Five Things to Know Before Adopting a Bully Breed

Tail wagging, tongue lapping and full body hugs are just a few of the reactions you can expect to come home to when you adopt a bully breed. These sturdy, active dogs make wonderful companions. But too often, unaware pet owners relinquish their bully breeds to shelters because they didn’t realize the commitment required to own such a dog. Before you bring a bully breed into your life, make sure you know all the facts about these dynamic dogs. Are they good with children and other people? How much time and attention do they really need? What is Breed Specific Legislation, and how could it affect your decision to adopt? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and more, plus find out if adopting a bully breed is really right for you.

5. Bullies Have Breed-specific Laws to Follow

It may be surprising to know there are actual laws on the books in many cities and counties regarding dogs, but thanks to fear and irresponsible pet ownership, many local governments have enacted breed specific legislation (BSL) to curb perceived issues with bully breeds. The easiest way to find out if your town has passed BSL is to contact your local animal control facility. The shelter where you plan to adopt should know the regulations also, but if you’re adopting out of town, it’s best to check for yourself first.
Another thing to consider is your long-term living arrangement. Is there a move in your future? If you think you might be moving to another city or state, check to see what BSL is on record in the city to which you plan to relocate. Besides total breed bans, some cities have specific regulations for owning a bully breed, including muzzling in public, mandatory micro-chipping and carrying liability insurance. Do your research before you try to adopt, and be a responsible pet parent by following any rules established in your area.

4. Bully Breeds Are Socialites

Bullies are very sociable animals and generally love being around people. They enjoy making new friends and are typically trusting of strangers. Their fondness for human contact and gregarious personality really makes them a perfect companion for someone who is a people person.
If you’ve heard that these breeds are malicious or overly aggressive, you should know they’re always at the top of the class in temperament testing. The American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS) conducts annual evaluations for all dog breeds, and pit bull mixes consistently rate higher than some of their more popular counterparts, including the Golden Retriever and Collie. Bully breeds also excel at the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) training, which is a program that teaches good dog manners and responsible pet ownership. Dogs who become certified as CGCs might also qualify for reduced insurance rates, so it’s an extra bonus to take this course with your bully breed.

3. Bullies Have Good Genes

Providing the best care for a bully breed doesn’t differ much from any other breed. They all need annual veterinarian exams and vaccines, and should be fed a healthy diet on a regular schedule. These breeds are typically very fit with few health concerns. Joint problems are a common issue some bully breeds might face due to their highly active nature. To minimize the chance of future complications, try to walk your dog on dirt or grass, since asphalt is harder on joints. Also try to warm him up with a short 5- to10-minute walk before any strenuous activity.
Bully breeds are shorthaired dogs that don’t require much grooming. Your dog can probably get away with a “wash and go” once a month. Start working with your bully as soon as you bring him home to get him used to having his nails clipped or ears cleaned. If you’re uncomfortable performing these duties, find a groomer who understands bully breeds and is well-trained to groom them.

2. Adopting a Bully Breed May Take Time

Any reputable shelter will put you through a thorough screening process before allowing you to adopt a dog, but the process is usually more rigorous for someone looking to take home a bully breed. Don’t be offended if a shelter really questions your motives in adopting pit bull mixes and other breeds that have a history of abuse or dog-fighting. Shelters could request a list of references along with a home visit to see where your adopted bully will live. You should also be prepared to answer a detailed questionnaire in which you will be asked things like why you want to adopt a bully breed and your history as a pet owner.
Consider the shelter as your own pet matchmaking service. The more they know about your life, the better they can match you with the perfect pet. For example, an adult bully breed might make a better fit than a puppy, since adults are more settled. Always tell a shelter if you have small children, how active you are and other factors that might help them pair you with the right pooch. This will ensure every adopted bully finds a permanent home with a loving family that understands the unique needs and personalities of these breeds.

1. Bullies Are Loyal to a Fault

Bully breeds are generally very loving and loyal companions. They normally form very close bonds with their owners and will be a constant presence around your home. As the group Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls (BAD RAP) explains, “Be ready to commit lots of quality time to your pet for life.” These people-lovers won’t like being relegated to the backyard or left alone for long periods of time. Be prepared to commit at least two hours a day of undivided attention to your bully breed to ensure his happiness. Remember, you can’t judge an entire breed by a few negative news reports. If you’re ready to adopt a loving and active dog, you will have a faithful companion for life in a bully breed.


– American Kennel Club. “AKC Canine Good Citizen Program.” (Aug. 17, 2010)
– American Society Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “Ten Tips for Adopting a Pit Bull.” (Aug.17, 2010)
– American Temperament Testing Society, Inc. (Aug. 17, 2010)
– American Veterinary Medical Association. “State Legislative Resources.” October 2007. (Aug. 17, 2010)
– Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls. “Monster Myths.” (Aug. 17, 2010)
– Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls. “Pros and Cons of Owning a Pitbull.” (Aug. 18, 2010)
– National Canine Research Council. “Fear vs. Fact” (Aug. 17, 2010)
– Pit Bull Rescue Central. “Socializing Your Pit Bull.” (Aug. 18, 2010)
– Saunders, Kim. “The Adopted Dog Bible.” Petfinder. Collins Living. 2009.
– Stilwell, Victoria. “Teaching Dog Safety.” Scholastic Parent & Child. February 2010. (Aug.17, 2010)

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