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

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!”

Comments on We’re not worried about our Pit bulls being around our baby

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.”

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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…

      • 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 🙂

  10. =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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.”

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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!! 🙂 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

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