Pitbulls carry an unfortunate reputation among much of the public largely due to a historical association with aggressive traits. This reputation has led to many asking, “are Pitbulls good with kids?”
In this article, we hope to break down some of the myths of public opinion to show that Pitbulls are indeed great with kids.
We will also explore the importance of treating your Pitbull well to ensure they acclimatize well around kids. Read on to learn more about integrating your Pitbull to your young household.
Firstly, let’s be clear about what we mean when we refer to Pitbulls. The term often encompasses a variety of dog breeds from Bulldogs to Pitbull Terriers.
For ease in this article, we refer to Pitbulls as the American Pitbull breed.
Pitbulls have a loyal and loving nature. When housed in a loving home they will reciprocate it and defend the household at all costs.
Their desire to defend those they love can scare some into acquiring a Pitbull.
Pitbulls get on well with most humans and will love to be your companions. Their ability to nurture has led to them being known as nanny dogs.
Why Are People Scared Of Them?
Knowing that Pitbulls have a loving and affectionate nature, you may wonder why many are scared of the breed.
There are a few reasons why the Pitbull breed has had a difficult reputation.
Firstly, the bad reputation derives from a historical association with dog fighting.
Back in the day, Pitbulls were specifically to fight in pits for public entertainment. These dogs were purposively starved and abused and made to fight to the death.
These circumstances were manufactured to bring out the very worst aggressive traits of the breed. Unfortunately, this practice does still occur illegally which helps fuel the perception that the breed is aggressive and not suitable for kids.
A second reason why Pitbulls garner a negative public reputation is because they have a strong bit.
It is rumored that Pitbulls have the strongest bite of all dog breeds, but this is a myth! Dog bite power is measured through PSI (pounds per square inch), with the Pitbull measuring 235.
This is not near the top of the leaderboard, compared to a German Shepherd which measures 291 PSI.
Well-known media stories are another cause of the negative reputation for Pitbulls.
A rare one-off story of a Pitbull biting or contributing to a fatality can be blown up by the mainstream media without thought for the context of the situation. Often Pitbulls who display overt aggression have been abused.
Any dog who is a stranger to you should be approached with caution as they may not react well to unfamiliar folk. The same applies to approaching Pitbulls but this does not mark them out as aggressive, unsafe breeds.
What About Pitbull Bans?
It is correct that Pitbulls have been banned in various parts of the world. To date, the breed is banned in 12 countries including Belgium, Brazil, France, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Poland, and Puerto Rico.
The national bans vary in each location with some specifying it is legal to house a rescue Pitbull but it is illegal to breed them.
In some locations, the breed is completely banned with any known Pitbull terminated with immediate effect.
The main driver behind these bans is the negative and fearful public perception of Pitbulls. The fear is based on Pitbulls having a record of biting strangers as well as the historical knowledge of the breed being used for fighting and killing other dogs.
Pitbulls can act aggressively if unduly provoked and it is perfectly normal to be intimidated. However, they are not overly aggressive dogs.
Nature Vs Nurture
One of life’s biggest questions is the nature vs nurture debate. When applied to Pitbulls, they point is whether Pitbulls are inherently nasty or whether environmental factors have nurtured them to have aggressive tendencies.
If you purchase a Pitbull at the 8-week mark and have time to bring them up in a loving household, the chances are that they will easily acclimatize to their environment and be a loving, mild-mannered dog.
Pitbulls who have been neglected or abused will no doubt have aggressive traits and be poised for attack when they are threatened.
This is simply a defense mechanism against their mistreatment rather than an act of aggression. These dogs will often struggle to shed these traits, but with retraining and loving home, it can be possible.
Despite this nature vs nurture debate, many still believe that no matter the upbringing, Pitbulls are born aggressive. This is simply not true and may only apply to individual dogs rather than the whole breed.
Why Pitbulls Made Good Pets
Fighting against this negative public perception, let’s outline the reasons that make Pitbull’s brilliant pets.
Very little grooming required: Pitbulls are a very low-maintenance breed. Their short coat is easy to maintain with very limited brushing. The short coat also self-cleans well and does not require frequent bathing.
Healthy breed: Some breeds are riddled with diseases and defects, but this is not true for Pitbulls. They are a healthy, active, and versatile breed that will bring you joy.
People lovers: Pitbulls are generally a people-pleasing breed. Assuming they are surrounded by love, they will gladly reciprocate and show affection. They are attention seekers and will regularly want their owner’s affection for their reassurance. When visitors come, they will come out, say hello, and crave attention.
Natural athleticism: Pitbulls are inherently athletic and will enjoy workouts with you without getting too tired. They are particularly adept at agility competitions too.
They love cuddles: While this may not be a priority for many dog owners, Pitbulls do love cuddles and companionship. If you are motivated to have a dog to keep you company, a Pitbull regularly displays its affection by wanting to keep you in close contact.
So, Are Pitbulls Good With Kids?
Knowing this information now about Pitbulls, are they indeed good for kids? On balance, the answer has to be yes, especially when seeing the positive responses to the breeds by households with kids.
Unless you are aware that your Pitbull has a pre-existing health condition, or has been adopted due to it being abused by its former household, you have nothing to worry about. Pitbulls will not attack children.
Pitbulls are very easygoing, sensitive, and fun-loving when they are incorporated into a household. They will display their love to all family members and are known for being particularly patient and tolerant of children.
Pitbulls will see themselves as the household protector, particularly for children. Rather than seeing children as a threat, Pitbulls will see them as essential family member who needs extra protection.
Pitbulls are commonly used as therapy dogs for children suffering from various mental or physical health issues.
They can reduce stress for children and act as a calm companion.
If you have babies just be cautious as Pitbulls are not a substitute for a babysitter. They will remain calm but possibly be a bit more cautious.
They should be observed at all times when in the same room as a baby. This rule applies to any breed but when a dog is left alone with a baby there should always be an adult present to prevent any potential negative behaviors.
Remember, a Pitbull will be more powerful than the baby so express caution.
Although Pitbulls have a powerful physique, the overall size is not very large. They have stout, muscular stances but are generally quite small in size.
The main safety concerns regarding Pitbulls and children come when adopting a rescue Pitbull.
Although the rescue shelter will have done tests and therapy with the abandoned dog, their history and experience with their previous owner are somewhat unknown.
As Pitbulls have a history and a black market reputation as fighting dogs, you never know if the Pitbull you are adopting was a former fighting dog.
This is a perfectly valid concern and something you should raise with the rescue shelter. You should get as much information on the rescue dog before committing to adoption in your household with kids.
The thought of rescuing an abandoned or unwanted dog is a very noble act but it does come attached with various risks. For example, if it was regularly kicked in its last abusive household, it may lash out when provoked by kids.
If you have young children it may be a safer bet to avoid getting a rescued Pitbull as you do not the extent of abuse and how they will cope in a new household with youngsters.
A good option would be to foster a rescue Pitbull for a trial period and closely observe how they get on with the kids in your household, before committing to a full adoption.
You should also ensure your children don’t get too attached in case it is a dog who is not suited to your household in the long term.
How To Introduce A Pitbull To Kids
A last important element to cover is about introducing a Pitbull to your kids and getting this process right is important to creating a solid foundation for the relationship between the Pitbull and your household.
The best way of getting your children familiar with your Pitbull and vice-versa is by surrounding it soon after they enter the home. Early socialization with children is recommended for Pitbulls but also for all dog breeds.
To ensure socialization is safe and productive it should be commenced first through supervised interactions. Children should learn to be gentle and calm around the dog and appropriately play with them.
As the Pitbull begins to establish boundaries in terms of zones of the house or manner of playing style, this needs to be respected by the household.
For example, if your child simply wants to hug the dog but they don’t want to reciprocate, your child needs to respect their space.
If Pitbulls feel unnerved or uncomfortable they can display aggression as a defensive mechanism.
When your Pitbull does display love and affection, it is always best practice to praise them and provide a treat. That way, your Pitbull understands good from bad, and right from wrong and will develop those loving traits that make them great household companions.
As Pitbulls are easy to please, once they learn good behaviors they will be eager to continue displaying them.
Likewise, if you teach your children about your dog’s boundaries, a positive relationship will grow as the boundaries will not be stretched.
Planning well for the arrival of your Pitbull is essential for households who want to successfully integrate their Pitbull with their young family.
Identifying the spaces for interaction and socialization strategies will leave you with a solid foundation.
Before purchasing or adopting, double-check that you are legally allowed to have Pitbull in your residence as some places can be picky.
Hopefully from this article, you can now conclude that Pitbulls are good with kids.
We have tried to demystify the negative public perception of the breed, which although carrying some elements of credence, should not be taken as gospel.
If you purchase a Pitbull as a puppy from a reputable breeder and provide them with a loving home and healthy active lifestyle, the chances of your Pitbull being overly aggressive and dangerous to have with kids is very unlikely.
The only circumstance in which you should express caution is when you adopt a Pitbull from a shelter and you are unsure of the extent of the abuse and mistreatment they suffered.
Dogs in this situation can unduly lash out and may not be ideal with kids. However, fostering them first can be a good option to see how they integrate with your household.