Every dog owner in the world will tell you their dog, and the breed is great with kids. That might be true for puppies that grew up alongside children and are now completely child-proof.
If you do not have a dog and want to see how another breed works in a family dynamic where there are children, the Pitbull can be an appealing option. You certainly heard many things about the breed, but some skepticism is keeping your finger off the trigger.
Worry not, for Pupvine comes to your rescue with this article. This will be a breed profiling session such as you have never seen. You will meet this mixed-breed dog better than you know your parents and get a straight answer to the question, “Are Pitbulls good with kids?”
Putting The Pitbull Into Perspective
Pitbulls have been used as fighting dogs for decades, and the bad reputation that placed them in the aggressive dog breeds bracket was not due to their temperament but to the ugly traditions we humans enforced on them.
The American Pitbull is a mixed breed, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). However, the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognizes them as the American Pitbull Terrier, which means they are seen as a pure breed.
Dogs from the terrier group are known for their unwavering loyalty and willpower to finish any task set upon them by their owner. These are not bad traits, but they can be abused. Pitbulls being a naturally aggressive dogs that will chomp everyone on their path is a misconception.
Any decent Pitbull owner will be proud to show their well-behaved Pittie to others. Nothing separates this breed from, let us say, the German Shepherd in terms of aggressiveness. I would even say that the Pitbull has a slightly higher tolerance for children than the GSD.
It all depends on the dog’s pedigree, breeder, individual expression, and, by and large, the way an owner conducts themselves caring for the dog.
In simple terms, the Pitbull qualifies as a nanny dog, provided it is well taken care of and not from a bloodline of abused dogs or a rescue that has been through hell. Buying cheap can sometimes carry worse consequences than buying twice, so additional costs are a secondary concern.
This is a very basic answer to the “Are Pitbulls good with kids?” question, so let me elaborate on it.
The Truth About Aggressive Behavior Towards Children In Pitbulls
Among the vastness of dog breeds people consider kid-friendly, the Pitbull receives the most praise from their owners. However, that is a point of view not shared by many others (usually not dog owners), so conflicting reports will definitely put you on the fence.
Seeing reports of vicious Pitbulls jumping over fences and biting children is concerning, but mainly an owner’s fault. Humans do a lot of horrific things, so we should be considered a vicious breed too.
The American Pitbull Terrier is an aggressive dog, but not in terms of attacking mindlessly. All self-assured and dominant breeds express aggressive behavior that stems from their dominance.
Challenging a dog’s territory or threatening its pack members (family) is going to result in aggressive behavior. This is a natural behavior that we humans express too. After all, Pitbulls were bred as warriors. Even the most civilized Pitbull will stand its ground.
There is nothing in any dog breed that will make them “bad” with kids. Still, certain breeds, like the Belgian Malinois, are not a prime choice for easy integration in a household with kids.
While the Belgian Shepherd dog is not a child hater or unfriendly towards them, they are herders and exceptionally active, which is why training is not optional. This is a valid reason for all parents to skip getting a shepherd dog if they want their kids to walk freely around the house.
Giant dogs, such as the St. Bernard dog, are not a good option either because of their size. Yes, they can be gentle, but two hundred pounds of muscle and drool are not going to tiptoe around your small child in the living room.
Similarly, the Chihuahua is a small dog that is very aggressive and clingy. If you have small children in the house, it will not be easy or quick to teach the Chihuahua how to behave with the kids. If you have an itch about this Chihuahua statement, read about the reasons they are so aggressive.
The True Nature Of The Pitbull
I could tell you all about responsible ownership, but this article is about the breed. The love child of the Bulldog and various Terrier breeds gave us the Pitbull.
Ethical and responsible breeders have been hard at work to crystalize good health and sound temperament in the breed for decades, and they succeeded in their efforts to create the ultimate all-around dog.
American Staffordshire Terrier genetics run strongly within the Pitbull breed, and work ethics come in the first place. The strength and dominance are inherited through the Bulldog ancestors, making for a blend of amazing traits.
A Pitbull literally loves its family to death. They would die trying to protect any family members from danger, and not many other breeds can boast of such natural protective instincts. If the dog was not abused, then young children will be safe and sound at all times around a Pitbull.
We all know kids are full of energy, and the Pitbull can match their pace in terms of activity levels. Playtime has to be taken seriously with this breed of dog.
Due to the high energy levels of a Pitbull, you will have to figure out a structured training program that combines strength, agility, obedience, and stamina to fully satisfy the exercise requirements.
Socialization Plays A Major Role
Nothing will teach a dog the family dynamics better than a loving home. Proper interaction within the family is an example for the dog of how to behave with every individual member.
Pitbulls are so in tune with their nature that they will protect the little rascals if you, as a parent, start yelling or start behaving toward them in a way that promotes human aggression. If that is not a family dog, then I do not know what would qualify as one.
This type of behavior is definitely a sign of a great guard dog. Strangers and guests will receive a square-off upon entry, seeing how the Pitbull commands its space in a dominant fashion.
Still, your Pitbull puppy will have to be exposed to different scenarios that will most likely include dog parks, playgrounds, other homes, outdoor recreational facilities, etc.
The breed is not people-oriented by default (unlike a Golden retriever). With Early Neurological Stimulation and proper handling after ENS is finished, your Pitbull should be able to resist any temptation in whatever circumstances.
Living with other dogs is another important factor. If you have a Chihuahua or some other small breed that has mood swings, a dog bite might happen. This behavior is unwanted in a Pitbull and can be a signal that the Pitbull puppy was not introduced to the other dog properly.
For this reason, exposure to animals, people, children, objects, sounds, and visual stimuli at a young age can prevent a lot of unwanted behavior in Pitbulls. This is equally valid for all dog breeds.
Pitbulls Are Valiant Teddy Bears
If you are lucky enough to find a long-haired Pitbull, you will have both teddy bear looks and behavior in your dog. For the vast majority of people, the looks will have to wait, but the sweet nature of the Pittie with its family is a sight to behold.
The Pitbull loves to cuddle. They will mostly do that with the owner or the head of the house, but feel-good vibes can strike at any time. A Pit can be the best dog you will ever own if you choose a good breeder and thoroughly research the breed’s needs.
A popular picture was doing the rounds on the internet a few years ago. It was of a Pitbull smiling. Retracting the corners of their mouth is usually a sign of submission, and that is when you have your dog’s full confidence.
Rottweilers are similar in terms of temperament, and yet they, too, are a breed banned in certain parts of the world due to their “aggressiveness”. We had to write an article answering the same question you are asking today, but for the Rottweiler to address the misconception.
To further expand my answer to “Are Pitbulls good with kids?” I will tell you that they are good for kids as well. Being low maintenance means your kids can groom it and, in the process, create a strong bond.
Here is a shameless plug of our article on the twelve best brushes to keep that Pitbull coat smooth and shiny. You are welcome.
The pragmatic Pitbulls is also a smaller medium-sized dog that will adapt to life in an apartment as well as it would in a house with a large yard. You can teach them virtually anything, and they will gladly go to the ends of the Earth to fetch that stick your kid threw over the fence.
If your child is still a baby, the Pitbull will be the best dog for the circumstances. Imagine this: your baby is finally asleep, and you want to enjoy those few minutes of bliss lying on the couch. Enter Mexico’s finest — the Chihuahua.
It heard someone walking out on the street, and the bark fiesta is underway. The baby wakes up, starts crying, and your smile melts into your face. Life is not so grand.
A Pitbull does not bark unless necessary. In that same scenario, you would probably be enjoying the company of your gentleman Pittie, who helped entertain the baby before it fell asleep. You might think this is an exaggeration, but trust me, it is not.
Why Would A Pitbull Attack A Child?
I do not condone singling out the Pitbull in this question. It is better to ask why any dog would attack a child. You might be surprised by the number of answers to this one, so here are the most common explanations.
Asking a direct question such as “Are Pitbulls good with kids?” cannot be answered with a yes or no, and like many things in life, dualities are often grayer than we would like to believe.
1. Breeding For A Certain Temperament
Should a Pitbull act aggressively around a child? The answer is a definitive no. However, the dog you have might be from a breeder who has an aggressive temperament in their Pittie’s bloodline.
If you breed dogs that are naturally more confrontational and less calm in tense situations, the trait will gradually become instilled into every dog and litter produced. This is why the majority of reputable Pitbull breeders make it known that they are breeding for sound temperament.
These negative traits would ruin their business and tarnish their reputation in the show ring or in various agility competitions. The second reason is that people would be at risk of getting bitten by their own dogs, and that is a legal matter.
To avoid such outcomes, most breeders do temperament assessments of puppies before they are even available for selection. The American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) performs these evaluations, and the Pitbull has an 87.4% pass rate.
Compared to the Chihuahua’s 69.6% pass rate, it is clear that Pitbulls are balanced dogs with sound temperaments. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier scores even higher, at a 90.9% pass rate.
We could probably conclude that American Bullies and bully breeds, in general, have an excellent temperament test scores without signs of unpredictable behavior. Keep in mind these tests were performed on dogs that came from breeders.
2. History Of Abuse Or Neglect
It comes as no surprise that a large number of owners in the US simply abandon a Pitbull once they are inconvenienced by its physical and mental needs.
The breed was found to be the most abandoned dog breed in the US in 2016, and unfortunately, it is still among the most numerous in rescue centers. Pit Bull Rescue Central is a great resource for exploring new info about the breed and finding a rescue Pitbull to adopt.
With the trend of abandoning dogs, most are left to fend for themselves and suffer abuse and injuries that change their behavior in a major way. In most situations, humans are the source of suffering, so the dogs learn to be wary and aggressive towards them.
Whether simply by association or because they take part in the hurting of animals, the sight of children rings all of the Pitbull’s alarm bells. Faced with a fight or flight situation, the Pitbull will more often than not choose to fight due to its natural warrior-like instinct.
Even after being adopted and cared for by the new family, a Pittie will have those negative memories ingrained forever. Seeing a child just walk by might be a trigger that can make them snap back in an effort to prevent being injured or abused.
A dog that loses trust in humans will never fully regain it, and because of that, it is very difficult to find new homes for Pitbull rescues that went through abuse or neglect. Parents do not, and should not, take chances with these cases despite the high likelihood of the dog’s affinity towards children.
3. Health Issues Can Make A Dog Aggressive
Small children often do not understand what is going on, and their reading of a situation might prompt aggressive behavior by the Pitbull despite doing nothing wrong.
Pitbulls are a relatively healthy breed, and the serious conditions they can have are not that common, but it is in the nature of dogs to be more defensive when their immune system and body is in a weakened state.
If a small child is trying to pet them while they are hiding away from sight or touches a sensitive (hurting) spot, the dog might growl, show their teeth, or very rarely bite them.
Most Pitbulls will not exhibit that kind of behavior towards children and will be patient until it really becomes bothersome.
At that point, like any other dog with a balanced temperament, they will simply come to the parent for “protection” or move away where the kid cannot reach them.
Noticing behavioral issues in your Pitbull should warrant an immediate visit to the vet or animal hospital. In the best-case scenario, you should at least ask for veterinary advice.
Learn To Read The Pitbull Body Language And Teach It To Your Kids
Dogs predominantly communicate via body language and smell. This is the way of the dog, and learning about it means you have to “study” their behavior and methods of interaction.
A staring gaze and tail carried higher with raised ears and a closed mouth are universal signs that a dog is alerted by something. This is mostly caused by unknown sounds, scents, or visual stimuli.
Before an act of aggression, the Pitbull will not cower in fear but rather assume a posture that signals readiness for a fight. Ears will be raised, and the body put in a stance that makes them appear larger and quicker to jump and bite.
In most cases, the mouth will be tense, and it might show teeth to intimidate the “adversary”. A look of maximum focus accompanied by brow wrinkling and a fast-paced sideways tail wag or high-held tail signals that a pounce is imminent.
Just like dogs should learn how to interact with and around children, the little ones need to learn how to distinguish between a non-friendly and a friendly dog.
Even if you do not have a Pitbull as your family pet, teaching them these signals is going to be beneficial to their future interactions with any dog. Are Pitbulls good with kids? Yes, they are, but the kids have to be good with the Pitbulls too!
One more time, please. Are Pitbulls good with kids? If you are still asking me that question, then you need to read this article again. Jokes aside, the Pitbull is great with kids. The bad reputation that surrounds the breed’s name is needlessly fueled by the media.
Never form your opinions based on what other people say. Choosing the most extreme cases to paint the picture of an entire breed is ridiculous and damaging to the large majority of dogs that are the polar opposite of aggressive and vicious.
I will again reiterate that some breeds, like the Chihuahua, are small, insecure, and aggressive. Still, everybody laughs at those Instagram reels where the Chihu growls, shows teeth, and bites some guy whenever he approaches it.
Disclaimer: I have nothing against Chihuahuas, and they are just an example of how size and fashion can create different standards for different breeds. In the end, the question has been answered, and with all the advice from this article, I hope your Pitbull search goes well.
I guess I just cannot let you go into the world without all the information. Check out this list of the best Pitbull breeders in the US as a starting point for your journey.