What Happened to America’s Dog? The Decline of the Pit Bull’s Reputation

Over the past few months, we’ve posted many times about the problems with breed-specific legislation (BSL), especially about how pit bulls are treated under the law. We’ve seen dogs euthanized for no reason other than their breed, service dogs taken from owners because of their breed, and dogs labelled as “inherently dangerous” because of there breed. It makes one wonder: have pit bulls always been viewed this way? The media would have us believe that these dogs were specifically bred for fighting. But as an excellent article from Mutts Matter Rescue on the history of the breed makes clear, this is not the case:


During the first half of the 20th century, Pit Bulls were the closest thing the United States had to a national dog. They were featured on U.S. recruiting posters in World Wars I and II, prominently featured as corporate mascots and cast as the ideal family dog in television and movies.

The article traces the history of the breed in America, after immigrants had imported the dogs before the Civil War. By the early 1900s, pit bulls were among the most popular breeds in the country, and famous pit owners included Theodore Roosevelt, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Helen Keller. “Because of their loyalty and temperament,” the article states, “they even earned the nickname ‘nanny dogs,’ entrusted to watch over and protect children while parents worked on the farm. Pit Bulls were America’s sweetheart breed: Admired, respected and loved.”

To find out how the breed’s fortunes changed and why the media has driven the “dangerous dog” narrative,

Click here for the full story. It’s well worth your time.

Photo above by HorraxC, via Wikipedia and used under GNU Free Documentation License.


Petey, a pit bull, was one of the stars of the “Little Rascals” comedies.

photo via animalrescuecorps.org

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