There’s a term that many people are attached to, and it is thrown around with hopes of bringing positive attention to pit bull type dogs. It is meant with the best of intentions, but we’re concerned that it may be doing more harm than good.
It’s “nanny dog”.
We know – it sounds so nice! It is a term used to describe numerous photos from previous generations reflecting the bond of children and dogs. It has been used by advocates in hopes of convincing the public that their dogs are good dogs, great with people and trustworthy with even the tiniest humans.
But let’s explore the origin of the term “nanny dog”. It is not something that has been historically used in the context of pit bull type dogs. It has been mentioned in the story of Peter Pan, referencing a specific character. It also popped up in a 1971 New York Times article “A Breed That Came Up the Hard Way” about the introduction of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier to the American Kennel Club.
Besides this, the only other time it is used is by advocates, and many of them claim the term has a deep historical origin. It’s a nice story…but it doesn’t seem to be true.
And by using the term to refer to an entire category of dog, aren’t we setting up stereotypes of our own, implying that some breeds are naturally reliable with children and some aren’t? All dogs deserve responsible dog ownership. All children need to be supervised and educated about dog safety. And don’t we all fare better when we are realistic about dogs instead of using myths and fairy tales to talk about them?
Let’s send this myth to Neverland where it belongs.