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Q: Nature vs. Nurture

December 28, 2008 | By Lindsay T. | 18 answers | Expired: 2026 days ago

I have my theories on the Pit Bull Terrier Nature versus Nurture issue. I think it is both a little genetic and a little of nurture. What do you think?

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Kelly
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Jan 10, 2009

After doing rescue for a number of years, not to mention having dogs all my life, I really think they're like people - there are some good & some bad no matter what the breed. I've rescued pitties off the street that had absolutely no reason to be social but they were the sweetest most loving dogs ever. I've also seen poodles that were pampered their entire lives that would attack anything & anyone. Look at the Vicktory dogs. They've been mistreated & forced to fight, yet some of them are working as therapy dogs & most have been adopted or have learned to live in settings with other dogs & people.

Staffies & pits were once revered as "Nanny Dogs" in England where they were companions to the children of the wealthy. Also, pit bulls score an 83.4% passing rate with the American Temperament Test Society, which is better than the border collie, who scores 79.6%.

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Shannon W.
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Jan 03, 2009

I am going with 75% nurture, 25% nature. My husband and daughter found our pitty, a puppy of 7 to 8 weeks old, starving and scrounging some dumpsters for food. I have no idea where she came from but I spent a lot of time reading and educating myself about the breed and a lot of time working with her on socialization. She plays with our cat and other two dogs, my three year old and the four other preschoolers I watch with no problems. She also plays with all the other dogs on the street, including my neighbors Pit, with no problems. We are still working on a few issues but I would say more due to her protective nature than an aggressive one. If someone she doesn't know comes to the door or the gate of the yard she acts like she is going to come through and tare them to shreds. Once I let her know it's OK and let them in, she just about licks them to death. If another dog comes on our property and she gets out she will attack, even if it is a dog she knows and has been playing with. The attack ends as soon as the dog has been run off our property. I hadn't thought much about it before but this question makes me wonder if a lot more of these dogs reputations aren't due to being protective of "their people' and that protectiveness isn't mistaken for aggression. Anyone have any thoughts on that issue?

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Carolyn K.
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Jan 02, 2009

I believe a dog has it in them and they are what you make of it. I don't believe a pit bull, or other breeds with bad reputations for that matter, that is raised in a loving environment would ever be aggressive unless it was to defend.

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Stephen A.
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Dec 31, 2008

I believe that with all dogs, the nurture means so much to a dog's behavior - but the nurture takes a lot of work with some dogs. Like Stephanie, I think the work that has been done on Michael Vick's dogs shows that any dog can be well behaved.

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Chris1227
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Dec 31, 2008

Pits are a lot of work. We had a male that was great with all people and great with our cats and our other dog. Lord help you if you were a strange dog walking by our yard. He would go after any dog he didn't know. It's like it made him happy to go for it. Mostly he would slam into the other dog and roll it and then leave. Scared the crap out of everyone. I think if we gave him more exercise or a job he would have been fine.

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Spongebrooke
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Dec 31, 2008

It is a little bit of both.

To completely disregard a dogs genetics and the purpose it was originally intended for is highly irresponsible no matter what breed it is.

But at the same time, each dog is an individual and you will see that most dogs do respond to a little kindness even if they have not had a great start in life.

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Carolyn C.
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Dec 29, 2008

I agree with you. We get some Pit types in our shelter who are so sweet and make wonderful pets. Others, even though they may not have had any bad experiences, just cannot be trusted, especially around small animals. When dealing with Pits, we need to remember the hundreds of years of breeding for strength, endurance and fearlessness that have gone into this breed. Their genes are stacked against them.

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mike z.
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Dec 29, 2008

200 years of selective breeding has gone into producing the dogs that are now called apbt's. Even before they were a breed the foundation dogs were being maytched in England and Ireland. In that sense, nature is mostly responsible for thier animal aggression. Nearly every dog can be changed to some degree with "nurturing", be it good or bad.

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Missy M.
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Dec 28, 2008

Pit bulls have about 100 years of genetic code where they were bred to be great with people and not good with other dogs. Responsible people will build on the good parts of that. Irresponsible people will beuild on the bad parts.
In short, nature, not so much nurture.

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Chris
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Dec 28, 2008

Nurture

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