Irish Pitbull

All You Wanted to Know about an Irish Pitbull

The whole pit bull market seems to be awash in code with references to the Irish pitbull, the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, and Staffordshire bull terrier among a host of other names. All these are references to dogs in the molosser family. They have distinctively strong bodies and have been bred for generations for a fairly aggressive temperament. In places where dog fights are legal these dogs are the canines of choice for going up against other big dogs.

The American Pit Bull Terrier is of Irish and British origin and was registered as a pitbull in the United States. This dog was bred with a combination of the strength of the bulldog and the temperament of the terrier to go after a target. They were very popular in the pioneering days for their ability to be round-up dogs and guard dogs while being family companions. A selective breeding of this variety lead to some of them being used and trained as fighting dogs. So, while there are some relatively mellow dogs of this breed, they are typically fairly aggressive and so there is some distrusts and uncertainty about choosing these dogs as family pets. There have also been several instances of attacks in public places where the pet owners have not been able to control their pets and this lead to a campaign against the use of this breed as a family pet earlier this decade. There are also many states in the United States and even other countries that have breed-specific legislation against ownership or transporting of the American Pit Bull Terrier.

This has lead to a fairly widespread avoidance of the name American Pit Bull Terrier and now some breeders appear to have started using the term Irish pitbull instead. The San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals tried to salvage this breed by getting it renamed as St. Francis terriers and the New York City Center for Animal Care and Control tried popularizing the name New Yorkies. But both those efforts met with a lot of opposition as the public distrust of the breed was particularly fresh at that time. It will be interesting to watch whether this name change will help reshape the perception of this breed.

The name change has also been adopted by some less than honest breeders to use as code to sell dogs which are banned in some states and countries. By referring to the American Pit Bull Terrier as an Irish pitbull they are trying to find a legal loophole and sell an aggressive breed to those looking for fighting dogs.

This breed, which has been created by man to fulfill a particular expectation, cannot become a different kind of species with a new name. But if owners take on the responsibility of owning an Irish pitbull with a complete understanding of its temperament and strength it is very possible for the human and the canine to have a meaningful connection. While dog fighting and the implied cruelty to animal is anathema to today’s sensibilities, it does not seem like a humane choice to euthanize a whole breed. There are breeders and pet owners who believe that this breed deserves a shot at rehabilitation and it will be interesting to see if their efforts will have any bearing on the public perception and acceptance of the Irish pitbull. Whether prompted by goodwill or greed in humans, the Irish pitbull is now at the center of an interesting breed history and all dog lovers will watch to see how this story develops further.