An older man standing on a paddle boat with a pit bull dog.

Going Pro: Celebrating National Pit Bull Awareness Month

“Going Pro” is a recurring column dedicated to celebrating all things related to working and sporting dogs, especially their nutrition.

October is a special month for millions of dogs. What’s so special about October?

It’s not all the pumpkin spice-flavored goodies (although some might argue that it is) or even the sugary and chocolatey Halloween treats — which many dogs would indulge in if they could.

It is all about some special observances: October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month, Adopt-a-Dog Month®, Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and National Pet Wellness Month. That means October will be filled with lots of opportunities to debunk misperceptions about bully-breed dogs (including “pit bulls,” aka “pits” or “pitties”), help homeless dogs find their forever homes, and ensure our canine companions are healthy and happy.

These “holidays” are especially important to us at Diamond Pet Foods. Booberry, the pit bull who graces the Diamond Pro89 package, was rescued. Now in her forever home, Booberry’s energy and intelligence are channeled into agility competitions.

Dangerous dogs? Or loyal, loving companions?

Fans and critics alike have strong opinions about pit bulls, depending on their experience with dogs in general and pit bull-type dogs specifically. One of the challenging aspects of the conversation about pit bulls is the lack of agreement on which breed or breeds of dogs are pit bulls and which aren’t.

According to the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA, “pit bull” isn’t one breed but a term that refers to a type of dog. When people talk about pit bulls, they could be referring to any of four breeds including mixed-breed dogs that resemble one of these breeds:

  • American Staffordshire terrier
  • American pit bull terrier
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • American bully

The American Staffordshire terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier are breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), while the American pit bull terrier, American bully and Staffordshire bull terrier are recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC).

Many myths — almost all of them negative — surround pit bull-type dog breeds, likely because of their history as bull- and bear-fighting dogs. Underground dog-fighting clubs further damaged the reputations of these breeds.

National Pit Bull Awareness Day, the forerunner of National Pit Bull Awareness Month, was started on October 27, 2007, by Bless the Bullys, a pit bull rescue and education group in Tennessee. The organization’s goals then and now are to dispel myths about American pit bull terriers, counter the breed’s bad-boy image, promote responsible dog ownership and ultimately lower the number of pit bull-type dogs surrendered to shelters or simply abandoned by their owners. National Pit Bull Awareness Day, which is still observed on the last Saturday of October, was expanded to include all of October in 2011.

Intelligent, athletic breeds that make great sporting and working dogs

American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers are agile, strong and typically energetic dogs. They need regular physical activity, preferably vigorous exercise, to keep them mentally and physically healthy.

Because they’re intelligent and eager to please their humans, pit bulls are generally quick to learn and easy to train — with the right motivation (e.g., treats, toys, petting, praise and play). Pitties can be trained to compete in many different sports including agility, nosework and dock diving. As working dogs, pit bulls excel at drug detection, explosives detection and search-and-rescue work.

Nutritional needs similar to other canine athletes

The nutritional requirements of pit bull-type dogs are similar to those of other active working and sporting dogs. Some dogs can easily become overweight or obese, so it’s important to avoid overfeeding them. Pitties are particularly prone to hip dysplasia (abnormal formation of the hip socket), elbow dysplasia (improper development of the elbow joint) and patellar luxation (one or both “knee caps” slip out of and back into place). These joint problems are worsened by excess weight.

Because pit bulls are high-energy, muscular dogs, they benefit from foods with high protein content, like Diamond Pro89 Beef, Pork & Ancient Grains Formula for Adult Dogs. Real meat is the first ingredient, and 89 percent of the protein in Diamond Pro89 comes from animal sources including beef, pork, beef meal and fish meal. Plus, its guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin help support healthy joints for active dogs.

Treat a rescued or sheltered dog this month

As mentioned earlier, October is also Adopt-a-Dog Month and Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, observances sponsored by the American Humane Society and the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), respectively. Although the names are slightly different, their goals are the same — to help millions of dogs in shelters and rescue groups find their forever homes.

If you’re thinking about adopting an energetic dog like an American pit bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier — and there are many pit bull-type dogs waiting in shelters — you’ll want to give your choice some serious consideration. Check out this article on what you need to know about adopting a high-energy dog before you make your decision.

If you’re not ready to adopt a dog this month, you can still support your local shelter or favorite rescue group. You can host a fundraiser through GoFundMe or Facebook. You can also donate time, money or supplies like pet food, leashes, beds and toys to your local shelter or rescue group. If the organization has a website, check for a wish list to see what they need. You can also call to ask what supplies or services are needed most.

October is a great time to celebrate! Why not celebrate fall by adopting a new furry family member? Not only will you both learn some new tricks, but you’ll reap plenty of treats!


RELATED POST: Rescue Me: Adopting a High-Energy Dog

RELATED POST: Do Sporting and Working Dogs Need Different Nutrition?

The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.


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