The Stigma Surrounding The Pitbull Breed

Jan 8, 2024 | Pet Health, Pets

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Today on the blog we are talking about The Stigma Surrounding The Pitbull Breed.  For those of you who have never owned a Pitbull, I want to tell you that they are a wonderful breed.  So when I heard about the UK banning all XL bully dog breads, I was heart broken.  I for one know the terror these dog owners are facing.  I once owned a Pitbull/Rottweiler mix who I adopted from a shelter in PA.  She was solid muscle, 105 pounds, and jet black but her personality did not fit her appearance.  She was a 105 pound lovable little goofball who loved people.

Unfortunately, I had neighbors who did not agree.  A few years back, a pack of stray dogs were running the area (one being a pitbull) and they were accused of  killing a local woman’s pet Shitzu.  The police combed the area wanting to get more information about these dogs.  My neighbor was approached and he informed the police that I owned a Pitbull.  A notice was placed on my door and when I called to ask what the problem was, I was informed my dog might be taken away from me if she were to press charges.  I felt absolute panic knowing that I might lose her because of this and I was prepared for a fight.  The woman and her friends somehow found out where I lived and came to my house.  I not only had to work with the police to prove Bella was kept in a safe and controlled environment, I had to defend myself and my dog to these strangers.

Owning Bella was an absolute joy but I can assure you that there were many who went out of their way to avoid us when we had her on walks, at the vet, or even wanting to spend time at our house.  I even had one veterinarian push her to the ground and muzzle her before he would even cut her nails.  I kept saying “what are you doing?” and he said…”she is a Pitbull, we have to do this!”  I never went back.  She was absolutely terrified after that and we could never get her nails cut anywhere but at home.
One of my goals for 2024 is to shed more light on bully breeds and with this new ban in England and Wales, it is the perfect time to do so.  Shelters are at their max capacity with Pitbull intakes.  Adopters and fosters are needed.  I have enlisted the help of my cousin, Chantale, a Pitbull owner herself to help me shed light on this breed.  She has provided pictures of her Pitbull, Mickey, who passed away at 12 years old.  Although these pictures were taken several years ago, they show the calm and loving personality he had.

Mickey as a puppy

The Stigma Surrounding The Pitbull Breed
The Stigma Surrounding The Pitbull Breed | | #pitbull#stigma#bullybreed
If you are not familiar with what is going on in the UK, let me start by giving you a bit of information.  I found all information on CNN and BlueCross.  I also called several shelters and did research on the legislative rulings for Pitbull ownership in the US…see my findings below.
England and Wales ban on XL Bully dog breed to take effect Sunday
A controversial ban on XL Bully dogs is set to come into force in England and Wales on Sunday, following a September announcement by the UK government amid a rise in fatal attacks involving the breed in the country.  The breed was added in September to the list of dogs banned in England and Wales under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.  According to the UK government’s website, starting December 31, 2023 it will be against the law to sell, abandon or let stray, give away and breed from an XL Bully dog, as well as to have an XL Bully in public without a lead and muzzle.  Under the new law, owners will have until February 1 to register them, as it will be a criminal offense to own a dog of that breed in England and Wales without a certificate of exemption.  The ruling does not apply to Scotland and Northern Ireland, with local media in the two constituent countries reporting an increase of rescues of the breed from England and Wales as a result.
According to guidelines published by the UK Government this month, the XL Bully breed type is a variant of the wider American Bully breed type, which was “developed through the crossing of various bull breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier.”  “The XL Bully breed type is typically larger (both in terms of height and body shape) and more muscular than other Bully breed variant types such as the ‘Micro’, ‘Pocket’, ‘Standard’ and ‘Classic’,” the UK government’s guidance read.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to bring in a ban after a man died after being savaged by two XL Bully dogs in September. In a TV interview, Sunak called the breed “a danger to communities,” adding, “it is right that we take urgent action to stop these attacks to protect the public.”  Many owners and animal welfare advocates have defended the breed, stressing the importance of good training, while critics say they have been specifically bred to be highly aggressive and even responsible ownership is not enough to prevent from attacks on occasions.

Mickey with his best friend

Mickey the pittie had a best friend and she was a sweet little Shitzu.  They were inseparable from the day Mickey was adopted.  Mickey had many friends and family including his furry cousin Diesel and two growing humans!  Oh and mom and dad to!  

The Stigma Surrounding The Pitbull Breed | | #pitbull#stigma#bullybreed
The government has added XL bully types to the list of banned dangerous dogs in England and Wales. It is now illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, gift, rehome, abandon or allow XL bully type dogs to stray. The ban does not currently apply in Scotland or Northern Ireland.  If you currently have an XL bully type, you are required to keep your dog on a lead and muzzled when they are walked in public. You’ll also need to apply for the government’s exemption scheme by 31 January 2024 to get your dog exempted and comply with additional restrictions including having them neutered and having third party liability insurance.  From 1 February 2024 it will be illegal to own an XL bully type without a certificate of exemption.
What is an XL bully?
An American bully XL, known as an XL bully, is the largest of the American bully types. They are not a registered breed with the Kennel Club in the UK and are a type of dog that has been bred from several different dog breeds.
Will my dog be ‘typed’ as an XL bully?
XL bullies are crossbreeds and Kennel Club breed standards do not exist. The government has therefore created its own specifications for the breed, which includes the size of their head and muzzle, their build, and the height and length of their body. Breed name, genetics and parentage are not considered.
The government has confirmed that the minimum height specified is a necessary requirement to meet the XL bully type specifications. The height should be measured from the ground to your dog’s withers (the top of the shoulders). For adult males this is from 20 inches, and females from 19 inches. If your dog does not meet this height requirement, they will not be typed as an XL bully. If they do, assess them against the rest of the specifications.
What if I own an XL bully?
You’ll need to apply to the government’s exemption scheme and pay for a certificate of exemption which will cost £92.40 before 31 January 2024.
You will also need to make sure:
your dog is microchipped and neutered (by the deadlines provided)
they are kept on a lead and muzzled in a public place, including in cars
they are kept in a secure place so they cannot escape
you have third party public liability insurance cover for your dog
You also need to be at least 16 years old to own an XL bully type.
Third party public liability insurance cover
You’ll need to take out third party liability insurance for your dog which protects you if your dog injures another person. Dogs Trust provide this through their membership scheme.
Muzzle training
Your dog will also need to wear a muzzle when out in public, including in cars, and be walked on a lead at all times.
Breeding XL bully types
It is now illegal to breed from, sell, abandon and give away an XL bully type. If puppies were born after the 31 December, you’ll have to keep the puppies or have a vet put them to sleep.
What about unowned dogs?
The Dangerous Dogs Act makes it illegal to own a banned type unless they are exempt, but it also makes it illegal to breed from, rehome or sell these dogs. We continue to be concerned that the Dangerous Dogs Act penalises innocent dogs.  Heartbreakingly, charities like ours cannot now rehome XL bullies, even when they’re well behaved and well socialized.


Even though he had his own bed, he would always curl up in his best friend’s bed 🙂

The Stigma Surrounding The Pitbull Breed | | #pitbull#stigma#bullybreed
In my interview with my cousin, I asked several questions on the importance of pet health, personality, breed specifications, insurance, adoption, training and knowledge of the pitbull breed.
Q:  You found Mickey through an ad in the paper.  What is your opinion of adopt don’t shop?  What made you want a Pitbull?
A:  It wasn’t a matter of adopting from a shelter or a breeder.  It was a matter of wanting a dog that would fit into the family.  My sister rescued a pitt/mix and we all fell in love with him.  My sister’s pit/mix was smart, loyal, and had a great temperament.  We wanted a dog just like him.  We read that a Pitbull puppy needed a home and we adopted him.
Q:  What drew you to the Pitbull breed?  What do you appreciate the most about them?
A:  Mickey had a comical personality and made us laugh.  He was loyal, lovable, and easy to train.  We loved his smile.  He would show his teeth when he smiled but it was a lovable smile.  We understood him and he understood us.
Q:  Can you share your understanding of the breed’s characteristics and temperament?
A:  They can be high strung, strong, intelligent, loving, devoted, funny.  The only negative thing I can say is that I did not like the constant shedding.  Pitbulls are short haired, shedding dogs and having allergies to dogs myself, it was the deciding factor to not get another Pitt when Mickey passed away at 12 years old.  Mickey was a snuggle bug and a couch potato and be full of energy the next.  He was easily excitable and we would joke that he had springs on his paws.
Q:  What training methods have you found most effective with Pitbulls?
A:  Be consistent with your training.  Whatever you pick, stick with it.  Keep the same routine.  Be firm.  Let them know who’s boss without cruelty or intimidation.  Every dog, every pet needs training.  Let their personalities develop organically but still keep in mind that it is all in the training.  Don’t train an animal to be aggressive.
Q:  How do you approach socialization to ensure a well-behaved and friendly Pitbull?
A:  We had children when we adopted Mickey.  We chose to get a puppy because we felt more comfortable working with an animal who had never been trained before.  We wanted a dog that would be around children at a very early age and become custom to our active lifestyle.  We didn’t take him to a professional trainer.  We let him slowly adjust to a busy household with kids coming and going.  We made sure nothing was new to him and we made him a part of our family.
Q:  Have you encountered any behavioral challenges with your Pitbulls, and how did you address them?
A:  Jumping!  We could never get him to quit jumping.  He loved people and would get so excited when someone paid attention to him.
Q:  What kind of exercise regimen did you maintain for your Pitbull?  How do you manage their energy levels and ensure they receive adequate mental stimulation?
A:  We walked him around the neighborhood always on a leash.  He was never outside without us.  We played interactive toys with him, gave him hard bones and Cong toys to chew on.
Q:  Can you describe your typical grooming routine for a Pitbull?
A:  Every 4 weeks we gave him a bath and toenail trim if he needed it.  Mickey had allergies so we rubbed coconut oil on him after a bath.  The coconut oil helped ease his dry skin and helped to eliminate scratching and itching.  Mickey had allergies himself.  His skin would get oily and filmy.  His toes had an odor something like the smell of Fritos and his skin smelled sour almost like sour dough.
The Stigma Surrounding The Pitbull Breed | | #pitbull#stigma#bullybreed

Diesel...Mickey's other best friend 🙂

This is Diesel and he was adopted as an adult dog from a shelter in WV.  I can’t get over how cute this photo is.

The Stigma Surrounding The Pitbull Breed | | #pitbull#stigma#bullybreed
Q:  Can you speak to your experience in advocating for responsible Pitbull ownership within the community?  What precautions do you take to ensure the safety of your Pitbull and others?
A:  Don’t believe everything you hear about this breed.  We advocated by adopting a Pitbull.  We had children and we taught them to respect an animal.  Any dog can bite.  It’s how they are raised.  Be mindful of your surroundings and what your dog can and cannot handle.  We always had Mickey on a leash or tie out when we walked him or had him in the yard.  We were always with him.
Q:  What health issues are common in Pitbulls, and how do you prevent or manage them?
A:  Skin allergies were prominent with Mickey.  We gave him special food like venison and took him to the vet for regular allergy shots.  He was allergic to over 50 food groups, so we gave him ice cubes for treats.  Pitbulls are prone to getting fatty tumors which he had.  Mickey developed ear hematoma’s and had to have surgery for them.  We were diligent with his healthcare with regular visits and in-between visits if needed along with getting his annual shots.
Q:  How do you ensure that the Pitbull breed aligns with your lifestyle and living situation?
A:  You will definitely be a more active person if you have a Pitbull.  They can be a very active breed.  They can also be a couch potato in the same aspect.  Attention span is quick.  I wouldn’t recommend this breed for an older person.  They are very strong.
Q:  Have you made any adjustments in your home or routine to accommodate your Pitbulls?
A:  He fit right into the family.  We made room for him in our life.  We made room for his kennel, treats, food, toys, and beds.  He had all that he could ever want.
Q:  What advice would you give to someone considering adopting a Pitbull for the first time?
A:  Be ready for some love, snuggles, and entertainment!
The Stigma Surrounding The Pitbull Breed | | #pitbull#stigma#bullybreed
Legislative Rulings on owing a Pitbull
As I was writing up this post, I realized I did not know the legislative rulings on this breed type in West Virginia and other states.  So I did some digging and this is what I came up with…
West Virginia does not have any statewide or universal restrictions on dog breeds. The State of West Virginia does not prohibit the keeping or ownership of any type of dog.
Thirteen states statutorily prohibit breed specific local ordinances, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.
According to an article,Michigan%2C%20Louisiana%2C%20and%20Kentucky., You might be able to move to a BSL state and avoid the unfriendly municipalities that have banned pit bulls. The 10 states where you and your pit bull are most likely to get the cold shoulder are Iowa, Kansas, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Arkansas, Michigan, Louisiana, and Kentucky. Iowa is the worst with over 90 municipalities that have BSL. Kentucky has just over 30 municipalities with BSL on the books.
You may have also faced the questions from your homeowners insurance and homeowner associations as to what type and breed of pets you own.  Our Association Rules state that we are not allowed to own German Shephard, Rottweiler, Doberman, or Bull Terrier breeds.
What Is Breed-Specific Legislation?
Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is the blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain dog breeds in an effort to decrease dog attacks on humans and other animals.
The Stigma Surrounding The Pitbull Breed | | #pitbull#stigma#bullybreed
Questionnaire!  Can you help me collect some data?
I’m forever curious about how people come to find their pets, why they chose the breed or animal they did, and what their beliefs are when it comes to pet health, training, etc.  So I came up with a quick questionnaire that if you have some time, I’d love to hear your opinions and thoughts.  The results from this questionnaire will help me in future blog posts where I will post the results and comments.  I will not be able to see any name submissions and all submissions are private.
Thank you so much for reading and participating in the questionnaire.  If there are any questions, concerns, or you would like to talk more about the bully breed, please comment below or email me at  Thank you to my cousin for all of the valuable input and adorable photos of Mickey.
Want to learn more about topics like this, check out my older posts:
I’m Bobbi Jo, a lab-lover who took my passion for animals and dogs and turned it into something bigger.  When I adopted Jake and Maggie, my love for them became the driving force behind Two Adorable Labs, and my blog was born.  My hope is to not only share them with the world, but to help educate others on the importance of animal health and well-being.

Two Adorable Labs has become a collection of all that I love.  I’ll send one post each week on things that bring me joy on animal health, home decor, and food recipes for humans and our furry friends.  I hope you enjoy these posts and much as I do creating them!

The Stigma Surrounding Pitbulls | | #pitbulls#bullybreeds
The Stigma Surrounding Pitbulls | | #pitbulls#bullybreeds

Bear, Bella, and Lady

We raised 3 dogs together and they lived to be 13, 14, and 15.  Our Bella a pitt/rottie mix, Bear a doberman/shepherd mix and Lady our Brittany.  

The Stigma Surrounding Pitbulls | | #pitbulls#bullybreeds
The Stigma Surrounding Pitbulls | | #pitbulls#bullybreeds

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What Do You Think? Let Us Know!


  1. Chantale

    What an amazing article full of knowledge. Pit bulls are an amazing breed! The best dog I have ever owned!

    • Two Adorable Labs

      Thank you so much! And thanks for all of your help! The Pitbull breed is so misunderstood. Let’s hope we are helping to shed more light on these amazing animals.

  2. Barbara Bolduc

    Love the article and it is all true…If they are raised right they are as gentle as can be. Mickey was a hoot! He would act so goofy when someone would come for a visit. He reminded me of tiger…He would jump from couch to couch so excited. I still miss his antics whenever I came to visit. It’s good to shade light on the stigma of owning a Pit Bull. Well done Bobbi Jo!

    • Two Adorable Labs

      Thank you. I truly believe as well that it’s how they are raised.


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