A Question at the Heart of Controversy: Are Pitbulls Good With Kids?

🦴 Updated on July 20th, 2023


Despite the controversies surrounding the Pitbull breed, most families with kids will quickly tell you how wonderful they are as pets. 

Deemed by many cities as a threatening and aggressive breed, Pitbulls have faced criticism, leaving them one of the most abandoned breeds at shelters and rescues. Over the years, the Pitbull reputation has many fearing, rather than favoring, this particular breed. 

If your family is like mine, you’re likely wondering, “are Pitbulls good with kids?” and if a Pitbull will suit your home. We recently adopted a dog and researched the history, breeding, temperament, and training of Pitbulls contributing to their behavior. 

We learned a properly raised and socialized Pitbull could be an excellent companion for children of all ages, and thus we welcomed Coco into our family. 

History of the Pitbull

Pitbulls descend from baiting dogs who were initially bred to grab bears and large animals in their mouths. In the 1800s, this baiting was determined to be illegal, and many people turned to dog fighting. 

These baiting dogs were then bred with smaller terrier breeds to make a more agile and swift-moving dog better fit for fighting other dogs

Due to needing to be handled regularly by people, these animals were not prone to attacking or harming humans. 

The breeding of Pitbulls to fight other dogs took a back seat to the breeding of Pitbulls work and companionship. Due to their loyalty, affection, and gentleness towards humans, they have made wonderful family pets. 

Genetics and Behavior

While genetics contribute to overall behavior, it is more of a complex makeup of genetic and environmental factors. Many factors, including nutrition, stress, housing conditions, and socialization, influence the behavioral development of a dog. 

This variation among dogs is why breeding Pitbulls to fight may not show aggression toward other dogs. 

In contrast, another breed produced as a potential service animal could show aggression toward people. 

Early positive experiences and socialization are crucial to ensure that any breed learns to interact appropriately, play, and communicate with humans and other dogs without incident. 

Today’s Challenges for Pitbulls

While there are currently no states that outright ban Pitbulls, many cities enforce strict policies, and Pitbull owners may also find added restrictions in apartments, parks, campgrounds, and other recreational areas. 

The fear and rumors that back this breed often fuel the fear and stories concerning their aggression, breeding, and bite strength

Why Pitbulls Make Great Family Pets

Many families, like ours, wonder, “Are Pitbulls good family dogs?” Pitbulls, like any other breed, can be nurtured and treasured as loyal family pets. Many positive attributes make them excellent family pets. 


The temperament of a Pitbull can be described as playful, eager to please, and active. These dogs are not typically known to bark loudly at home but are known to be excellent family and property protectors. 

While they can be stubborn at times, this breed is a fast learner and is capable of learning advanced obedience.

Simple Grooming Requirements

Pitbulls have short coats and no need for pricey grooming bills. An occasional bath and at-home brushing are enough to maintain their coat. They can be moderate shedders, but simple maintenance and bathing are enough to minimize annoying hair and dander within your home. 

Hardy and Resilient 

This breed does not have a long list of predisposed health conditions like many others. However, knee and hip issues can arise with age due to being an active breed. 

Some Pitbulls can have allergies and resulting skin reactions, but this is easily treatable and preventable with regular veterinary visits. 

On average, this breed typically has a long lifespan of 12-14 years, which is above average for other breeds of similar size. 

Athletic and Active

A breed that does not tire easily can be an excellent workout companion for walking, hiking, or running. Due to the agility and speed of this breed, they would also do well in a competitive setting, especially given their eagerness to please their owners. 

Affectionate and Loyal

Pitbulls live for cuddling, snuggling, and simply for as much attention as possible. This breed is not one to shy away from strangers. In fact, they will often approach an outreached hand. This characteristic of the Pitbull makes them good pets for families with kids. 

Introducing Pitbulls and Children

When introducing any new dog to a child, it’s essential to never leave Pitbulls and kids alone in a room together. While Pitbulls will treat children as something to be protected, they should not be babysitters. 

Small children often do not understand the boundaries in place with any breed of dog, and unsupervised interactions can lead to potential accidents down the road.

If adopting an adult Pitbull from a shelter or rescue, remember that genetics and environmental factors contribute to the animal’s overall behavior. With no proper history of the dog’s past, you should take extra time and care before introducing a child. 

It may even be best to reach out to a trainer to better gauge the dog’s behavior in a public setting before bringing them home. 

If adopting a puppy, you can rest assured that they will get along great with any kids in the home. Energetic and eager for play, they will make excellent companions to younger children. 

However, be sure to supervise and instruct your small child how to properly pet and handle your Pitbull puppy to avoid any accidental injuries. 

Pitbulls and Babies

Kids are one thing, but you may wonder, are Pitbulls good with babies, and are Pitbulls safe around babies? It is best to avoid rescuing or adopting a Pitbull with an unknown background in a home with toddlers or infants. 


If you had a Pitbull before bringing a baby into your family, introduce them slowly and steadily. 

  • You can start by bringing an item that smells like your baby to allow your dog to become familiar with the baby’s scent. 
  • Walk your Pitbull to work out any extra energy before the introduction.
  • Be sure to remain calm when introducing your Pitbull and baby and keep your distance as this will help enforce boundaries. Your dog can be allowed to get closer over time.
  • As your baby grows, be sure to instruct them not to bother your Pitbull, yank their tail, pull their ears, etc. This can avoid provoking an otherwise relaxed or calm dog into defending itself. 

Are Pitbulls Aggressive?

Any dog breed can be aggressive. While the breeding of Pitbulls was initially to fight other dogs, they were not bred to show aggression toward humans. Overcoming aggression is best done with proper socialization at an early age. 

In the case of adopting or rescuing a Pitbull, working with experienced trainers can help offset any fear and aggression that may be visible, but a dog with a history of fighting may have trouble doing so. 

Any breed, Pitbulls included, can show aggression toward humans if they have endured abuse or neglect. However, forming a healthy and loving bond with a dog at a young age can prevent any adverse reaction to humans later in life.

Behaviors To Watch For

When meeting a potential dog for adoption or introducing a new dog to a child, there are several things to be on the lookout for.

  • Keep a lookout for friendliness rather than stand-offish behavior. Dogs that come to the front of the kennel in greeting are eager for your attention.
  • Tail wags should be low and wide, not high above the back. Likewise, you want to see their ears back instead of forward and attentive.
  • Bristled fur on the back and rear signifies fear and anxiety.

When interacting with kids, watch your Pitbull’s body language for any sign of unease or aggression. Growls, dominant behavior, or warning nips should be addressed immediately by separating your dog from the child.

Things To Consider When Choosing a Pitbull as a Pet

Are Pitbulls good with kids? There are a few things to consider when choosing a Pitbull as a pet and deciding if Pitbulls are good with children. 

Pitbulls are lovely family pets, given their love for affection, an affinity for protecting their family, and ease of training. If deciding on a Pitbull for your family, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind:

  • Decide if you have the time and resources to raise a puppy or young Pitbull to ensure they are properly socialized and trained for your home.
  • If adopting, try to get a background on the Pitbull you are interested in. Then, take the time to walk them and get to know them one-on-one. You can often watch for red flags before deciding to bring them home.
  • Pitbulls are active dogs and will need daily outlets for that activity. Be sure the home has the space and the family has time to allow your Pitbull to play and run regularly. This daily exercise will avoid destructive behaviors that can stem from boredom.
  • Be sure to check your area to see if there are any restrictions on owning a Pitbull. Some cities, housing, and other areas may not allow them, which can cause trouble with law enforcement or hefty fines. 
  • Pitbulls are strong dogs, and many of them like to chew. So be prepared to supply tough toys, and healthy chew treats to satisfy your dog’s urge to gnaw. 

Are Pitbulls Good Family Dogs? The Consensus Is In!

Ask any family that owns a Pitbull, and they will likely be quick to tell you how wonderful this breed truly is. 

Our Coco is loving, gentle, playful, and adoring of kids; the Pitbull is a well-rounded dog that can be considered a perfect package of a pet. If you’re wondering, “Are Pitbulls good with kids?” the answer is yes. 

While Pitbulls have certainly had their fair share of negative labels, they continue to be one of the most advocated and adored breeds worldwide. If you consider bringing a Pitbull into your home, set yourself up for success by taking the proper steps to socialize, train, and bond with your dog. 

You will quickly see how the Pitbull’s love for their family will far outweigh the bad reputation they received over the years.

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Picture of Jennifer Grucci | Dog Breeds Expert
Jennifer Grucci | Dog Breeds Expert
Our talented copy editor Jennifer ensures all doggie info published on our site is accurate, clear, and perfectly suited for pet parents of all experience levels. When not reading and writing about dogs, Jennifer enjoys playing with her own pets at home.