Sunday, June 07, 2009

Rare Pit Bulls

We've heard it all before- all of those "tight" "rare" and "hard to find" pit bulls that advocates of the breed know are none of the kind. Pit bulls, like most working breeds, were bred for function, not form, and can, according to standard, come in all colors except blue merle (it's just not a genetic possibility). You'll here people brag about their rare merle pits, though, just because, well, I guess impossible is a rare thing, too. The crazy ass blue "rare" phase seems to be passing- now it's just the blue phase- I think no one *really* believes that dilute dogs are rare any more since almost all pit bulls are some kind of dilute now, but people still seem to think they're awesome. Among fanciers, I've seemed to notice a recent penchant for tricolor pit bulls- not really rare, either. A theory of mine is because we didn't always ID them properly as pit bulls before, they *seem* rare, but they're not rare, either.

Bottom line, pit bulls are everywhere. If you work in animal welfare, care about dogs, or really, just walk your dog in a neighborhood, you know there are a lot of pit bulls. I know this is nothing new- either as news or in the blogosphere. And I know there's no way to accurately count the number of pit bulls- Drayton Michaels of DogStar Daily identifies some of the problems with the numbers. In my mind, the main problem is with counting. Pit bulls can be counted through their registries- American Staffordshire Terriers can be registered with the AKC and American Pit Bull Terriers can be registered with the UKC or ADBA. There are other registries like the CKC that will also register pit bulls, but bottom line is pit bulls and pit bull type dogs get registered in large numbers, but not in numbers representing their "real" statistics. For example, in the AKC, Am Staffs were ranked 69th last year. Yorkies were #2. There are clearly more pit bulls and pit bull type dogs than yorkies. More pit bulls are registered with the ADBA and the UKC, but I'm guessing even more pit bulls are unregistered every year.

The other way I would go about estimating the number of pit bulls is by shelter statistics. The average shelter worker in California would tell you that at any given time, their shelter is 1/3 to 2/3 full of pit bulls (I've asked at a recent seminar for California shelter workers). Does this mean 1/3-2/3 of dogs in California are pit bulls? I don't think this is true, either. Pit bulls are still considered way too cool, and way too disposable to be kept for life, and so represent a disproportionate number of dogs in shelters. They have large litters, and even though everyone thinks that their 15 friends and families will come through for those adorable little puppies, they never all do. So puppies end up in the shelters. And so do the young adult dogs who aren't as cute any more, and aren't so quiet and small anymore, etc. But I don't think that 2/3 of all dogs in California are pit bulls. There are a lot of reasons to surrender your pit bull to the shelter- landlord issues, unrealistic expectations, dog aggression, etc. There are less homes to "rehome" your pit bull to than your yorkie- the shelter is going to get a pit bull before it gets your yorkie.

But bottom line, pit bulls are a dime a dozen. White ones, brown ones, blue ones. Blue puppies, American Bullies, dogs with cropped ears, natural ears, black dogs, seal dogs, ADBA style pit bulls.

But I have a rare pit bull. He's an old pit bull. A senior pit bull. A veteran. When I walk him down the street, people tell me he's old and kind of marvel. He's only 8. He's gray all around the face, and looks, well, old, but he's not decrepit. We don't get a lot of senior bulldogs in the shelter. They certainly don't make up 2/3 of any shelter population, or any other population I've ever seen. Hopefully we'll make old pit bulls less rare- puppies will become rare, and veteran bulldogs will be all kind of common, everywhere except the shelter.


Valerie said...

Great post! I found it extremely informative.

Anonymous said...

then we have the black and white crazy goofy agility running obedience goof, ball nut, rally nut...stomperdog!! :)

Anonymous said...

I agree my kobe red nose of 14 years passed, best friend, best dog.