Yes, It is the Breed.
Nature vs. nurture is the great debate when it comes to pit bulls. Anytime a pit bull attacks Facebook blows up with people taking sides in the argument. The most recent tragedy comes from Oklahoma, a 3-year-old girl was mauled and killed by a pit bull, bulldog mix the family adopted a days prior. The story comes just a few weeks after a woman was found dead in the woods after her two pit bulls attacked her.
Whenever a story of a pit bull attack pops up online it gets met by a fury of comments, passionate people on both sides of the argument.
I have developed my own opinions on this issue that may be unpopular to some people. I will add a disclaimer stating I am not a veterinarian, I have never worked for an animal shelter, nor have I taken animal science classes. However, my opinions are not baseless and I hope you respect my opinion just as I respect yours. With that said, these are my thoughts when it comes to pit bulls and other aggressive breeds.
It is tragic that we see so many attacks from family dogs. In just over a week there were 3 reported attacks by pit bulls, 2 of which turned deadly. This is a tragic pattern.
According to the ASPCA:
Dog breeds are characterized by certain physical and behavioral traits. Each breed was developed to perform a specific job, whether that job is hunting rabbits, retrieving downed birds, herding livestock or sitting on people’s laps. When developing a breed, breeders selected only those dogs that performed their job best to produce the next generation.
The article walks a thin line when it comes to their position on pit bulls. They begin to discuss the breeding of pit bulls, the reasons for the breed, and how breeding does impact the behavior of the dog. Later in the article they discuss that breeding isn't an absolute and dogs are individuals.
I have heard people say that pit bulls were originally bred to be nanny dogs. I searched this "fact" on Google and discovered that it originates from a blog, not a credible source.
According to the same ASPCA article from above:
Today’s pit bull is a descendant of the original English bull-baiting dog—a dog that was bred to bite and hold bulls, bears and other large animals around the face and head. When baiting large animals was outlawed in the 1800s, people turned instead to fighting their dogs against each other. These larger, slower bull-baiting dogs were crossed with smaller, quicker terriers to produce a more agile and athletic dog for fighting other dogs.
Here is where my opinion comes in, hear me out.
When someone owns a terrier dog and that dogs brings home a "gift" for their owner of a mouse, mole, or other small rodent people brush it off as it's the breed. Terriers were bred to control the small rodent population, so today's terriers (even if not specifically trained to do so) will kill small rodents because that is what the breed was bred to do. People usually don't think twice when this occurs and again will just point out the breed.
If you live in a city people will sway you away from getting a herding dog. Why? The reasoning is herding dogs need space to run because they were bred to run and herd sheep and cattle. They say you should have a big fenced in yard so these dogs can do what they were bred to do.
I have a golden retriever at home who LOVES to run and play fetch. She also bites on toys softy. Why is this? Retrievers' name answers that question. These dogs were bred to retrieve during a hunt. They are not bred to kill, they were bred to run after a bird that was killed and bring it back to the owner. This requires the dog to fetch and have a soft bite so it does not pierce the skin.
So here is my question for you. If we use these excuses when it comes to other dog breeds, why do people feel like pit bulls are an exception?
When someone has a weimaraner or a boxer people expect the dog to be hyper. Huskies are great working dogs. Newfoundlands love the water.
If people use these characteristics for all other dog breeds why when it comes to pit bulls do people feel like the rules don't apply? This does not only go for pit bulls, but all naturally aggressive dog breeds.
If you go to an animal shelter the majority of the dogs are pit bulls. This cannot be sheer coincidence.
(On the left: Rylee Marie Dodge, 3-year-old Oklahoma girl killed by family pit bull.)
I won't sit here and say there has never been nor will be an exception to the rule. There are pit bulls who would never attack a single soul. There are other breeds that are not known to be aggressive that have their outliers. However, people analyze patterns for a reason. Patterns make indications. When you have 3 pit bull attacks in just over a week, one of them killing a 3-year-old girl another killing a Louisiana woman, you have to think there is something to it.