South African Man Setting Up American Pitbull Terrier Club to Showcase Breed

South African Pitbull Dogsters might want to check out this new club. Thanks to for this article. 'Pitbulls not aggressive, just misunderstood' Helen Bamford...


South African Pitbull Dogsters might want to check out this new club.

Thanks to for this article.

‘Pitbulls not aggressive, just misunderstood’
Helen Bamford
December 09 2007

Pitbulls have been labelled as vicious killers by some while others have called for a ban on the breed, but a Muizenberg psychology student says they are simply misunderstood.

Keef Whiteman, 33, who is setting up an American pitbull terrier club, says the dogs are super-intelligent and make great pets.

While acknowledging that they are often used for fighting, Whiteman said American pitbulls were actually bred to be “people friendly” and have a stable temperament.

He says that in most attacks on people the culprits were usually cross-breeds, not purebred pitbulls.

“Any dog, if abused, can be taught to attack people. And since pitbulls are the often the breed of choice for criminals, the breed as a whole suffers.”

Whiteman says that if there was effective law enforcement in South Africa that targeted gangsterism, drugs and dog-fighting, then the problem could be solved.

“German shepherds probably attack more people but they don’t hit the headlines like pitbulls do.”

Whiteman, who is an events co-ordinator, said the aim of the club was to get people who were good ambassadors for the breed involved and show others what the dogs can do.

They will hold shows and teaching events such as “weight-pull, high jump and long hang” which are popular with the dogs.

“We want kids in Lavender Hill, for instance, to see that the dogs are not just for fighting and can do much more by utilising their strength.”

Whiteman said the high jump involved the dogs leaping for a toy which was dangled above them. The South African record is 2.6m.

“They just love it. Pitbulls are very physical and need to exercise. They also need to be played with.”

Weight-pull is when the dog, wearing a specially-made harness to fit its body size, is attached to a weighted crate and pulls it a certain distance in a specific period.

The record is a staggering nine tons.

Long-hang is basically hanging on to a piece of conveyer belt material – which doesn’t tear and can’t harm the teeth – for as long as possible. The record is three hours.

Whiteman says not all dogs participate in every event – only the ones they enjoy.

“Some just don’t like to pull for example and that is fine. It’s all about having fun in a positive way.”

The shows will also involve “conformation”, which is the physical build of the dog and its temperament.

“If a dog is aggressive to a judge for example, it won’t be allowed to take part.”

Whiteman says pitbulls are often used as working dogs because they are so clever.

“Some are sniffer dogs while others are used in old-age homes and to visit the sick.”

A mistake people often made, he said, was to buy the cheapest option from a backyard breeder.

“People should buy a dog from a reputable breeder who breeds to the correct criteria, which means you should get a dog with a stable temperament who is good with kids and can be socialised with other dogs.”

Whiteman hopes to get the Guardian American Pitbull Terrier Club up and running by the end of the year.

Contact him at

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