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Get an expert’s take on the pros and cons of owning a bully breed.
open-minded suburban families, eccentric artists and even conservative law officers coo about the virtues of their hunky breed of choice. But along with this cooing comes an unsettling warning. Newbies are told with a wink and a smile, “But they’re not a dog for everyone.” What does that mean? It can seem like the owners of bully breeds belong to a special club where members speak in code. Gameness and dog aggression are curious terms that can intrigue and confuse the “uninitiated.” The media’s clumsy attempts to explain these animals might only mislead and muddy the conversation. Still, the fascination for bully breeds persists. Controversy and breed myths aside, how do you know if you have what it takes to live with a big-hearted bully dog? Try on these scenarios for size.
Strong in mind, body and heart, the bully breeds will give – and demand – much.
Bully breeds may look cool and intimidating at first glance, but insiders know better. These clownish muscle heads are shameless groupies who exist only to love and adore their people. They bond deep and heavy, and they display such a soulful empathy that you may be tempted to check for a zipper in your little human’s bully breed dog suit. It’s easy to get used to their gushing affection and flattery, but the friendship does come with a price tag. Your dog expects a lot from you, mainly: You, you and you. A smart dog shopper should do a personal inventory before committing. Do you have at least two hours a day to devote to your adoring fan? Can you keep up with the pressures that come with having celebrity status in your dog’s eyes? A lonely, tied-up-in-the-backyard dog this is not. Bully breeds consider it their right and privilege to be involved in the lives of their beloved people. Anything less, and you may have to endure the consequences of a
By Donna Reynolds, BAD RAP.org
From: ‘BULLY BREEDS’ - Popular Dog Series Volume 21 To order magazine: (888) PET-BOOK (738-2665)
These days, there’s a resurgence of interest in American Pit Bull Terriers and their bullish cousins as preferred family pets. Bully breed owners shivered with pride recently when a fashionable pit bull landed on the cover of the snazzy magazine, Town and Country. Everywhere we go, we see great examples of lovely bullys paired up with proud, enthusiastic owners: Urban hipsters,
How will it do this? You can expect to be (joyfully) tested by your bulldozer again and again in every situation and circumstance. easily influenced by pushy relatives and telemarketers. family and neighbors will freak. Give an inch and you invoke an ancient bully rite: the beloved Contest of Wills. and it’s a large part of what makes bully breeds so great to work with and so much fun to have around. pass Go and consider houseplants. When begging doesn’t work. Are you the type who can balance the needs of a demanding dog for some 15 years along with all the other responsibilities that life heaps on you? If not. some of your friends. Owners without a sure and steady backbone can lose a lot of ground and wear down quickly in this battle of wills. Your mom will feign heart pain and your brother-in-law will wave . you’ll have no better student. Witnessing this bravado in action is enough to make any overachiever weep with joy. this chutzpah is a constant. But if you’re the wallflower type. Whether they are working a spring pole (a hanging toy for tugging and swinging). Of course. No matter how many times you toss it down afterwards. now considered common property by your dog. We call this never-quit-quality gameness. These dogs aim to please. it fully expects that eventually you will give in and is just waiting for that fine moment. One example: The first time you let your dog sleep in your bed. crashing through brush on a search-andrescue mission or wrestling for a better spot on the sofa. They’re hardwired to enjoy a good challenge and pushy about getting what they want. more. it’ll persist in nudging its way back in or reminding you of this terrible injustice. Of course. and ignoring house rules are some of the ways a strong-willed dog says. behind every guilt-ridden bully owner is a dog that knows how to tug hard at the heartstrings. Digging. Because these dogs need to have limits and rules firmly (fairly!) laid out. “I’m bored – pay attention to ME!” Those who live with bully breeds frequently report suffering pangs of guilt when pleading eyes beg for more. chewing. when you first bring it home. pit bull types can do a grand impersonation of a bag of cement in order to secure their claim on your pillow. the bullish enthusiasm of your dog will be running your household in no time. If you’re the type that can confidently channel this can-do quality into amazing feats of stardom (or just plain good old-fashioned manners). folks with previous dog experience and students dedicated to the art of dog training do better with these breeds than novices. more. Smart dog shoppers should ask themselves: “Am I a hopeless doormat easily pushed into whichever direction the wind is blowing? Or am I a true-grit Rock of Gibraltar with a firm grip on how to be a fair and consistent leader of the pack? SMILING BULLDOZERS Bully breeds aren’t passive about anything. it’s all over – the bed is PIT BULL PARANOIA A sad truth: No matter the size or shape of your bully breed.very intelligent and terrifically determined animal that invents “creative” ways to entertain itself during your absence.
Your dog’s well-being will depend on your ability to be honest about your own personal limits. but you’ll repeat it anyway. She may actually enjoy the company of Bob. normal bully breed is going to love humans in a big way. This is an unavoidable reality in today’s time. Reactive neighbors may turn you in for having a so-called dangerous dog. No. be prepared to soothe and educate wary friends and family. But your dog is bound to have a short fuse around Bob. You’ll end up stockpiling volumes of breed information into your brain in order to educate the frightened.” Rumbling may have been socially acceptable back in the old days when “men were—ahem--men” and fistfights were honest. Even so. the huge help of socializing your dog won’t erase its genetics during those intense moments when both dogs want the same Frisbee. If you decide to get a bully breed. responsibly-owned family member. Who can blame them? Newspapers are quick to headline any story of a pit bull type getting into trouble. You can’t graduate from Bull Breed Reality School until you accept the possibility of dog-on-dog aggression as fact. a dog with a substandard temperament or both. the prejudiced and the misinformed. You know your dog is loving and wonderful and you’ve worked hard to be a responsible owner. but it’s a new world now. Some bullys are much more dog tolerant and some are closer to their historical fighting roots than others. and you’ll end up witnessing the ugly reality of this trouble one unhappy day when your guard is down and your dog is feelin’ grumpy. You’ll end up talking to more people about your dog than you ever thought you would have to. Here’s the gist of it: Your healthy. loving. but if push comes to shove and they end up in an argument. Mr. because he’s. the delivery man may refuse to deliver packages to your home. she’ll most likely end up the winner. RUMBLIN’ GENETICS: DOGON-DOG AGGRESSION Understanding this prickly breed trait is a must for every starry-eyed bully enthusiast. Thin-skinned types not need apply for this job. you ask? Kissing Aunt Flo one minute. If responsibility is a bad word to you and keeping on your toes in these situations sounds like too much work – Quick! Exit here and shop for another breed. or all bets are off. whether the culprit was an irresponsible owner. open your books and learn as much as you can from those who are living successfully and You’ll have to answer for those dogs and spend the rest of your time convincing the world that your dog is a valuable. Deny your bull breed’s genetics. No. Other municipalities will prevent you from driving into city limits with your dog in the car (sneak it in and it may end up confiscated). Doggy. well. and a bully can never be allowed to get into trouble with other dogs. a dog. snarfing at Bob the Beagle the next? Think of it this way: Your dog loves you because it gets it that you’re a human. but some people will never accept it. but each still carries the ancestral voice that whispers. If you’ve got the soul of a Boy Scout and your favorite creed is “Be prepared. . Even worse. you can do no wrong. No. “Don’t push my buttons. Still. but part of its blueprint is hardwired to scrap with other dogs. selective breeding for less fight drive has not wiped out this trait. How can that be. and your best friend may refuse to visit your home. your bully breed doesn’t necessarily have to have a fighting past in order to throw down with dogs. some cities may try to prevent you from enjoying your bully breed by proposing fear-induced breed-specific legislation. strangers will cross the street to avoid you and your dog. mothers will pick up their children when you walk near.” you may find that the benefits of a bully breed outweigh the extra work of managing its dog-aggression potential. The world may never believe you. Face it: This hurts.his hands and parrot every urban myth invented to warn you of your folly.
jump. quit while you’re ahead.org Securing the future of the American Pit Bull Terrier as a cherished family companion. tug. and check out more dog-friendly breeds. To avoid a drama scene like this. however: A bully breed’s quest for a good workout can also translate into inspired escape plans. so you’ll have to be ready to be creative in your search for action. SIBLING RIVALRY The idea of matchmaking dogs as buddies and housemates is a romantic notion. If the mere thought of living with a dog that needs to bounce.responsibly with their beloved bully breeds in a world full of other dogs. Supporting your bully breed’s love of sport means you’ll have to invent fun ways to help it kick up some dirt. leave the bully breeds out of the mix. Providing a loving home will earn you daily adventures and a die-hard optimist. Bully breed devotees will tell you that no other dog offers such a high return. with no worries about loud arguments or scraps. run. pull out the tennis For more info on pit bulls. EXERCISE NEEDS Bully breeds are gold medal athletes. multiple dogs can spell trouble in a home where a bully breed resides. smiling bully running loose and having himself a little adventure. If your idea of the perfect life is a happy pack of romping pooches. Dog parks aren’t going to work for mature bully breeds (too many opportunities for conflict and trouble). owners should commit to working out ways to safely contain their dogs in the yard. dig and wrestle exhausts you. if you’re an active type who would love a loyal workout partner. and even opposite-gender dogs that get along should be separated from each other when no one’s around to supervise. visit www. endless good humor and unparalleled love from a dog pushy enough to insist that life was meant to be lived with gusto. pulling you on a skateboard – take your pick! One warning. nothing creates a panic more quickly during these times than a wide-mouthed.BADRAP. Without careful planning and smart management. Same-gender pairings are famous for friction. . Of course. Think: well-muscled power lifters with an aptitude for gymnastics. shoes and get ready for the benefits of the Pit Bull Fitness Program. dog sports. carefree. spring poles. or preferably. running on leash. indoors in between workout sessions. Treadmills. But. Many ambitious bullys think nothing of jumping a 6-foot tall fence or digging fast tunnels underneath. including Bob the Beagle and all his friends.
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