They get a bad rap as a hostile breed thanks to a history with dogfighting, but really, pit bulls are playful dogs who love to be with people, says “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan, who stars with his own beloved pit bull Junior in Love My Pit Bull (Nat Geo Wild, April 18), a TV special about how humans and pit bulls can get along beautifully.
Before the special airs this week, we asked Millan to share the little-known qualities that make pit bulls great companions.
1. Pit bulls were developed by cross-breeding boxers and terriers, giving them the boxer’s strength and the terrier’s smarts.
2. They were once known as “nanny dogs” because they’re attentive and patient around young children.
3. The idea that this breed is naturally aggressive is a myth. Any dog that is not raised properly by humans can become aggressive. With proper training, a pit bull can be as laid-back as a basset hound.
4. “Pit bull” actually describes several varieties of dog—so if you’d like to adopt one, you’ll have a lot of options to choose from.
5. Along with plenty of exercise and a healthy amount of discipline, pit bulls thrive on affection and can show a lot of love.
6. These playful dogs have a lot of “zest”—but they’re also highly trainable and respectful of “stable pack leaders” (that’s you!).