At one time Pitbulls were called nanny dogs, but now they have a reputation for being aggressive and dangerous for kids. It really comes down to each individual dog but it’s never advised to leave a dog alone with a young child unmonitored.
Before scrolling down this guide, “Are Pitbulls Nanny Dogs,” check out: 7 Signs That Your Pitbull is Pregnant (2023) and What is the Largest Pitbull Breed? (2023).
What Is a Nanny Dog?
During the Victorian era, Pit Bulls were referred to as nanny dogs for their ability to take care of human beings, especially children. In the past, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers were abused and used in dogfighting circles, making them appear mean, vicious, and aggressive.
A nanny dog is both a furry companion and a babysitter. Children could be left to their dog’s care and feel safe.
In the past century, parents probably left dogs with more duties than they could reasonably handle. Traditionally, a nanny dog is friendly toward kids, looks out for them, and safeguards them as needed.
As you know, nanny dogs perform a variety of duties. It’s impossible to call Pit Bulls, which are considered aggressive and mean, nanny dogs — or is it? There was a time when Pit Bulls were regarded warmly, especially Staffordshire Bull Terriers. There are many old pictures from history that show these dogs working as nanny dogs.
Many families were not able to afford human nannies but still needed something to help watch over their children. Dogs were an obvious option as protectors.
It was estimated that Staffordshire Bull Terriers began fighting in 1835, well before the turn of the century. Adding gambling to dog fighting made it a quick buck for those involved. Despite this, the activity was banned in England by 1911. It was decided that Pits would no longer be used in this manner.
A loving relationship with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier followed for decades. The breed was regarded as a wonderful friend and a good family member.
American Pit Bull Terriers were used for dog fighting into the 20th century. The breed was also used as a companion and therapy dog, like its Staffordshire Bull Terrier cousin.
What Dog Breed Is Known as the Nanny Dog?
The reason for that nickname is the breed’s proven ability to get along with children. Several welfare and re-homing organizations recommend the Staffie breed to families with young children. Organizations and rescue centers consider this breed to be among the best family dogs. This is the breed that many people describe as vicious, unreliable, and dangerous.
According to the Kennel Club, the breed is suitable for young children. Exactly how did it develop its excellent behavior with children and adults, and why is it a family dog that is so loving and loyal?
The answer lies in the history of the breed, as well as in temperament, size, nature, and behavior. The genetic and social characteristics of the individual can be determined based on that information.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was bred to compete in blood sports such as bull baiting and dog fighting. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are generally believed to have been created by crossing bulldogs with terriers.
Nevertheless, animal fighting was outlawed by around 1835, although it was still practiced in secret. Consequently, these dogs became very popular, even though many of them did not survive in the ring or were discarded.
Only in the 1930s was the Staffordshire Bull Terrier recognized as a breed in its own right by the Kennel Club, after breed standards were developed in the Midlands by enthusiasts. Despite the Staffie’s heritage of fighting other dogs and animals, it has gained a global following because of its malleable personality and eagerness to please.
When Were Pitbulls Used as Nanny Dogs?
While many photographs from the 19th century appear to depict Pit Bulls babysitting children, they were still just pets, and there is little evidence to support the notion that they were so-called nanny dogs. That said, these dogs were well known for their good behavior around children and their tolerance level.
To this day, this remains true. In studies of Pit Bulls, it has been revealed that they are the second-most tolerant dog after Golden Retrievers. The Golden Retriever is a dog that is loved by everyone, and that guides the blind and people with special needs. Ironically, everyone loves Golden Retrievers, but most people avoid Pit Bulls.
As well as being friendly, family-oriented, and loyal, they are also very hardworking. Still, their reputation seems to make modern families forget their history and focus more on the stereotype associated with the breed.
Can Pitbulls Be Trusted Around Children?
As long as they are socialized and trained correctly from a young age, Pit Bulls can be good with kids. In addition to being affectionate, they are territorial and can become aggressive when threatened. For your Pitbull to be safe around your children, take precautions and always supervise their interactions.
News articles warning against adopting Pit Bulls are very common since they have a reputation for being aggressive. Their bad reputation is primarily due to the fact that they were originally bred to bait bulls, hence the name. This led to aggressive tendencies.
According to statistics in the past 16 years, Pit Bulls are responsible for about 72% of deaths due to dog bites in the United States. Because of their bad rep, many owners don’t adopt Pit Bulls or abandon them, as they are afraid of attacks. Still, most owners agree that Pit Bulls don’t deserve their bad reputation.
Are Pitbulls Dangerous?
American Pitbulls are among the most recognizable breeds. They are, however, often vilified for being dangerous and aggressive. Advocacy groups have responded to these negative perceptions by pointing out the breed’s intelligence, good nature, and affinity for children.
However, many people try to contest these claims. Pitbulls are not afraid to bark, jump, dig, or attack small animals. Many misunderstand Pitbulls, especially if they go off of news reports and don’t put much research into learning more about the breed.
In many cases, people simply misunderstand Pitbulls. Similarly to the Doberman or Akita, the Pitbull has potentially dangerous characteristics. Having an independent and strong temperament, Pitbulls are more likely to show aggression toward strangers. Pitbulls can also be so dominant that they can be dangerous to their owners and other animals.
Why Are Pitbulls Considered an Aggressive Breed?
There are numerous reasons why Pitbulls have a reputation for being aggressive.
In past centuries, Pitbulls were selectively bred for bull baiting. This aggression-based breeding has resulted in hard-wired Pitbulls which are difficult to train.
Pitbulls were used in Europe for a number of aggressive purposes including bull baiting, ratting, and dogfighting. Despite some people’s opinions, reactivity might simply be a genetic trait for some Pitbulls.
There is a tendency for Pitbulls or most dogs to be territorial in general. Wherever they are, they think and act as if everything is theirs. They simply feel like people or other animals are their competition and they need to protect what is theirs. This leads them to be aggressive toward them.
Most reported attacks occur on or near premises against people they have no bond with or are not familiar with. An attack by a Pitbull on someone they know is very unusual. It is likely that they are ill or have some type of injury if this is the case. Protecting their territory is the primary reason why Pitbulls attack.
Media stories and attention about Pitbulls, especially about dogfighting and human attacks, have tarnished the breed’s reputation. The reputation of Pitbulls for their aggression, sheer muscle, and power has attracted a segment of pet owners.
Due to improper training, aggressive behavior, and not closely monitoring other dogs and people, dog owners only exacerbate these problems.
Positive reinforcement is more effective for Pitbulls than negative reinforcement. When you reward the wrong behavior, they will keep repeating it. A lack of human contact is another reason for Pitbulls acting up.
Bored Pitbulls can misbehave if they spend a lot of time alone. When your Pitbull suddenly becomes aggressive, it may be experiencing a physical issue. It might become aggressive if it is sick or injured.
How to Keep a Baby Safe Around a Pitbull
Teaching kids to treat dogs properly and socializing dogs with children at an early age can reduce the chances of a problem. Here are some other tips that can help.
Teach Kids How to Interact With Dogs
Make sure children know not to approach strange dogs. When dogs are busy or walking, teach your children to ignore them politely. While sleeping or training, this is especially important.
Introduce your children to the pet-pet-pause method. A few seconds of petting (three to five is best) followed by a pause works well. Keep an eye on the dog. It is okay for your child to keep petting the dog if it stays close to them or moves closer. When the dog walks away, teach the child to not follow it and to know that the dog is done.
Teach Kids about Dog Body Language.
In general, dog body language is pretty easy to read, especially if children learn it at a young age. The tail should wag loosely from head to toe. There should be wiggles all over the dog’s butt. Many dogs have soft or even slightly squinted eyes. You should not see the dog staring deeply at your child.
A dog’s tail wagging, especially if it’s low and fast, indicates that it’s scared. It is best not to pet dogs whose eyes are white or whose mouths are closed. If your dog closes its eyes or pulls its ears far back, you should leave it alone.
Avoid dogs with a stiff tail wag (curling over their backs) and a forward posture. If a dog is barking, it’s a sign to leave it alone.
If you have a dog at home, you should monitor them around your child. Be vigilant with your child and your dog. Ensure your child never pulls on a dog’s fur, steps on it, climbs up on it, or takes its toys or food. Pay attention to the body language of your dog.
No matter how much education your child receives on body language, you should never leave them with the dog unsupervised. Your kid will become more trustworthy around your dog as they get older.
The best way for your child to have positive experiences with dogs is through you. Get your child to settle down or remove your dog if it gets too excited. In general, it is never a good idea to let small children and dogs roughhouse.
Frequently Asked Questions
A well-trained and socialized Pitbull can be great with toddlers, but don’t leave them unsupervised.
Tracing the breed back to its origin, these dogs were originally used for biting and holding bulls by the face or head.
Like many dogs, Pitbulls can become highly attached to their owner. They are super affectionate.
Conclusion for “Are Pitbulls Nanny Dogs”
Pitbulls can absolutely be loyal, friendly, family-oriented dogs, especially with proper training and socialization.
That said, the idea that Pitbulls — or any breed — can be a “nanny dog” is a myth. It’s just a nickname. While there are many old photographs of Pitbulls posing with kids, they were merely pets. Dogs should never be left alone with young children unsupervised.
If you find this guide, “Are Pitbulls Nanny Dogs,” informative, you might also like:
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- Are Corgis Good With Kids? (2023)
- Are Labradoodles Good with Kids? (2023)
You can learn more about Pitbulls by watching “Most Amazing Facts about Pitbulls” down below:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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