While the definition of “high maintenance” might differ from person to person, it is a fact that some dog breeds just require more effort to keep healthy, happy, and well-trained.
People tend to think of pit bulls as easygoing, but actually, they’ve been described as a high-maintenance dog breed. Is this true?
Dispelling the Rumours
Some people claim that pit bull breeds, such as the American pit bull terrier and the Staffordshire bull terrier, are high maintenance dogs because they are stubborn and aggressive.
This is just simply not true. Almost all dog behaviour specialists agree that pit bulls are not significantly more naturally aggressive than any other dog breed.
While pit bulls can be stubborn, most trainers agree they’re relatively easy to train. They respond very well to repeated commands, and can generally learn behavioural cues at a young age.
This means that a well trained pit bull should have no trouble easily following your commands. Plus one point pit bulls.
The pit bull family is normally a pretty healthy bunch. The average lifespan ranges from around 12 - 14 years, which is quite good for a medium sized dog.
However, while there are very few deadly health problems associated with the breed , it's common for pit bulls to suffer from various skin disorders. This can range from simple things such as allergy rashes to skin cancers.
Many pit bulls have short fur, which can make them prone to getting sunburn and skin cancer. They can also be more prone to bug bites. This means that you may need to pay extra attention to their skin, keeping them out of harsh sunlight or providing them with a coat to protect themselves.
Some Staffordshire breeds can also suffer from knee issues and hip dysplasia. That is why it's important to regularly exercise your pit bull to keep their muscles strong. Always react quickly if your pit bull starts limping on a back leg. It is easier to recover from a partial ligament tear instead of a full tear.
They can also be more prone to food allergies than other dog breeds.
Their short coats can also make them more sensitive to both heat stroke and hypothermia. So if you live in a place with temperature extremes, it best to make sure your pit bull can come inside. Or at least has a good quality dog coat to protect them.
Getting Enough Exercise
Both sides of the pit bull family tree, namely the original bull-baiter the terrier breeds, are very active dogs. Their genetics are what contribute to the muscular and agile shape we tend to associate them with.
This does mean that they require a lot of exercise. They may need to be walked an hour every single day to get the required amount. This isn’t much more than most large dogs, but it can still be a little overwhelming for first time dog owners.
Given their strength, they may also get into the habit of pulling on the lead if they have not been adequately trained.
Pit bulls can be prone to obesity and the associated health issues if they do not get the food and exercise they need.
As mentioned above, pit bulls have short coats. This means that they usually don’t need to be brushed as often as other dogs with longer or shaggier coats. Bathing them is also a little easier.
If they are given the correct dog food, and bathed and brushed regularly, then they should easily maintain a healthy and shiny coat. Many pit bull owners report that pit bulls coats don’t tend to hold odours like other dogs.
This means that there will be a lot less shedding, and therefore a lot less clean-up afterwards. (But it's still a good idea to keep all bedding and clothing washed regularly)
They also very rarely need special doggie haircuts.
Keeping Them Fed
Pit bulls are prone to allergies, which may make feeding them a little tricky. They also tend to be rather active and muscular dogs. This will mean that they need a bit more nutrition, especially if they're in their prime.
An adult pit bull should eat around a pound (2 cups) of food per day , with some larger dogs requiring a bit more. This isn’t really unusual though.
Use your discretion and do your own research for what foods and how often you want to feed your dog. Having said that, it's not too hard to keep a pit bull fed and happy.
Some people say that pit bulls should be fed raw meat. There is no breed-specific reason for this, and all dogs can benefit from carbs in their life. Raw meat can be dangerous and not give your dog the required nutrition. It's better to speak to a vet before putting your dog on any kind of specialised diet.
Pit Bulls and Anxiety
Pit bulls generally have a lot of terrier blood, meaning that they carry a strong sense of loyalty and duty to their owners. It's part of what makes them such good companions and a part of any loving family.
Unfortunately, this is also one of their greatest weaknesses. Pit bulls are a rather clingy breed. They love to be around their human owners and can easily suffer from separation anxiety. They often tend to prefer associating with humans rather than other dogs.
They tend to be ‘people pleasers’ with many dogs responding very well to praise. This tendency can help them to behave better, but too much attention seeking can lead to behaviour issues if you don’t set boundaries early on.
It is very cute when a puppy jumps into your lap - it is a lot less cute when a large, muscular sixty pound fellow who has been running around all day does so.
This anxiety is manageable, but it may mean that more crate training may be necessary. You can also keep them calm by providing a soothing blanket or a doggy coat to wrap around their body.
It's highly recommended you give your pit bulls their own space, with their own bed and some chew toys for stimulation.
Your dog may try and beg for attention much more often than other breeds. So it's important that you take the time to give them some TLC. This may make it difficult for some very busy owners to take care of a pit bull.
This deep seated loyalty may also cause them to act out aggressively if they think someone or something is a danger to their owner. This is why keeping a leash on your person in public and taking the time to properly train them is important.
Pit bulls are Smart
This is great when you are trying to train them, but can also work against you. Pit bulls have the ability to read human body language and tend to behave accordingly. They really do love their owners, and can tell when you mean well for them.
This can be a problem if your pit bull has come from a bad environment or you have not set a proper hierarchy in a family. Like a disobedient or spoiled child, a pit bull can take advantage of your lack of discipline to run amok in your house.
Pit bull pups are also very easy to train, but a grown adult may be stubborn, and it can take a while to route out these behaviours.
What Are Some High Maintenance Dog Breeds?
Maintenance is ranked by how much work is needed to attend to your dog’s needs. This will include how much it takes to feed, house, exercise, and groom them. As well as caring for their physical and mental needs.
The most high maintenance breeds are up for debate, but the five dogs that seem to require the most maintenance are Collie and shepherd breeds, labradoodles, Akitas, spaniels, and bulldogs.
Remember, a high maintenance dog does not mean that it is a bad dog to own. All it means is that an owner should be aware of the extra care and experience that it is going to take to be able to take care of them.
Are Pit Bulls Good for First Time Owners?
Honestly? Not really.
While they are wonderful dogs and great companions, they do require a lot of attention, training, exercise, and care.
But if you have already bought or adopted a pit bull or pit bull puppy, do not stress. They’re a bit more work than normal, but they're far from the most difficult. A little bit of extra research, training and care and you will have a wonderful addition to your family.
As any pit bull owner knows - there is a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to pit bulls. Most of it is just misinformation, irresponsible ownership, and other sad facts that create this negative idea around pit bulls.
However, even if you live in a place with no breed laws, you will have to accept pretty early on that there are probably some people in your community who may have a problem with your dog of choice.
For most, this won’t matter, but if you are a person who is afraid of confrontation from misinformed people, or from being judged by these people - then perhaps owning a pit bull may prove to be quite stressful for you.
There is no shame in this. A pit bull owner needs to be responsible and capable of handling their dog to prevent unnecessary stereotyping or bad press. This can be a big responsibility for a new owner, so it is something to consider carefully.
Pit bulls love their owners and can be a tough dog breed. They can make wonderful pets and companions if given enough training, care, and attention.
However, while far from the neediest, the demands of a pit bull can be quite a lot for a first time dog owner. They require a lot of exercise, stimulation, and training. They can be very needy and prone to anxiety, making them a handful for a very busy owner.
As mentioned already, a high maintenance dog does not mean a bad dog. If you have or really want a pit bull, then just be aware of the demands.
It can take a lot of work to be a responsible pet owner, but the results of adding a brilliant new member to your family can be totally worth it.