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Old 17 September 2011, 07:09 AM
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Default Pit bulls used as babysitters?

This site, which has been reposted by some of my friends on Facebook, claims that pit bulls were used in the Victorian age, pit bulls were used as "nanny dogs."

Quote:
Astoundingly, for most of our history America’s nickname for Pit Bulls was “The Nanny Dog”. For generations if you had children and wanted to keep them safe you wanted a pit bull, the dog that was the most reliable of any breed with children or adults.
The author's only apparent evidence is a series of portraits of children with pit bull-like dogs.
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Old 17 September 2011, 07:28 AM
Singing in the Drizzle Singing in the Drizzle is offline
 
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I the late 1800's pit bulls were used in America as guard dogs to protect the family. I do not know how reliable they were with the family. I would believe they were used more because they were seen as a big threat to unwelcome guest, whether human or not. As a valuable companion for protection around the house one would thing they were well taken care of by the family and very friendly with them.
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Old 17 September 2011, 01:45 PM
fitz1980 fitz1980 is offline
 
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I'd imagine that there is a good bit of hyperbole involved, but the whole "nanny dogs" reference probably did come around because pits are such loyal and protective dogs. My GF's family owned several pits when she was a girl. They lived in a rather bad neighborhood and if she wanted to take a walk down the street her folks told her to take one of the dogs with her. I don't care who you are, nobody messes with an 11 year old girl walking down the street with a pit bull on a leash. Their dogs were the cuddliest teddy bears you could ever meet; but they were big, strong, protective and loyal.

Her Dad even has a story about how one of their pits must have thought that GF was one of her puppies. When GF was in the stage of learning to walk by grabbing stationary objects (tables, chairs, ect) and pulling yourself up, that toddlers go through, GF decided to grab the dog to pull herself up. Rather than run off or freak out this dog would stand there and even try to help her get up.
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Old 17 September 2011, 04:27 PM
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Well bred pits that have not been specifically bred or trained for human aggression are incredibly gentle, loving dogs. They are also very reliable.
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Old 17 September 2011, 05:08 PM
TB Tabby TB Tabby is offline
 
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'Nuff said.

Last edited by TB Tabby; 17 September 2011 at 05:10 PM. Reason: Embed code doesn't work anymore
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Old 17 September 2011, 05:26 PM
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That is unusual. Pits usually have a high prey drive like other terriers do. Adorable video.
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Old 17 September 2011, 05:33 PM
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I don't think pit bulls make the best guard dogs generally.
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Old 17 September 2011, 05:43 PM
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They do in a deterrent sense. Many people are very afraid of them, and so would avoid the house even though the dog is as sweet as can be and would probably help them haul their stash out. They generally aren't people aggressive, though, so I agree that they wouldn't make good guard dogs if the guarding involved actual aggression and biting.
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Old 17 September 2011, 05:47 PM
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I don't care what breed it is or how gentle the individual dog is: leaving small children alone with a dog only to "babysit" wasn't even a good idea in Peter Pan. Very cute and romantic idea to think a dog can do that but in real life...uh...no. Unless the dog can call 911. Which I don't care how much anyone loves cute lil doggies or kitties even. They can't do that.

"guarding" is not the same thing as "babysitting." Having a good guard dog around to HELP responsible adults or teens look after small children is not being a "nanny." It's being a guard. Which they do fine.
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Old 17 September 2011, 07:24 PM
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The Nanny Dog Myth Revealed

Dig as hard as you want, the pram story [an anecdote about an injured dog being transported home in a pram, alongside the baby] is all you'll find to support the Nanny Dog myth in any of these sites. You won't find a single citation, quote or reference of any kind to a 19th century, or early 20th century text. Since the Staffordshire Bull Terrier enthusiasts didn't see fit to support their claims, I decided I would have to find the origin of the Nanny Dog myself.

http://thetruthaboutpitbulls.blogspo...-revealed.html
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Old 17 September 2011, 07:34 PM
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Vintage Pit Bull Photos Prove What?

Now the pit bull apologists are backing away from the nanny dog myth and pulling out old photographs as "proof" that pit bulls were always regarded as house pets who were safe and loving companions to children.

http://thetruthaboutpitbulls.blogspo...rove-what.html
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  #12  
Old 17 September 2011, 08:01 PM
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RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
 
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The boychik, 6 days old.



To be fair, I was two and 1/2 feet away, and wouldn't have left him alone with her, and at any rate, it was a posed picture. And she'd just eaten.

ETA: It's a bit disingenuous of that site to use a fictional dog from a Charles Dickens story as evidence that dogs are vicious. Maybe we could also use A Christmas Carol to prove that ghosts exist. Or Oliver Twist to prove that Jews are greedy sociopaths.

Last edited by RivkahChaya; 17 September 2011 at 08:09 PM.
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  #13  
Old 17 September 2011, 08:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Singing in the Drizzle View Post
I the late 1800's pit bulls were used in America as guard dogs to protect the family. I do not know how reliable they were with the family. I would believe they were used more because they were seen as a big threat to unwelcome guest, whether human or not. As a valuable companion for protection around the house one would thing they were well taken care of by the family and very friendly with them.
Do you have a cite for this? My sources, (mainly The Pit Bull Placebo, (downloadable .pdf here) but other books and articles also support it) say that the pit bull was mainly bred and used as an "all purpose dog," a family dog, and a farm dog. It's use as a guard dog is, as far as I can tell, a very recent phenomenon and is directly responsible for its bad reputation now. The dogs used in the 1800s as guard dogs were not pit bulls, and interestingly, they had in their time similar reputations to what pit bulls do now. (Some examples I remember from the above book, supported by an exhaustive search of newspaper articles of the time, were blood hounds and mastiffs.)

I would think that dogs that have a "nanny dog" reputation have it because they tend to be very patient with being poked and prodded and dressed up and all the things that kids do to dogs that many dogs would not tolerate. In my experience, pit bulls are very tolerant of those things, and they tend to like kids (no, not for dinner...).

erwins

Last edited by erwins; 17 September 2011 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 17 September 2011, 08:46 PM
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And because the articles posted above by Bonnie come from such a biased source (not a criticism for their being posted) I just want to throw out there a link to the National Canine Research Council, which is working to support actual fact-based research and study into dog attacks and prevention of dog bites.
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Old 17 September 2011, 09:00 PM
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To be clear, I posted those links specifically because of the contention that "for most of our history America's nickname for Pit Bulls was 'The Nanny Dog.'"

There's no evidence that Americans or Britons were calling pit bulls (and their relatives) "nanny dogs" or "nursemaid dogs." I went looking for such appellations in several databases of 19th- and 20th-century American and British newspapers, periodicals, and books and couldn't come up with any instance where this alleged nickname was used with reference to any type of dog.

It's the "myth" that the pit bull was considered and called "the nanny dog" by our ancestors that I find particularly relevant to ThistleS's question. (If y'all want to discuss whether pit bulls are better or worse with children than are other breeds, that's fine by me; my interest lies in claims about how this dog was viewed historically [especially as "nanny dogs"] and whether the historical record contains enough to indicate that pit bulls were especially terrific with little tykes.)
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Old 17 September 2011, 09:05 PM
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And to be clear, I wasn't criticizing the posting of the links. I don't however, consider them reliable because of the bias of the site--and the bias that is clear in the tone of the articles. I don't know if there are earlier references to the pit bull as a "nanny dog" but I personally would not take these articles' word for it.

Actually the fact that you said you can't find such a reference carries much much more weight for me. Thanks for doing the research on this--and on so many other things!

erwins
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  #17  
Old 17 September 2011, 09:07 PM
Ryda Wong, EBfCo. Ryda Wong, EBfCo. is offline
 
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The foundation type for the APBT breed were never really "guard dogs" in the US. They were, as erwins said, all purpose farm and family dogs, who, granted, were first created as bloodsport dogs in England. And other strains were, frankly, still used for bloodsports.

The bloodsport dogs were mainly bred in the rural south by white people. They were bred very carefully NOT to exhibit human aggression, and were ruthlessely culled if they did so. They really didn't often make it out to the general population, as, instead of placing wash-out dogs as pets, they were simply killed. A few were also used to develop the Southern Catch Dogs, hog hunting dogs.

The multi-purpose farm and family dogs were, again, not encouraged to show human aggression OR extreme animal aggression, as they had to work around other animals. They were used for basic warning dogs on the farm, to help move cattle, to get rid of rats and mice and other pets, and as companions.

The modern day American Staffordshire Terrier really has far more in common with the latter type. The modern day American Pit Bull Terrier show such a diversity of type and temperment that it's really impossible to consider it a "breed" as such. They go from the duel-registered AmStaff type, to the overblown and sloppy and lazy "Bullies" that I call Hippopits, to the more traditional Southern Catch Dog type which is lean and muscular and quick.

Then you have the street Pit Bulls, which are usually one of the two latter type. They go anywhere from a breed-appropriate 30-50 lbs to a ridiculious and useless 100+ lbs.
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  #18  
Old 17 September 2011, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
And to be clear, I wasn't criticizing the posting of the links.
No, I understood and appreciated that, erwins. (And thanks for your comment at the tail end of your post, blush.)
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Old 18 September 2011, 06:48 AM
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I've actually never heard that much about pit bulls being called "nanny dogs" so I don't think it is in need of such aggressive debunking (as is done in the blog link posted, that is.)
I also didn't think they meant the dog was literally used as a nanny to replace a person watching the children, but just to refer to a dog that was good with kids.
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Old 19 September 2011, 02:45 PM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
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Either way, their use centuries ago has little bearing on their safety today. A breed change, and today's dog can be a very different dog than the old breed.
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