Fighting to survive: The story of a submissive breed.

The conflict that could lead to the extinction of the American Pit Bull Terrier

Fighting to survive: The story of a submissive breed.

The American Pit Bull Terrier was created to be the perfect fighting dog, its history of origin gave rise to a tradition that remained strong for almost a century until the ban of dog fight in all American states in 1976.

Only those who have been blessed with a Pit Bull dog in their lives can understand where comes the passion and admiration for a breed with over 100 years of history, something you can’t express with words.
Documents and evidences points out that the goal was to create a dog completely submissive, who would be affectionate and companion with humans and that could give his life in combat if necessary. Not only Warriors but dogs breed for their loyalty.

“The Brooklyn Daily Eagle”. 21 Dec, 1932 (Brooklyn, New York)

As we learned in the last article “The origin and differences between the American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier”, during the 1930s breeders seeking to disassociate these dogs from combat gave rise to the Staffordshire Terrier that was recognized by American Kennel Club (AKC) and later by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), with this separation the American Pit Bull Terrier never got its due recognition and ended up becoming popular in smaller clubs specialized in the breed.

With the popularization around the world during the 80s and 90s, a persecution against these dogs and their breeders also started, like the Rottweiler and other guard breeds in the past now it was time for the Pit Bulls, like any other breed there have been accidents over the years but due to their history of origin the media found the perfect target, which culminated in the discussion of the breed’s ban.
While some countries are still discussing the ban others have already adopted it like England, Norway and Denmark.

An unanswered question

There are several incredible breeds of working dogs that came from the old Terriers, the old Bulldogs and the crossing of these two breeds, each breeder preserves the animal in its original work to maintain its characteristics; For this reason the most discussed topic among American Pit Bull Terrier breeders is how to preserve a breed that its original work was something illegal and it is precisely this reason that has put the American Pit Bull Terrier at risk of extinction.

Since the ban of dog fighting in the 70s it is common to see reports and newspaper articles about invasions that ended in the arrest of several people involved with the breed, dogs and entire bloodlines vanished over the years, sacrificed for being involved in combat and by being part of the group of dangerous breeds.
Many breeders who left their name in the breed’s history paid a very high price for it, receiving severe punishments from the law.

Even though it is illegal, there are still breeders who defend the traditional selection of these animals, while others seek alternatives such as sports, conformation shows, protection work and hunting.
What most think as a conflict that began with the origin of the Staffordshire Terrier or during the prohibition of dog fighting, is actually a topic that has been discussed since the early days of the breed.

Breeders like Lloyd Swineford, Chas Werner and Art Limbeck tried to show another side of these animals and improve the general public’s view of the breed.

Don’t let anybody tell you that fighting is all they are intended for. Remember it takes a real dog to guard your home, your wife and kids. A game pit bull terrier is onlу to turn the trick. My strain combines good look and gameness.

— Lloyd Swineford.

Old Ad from Charles Werner Pit Bulls (New Orleans, LA).

It reflects very badly on the whole Pit Bull Breed if undue sacrifice at this late day has yet to be made to establish its ethical right to be called Dead-Game, which standard through countless battles in the Pit to the satisfaction of the American it has established.
This dog above has proven to me his willingness to battle do death, but I have no moral right to let him do it to please myself or any other man.

— Charles Werner

Art E. Limbeck and Pit Bull Friends -The Lincoln Star Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) — 17 Sep 1951

Today it is common to hear the term “Pet” Bull, a reference to the Pit Bull selected by their beauty, many say that this term is wrong and that it was recently invented, however during my research I could find one of the first mention:

“The Oshkosh Northwestern” em 23 Jan, 1908. Oshkosh, Winsconsin.

Not every breeder who selects for the breed’s original function is a bad person, as everywhere there are good and bad people, many get involved with the practice beucase of their own ego or by seeking easy money, but there are breeders who select in the original way by tradition, a culture passed from father to son for generations, there are several studies in society who discuss how the culture of times past is still alive today and this is one of these examples.

Every time there is news about dog fighting, all the awareness raised by professional breeders to improve the breed’s image is discarded, dog fighting these days reflects negatively on the breed and offers more ammunition for law enforcement and organizations who seek to exterminate it.

Will the Pit Bull remain a Pit Bull even outside the selection for which it was originally created? How will the next generations deal with this issue? Will the breed continue in part in illegality, will it migrate to alternatives or will it be extinct?

I hope you have enjoyed this article, my goal is to promote the study and research of the American Pitbull Terrier, feel free to contact me, we can both learn and discover new pieces of history together.

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