If I send you a picture of my dog, will you tell me if it’s a pit bull?

No. While some breeds of dogs have a very uniform, distinct appearance, pit bulls are neither a single breed, nor identical in appearance. “Pit bull” is a vague term that encompasses many breeds and types of dogs. Pit bull mixes are even more varied in appearance. Even the physical description of a “pit bull” can change depending on who is doing the describing. “Pit bull” has come to represent a very vague, subjective, and undefinable “look.”

This is one of the primary reasons why breed-specific legislation, which necessitates the identification of “pit bulls,” is such a ridiculous and unjust concept. It is very easy to see “pit bull” in any dog if one looks hard enough. If you live in an area with breed-specific legislation (BSL), you must contact your animal control department to find out who makes the legally binding determination as to whether your dog is affected by such legislation. It could be a vet, an animal control officer, or a city clerk. Different localities have different rules; seek legal assistance if necessary. Unless your dog is pedigreed, the entire process of breed identification is highly subjective.

See also: What is a “Pit Bull”?

I want to crop my dog’s ears. When and where do I get that done?

Cropping is a painful and humiliating procedure done to a puppy during the most sensitive stage of its mental and behavioral growth. It can leave the dog with physical and/or mental scars, especially if done improperly.

Medical reasons for cropping ears are extremely rare and should only be done after serious consultation with a vet. Says veterinarian T.J. Dunn, Jr.: “As a veterinarian with 32 years of experience treating hundreds of thousands of dogs during that time, I cannot find medical justification for cropping a dog’s pinnas.” The Textbook of Small Animal Surgery states: “Cosmetic otoplasty [ear cropping] is performed on the ears of certain breeds to meet breed specifications. There are no medical reasons for these techniques to be performed.”

The breed standards for all “pit bull”-type breeds state that ear cropping is not a requirement. Quite the contrary; in conformation events, all things being equal, preference is given to dogs with uncropped ears.

Most significantly, a dog with cropped ears looks vicious. This only feeds the stereotype that responsible pit bull owners have to fight against. Please do not crop your pit bull’s ears!

I want to breed my pit bull. Can you give me pointers?

No. Because of their reputation, “pit bulls” are the least desirable of any dog, resulting in hundreds of thousands of them becoming homeless and being killed in animal control facilities every year. Every dog born only aggravates the situation. Instead of adding to the problem, please help us save the thousands of homeless pit bulls and pit bull puppies that are dying in shelters every day. Wouldn’t you rather save a life by adopting a puppy from the animal shelter, instead of flooding the already saturated pet market with even more unwanted pit bull puppies?

There are many benefits to spaying or neutering your dog. Neutered/spayed dogs are less likely to bite/attack, develop behavioral problems, get reproductive cancers, run away, or “mark” their territory. They become more attentive, more obedient pets. They also live longer, healthier lives.

If you can’t imagine your life without puppies, please consider fostering. Animal shelters and rescues are always in need of temporary homes for litters of young puppies. You’ll get your cute puppy fix, and the animal shelter will be able to save more lives.

I need help training my dog or puppy.

If you are having trouble with housetraining, puppy nipping, obedience training, socialization issues, etc., there are plenty of resources available to you. Check out the books at your local book store or library. Search online canine behavior and training websites for assistance with simple problems (view my page). For more complicated behaviors such as aggression or separation anxiety, seek out a qualified trainer or behaviorist in your area.

My pit bull acts aggressively toward other dogs/humans. What should I do?

Seek the help of a professional behaviorist immediately! The behaviorist will evaluate your dog’s behavior, attempt to determine the cause of the aggression, and make recommendations. Aggression is serious and dangerous, and should be handled only by a professional. Please take extra precautions to keep your dog isolated until you can seek the advice of a professional.

See also: Aggression

My pit bull is a wimp. How can I get it to defend itself (and me)?

Your pit bull is not a wimp. It may have a submissive personality. It may be very dog- and people-friendly. These are good qualities for any dog to have.

Never encourage your dog to act aggressively or defensively toward another person or dog. When you tell your dog to “stick up for itself,” you are promoting independent aggressive behavior, which is one of the most dangerous and uncontrollable behaviors. Dogs can and do make mistakes! Do not allow your dog to make its own decisions. You are in charge, and you are responsible for protecting your dog and yourself!

If your “wimpy” dog frequently hides, shies away, keeps its tail and ears down, and/or has a hunched back and terrified eyes, your dog is very fearful. A fearful dog may be dangerous. If the dog is exhibiting this kind of behavior, you should seek help from a professional behaviorist immediately.

My city has laws against pit bulls. What can I do?

If you’re interested in getting rid of breed-specific laws, please get involved! Educate yourself as much as possible. Learn about dogs, dog behavior, pit bulls, and the law. Check out my anti-BSL site. Talk to some pit bull rescue groups. Unite your community.

Getting rid of BSL requires a community and group effort. More importantly, lawmakers want to hear from their constituents—locals like you—about these types of laws. You may use any and all information on my sites in your fight against BSL.

I need to get rid of my pit bull. Will you take it, or do you know someone that will take it?

No. You might try contacting a local pit bull rescue group, putting an ad in the paper, or finding a no-kill shelter in your area. Pit Bull Rescue Central also has good tips and advice for rehoming a pit bull. Before you consider giving up your pit bull, please make sure there is no other alternative!

A pit bull attacked my friend. How can you defend a breed that does this sort of thing?

Please keep in mind that an entire breed does not commit an offense—individual dogs do, and individual dog owners allow their dogs to do it. It’s not fair or reasonable to blame hundreds of thousands of dogs and responsible dog owners for the misdeeds of a few. Any dog of any breed can bite and kill. Also, remember that dogs do not choose their owners or the manner in which they are raised and trained.

Unfortunately, some irresponsible owners allow their dog to hurt others. Please do prosecute the owner of the offending dog to the fullest extent of the law—and please stop persecuting the rest. Dogs raised and kept by responsible owners will never be a threat and do not deserve blame for a deed they didn’t commit.

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