Pit bulls, American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Bulldogs often fall under the bully breed umbrella. They are good with families, can usually tolerate small children, love to snuggle, are natural goofballs, aren’t overly barky and they love people.
However, because of society’s attitude toward bully breeds, living with one can present some unique challenges. For example, housing may be an issue, with landlords having certain restrictions. There are entire cities who ban certain bully-type dogs, with pit bulls getting the most negative attention. Just the fact that so many people are afraid of bully breeds can make even a simple dog walk an uncomfortable experience.
To help bully-breed and pit bull owners (and those considering getting one), check out these resources:
Learn About Bully Breeds
If you are considering adopting a bully breed, be aware that you will need to be able to commit time and energy to your dog. Bullies adore their people, but they are a lot of work. They are terriers, so they can be stubborn. They are also athletic, strong dogs, requiring lots of exercise and control.
Bully breeds are also known to be master Houdinis, so if you have a backyard, make sure it is fenced, secure and they are always supervised. Always microchip your dog and either get a collar that is printed with your information or put an ID tag on their collar.
Also, before you adopt or bring home any dog, you should spend significant time researching breeds to find one that suits your lifestyle (even mixed breeds have some of the traits and medical issues as their individual breeds).
Here are some resources to learn about the breed and what to expect before you commit to the lifelong care of a bully breed:
- BADRAP: What to Expect
- Bully Breed Education: Do Your Research Before You Choose A Dog
- Pitbullinfo.org: Facts, Information, and Statistics about Pitbull-Type Dogs
Caring for a Bully Breed
All dogs need proper nutrition (always consult with a vet), exercise, metal and physical stimulation, and lots and lots of love. But it helps to learn specific information that relates to bully breeds.
- American Bully World: How to care for your American Bully Puppy
- Pet Care Rx: What to Feed Your Pit Bull
- Unshackled Pit: Pitbull Nutrition
- The Animal Foundation: Caring for Pit Bulls
Breed Specific Legislation
Breed specific legislation (BSL) doesn’t only refer to places where bully breeds, most notably pit bulls, are banned, but these laws also apply to states that allow bully breeds, but place restrictions on dogs that are considered “dangerous” based on their appearance.
These restrictions may include muzzling the dog in public, using a leash of a specific length, having insurance, placing “viscous dog” signs outside your home, having your dog wear some kind of “dangerous breed” identification and keeping your dog in a kennel with specific requirements.
Resources to find out more about BSL:
- Animal Legal and Historical Center
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- National Canine Research Council
Check your location for BSL:
Before you bring a bully breed home, check the Breed Specific Legislation Map.
One of the most frustrating issues is finding housing that will allow bully dogs. Even in cities and states without any BSL, landlords are allowed to discriminate against certain breeds. To avoid problems, look for housing that allows pets, and in particular has no stipulation about the dog breed you have. Never sign a lease before ensuring that your dog is welcome and ask if that can be added to your contract.
You can find some listings for non-discriminatory housing here:
Tips for renting or buying with a bully breed:
- Save a Bull: Tips for Renting With a Pit Bull
- This Dogs Life: Getting a Co-Op to Love You and Your Dog
- Petfinder: How to Find Pit-Friendly Housing
- Einhorn Insurance: Trouble Finding A Place To Rent Because Of Your Dog?
- Bully Advocate Rescue Collective: How to Rent With a Pit Bull
Renters or Buyers Home Insurance
Some home insurance companies flat out won’t insure a client who has a bully-breed type breed. Some will decide based on an individual dog’s behavior. Some companies offer specific animal liability insurance, which may also convince a landlord on the fence to give you a lease.
There are things you can do to sway an insurance company, co-op board or landlord:
- Take your dog to a Canine Good Citizen™ (CGC) program and show your insurance broker the certificate.
- This Dogs Life: Getting a Co-Op to Love You and Your Dog
Companies that provide home insurance with a bully breed:
- Einhorn Insurance Agency: Dog Liability Insurance
- State Farm: Homeowners and renters insurance (decides on an individual basis)
- Nationwide: Insurance for bully breeds with a CGC certificate
- USAA: No breed restrictions but only for U.S. military members and their families
- XInsurance: Animal liability insurance and dog bite insurance coverage
There are a few reasons you might need a lawyer if you own a bully breed. For help with everything from housing to recovering expenses if someone harms your dog, there are lawyers that now specialize in animal law or even law relating specifically to dogs.
Related: The Myth of the Big Bad Pit Bull
Here are some resources:
Animal Legal Defense Fund:
- What To Do When Your Companion Animal Has Been Injured or Killed
- What To Do If Your Dog is in Danger of Being Declared Vicious, Or If Your Dog Has Bitten Someone Who is Now Suing You
- How to Find an Attorney to Help You With Your Animal-related Issues
Law firms that specialize in dogs or animal issues:
- The Dog Lawyer: Expert in animal aw
- Justia Lawyers: Animal and dog lawyers, listed by state
- Lawyers.com: Top-rated animal lawyers by location
While all dogs should know basic commands and what constitutes good behavior, because of the associated stigma, it’s imperative that you teach your bully breed good manners. For example, since so many people are afraid of bully breeds, teaching your dog not to jump on a person when saying hello is important. Better yet, teach your bully breed to sit quietly at your side or to ignore someone who is obviously fearful.
Even if you plan to train your own dog, it’s a good idea to meet with a dog trainer for tips and techniques. Here are some resources for finding a trainer and/or an animal behaviorist who uses positive reinforcement:
- Love a Bull: Training
- The Association of Professional Dog Trainers: Locate a trainer
- International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants: Find an animal behavior consultant
Just like any dog, bully breeds can be amazing pets. You just need to your research, put in the work and be a responsible and loving owner.