices to train these dogs. They would often use stolen puppies and other dogs to try to encourage the Pit Bulls to kill. These breeders and trainers would go as far as feed them with gunpowder to make them mean. In addition, they used other people to beat the dogs with clubs in order for them to turn aggressive toward strangers.
Needless to say, these poor methods of training were unsuccessful and the dogs rarely won at matches. The breeders and trainers had no other choice but to discard these dogs. The terrible harm that was done to these dogs made them very difficult to bring home as pets and the harm done to the dog’s reputation was beyond measurable.
While most people shun these dogs because of their notorious reputation, some people seek them in order to have the toughest dog on the block. Although certain types of breeds filled the position throughout the years, it was not until the early 1980’s when the Pit Bull made it to the top of the list.
While most people think that the Pit Bull makes the supreme macho dog, a lot of them do not understand the instinctive nature of the breed and the training it requires. In an attempt to create a bigger and more aggressive dog, these people promote random aggression and even cross their dogs with larger and more aggressive breeds. This mixture of bad breeding and bad training produced more aggressive dogs that have resulted in the Pit Bull’s notorious popularity.