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'self-defense' dogs

1934 Views 37 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  RMLamey
Man, judging from all of the posts on my other thread, maybe we should have a separate forum devoted to 'self-defense' dogs. That way, instead of the ol' 1911 v. glock debate, we could do a chow v. doberman one.
So, what breed would qualify as dog 'perfection'?
Other then spaying or neutering, what other modifications would you send your dog off to have done?
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One of the best guard dogs you can get is a "bone-mouth" variety Chinese Shar-Pei.

Not to be confused with the smaler, super-wrinkled "meat-mouths" you find on cutesy greeting cards, these are lineal descendants of the original guard dogs bred to guard the Chinese emperors. My parents have owned several and they exhibit numerous desireable traits:

+ Practically born house-trained. Seem to have a natural tendency to relieve themsevles as far from the house as possible.
+ Wary of strangers; will actually follow around visitors to your house and watch them (and warn them by growling if they make sudden movements or sound/act angry)
+ Good size (varies but a big male is say 70 lbs of solid muscle)
+ Very fast sprinters
+ Seriously large teeth and jaw muscles
+ Nice formidable bark
+ Not prone to wigging out, mauling children, etc.
+ Seem to have innate "guarding" behavior. Will check everything in house or yard before taking a nap, etc.
+ Very friendly to people they know are "OK."
+ Seem quite intelligent (though can be a bit stubborn).

Possible downsides:

+ Scary-ugly looking (this could be a bonus depending on your point of view).
+ Will kill animals that enter your yard WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE as quickly as possible. My parents have a very small female now that actually ripped a metal gutter-spout of the side of the house to get at a rat. Draw your own conclusions. :grin:

Incidentally, the bone mouth Shar-Peis seem to be alot healthier than the meat-mouths... my parent's first one, a very large male, lived to be 14+.

Visit The Pit: http://www.geocities.com/mr_motorhead/

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: CastleBravo on 2001-09-03 17:10 ]</font>
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Well, I know what dog NOT to get.... :wink:

http://www.pistolsmith.com/viewtopic.ph ... forum=23&8
As the owner of several Filas and the previous owner of two Schutzhound trained german shepard K9 dogs and one Tosa.
I wanted to post a detailed explanation of the Fila and why the Fila will always have a place in the homes of my family.

I was planning to have a call with Dawna Berg the women that I have purchased "Simba" from and came across this article, it is pretty good and does a good job of explaining the Fila.

I do agree with the article and the Fila is definitely not a dog for the irresponsible or novice/intermediate dog owner/trainer.

Eshabeta II FILAS

You want a dog for companionship and protection, but which breed? I’ve been around dogs all of my life and am familiar with most of the breeds perceived to be (depending on who you’re talking with) the ideal protectors, along with having my own ideas of which were good and not so good. Then I got a big surprise.

In this past June’s issue of Countryside Magazine was an article about a breed of dog I’d never heard of before. I was very intrigued by the article and was preparing to make a grip to visit in the area of one of the kennels mentioned in the article, so I contacted them while I was there. A phone call introduced me to Dawna Berg, owner of Eshabeta II Kennels, in Arlington, Washington. She is one of the foremost authorities in this country on the breed and her love and interest in the breed was very evident right from the start of our conversation. It was a phone call I’m glad I made, it introduced me to a remarkable breed of dog: the Fila Brasileiro.

What is a Fila Brasileiro? Combine a Mastiff (the backbone breed of over 30 other breeds) with and English Bulldog and you get a great dog, one of which was the star of the movie, Turner & Hooch. Then to make things interesting, mix that combination with a Bloodhound and you have the basic makings of the Fila Brasileiro. The breed originated in Brazil about the time Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors arrived, or shortly thereafter. They weren’t noticed in this country until around the 1980s, and still are classified in this country as a rare breed. They definitely are. They are the best natural guard dogs I’ve ever seen, which is exactly why they are not for the irresponsible.

If, like I did at first, you assume the Fila’s temperament to be similar in mode to the German Shepherd’s or one of the other working breeds associated with protection, you’re making a very serious mistake. If left untrained and unsocialized, the Fila will always be aggressive toward strangers, regardless of age, gender or size and without the training and socialization, this can prove to be a serious problem. Their natural disposition is wariness and distrust of strangers. The Fila is the only breed of dog shown that a judge does not reach down to touch, unless expressly invited by the handler. If a Fila shows aggression toward a judge, because this is their natural disposition, they are not marked down or penalized in any way. Starting to get the picture? Filas are not for the irresponsible!

With proper training, for both the Fila and new owner, the Fila becomes tractable and can be taken out in public, on a leash, preferably, for everyone’s safety, including your own. If the occasion arises where someone just feels compelled to pet "the pretty puppy," the handler can convey to the Fila that it’s OK, but then they need to let the Fila check out the new person first. After checking out the person, the Fila will tolerate the touch of the stranger, whoever it may be, although sometimes appearing very reluctant.

There may even be an appearance of timidity, or cowing, when touched, but don’t ever be fooled by that. It just isn’t so! On the other hand, if the Fila decides you’re a "good guy," they may want to crawl up into your lap if you’re sitting, to show they approve of you. One female about five years old did this with me, so I felt rather special. They both approved of me.

One mature male, Reno (1996 World Champion in Budapest, Hungary, and holder of nine International titles and two US titles, along with being 1997 Reserve World Champion in Puerto Rico), came into the room with a very regal and aristocratic bearing, giving me a rather cursory look and then seeming to disregard me as not important enough for him to be concerned with. But that was a façade, he never missed a thing I did. I am thoroughly convinced had I made any sudden move, Reno would’ve been in my lap, but not to get his ears scratched. But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself in my story. Sorry.

After my phone conversation with Dawna, I could hardly wait until the next day to go meet this breed of dog, which had so intrigued me. The dog I own at present is an almost 2-year-old female Mastiff, with the disposition of a cuddly teddy bear. Although she is territorial about her yard (she has a fit about the neighbor’s cats trespassing), she allows the neighborhood kids to pass without incident. She sort of escorts them in a friendly manner through our driveway, but shows no sign of aggression toward them, which is something I’m thankful for. I have no question she would act differently if she were seriously provoked in some harsh manner, but her size alone (31 inches at the shoulder and 132 pounds) is detrimental to that form of thinking, and she was the runt of the litter. Such would not be the case were she a Fila Brasileiro.

The sign at the front gate of Eshabeta II Kennels admonishes one to stay in their vehicle, just honk the horn and wait for someone to show up at the gate. There are actually two gates to pass through to gain entrance to the 13 acres of trees, buildings and fenced areas, but staying in your vehicle at the first gate just makes good sense. Passing through the second gate brings you to a large graveled parking lot area in front of a big old farmhouse which just hollers, "comfort at it’s best, the old fashioned way."

The kennels are in a separate area through more gates and fenced areas, all surrounded by trees providing shade in summer and just making the grounds peaceful and quiet. We stopped in front of a row of kennels in which there were various puppies and a few adults. The puppies were full of the expected playfulness, but also evident was a wary curiosity. The adults were curious, but not excited about me being with Dawna, until I moved my arm to point at something in the distance. Then all hell broke loose from the adults we were in front of at the time, and it also had an effect on the puppies down the line. They all seemed to perceive my movement to be some form of aggression towards Dawna and they definitely didn’t approve. One older bitch was looking at me closely and Dawna mentioned that to return her look by looking directly into her eyes could be taken by her as an act of aggression towards her. I told Dawna that I was looking her in the eye, but I was convinced she could read in my eyes that I was only thinking of how much intelligence I saw in her eyes and she didn't seem to be upset, only pensive.

We moved on to another set of kennels and I stepped into another separate enclosure to watch from behind cyclone fencing as Dawna let some Filas out of their kennels for me to see. In each case, the first thing the Filas did when Dawna opened their gates was to greet her, then race to the fence in front of me to check me out. I remained standing still as they did this and the result was the same in each case. They’d race to the fence, stop and look me over, then seem to decide I posed no threat and race back to Dawna before going off to play. Also in each case, they continued to watch me out of the corner of their eyes, just in case. If I moved at all, they’d race right back over to the fence to see what the hell I was up to, but at no time did any one of them make a move to attack me through the fence. They were just extremely watchful.

Although somewhat smaller than the Mastiff, the Fila resembles a Mastiff, with a definite touch of the Bloodhound apparent. The Fila seems a bit more muscular in stature, as they are somewhat shorter in length in relation to their height than a Mastiff. On the humorous side, I’ve seen some photos of Filas in which they look like overgrown Basset Hounds more than Mastiffs, or they’ve looked like they couldn’t get out of their own way for clumsiness, but don’t be misled by appearances. Regardless of whether they sometimes may look funny or not, they are surprisingly quick and agile for their size, with an impressive sure-footedness even in the puppies. One interesting difference between Filas and other dogs in their gate. The Fila is a pacer, in that both legs on one side move in unison like a camel, instead of trotting like most horses and other dogs. One main consideration about a Fila Brasileiro when contemplating whether one would be a good protection dog is their courage. When a dog is regularly used to hunt the Jaguar, as they have been in their native Brazil, it is not too surprising to hear of one that attacked a full grown bear to protect its owner, when the dog was only one year old. The Fila Brasileiro is utterly fearless when it, or its family, is threatened in any way.

Being territorial and protective on their family, the Fila Brasileiros made a very definite impression on me as to whether they’d be good protection dogs. There is no question in my mind they would be about the best I’ve ever run across. I’m not in any way belittling any of the other breeds considered protection dogs, but with all the good traits of any other breed, for my money the Fila Brasileiro is unequaled. But, they are not for someone who is not ready and unable to accept that to have one is like having a container of nitroglycerin strapped to their waist. Respected and handled properly there’ll be no problem, but make a wrong decision and your whole world could blow up in your face.

The photos shown of how the Filas are trained for attack situations should not be misconstrued as to their nature. The Fila needs no instruction on how to attack or bite, but the training is for control of the Fila if ever the occasion might present itself for the dog to protect its owner. Kinda like driving a car. Once you learn how to make it go, you’ve also gotta learn how to stop the damn thing. Right? That’s mainly the basis for the training shown in the photos. Without that control to subdue the Fila when it attacks, you’re probably going to end up needing a body bag and one real talented defense attorney. Not for the irresponsible, I can’t stress that enough.

If you feel an interest to learn more about this remarkable breed of dog, or are interested in obtaining one, contact Mike Bancroft and Dawna Berg, Eshabeta II Kennels, 25130 19th Avenue NE, Arlington, WA 98223; or call 360-435-8123, or fax 360-435-0458. Also, let me include that Mike and Dawna were two of the most hospitable people you can imagine, considering they knew up front that I was probably not going to buy a Fila for awhile. Yet, Dawna gave me a tour and presentation as if I were buying the whole kennel, then together they invited me into their home and introduced me to the females I mentioned earlier who wanted to crawl up into my lap, along with the king of the realm, Reno. I was right about that old farmhouse, it was comfort at its best, the old fashioned way.

By Larry E. Bigham
American Survival Guide, February, 1999.
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In my first post I left out the photos from the article as I wanted to share these photos of Simbas father.

@225lbs and 31" he requires at least two 1/4" chain chokers and two to three 1" leather straps/leashes when provoked and in these photos you will see that this trainer did indeed provoke him.

The trainer did survive but his Kevlar bite sleeve did not.
He was just a little bit shaken by having a dog that could actually bite through the 2" kevlar and nylon sleeve.

Nice Doggie, Jaguar Killers ha! you don't look so fierce.......

Holy shi-?????

Keep the money, I'm out of here!

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I don't know diddly about dogs and their breeding, but the best damned guard dog I ever shared a roof with was my late friend Bubba. She was a 10 pound Toy Poodle that had no quit in her at all. You could kill her, but you couldn't make her stop coming at you if you didn't belong in her AO.
Beautiful animal, David.

I have raised Rotties for years, and will until I get called up. Self defense dog? Hmmm, honestly, the "best" would have to be whatever dog alerts consistently to strangers in or near the home, responds to every late night noise that is not ordinary, and provides a life of love to kids...if you have them.

Fila, Tosa, German Shepherd, Rottie, Doberman, Cane's, Neo Mastiffs, "Pit"Bulls, and at least a dozen other breeds will give an intruder more than he can handle, assuming the dog is a well bred and well socialized piece of work. Whatever you do, don't buy anything at a mall pet shop, socialize, socialize, socialize your dog, and love it from the time it is born until you put it down. The dividends are many, including safety.
Think I'll stick with a Great Pyrenees. He's about 150lbs of whup-ass to anyone or anything that threatens his "family" but is totally gentle otherwise. Also, they don't shed or have dander so they don't cause problems for those of us allergic to dogs.

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Hi David, i would agree, FILA's are very nice in the protection realm, perhaps the best BUT not for knuckkleheads. A freind of mine breeds them, and requires an in depth conversation before he sells. Needless to say he turns away more folks than he allows to purchase.

BUT i must say, my favorite has been, and always will be a GAME BRED SOUTH OF THE MASON-DIXON LINE, PIT BULL :grin:

heres a link to a good one:

http://albums.photopoint.com/j/ViewPhot ... 858734&f=0
Oh yeah, and the Great Pyrenese makes a great farm dog. If raised around livestock they will protect that livestock with a serios vigor! Thats one of the down sides to my pit bulls, they pretty much have a hatred for farm animals.
my dog of choice is my Rhodesian Ridgeback. She is big, but lean, powerful and quick. they are great all purpose dogs with a natural protection/guarding instinct-you dojn't need to school them for "around the house duties."
I'm so attached to her though, I would be scared of anyone hurting her-she is family!
I'd say either a Fila or an American Bulldog.

Owning both, I'd take an American Bulldog over the Fila for a few reasons.

One is the size. Great size is not a demand for effective protection. Working American Bulldogs tip the scales from 70-115lbs (not counting the over fed variants) and thats far more then any man could hope to endure. I've caught enough dogs to know that I wouldn't do it without the bite sleeve!

The second is the personality of the American Bulldog. They are calm enough to allow any child approach them, perceptive enough to realize no threat from the child and capable enough to stop the four Great Princes of Hell a moment after the little one sat down next to the dog.

Granted the Fila can do all that I just mentioned, but with its great size it would not be an animal that a smaller family member would be able to physically control should they be needed to control the animal.

My male Fila, Rakshasa, weighs between 170-180lbs. That's enough dog to do whatever it wanted whenever it wanted even if I was holding on to him. Karen (my S O) has verbal control over Rak, but would not be able to control him should he decide that Mr. X was not meant to walk this planet. He is also far less social (as nearly all Filas happen to be) then my 85lb American Bulldog Jenny.

I will make a quick mention that I do believe that an AB is a harder/gamer animal. I do not mean aggressive, I mean game.

There's something that sets a bull breed (American Bulldog, APBT, AST Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier) apart from any other canine breed, the gameness that is present in these animals is quite impressive. The only other dog breeds that also have this hardness are the Presa Canario and the Tosa. And even with that mentioned, I'd not expect the gameness of these animals to match that of either the American Bulldog or the American PitBull Terrier.

Quitting is a concept that is not in any bull breed mindset.

The South African Farmer's Dog (I think they are going by the name BoerBoel now) is another to consider, but again a large animal.

I guess I'll always have an American Bulldog with me and should space allow it, a Fila. If I could have only one, I'd go American Bulldog. I'd walk into the depths of hell to fight the four great princes of Hell with my American Bulldog at my side without a tremor of fear in my heart.

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I agree that dogs are superior alarm systems. BUT the worst thing one could do is see the dog as a living burglar alarm- they need love, time and cost money.
According to http://www.saveastray.com/ millions of poor dogs are killed every year in US shelters because of a throw away mentality and because people don't consider all the time&money necessary.

If you want a compadre, who will love, warn and protect you, at least try to go first to your local shelter or organizations like "Rottweiler Rescue" http://www.rottrescue.org/
I adopted two dogs from my local shelter and couldn't be more happy with them.



PS: my heart goes out to all the victims of those coward terrorists.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Cato on 2001-09-12 02:32 ]</font>
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Size is an issue to me as well, i like to have a dog that can ride "shotgun" in my Jeep. Thats why a good game bred pit bull, generally in the 50-55 lbs range is perfect.
RMLaney, you have it right about having a canine that can ride shotgun.

My American Bulldog at 85lbs is all I'd need. From a partner in my pick up to a companion to a defender, Jenny's the ideal sized animal.

If I was going to stand with a dog in a tough neighborhood on a dark night with a real threat of physical harm and this dog could not be any heavier then 60lbs, the American Pit Bull Terrier is the only choice.

I like the American Bulldog a bit more for two simple reasons: 1)a little easier around other animals and 2) a little bigger American Bit Pull Terrier.

But again, those are the only two logical choices IMNSHO. Both are all american and all bull, and what could be better than that?

Having personally owned all of the dogs quoted above with the exception of the bull dog I would agree with all of your comments for the most part.

I need to elaborate before I offer my opinions, first my father was a canine MP in the Army during the VN conflict, then CID at White Sands and Los Alamos, for almost twenty years we lived very far off the beaten path as ranchers in the NM mountains.
At times we had "herds" of dogs often numbering as large as 20. These dogs were trained and used as both protection dogs for the home/family and the cattle.
During those years it became fairly apparent which dogs were "hardy" and who would live through the battles with coyotes, rattlers, mountain lions, and skunks/porcupines.
These were the everyday threats and on several occasions my father used force/firearms to protect our family from human predators as in those days it was mainly criminals/fugitives that used the mountain trails leading out and away from the Rio Grande basin.
We had a large property with a group of buildings that looked like a city especially at night, and from 20 miles away you could see these lights at night.
This was not always the optimal situation as anyone traveling through our ranchlands from the river to the mountains usually ended up at our house.
As we lived over 40 miles from the closest town my father who was also a county sheriff's deputy and my uncle were the local law.
Money on an Army salary and the little bit that you can scrape together ranching does not go far enough to pay for a town vet to make house calls for dogs so quite often I cleaned, stitched, and set the dogs wounds.
This helped as being over 1 hour and 30 minutes to the hospital if the roads held and the levy roads were not washed out made you very, very resourceful.

I learned a lot about dogs and guns for that matter in those days from hard living.
This is what I know of the dogs that I have owned in my lifetime:

The GP is a moderate to mid range protection dog as they can withstand only a moderate amount of physical injury, and they will surrender/retreat after losing a limb or suffering bodily damage.
The GP is very good with children and is also a good shepherd.
Someone else posted that they do not shed maybe I do not know the correct term but our dog shed a massive amount of fur when transitioning from winter/summer coats.

The Tosa is a good muscular dog with quick foot speed and good endurance. It receives training well for defensive work but it requires a firm owner as it also desires to be the "Alpha dog".
The Tosa requires moderation around young children, one downside is that it is always more concerned with other dogs and it will readily fight with the other dogs you own given the "freedom".

The rb although not a rare breed is a very good dog for most purposes, it is lean and also has good foot speed but only moderate jaw strength, most other dogs and mid to large size humans can easily withstand a solid bite, as with the GP it is good but it can be made to submit fairly quickly.

The CC is a very stout very determined dog, it is one of less than a handful of dogs that will die still engaged and attached to its intended combatant. He is a very devote guardian and will guard cattle/family with equal attention.

The Dogue De Bordeaux is a dog not mentioned here but can be a very good family protection dog. The DDB has an affinity for children and is very easily trained.
The DDB is a devote fighter and will also withstand a large amount of damage/injury before giving up/dying.

The Rottweiler is a fairly common protection dog and it is a tough, devoted guardian that is also very good with children. My brother and I both owned two highly trained Rotties and they do need a fair amount of training.
The Rottie can suffer through some serious wounds but will surrender/quit/retreat if seriously injured or shot.
That not withstanding I found them to be among one of my favorite dogs until he was killed by a neighboring rancher.

I have also owned a great many of the common or non-rare breed dogs.
These have included the German Shepard, the Doberman, the Golden Retriever, the Labrador, and the Siberian husky.
All were great dogs and superior companions but they are not equal to a true protection dog although the husky can absorb a massive amount of physical damage and live, they are relatively poor fighters but something in their breed makes them great survivors.

I do not mention the PBT as I believe it is truly disgraceful what has been done to this breed. The PBT if you can find the right breeder is a very tough dog, it will also die with its jaws still attached to your attacker. The key is in the breeder.

I know it may seem like I am being biased when it comes to the Fila, I really am not the Fila is a dog that will fight anything to protect you, dog, human, grizzly bear, crocodile, shoot it, burn it, gauge out an eye and the Fila will keep coming until it dies.
If the Fila were to disappear or if I had to choose another protection dog it would probably be a Presa Canario in a larger dog, a Cane Corso in a slightly smaller dog, or maybe another Tosa. In a medium sized dog it would be a Rottie and in a smaller dog it would be a pure breed PTB.

The single most important facet to a protection dog once you find a dog of good breeding and size for your environment/use is training and handling.
A good trainer is fair, caring, and firm with the dogs but never harsh.
To be truly effective all members of the family must also be trained to handle the dog and the dog must be loved by you.
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Good points from all. I agree, its disgracefull what the "thugs" have done with the American Pit Bull Terrier.

I have photos of my father (who is 74) sitting on the porch, at the age of 6, with 2 American Pit Bull Terriers....

So needless to say, they have been in the family a while. Ive never owned another breed, and never felt i have needed to. They are a breed best kept by RESPONSIBLE owners. The bad press the APBT has recieved is generally from folks who shouldnt own any animal, more less the APBT which requires responsibility and vigilance on the owner part.

I say this becuase most of my dogs (currently have 7), will attack ANY other dog, or livestock if I let them run loose. Im not saying this in a sence of pride, i wish i could let them run with other dogs, but its simply not in there genes. So as far as my dogs, they stay on kennel runs primarily. I try to get them out 1 on 1 as much as possible, if its nothing but a jog.

I have owned these dogs since i was old enough to take over toting a feed bucket. I remember helping a young gyp raise pups from my bedroom window.

So when i see what has been going on the past 20 or so years with them (mostly due to bad press) it hurts me to the heart... Literally makes me ill.

Any how, before i deviate from the topic any more, I will add that ive hunted hogs with the Amstaff, American Bulldog, RR, and a variety of black mouth curs.... Not one has the game heart of the APBT's ive seen give there ALL. Now this aint tuggin on some volunteers dummy sleeve, this is crunchin on the side of a pissed of Wild Boars head, at the same time they are getting jabbed and sliced in the shoulders by 3-5" tusks.

Im just a simple country boy, but make mine a bulldog (as we call pit bulls in the real south :grin:
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RML-you need to try hunting with an American Bulldog from Lem Miller lines (Joshua Kennels), and then you'll see an animal that has all the grit that the APBT has and that's easier around other dogs. That's what made me like the American Bulldog so much! All the game and grit with an easier disposition.

As for the Dogue de Bordeaux, my ex had a good sized male (25" 135lbs). Mogul was fiercely protective of 'Tricia and a great companion. Sadly he has passed because of cancer. He'd've done whatever it would have taken to defend his home also.

If you are looking simply for a true dog of war, the original molossus breeds really are the only choice. The Neo, the DdB, the Central Asian Ovcharka and the Caucasian Mountain Dog. These breeds are most likely the closest expressions to the true molossus and are great home defenders if you have the space.

Man, what a great forum. My two favorite subjects- guns and dogs. Nobody has mentioned bullmastiffs. I've heard that they're outstanding guardians, but great with children. Anyone have experience with them?
hi Derek, I have a freind in Tennessee that hunts with some Lem Miller bred dogs, he swears by them, and hes owned/hunted with pit bulls for 10+ years. He pretty much echoes the same things youve said.

To me, size is very important as well, i prefer a smaller dog. MY current "partner" is only about 40 lbs. on the chain, which is perfect for me. I like a well put together (heavy boned) pit bull, but nothing over 55 lbs. for me.
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