We're not worried about our Pit bulls being around our baby

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Julie
Photo courtesy of mediavida.com
Photo courtesy of mediavida.com

Through the course of becoming a mom I have experienced my fair share of raised eyebrows and well-meaning unsolicited advice sessions. Our choice to have a homebirth, to skip purees and head straight for solids, our stance on vaccines — all of it and more, important and not, has been held under a microscope. I mean it's just what we all go through as parents, right? Everyone else has done it before, or at least their cousin has, and now they know better and want me to know better, too. It's understandable really and mostly forgivable. But sometimes concern crosses into uninformed hysteria and that's where I get a little stabby.

The most persisting hot topic in my life as a mom is the fact that we have two Pit bulls. Well, an American Staffordshire Terrier and a Pit mix extraordinaire to be exact, but really we all know regardless of what I call them they'll always just be Pit bulls. Are you nervous? Oh please don't be!

Photo by maplegirlie, used under Creative Commons license.
People we know and people we don't know get really concerned about our housing two strong dogs next to such a tiny, tasty little babe. Even Google is sending out its fair share of warnings! Do a quick search of CUTE Pit bulls and you're guaranteed to come up with an image of a poor baby missing its face on the first few pages. It's awful! And definitely something I don't want for my kid, just for the record.

Look, I get it. Strong dogs are intimidating, especially when they're widely portrayed as unfriendly and violent. I've never tried to pet a bear for that very same reason! (But I must say, if a bear licked my hand while being all consumed with happy wiggles I might reconsider.) If someone doesn't feel safe around my dogs by all means don't interact with them, I certainly won't be offended. That being said, last week I didn't see the necessity in a woman's pressing herself against a building and exclaiming, "I have roast beef in my bag! And WHY would you have a baby with THOSE dogs??" Oh, I see. The old Pit bull roast beef blood lust…

I'm not here to say my dogs are just like puggles or cockapoos. They are clearly not. Having them in our family means that there isn't any unsupervised play between the dogs and our son. There are also regular lessons on animal/baby kindness for all involved. But these things happen not because it's in my dogs' nature to attack. (Pit bulls were long called nanny dogs because of how great they are with children!) The supervision and the boundaries I set happen simply because we aim to be responsible parents and dog owners.

When I change my son's diaper, Blueberry, our AmStaff, sits on the threshold of the door with her back to us as gatekeeper. My son's first real word, aside from the babbling hi's and mama's, was the name of our dog, Sassy. The kid even calls me Sassy, which I certainly won't put an end to if he decides to keep it up. Watching the bond between all my little creatures unfold is one of the greatest things I get to be a part of. There is a mutual understanding of shared love and food spoken in a language I'm clearly not privy to. When people ask me if I'm scared having two Pit bulls and a baby it takes everything in me to not say, "No, friend, you are!"

  1. I've had a really wonderful pit bull in my life who sat by my side and babied me during a miscarriage… and another literally rip my face off, and I had to have my eyebrow and jaw bone skin reconstructed. While I will never write them off the way so many people do, I will also never be able to own one again because the latter experience has made me very nervous around them. That said, working as a vet tech, the highest proportion of bites I got were from Labs and other "family dogs." I'm in the "don't leave the baby alone with ANY DOG" camp!

    • Absolutely agreed. Dogs are dogs, and should NEVER be left alone with a child, no matter what breed they are. The reason pit bulls (and Shepherds, and other big strong dogs) are a little scarier is because the potential for real damage is higher, but the potential for a bite is the same with my neighbor's golden retriever as it is with my shepherd mix.

    • Thank you for this comment. It's so true. A Lab can rip off a face as easily as a Pit bull or a German Shorthair Pointer or a Border Collie or … you get the idea. A dog is a dog and supervision should be a must with *all* dogs and babies/kids, don't get lax because you have a dog that is "good with kids". Great resources: http://familypaws.com/

  2. great post! we love our pit mix and he is in absolute love with our babies. i love your point about supervision as a form of responsible parenting and dog ownership (and it having nothing to do with having a pit). I'm going to have to use that the next time someone at the park makes a comment about how i let me babies nap next to our pit bull.

  3. Totally agree about the "be careful around any dog" comment. Cocker spaniel, pit bull, Newfoundland — you should be right there with your baby, because it's the responsible thing to do.

    • Absolutely. I do not allow my cocker spaniel around children, because he is not used to them, and I don't want them to get hurt. Making sure your children are safe around ANY dog – and that your dog is safe around ANY children – is responsible parenting and dog ownership.

      • The only dogs I was afraid of as a child were the aggressive, semi-feral rumored wolf mix down the street… and a grandmother-figure's miniature poodle.

        Guess which one actually bit me.

  4. Yay for this post! I have a pit bull, and I often tell people that he's one of the main reasons I feel guilty for being child-free! Jackson (the pit) LOOOOVES babies and children. You should see the way his eyes light up when he sees a baby enter the room. And there ain't NOTHING coming between him and that kid. He'll lay at (on!) the feet of the person holding 'em, sit there as their diapers are changed, and even cry with them. Oh! And you should see how gentle he is when he's offered food by a child. I've never seen a dog take food so gingerly. I have no idea how he knows to do that! It's adorable … and weird — so weird — since you'd think he'd pick up on my feelings of unease around kids. Though, once I read up on their history as nanny dogs, it all makes sense now.

    Anyway, I'll calm the fuck down now. Just loved reading this post, and any post that tries to shine a better light on our often maligned fur babies. Thanks, Julie. πŸ™‚

  5. My husband and I have a very codependant and loving pit bull (who has her share of issues, attacking NOT being one of them). When I was pregnant I was slightly worried (but not too much) about her around my baby only because I didn't have her around children in a one on one setting. My mother who raised the 3 of us around a German Shepard/Doberman mix, her baby who was part Husky, and then another German Shepard mix was far from concerned. She had learned from professional nannies how to handle the first meeting and how to show the dog that giving it love is still a main concern.

    When I brought my daughter home (after having the dog baby sat by my mother and sleep with the first blanket they wrapped my baby in, and my mother holding my daughter so we can give my dog the "I know I've been gone" love) she gave me a scare when my daughter moved in the car seat and scared my pittie. That's the only time (so far, knock on wood) in the over 3 months since I brought her home that I've had concern. My dog loves my daughter. Of course it is true that any dog is capable of anything, but I hardly live my life in fear of my dog hurting my baby. Unlike other people who are terrified, and have never met my dog…

  6. It's really hard for me to believe that pit bulls have these horrible reputations when I have a snuggly, loving, uber-submissive goofball of a pit bull sleeping on my lap. I'm pregnant and other than worrying that my dog will drown my baby in slobbery kisses, I have no worries about her around the baby (though I agree that you should never leave a baby and any dog alone.) There are so many misconceptions regarding pit bulls, but it really comes down to the individual dog and owner. Every pit bull I've met has been a lovable goof and while there are certainly bad owners who teach their dogs to be vicious and mean, can you really blame the dog for that? Especially when there is so much confusion about what a pit bull is (This page exhibits the confusion nicely: http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/findpit.html.)
    Basically, if someone doesn't like pit bulls, they shouldn't own one, but spreading misconceptions or acting like my dog is a terrible beast, or worse, enacting breed specific legislation, is a horrible thing to do to these wonderful dogs.

  7. Thanks for this! I am a HUGE dog lover, and have worked with many different breeds. Honestly I trust so called "bully" breeds around kids far more then I trust my miniature dachshund, she'd be a lot more difficult to pull away from a kid. Thankfully she's never bitten anyone, but she's not great around kids (with the exception of differently abled children, she's very good with the children at my mothers group home) so we worry about bringing a human baby into the mix. She's been our furbaby since we rescued her from a violent caregiver 5 years ago and she's my soul mate. She's incredibly bonded to us and we worry about how she would feel about having our attention split. Before trying to get pregnant we discussed what we would do if she started to show signs of aggression towards a baby, and in the worst case scenario that she needs to be placed with a new family we agreed that it would still be our responsibility to visit with her regularly. I hope it doesn't get to that point and we've done a lot of research on how to make the transition smooth for our whole family. I'm confidant in her adaptability and hope she still feels loved and protected with a new member added to our pack. Now if I could just get parents to stop sending their toddlers over to pet her without asking me first…

  8. This could almost be my family. We have a 12 year old AmStaff and a 5 year old pitbull mix (a rescue) and they're the best dogs in the world. I myself have been bit twice by German Shepherds, but I will never write off any breed of dog just b/c of a couple of "bad seeds". It takes a responsible owner to have a strong breed of dog and to bring them up to be obedient and gentle. My dogs are very gentle with our 2-year-old, in fact, often times we have to "save" our pitbulls from our toddler!

  9. I was a little nervous with my boston terrier and happy-go-lucky lab being around my son (he's 3 months), only because they are both high energy, and love people. I was afraid they would try to love my son "too much". But, they have been GREAT. They listen to "leave it" so well, and they really only try to sniff his toes. Other than that, they're not interested. They just seem to know to not mess with him, and they even leave his toys alone. I thought his toys would all become dog toys at some point (although my Boston DESPERATELY wants to sink his teeth into Sophie the Giraffe), but they are doing really well. The main thing is that they've gotten even more cuddly because they miss the attention. We try to give them as much as we can, but they're not the center of attention anymore, and they know it. Even with my good natured and well-behaved dogs, I still don't leave my son alone with them. It's better to be proactive about your pets, because you just never know. Why risk it?

    • Haha…my Boston is obsessed with Sophie the Giraffe, too! I guess the squeak sounds delish. I was also worried about the high energy factor, too…but somehow the dog knows to be very gentle around my son. He has always been very careful and patient. Now my son is 11 months old and he absolutely adores the dog…his first word was "Doggy!!" He loves to give his doggy big hugs and kisses and gentle pets.

    • My wiener dog tried to make a trade with my friend's 6 month old, who was playing with her Sophie the Giraffe. He kept bringing his bone over and presenting it to her by laying it at her feet, then looking longingly at the giraffe. She didn't go for it, but they had a pleasant afternoon anyway- each sitting on the couch and chewing on their own toy.

  10. I'm nervous around dogs in general, yet my friend has a pit bull that I adore. I remember lying on her couch one night with the dog standing on my chest, licking my neck. I was giggling like crazy because it tickled. Never in a million years would I have imagined allowing a pit bull's mouth anywhere near my throat. But that pup is the absolute happiest dog I've ever seen, and I love her.

    I hope to hear more stories like yours in the future. Those dogs get a bad rap because of people that don't know how to treat them. Kudos.

  11. Doxies (of which I have two) are supposed to be some of the worst for biting. Mine haven't ever actually gone for anyone, but we watch them VERY closely around babies and small children and remove them from the room if it looks like anyone is getting anxious. Pitbulls scare me, but then so do all large dogs–and I think a lot depends on the individual's temperment and training. In our case, I'm just glad they're small enough to pick up if necessary…

  12. We have 7 dogs all together in our extended family and I'm not concerned about any of them harming my son. I would never leave him alone with any animal no matter how much I trusted them.

  13. We brought our newborn son home to 2 ferrets and an extremely loving Norwegian Ridgeback/Pit mix puppy. We definitely got our fair share of well meaning but completely misguided 'advice.' It's pretty simple – don't leave your baby alone with any pet, EVER. And as the kiddo gets older, pets are wonderful ways to teach your child about love, kindness, gentleness and in the case of my son, respecting people's (and animals) personal space. Hooray for you and your sweet family!

    • They are great to teach your kids! I read something a few years ago that suggested kids raised with dogs had more empathy than those raised without. I can't wait to teach our son how to care for our animals!

  14. Cute! I wouldn't be worried about them being violent or anything like that, but all (seriously, all) of the pit bulls I have ever met have been SO friendly and SO full of energy, I'd worry about having such a happy, bouncy dog around my baby! Granted, I think the same thing about my neighbor's puggle – and I don't even have kids yet!

    • Ditto! It's the energy and strength that worries me – I fostered a boxer for a while and when she got excited her wagging tail would bruise my legs and knock vases off the table.

  15. I've only been bitten by a dog once. It was a GOLDEN RETRIEVER! It had never bitten anyone before, and it never did again. I was the unlucky 7 year old.

    Moral of the story- ANY DOG can bite.

    Hence, you take the same precautions with all dogs- and you mention- no unsupervised play (or time at all), and teaching both the dog and the baby how to be gentle and nice.

    We have a black lab mix. While we have no reason to be suspicious, we take universal dog precautions- to protect our baby from the dog, and to protect our dog from the baby!

    • Yes to protecting the dog from the baby! I feel that this is something so often left out of the conversation. I'm not at all worried about my girl around kids. She's a very gentle giant and is wonderful with toddlers and puppies and babies alike, but I would worry that a kid would do something weird to her and she'd react in self-defense. One of the things that I like most about kids is their awesome sense of adventure and curiosity and weirdness, but those exact qualities are what might make a kid try something strange. In any case, for me, leaving them alone together just isn't a part of responsible parenting or dog ownership.

      • Absolutely pets need to be protected from kids lol. I also agree that that is something looked over by people. I worked in a Humane Society for 8 years and the shelters policy was no pets under 4 months went into households with children under the age of 6 years.
        That is a veeeeeery difficult thing to explain to parents who want a cute and snuggly little puppy or kitten. However, those cute little guys have sharp little baby teeth and claws and no way to say 'stop!' to a overly excited but well meaning child who doesn't know their own strength. Likewise the puppy and kitten don't know manners yet either.
        Anyway, kinda off topic. Sorry!
        Moral of story, supervision is important. For any breed, for any age also.

  16. Some friends of mine recently had to make the difficult decision to place their dog (a Golden Retriever) with a family friend because he bit their one-year-old son, apparently without any provocation. Just goes to show that you need to be careful with *any* dog, and supports your "always supervise small children and dogs when they play together" assertion. Any dog can be great with kids, just like any dog can be terrible with kids. I've always heard great things about Pits, though I've never owned one myself.

    • Our vet told us a few years ago that Golden Retrievers bite more children than any other dog. Whether that has to do with their nature regarding children or just their prevalence as THE family dog I don't know, but I wish people would talk more openly about other breeds biting children. Biting and aggression towards kids happens in a lot of breeds (kids are loud, unpredictable, and grabby!) and has more to do with the parents/dog owners poor supervision and less to do with the dogs themselves.

  17. I have a pit bull and a 7 month old. My daughter was 6 wks premature but only spent 2 weeks in the NICU. One day my mom and I were doing dishes. My dog had been running around outside. We noticed everytime she came in she would sniff my daughters nose/mouth and chest as if to check her vital signs. My daughter had trouble nursing. My pit would lick her head to encourage her and when I would change my girl my pit would stand gaurd too! Only she would press her back right up against mine. I love love love seeing pittie positive articles. Of course I'm careful about my two babies interacting together but I would be even if one of them was a pug or Pomeranian.

    • my pit does the same exact thing to my two little preemies. He sniffs their mouth and chest when ever he comes into the room with them, like he's checking for vitals. they also have a lot of feeding problems and our dog licks their head when ever they were strugging to eat.

  18. We have 3 deaf dogs, 1 of which is a staffordshire pitbull, Lucky. He and my baby (14 mos) are best friends… They do everything together… eat,sleep, play, and I am pretty sure that if we let him Lucky would even bathe with his boy! We will never have a home without a pitbull.

    • Ohmygod! I'm so, so happy reading about all these families with young children and multiple dogs that include pits! Our AmStaff sits as close as she can to the tub during my son's bath. Licks the water off his face and hands, he gives her drinks of (dirty bath) water.. It's too much for me sometimes. They are such loves.

  19. Our pit bull Friggle loves my 9 month old son Jule πŸ™‚ I have to tell him "stop licking my baby!" all the time πŸ™‚ I absolutely agree. Any ANIMAL should be supervised with children period. I'm happy to change people's conceptions and do my part to end breed discrimination by my dog's side πŸ˜€

  20. I LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!!! We have a pit bull/boxer mix and he is the sweetest dog ever! He loves, loves, loves people and other dogs. It's always wonderful to find great reviews about this breed! We don't have children yet (we'll start trying in the summer) but I know Atreyu will be good with a baby. We'll just have to make sure he holds his licker!

  21. I wish people would stop making generalizations about all breeds. I've been around MANY pit/pit mixes that are great with kids.

    I have a doppy lab hound mix that was rescued from a very rough situation. As a result she is afraid of everything, especially loud noises and unexpected movements toward her head, all things kids do. Parents just assume because she looks like Scooby Do she's great with kids. They get upset when I tell their kids things like "No no hun, Roxy doesn't like kids" and shoo them away from her at the dog park. However when my sister's pit mix is there (he LOVES kids and is the biggest snuggle bunny ever) parents scoop their kids up like an alligator just walked in the gate.

    I guess my point is never just assume a dogs personality based on breed. As a parent you should always ask a dog's owner if it's OK for your kids to pet him before you let the kidlet approach. Don't make your kids afraid of dogs, just explain that some dogs, like some people are grumpy and others are great!

    • So true! We have a shih tzu and she hates kids. She tolerates our baby and we definitely keep her safe from his toddler grabby hands, but other kids? HATES. Sometimes people don't believe us because she's so tiny and adorable like a wee Ewok but really, she will bit your kid if you don't listen to us! (At least because she's tiny she can't cause too much damage and she's really only trying to get away, but a bite on a little one still hurts!)

    • My pack is a perfect example of this too! My husband and I have three dogs, a female border collie mix (Bella), a female boxer/pit mix (Leia) and a male shepherd mix (Murphy). People always love Bella and children run up to her all the time, but she is a super nervous dog and has growled at kids before. But Leia, who ADORES children and people in general, is usually the one they're scared of. Poor Murphy usually gets ignored even though all he ever wants is love!

      • omg I had the same problem with my beagle/spaniel mix and pit. The pit loved small dogs and children but no one would come near him and he'd look so sad and dejected. The beagle is truly a territorial bi**h but kids go running to her because she's so cute. She hasn't bitten, but her hackles fly up and she snarls like a hyena.

  22. I agree with all the above posters saying all dogs should be supervised with children, and all dogs of all breeds can bite if the circumstances are right.

    We're currently deciding what to do with our German Shepherd mix. The place we adopted him from was less than honest about his issues, but by the time we figured them out, we were too attached to send him back. He's got dominance issues with other dogs and he has a large prey drive for small animals and cats. I wouldn't trust him with a baby, though he was fine with my 3 yr. old nephew. We love him dearly, but we're thinking of finding him a more suitable home as we're expecting a child in 6 months.

    • We have an English Pointer rescue with nearly the same issues, but he is very protective of our little family and great (if a little nervous) with other people's children. It's really other dogs and cats that we worry about! We of course never left him and the baby alone together – in fact we baby-gated our bedroom to protect HIM and allow him to have his "safe space" when our daughter began crawling and walking and constantly wanting to touch him. She's nearly 3 and they basically just do their own thing.

  23. I totally agree with everything this article just said. I own a wonderful, gentle giant shepherd/husky mix. She's wonderful with kids and toddlers and I'm so excited to see her bond with my future hypothetical children.

    I am nervous, however, about my housemate's dog (the people who rent the other half of our house are close friends). He's shown some aggressive tendencies and while he loves my husband and I, I wouldn't trust him with a child. My friends/housemates are completely in denial about the dog and not in any way willing to listen to anyone about it. So, I'm probably going to have to find a new place to live when we have a kid.

    As confident as I am about my girl, I understand if I knew someone with a kid who wasn't willing to have them around my dog. I'd be upset and pissed off on her behalf in private but I get it, because while my neighbours might think their dog is good around kids, I completely disagree, which would probably offend and anger them if they knew.

  24. Thank you. We don't have a pit or pit mix because we rent and surprise surprise we can't but I've done a lot of shelter work. The sweetest dogs are always the bully breeds. They are the ones that literally lean into your touch.

  25. Pit bulls used to be "nanny dogs" because they are very sweet and loving toward families and children and protective against outsiders. It's a shame that some bad apples, and bad owners, have ruined the public's view of the breed! I have always found them to be sweet and gentle (though incredible strong!)

    • My Doberman Pinscher is exactly like that. As soon as we let her know somebody is OK suddenly that is her new best friend.
      I'm due in June and honestly more worried about my fat cat being around the baby than the dobey.

  26. did you know a hundred years ago pitbulls were called "nanny dogs" because of how gentle and protective they are with children? I have 2 kids, 6 & 7, and a 6 & 1/2 year old pit so they have all grown up together. He is the best dog i have ever had and he loves my children fiercely and they consider him their brother. I will always defend pits and really am never afraid of any dog but especially not pits.

  27. This turned out be a timely article because my son's weekend babysitter is caring for a pit and my son at the same time! I still admit that I'm a still a little nervous but this article is easing my fears.

  28. I want to raise my hand as the Licensed Veterinary Technician who has experience in the veterinary field of 12 years and give my not so humble opinion that I'd rather have a huge, 70-100lb "aggressive" pit bull in my clinic then a 7-10lb "cute" chihuahua or dachshund or cocker or shi-tzu or lhasa or any fluffy-little-white lap pooch!
    Any. Day. Of. The. Week.
    I can count on one hand the number of truely aggressive pit bulls that needed to be sedated for exams. Couldn't begin to tell you how many of those 'cute' ones have bitten me.
    Case in point: a man stabbed a pit bull in its side cause he felt 'threatend' and it's owner brought it in to us (I work emergency). That poor thing had a huge hole, yes hole, in it's abdomen. We could see its internal organs and she was just wagging her tail and giving kisses. Not a mean bone in her body. Never made an attempt to bite, even during the exam the Dr preformed on her. She just kissed his face.

    I love pit bulls and think they are great family companions <3

    • Same experience with my pit. She somehow got stuck in an old roll of barb wire and ripped her leg open pretty bad. The whole time we were tending to it, and after when we did bandage changes, she stayed still and calm. Never flinched, growled, or showed her teeth. Her tail wagged and she kept that goofy pit bull smile on!

    • Haha! Chihuahuas are totally "staple-guns"! I have a pit bull mix and a poodle mix, and they are both great with our toddler, but the poodle mix is the more skittish one and thus the one I watch most closely around our child. You really have to look at the individual dog, not the breed. And yes, all dogs have the capacity to bite. Too many dog owners kid themselves about how their dog wouldn't "harm a fly."

  29. My cat MonChiChi beats up my pit! So who's the scary one? LOL. My pit Lily is a bed potato, she wouldn't hurt a flea unless I'm alone with her. She's protective over me. I've only been bitten twice by dogs- a lab and my family dog, a police trained German shepherd. That same police dog bit two of my brothers. (no we didnt have drugs, I've heard that defense of the dog before) She just kinda snapped. I love bully breeds. I really don't trust other dog breeds!

  30. My parent's dachshund is the calmest, happiest, go-lucky guy ever. You can take away his favourite toy (or even some roast beef) and he'll sit and watch you do it. I've never heard him growl. He loves my cousin's two year old— he trots beside her as she runs around, looking adoringly at her. It's probably the cutest thing ever— I've never seen him so fascinated by anything. I definitely think kids should be supervised with dogs– no question. I'd definitely be more worried with a larger dog— as I've had a VERY happy and excited pit-bull FLATTEN me on the floor and lay on me…. I had to get help to get up. She was just playing– but that brute force is a little scary… some yappy little dogs are very bitey too— so I think it definitely helps for the dog to be around kids as a puppy and to know your dog well.

  31. Hmm, all this is very interesting.

    It's worth saying that dogs of this type are illegal in a lot of countries, and some areas of the United States. So that in itself may be a reason you wouldn't want one in your house!

    Definitely agree though: any dogs, and indeed probably any pets, can cause problems. Any old dog can bite you if it feels like it for some reason, and I still remember being scratched by a cat when I was a toddler…

    • Well, that would be a reason you wouldn't want one in your house if you lived in those coutries, or parts of the United States…

      • Yes, sorry, I should have been more clear. This is what I meant – just that you should do your research to avoid a fine / having your dog put down. Because no one needs that.

    • Before getting a pitbull you do need to do your research. A lot of landlords won't rent to people who have pits because sometimes they're required to have extra insurance. There are also a lot of places that even though pits aren't outlawed there are laws in place that restrict them.

      When we moved back to Boston we had pits with us and we opted to live in Cambridge across the river instead of Boston proper because of the laws they have in place in the city. You have to register your dog with the city every year for $50, submit a picture of yourself and your dog yearly, have a letter from your landlord, and post notice on your home that you have a pit. Your pit ALSO has to muzzled at all times on the street and it's up to the totally untrained eyes of the police to decide whether or not your dog is a pit. If they decide your dog is a pit and it's unmuzzled you can get a multi-hundred dollar ticket. It's RIDICULOUS.

      SO, yes. It's something to consider but let me be clear on why.. It has nothing to do with the dog's breed or nature. Breed specific legislation is largely based on hysteria and not fact. I considered the BSL in Boston and decided I didn't want my dogs to live in a community that widely treated them like vicious untamed wolves. My dogs haven't done anything wrong ever, as with most of the pit bull community, and it's not fair to treat them as such.

      When thinking about BSL you have to consider how many laws of today and yesterday are/were sumpremely unfair and not based in fact or reason. Of course I'm talking about laws regarding humans, which is obviously a much bigger issue that laws regarding dogs, but it's the same idea.. Laws against someone or something build negative perceptions and fears regarding whatever the "other" is, whether it be a pit bull just trying to beat the odds in a shelter or a black american trying to get a seat on a bus fifty, sixty years ago.

  32. My brother and sister-in-law had a small shy dog, scared of the cats, scared of the doorbell. First time she thought my brother had turned his back, she leapt for the baby, teeth bared. My brother reacted and caught her (lucky she was so small!) and next day she'd gone to our parents' house. Still in the family, but away from the baby – who is fine, by the way. I don't necessarily trust dogs around anyone.

  33. Love it. When my son was 5 months old we got a puppy… Everyone thought it was so cute that they'd grow up together. That is, until they realized what kind of dog our 'little' Beowulf actually was- Cane Corso! Then the looks started. Honestly, I am more concerned about the territorial beagle and doxie-that-doesn't-realized-he-has-teeth that I already had! I wish we still had our AmStaff. He would have loved playing with our son (Now 10 months old with all fingers and facial features still intact)

    • We own a Cane Corso! He's a sweetie and since I'm about halfway thru my pregnancy we have started to let kids say hi to him. Canes are great dogs, very shy and that can lead to fear aggression and they are big so they could easily knock over a kid, but we are going to observe the "dont leave them alone" rule and teach him "lay down and leave it" rule when the baby is in our arms (with a stuffed animal.) I'm really hopeful because he's a great old boy.

  34. My students would benefit greatly from this (I'm a dog trainer in Boston that deals with this sort of thing all the time). In fact, I'm currently working on rehoming a Corgi that bit a baby because the parents let the dog pull on the dogs face while it was sleeping. I'd bite someone too, if they did that to me. No 6 o'clock news for that dog. If it was a pit, I bet it would be all over the news…

    I LOVE this post so much. As an advocate of ban the deed, not the breed, I just want to say thank you so much for posting this. You didn't just say "my pits are fine". You stated that you have rules in place, which should be true for any multi-species house hold.

    Keep being a great advocate of the breed. You're doing a great job πŸ™‚

  35. =D Very true. The main thing is supervision until the kid is old enough to truly understand how to act around a dog. Little "harmless" dogs are much more likely to bite, it's just that when a Pit does bite it can be a lot worse.

  36. As a Vet Tech I have unfortunately had to see many families make the decision to euthanise their pet after it has biten their child. This happens in breeds large and small. Supervision and proper training are the keys to make the whole family click. I have a large dog that adores our son. We love and trust our wonderful dog but also make sure that everyone (baby and dog) is happy and comfortable with each situation and bonding time they have together.

  37. I am so sorry for all the people who automatically are afraid of your dogs! Especially afraid of them on behalf of your kids. Any animal can be mean if they're brought up that way, including humans. If they are brought up lovingly they will be good like your puppers.
    I googled pit bulls and found an amazing pic of one with a baby kitten. It loved the kitten.

  38. I LOVE pit bulls! Of all the dogs at our local dog park, I think there's been one that was aggressive but that was b/c they had a crappy owner whose OTHER dog was aggressive as well. We have a purebred rescued lab that's the hugest baby in the world and his BFF is a pitbull. That being said…

    In August of this year, our poor Lab had a seizure from a severe food allergy we didn't know about and bit my hand something fierce. I had a quarter size gash on my wrist and a rip that went from under my pinkie to the palm and some nicks around my thumb, all the cuts bad enough to warrant the discussion of stitches (nope…just steristrips to let the gashes "drain"). The various ER staff were completely shocked that a LAB did that and not some "other" breed. The only understanding one was the Chicago police officier that came to make a report (all dogs bites have to be reported in Illinois). It really shows that any dog, no matter what the situation, can bite and bite hard.

    Also in our neighborhood, we've seen plenty of little kids that are terrified of all big dogs and will run away screaming, making my partner and I think that there's a lot of kids in the world being raised to be afraid of dogs even after a bad experience.

    Moral of the stories? While our dog is not inherently aggressive and I know plenty of pits that aren't, it's all about the owner and how the dog is being raises.

    • I was bitten when my 2 dogs, a Golden Retriever and an English Pointer decided to hash out who was dominant and we were trying to seperate them. I don't blame them, they didn't intentionally bite me. Their little issue was settled that day and I was fine. Sometimes these things happen.

      This was years before pregnancy (and even marriage) and in fact, the Golden died before our kid came along – so don't sound the alarm bells.

      I will say however that I am one of those people who cross the road to avoid a pit bull. YOU may have raised a nice doggie, but I don't know you, do I? In fact, this applies to any large or scary looking dog that I encounter.

  39. There's a woman in my neighborhood who rescues pits, and I sincerely admired her firmness one day, when I watched her respond to two children who asked to pet her muzzled pit. She just kept calmly repeating "No" and walking confidently — she didn't freak out the dog or the kids. (Meanwhile I've had moms yank their kids away from our friendly pup when she's wearing her Halti.)

    Our German shepherd/beagle mix has started getting a little possessive of her food, space and toys now that our little one is crawling. We're working on it with her, and yes, for sure, no unsupervised dog/baby time!

  40. My husband & i are trying to concieve our first baby & we have 2 dogs. One i'm not worried about & the other is a huge 55kg/120pound Alaskan Malamute that has always shown aggression towards kids. I am already thinking of the worst case scenario & i'm really scared about having him around our baby. He obviously will never be allowed any contact with our child even when supervised, it going to be tough & we're already trying to work out the logistics of how this will work. I hate to admit it but i'm secretly hoping that by the time our baby comes he would have moved on to doggy heaven (he's already at the end of his predicted lifespan)so i won't have to spend all my time when at home with the baby scared.

  41. I have a pitbull we rescued from the shelter when she was a baby. She's now 13 and a family member who we adore. We are thinking of adopting another pitbull puppy. Love them!!!! My kids love our dog and she's so friendly and wonderful. I think any breed can be good–or bad.

  42. Pit bulls used to be called "nanny dogs," with good reason! Look up the history, and you will see many old photos of young children posing with these giant snuggle-pups.
    Of course you shouldn't be negligent with your children around ANY animal (anyone ever tangle with a frightened hamster? Not fun.) but we should also be cautious about prejudging a creature based on its appearance.

  43. Thank you for posting this. My husband and I have a 4 year old boxer and a 5 year old pit/staff mix. Both are great with our 9 month old son, but I agree that all dogs regardless of breed have the potential to be a danger to children. Responsible training and common sense are absolutely necessary for babies and dogs to live together. No one should assume that because their dog is fine with adults that they'll be fine with children.

    I really do appreciate it when people with pitties, staffies, and other strong breeds share their stories. Thank you!

  44. Great article!
    Funny, I took my 7 lb chihuahua in for shots and chipping and the vet had me hold him. He looked at me straight in the eye dead serious and said "Are you SURE you have him? I've had more serious bites in my clinic due to chihuahuas than any other dog."

  45. I believe Pits are the best breed of dog for children. When a child accidentally steps on his dog's foot or loses his balance and grabs a tail do you think that would bother the highly pain tolerant pit bull? No. But some dogs would quickly bite in response to such accidents. I have had them around me all my life. My son, Gavin has had them around all of his and so far so good. Do I leave them alone together? No, that's irresponsible. They are animals and we shouldn't forget that.
    It is absolutely right that they were referred to as nanny dogs, people actually left their children with them way back when!
    I love our pit bull and he LOVE LOVE LOVES kids.

  46. Yes yes yes! I have a gorgeous Amstaff puppy, Layla, who is the most sweet, cuddley piece of love ever! Shes super protective, she followers my partner and I everywhere. My aunt found out she was an Amstaff (she insists they're identical to pits and all pits are dangerous) and not so gingerly told me that I'd have to get rid of the dog if i ever had any little ones run ning around. Layla did well with both of my nieces while two of my sister's not so gentle lapdogs stayed crated for fear they'd bite the babies. As long as the children and pits are taught to be gentle and to respect one another and are carefully supervised, it doesn't matter if they're yorkies or bullys.

  47. I too have a couple of "bully mixes" and a baby on the way, We're not worried either. I've worked in Veterinary clinics for the last 10 years. When I started, all those years ago, I owned a Bichon Frise and thought of myself as a "small-dog-person"… but in less than a year of working in the field it became very clear to me that I LOVE PIT BULLS… and Bully breeds in general. They just have this amazing loving personality, and I was hooked…. I've been lucky enough to be owner to 3 Pit Bulls and one lovey American Bulldog Mix… It's hard for me or my husband to imagine not having Pits.
    We've taken steps to prepare our 2 current pups (a 1yr old Am.Bulldog/GSP mix, and a 10 year old Pit mix) for the coming baby. We've created "Baby-Only" space, and the dogs have adapted well to the boundaries. The cat is definitely going to be more of a problem, as he doesn't seem capable of respecting boundaries!! πŸ™‚ Supervision is key, and just remembering that dogs are animals, and all animals can be unpredictable. I am looking forward to the added excitement our new little guy will bring to our menagerie.

  48. The only time I've ever been seriously bitten wasn't from a big dog like a rotty or pit, it was from one of my mom's boston terriers, Charity. She was a mean dog who liked to pick fights with our other dogs. That dog caused two fights that ended with part of my dad's finger being bit completely off, and with a few gashes on my hand as well. She also caused a huge fight with our 13yo Rotty, who was the sweetest dog in the world. He ended up fighting 3 other dogs and ripping out the eye of one of them. Worst experience of my life trying to separate them and try and get that dog medical attention, all while baby sitting a 6 and 8 year old.
    Its all about the training, treatment, and temperament of a dog, not the breed. My family has had Rottweilers, Great Danes, dachshunds, Chihuahua mixes, Boston's, and English Bulldogs. Some dogs were great with kids, some were evil, evil dogs. And like people have said, you shouldn't trust any dog with a child, no matter how sweet they are.

  49. As a pitbull/bully breeder i have been around plenty of pitbulls, very misunderstood dog. We havnt had any issues with any of our kids around our dogs. But we have always been responsible when it came to our kids around our dogs, we always have been there to supervise.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.