Pit bulls have gotten a bad reputation over the years, stemming from their use in the illegal dogfighting ring in the United States. Their large litter size and tendency to be abused by humans who raise them for fighting causes them to make up an estimated 70 percent of dogs in urban animal shelters, according to the Humane Society of the United States. To add insult to injury, their overall reputation as "dangerous" detracts potential adopters. In fact, many animal rescue
shelters across the country automatically euthanize pit bulls just because of their breed - even puppies, according to Pit Bull Rescue Center.
But pit bulls had a reputation as sweet, gentle family dogs before people began raising them to fight. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the pit bull was bred from the bull dog to serve as a working dog, and was known by early breeders as the "nursemaid's dog" because of their reliability and sweetness with young children.
That said, pit bulls have been bred to fight since the 18th century. This means that they are more likely to rise to aggression with other animals when excited, and their strength causes even playful bites to be more intense. Neutering and spaying is key after adoption, as is constant socialization with animals and humans to ensure the pooch is an ambassador for this misunderstood breed, according to the ASPCA.