Muscatine’s pit bull ban has been a topic of significant discussion on social media and public forums in recent weeks. The discussion has also brought the term “bully breed” to the forefront. There has been some discussion regarding expanding the ban to all bully breeds in Muscatine. The breeds range from Boxers to small and stout Boston Terriers; there are a variety of dogs that fall under the category of “bully breeds.” Many of these dogs have reputations for being aggressive, especially pit bull breeds like the Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier and American pit bull terrier. These dogs also have a reputation as loyal and loving pets. So how did these canines get the title “bully breed” in the first place? Let’s start at the beginning.
The term “bully” invokes terror and intimidation, so it is no wonder many people believe these breeds pose a threat. However, the term actually has nothing to do with the dogs’ temperament or behavior and everything to do with their origin and history. Bully breeds all come from the same root stock called Molosser, which is a breed that originated in ancient Greece. Molossers were large canines with large bones and muscles, pendant ears and short muzzles. The bullies that we know today come from breeding Molossers with other breeds such as the Old English bulldog and mastiff breeds. They were originally bred to protect livestock and property, and some breeders and owners began to use the dogs for other unsavory purposes. For example, during the 19th century in England, they were used in blood sports like bull baiting, and, some believe, this is where Molosser descendants first came to be known as “bully breeds.”
The stigma is easily traced back to the 1980s when street gangs began using pit bull breeds for protection and as status symbols. According to the ASPCA, another probable cause as to why these animals were often associated with attacks and violence is they were handled inappropriately by their owners. One often overlooked fact is that any dog may attack if it is neglected, abused or trained to be aggressive.
Per the ASPCA, these breeds are very social and extremely loyal to their owners. Because of their athletic bodies and exceptional intelligence, they are very energetic and generally excel in agility. Bully breeds are also very good with children. As with any dog, you should supervise bullies when they are around strangers, children or other pets.
• Alapaha Blue Blood
• American Bulldog
• American Staffordshire Terrier
• Boston Terrier
• Bull terrier
• French Bulldog
• Old English Bulldog
• American Pit Bull Terrier
• Renascence Bulldog
• Staffordshire Bull Terrier
• Victorian Bulldog