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Bully Breeds: More Than the Name Implies

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Here is what we know; modern day dogs have been selectively bred to enhance certain behaviors, capabilities, and physical attributes. Their physical make-up, no matter how altered our selective breeding has made them, remains that of their wild ancestors, the wolf. Basically, every dog from the Chihuahua to the Great Dane have the same traits .

Given the science and selective breeding that has gone on for generations, all over the world, why then is it that one of the most prolific and victimized dog has come to be known as the Pit Bull?

This particular breed is part of a class of dogs known as the “bully breed ”. Many have taken to comparing the Pit Bull to that of a schoolyard “bully” of sorts. Vicious and unpredictable, which has given those who would refer to this variety as aggressive, ample fodder to continue misrepresenting this animal. Here are a few points that should help clarify a few things and provide some insight into better understanding this class of dogs and the evolution of one of its most infamous members.

Bully Breeds are not about a dog's temperament, size, or reputation. It is about a dog's lineage and its purpose. Bully Breeds are descended from an extinct large variety of dog called Canis Molossi. Trained by the Molossi people from Greece and southern Albania, they were known for their courage and ferocity, their guardian and war dog.

Phoenicians regarded these animals as valuable commodities for trade, whereas the Romans valued them for their hunting ability. Exported to Asia and North Africa the Molossers interbred with dogs of the regions resulting in offspring with shorter coats, still retaining their massive heads and short muzzles. Eventually the dogs made it to the British Isles and bred with Celtic tribe dogs. They were trained to grab a horse's nose during battle. The logic being the horse, in its attempt to remove the dog, would buck off its rider. Continuing to encourage this trait, in England around 1154 bull baiting became a popular sport. These dogs would set upon a restrained bull, and the one who could pin the bull down first, by its nose, would win and all those who bet on the dog. As time went on, the owners of these dogs realized that the size and structure of this breed had to change for it to have a better chance at survival. Through selective breeding, the Bulldog gradually evolved and became a separate breed from the Molosser.

After 1835 bull baiting became illegal, and rising from its ashes, dog fighting became the new popular sport. Hardy, scrappy Terriers were crossed with bull baiting bull dogs to enhance the traits for fighting in smaller pits. It is the resulting offspring from this breeding where we get the first Pit Bull type dogs.

It should be understood that Pit Bulls, like any other dog, have certain traits, that if surfaced and encouraged can essentially become whatever its owner would like them to be. Black labs are great at hunting in water, German Short Hairs are great at pheasant hunting with a point on a bird that is simply amazing to watch when they have it. It just so happens that the Pit Bull's purpose has quite a history of violence, created and encouraged by Man. Let us not forget they are a loyal and courageous breed, protectors, and their “purpose” is that of what their owners choose it to be.

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