Why Are Pitbulls Called Nanny Dogs? Reason Explained

Pitbulls, often vilified and misunderstood, have long been dubbed “nanny dogs” by some. This intriguing nickname raises questions: Why are pitbulls called nanny dogs? Is there any historical basis to this nickname, or is it merely a myth perpetuated by enthusiasts? 

In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the fascinating history of pitbulls and explore the origins of their unusual moniker. Through a blend of history, temperament analysis, and anecdotal evidence, we will strive to provide a well-rounded answer to this intriguing question.

The Origins of the Nanny Dog Nickname

To understand why pitbulls are referred to as “nanny dogs,” we must journey back in time to the 19th century. During this era, pitbull-type dogs were indeed considered family dogs, and they often played the role of caretakers for children. But why?

Historical Roots

The term “nanny dog” first gained traction in the United Kingdom and was primarily associated with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a breed closely related to the American Pit Bull Terrier. These dogs earned their place as beloved family companions due to their loyal and protective nature.

Affectionate Temperament

One of the key reasons pitbulls were chosen as family dogs was their affectionate temperament. Contrary to their aggressive reputation today, these dogs were known for their gentle disposition and strong bond with their human families.

Natural Protectors

Pitbulls were seen as natural protectors of children. Their loyalty to their human pack made them vigilant guardians, ensuring the safety of the little ones in their care.

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Modern Perception vs. Historical Reality

In recent decades, the perception of pitbulls has taken a drastic turn. They are often associated with aggression and danger, a far cry from their historical role as “nanny dogs.” So, what caused this shift in perception?

Media Influence

One of the most significant factors in the negative perception of pitbulls is media coverage. High-profile incidents involving pitbull attacks have led to sensationalized stories that perpetuate stereotypes.

Irresponsible Ownership

Another factor is irresponsible ownership. Some individuals have trained pitbulls for illegal activities like dogfighting, leading to a distorted view of the breed’s natural temperament.

Breed-Specific Legislation

Certain regions have implemented breed-specific legislation, which targets pitbulls and other breeds based on appearance rather than behavior. These laws have contributed to the stigmatization of pitbulls.

Debunking the Myth of Inherent Aggression 

It’s essential to separate fact from fiction when discussing pitbulls. Contrary to popular belief, aggression is not an inherent trait in this breed. Instead, it is often a result of environmental factors and improper upbringing.

Nature vs. Nurture

Pitbulls, like all dogs, are influenced by their upbringing. Proper socialization, training, and care play a significant role in determining their behavior.

Loyal and Loving Companions

When raised in a loving and responsible environment, pitbulls can be incredibly loyal and loving companions. Many pitbull owners can attest to their dogs’ gentle nature and their unwavering devotion to their families.

Rehabilitation Success Stories

Numerous organizations and individuals have successfully rehabilitated pitbulls rescued from abusive situations. These stories emphasize the breed’s resilience and capacity for positive change.

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Pitbulls as Family Pets Today (Approx. 300 words)

Despite the challenges they face in the modern world, pitbulls continue to be cherished family pets for many households. Their reputation as “nanny dogs” lives on in the hearts of those who know and love them.

Loyal and Protective

Pitbulls remain fiercely loyal and protective of their families. They form deep bonds with children and adults alike, making them exceptional family pets.

Therapy and Service Dogs

In recent years, pitbulls have found new roles as therapy and service dogs, demonstrating their gentle and empathetic nature.

Responsible Ownership

The key to maintaining pitbulls as safe and loving family pets is responsible ownership. This includes proper training, socialization, and education about the breed’s unique characteristics.


In conclusion, the nickname “nanny dogs” bestowed upon pitbulls has a rich historical basis. These dogs were once revered for their gentle nature and protective instincts. 

However, modern misconceptions have tarnished their reputation. It is crucial to remember that pitbulls are not inherently aggressive but rather products of their environment and upbringing.

To restore the image of pitbulls as loving and loyal companions, responsible ownership and positive education are essential. 

By debunking the myths surrounding this breed and embracing their potential for greatness, we can honor their historical role as “nanny dogs” and ensure a brighter future for pitbulls as cherished family pets.