I am by no means an expert, but I can share my experience with my own dog, Tyler. I smile just saying his name, and I really love sharing his story and our life together with others, so if you have any questions or want to know more about how we got to where we are today, feel free to ask! (my answers in Bold)
I also love sharing pictures of him, so without further ado, I introduce Tyler J1. How often are there smaller ones around 30-35 lbs (probably up to 45 is alright)? That's probably the size I'm looking for as my next dog. If you look on Petfinder you will see a LARGE variety of sizes in 'pit bulls'. I have fostered Pit Bull mixes that vary from 35-85 pounds. There is also a trend right now for 'mini pits' which I do not condone at all. My dog, Tyler, is what I believe to be an APBT X. He is 77 pounds, which would be considered too large if he was a purebred APBT.
2. How biddable is your particular dog?
I think this varies a lot depending on the individual. Terriers were bred to work independently and to be able to think on their own, so they are not particularly known for being biddable. However, Tyler is the most biddable dog I have ever had. Previous to him, I've had Cocker Spaniels, Shar-Peis and Bloodhounds. Compared to the Retrievers that I work with, Tyler is very difficult. He definitely has a mind of his own, but he really does aim to please and gets enjoyment out of 'working' for me. Tyler is CGC certified and we do Rally and Agility. We are hoping to start competitive obedience soon. I use a lot of positive reinforcement in my training, and Tyler has been a star in every class we have gone to. So don't be convinced into believing that you need to use harsher methods with a 'bully breed'. I should mention that at our training center, out of 4 demo dogs, 3 are 'bully breeds'.
3. I keep hearing they can be DR/DA and it's quite common, is that an exaggeration or is DR that common? I kind of want a dog that would be alright going to the dog park, it's really not necessary but I hope I can find a dog like that. I think a lot of the issues with DA are blown out of proportion. However, I believe it can be a problem and should be closely monitored from the very beginning. Are Pit Bulls more prone to DA? That is a topic of contention, for sure. IME, Tyler has been great. From day one he went to dog parks and up until he was 3, I never had a problem. Now that he is older, I am starting to see some DA issues. However, I have other factors that I believe are contributing to it. I believe you must be proactive with any 'bully' breed to ward of the potential of DA. Are Pit Bulls Dog Park Dogs? No, most really aren't. IME, they prefer people over dogs. Does that mean that its out of the question? No but you need to do proper socialization, training and exposure.
4. Reliability off leash?
Its all in the training. Tyler is my hiking buddy and I trust him to be off leash for days at a time in expansive wilderness. Do I trust him to be off leash in a downtown area? No. But this is more an issue of my faulty training than with him. If you start early, there is no reason why you should not be able to achieve a reliable recall.
5. Exercise requirements? Tyler was a crazy man as a puppy. I spent at least 2-4 hours a day wearing him out. I did 1-2 hours at the DP, then another hour walk with an hour of ball/chase play off leash. Then lots more playing at home. Now that he is an adult, his energy levels have decreased substantially. He will stay in bed until noon if I let him. He is quite the couch potato and has an amazing 'off' switch. However, if he sees the hiking gear or off leash collar come out, he is ready to go! I would describe his energy level as 'medium'. Now we take an hour walk followed by another hour or so of tug, each day. A few days a week we will do longer off leash walks as well. There have been days when he wasn't able to get out for a walk, and I did notice a difference. However, it wasn't like he was bouncing off the walls or chewing the furniture. He was just more fidgety. For the vast majority of the day, he can be found on my bed or on the couch.
6. General health? Are they a healthy breed? I realize there are a few different bully breeds but are they all pretty healthy? Its a crap shoot. I am pretty cynical about health in general though. Tyler has been completely healthy. No issues, not even small ones. Besides regular check ups, we have been to the Vet twice. Once for a split nail and just this month he was diagnosed with hypo-thyroidism. The Vet told me that it was pretty UNcommon to see this in his breed type and age.
7. Are they prone to SA? Not that I know of? I have never had an issue with Tyler and admittedly, have not been overly proactive about it. As a pup, he rarely whined or cried and never caused any trouble when I left him. Now as an adult, he might whine for 10 seconds after I leave but then he will settle down.
8. Are they more confrontational dogs or like to avoid conflict? Hmm... IMO, because of the traits they were originally bred for, they should not back down easily. This doesn't mean they are confrontational though. We pass by barking/lunging dogs regularly on our walks and he ignores them completely. We also deal with yapping puppies in classes sometimes and he does a very obvious head turn away. Tyler doesn't start trouble, but he will finish it.
9. Would you ever leave your bully breed unsupervised with another dog at home, provided they are about the same size. I do and I don't worry. Ozzie is about 20 pounds heavier than Tyler but not quite as agile or athletic. They stay at home, with an open doggie door, unsupervised. I have never had an issue. I should also mention that Ozzie and Tyler have never, ever, ever had a fight. Not even a disagreement. I can leave them alone with a Kong or bone for each. They respect each other (or at least thats how I interpret it). I often have several dogs at my house as well, and I completely trust Tyler to be alone with them. His best friend is a 25# Boston Terrier X and they are left alone together with no worry.
10. Anything else you think I should know?I didn't think much about the bully breed bias, breedism or BSL before I got Tyler. I thought it was nonsense and stupid and it didn't really seem to effect the population around me. I should have taken it a lot more seriously because I have moved 3 times since getting Tyler and breedism is prevalent and rampant. I surely do not notice it when I am out without Tyler, but as soon as I take him out, its apparent. Unfortunately, this is a reason why I am considering not owning another APBT. Tyler has been blamed for actions that he could not possibly have done. There are too many examples to list, but one sort of funny story is: Ozzie got into a scuffle at the DP. A dog attacked him and he has a small bleed from his lip. I was checking him over when a woman came up to me and said, 'I bet it was that Pit Bull! I don't know why he is here, but those things are dangerous!' She was pointing at Tyler. :doh:
Another thing is that all the Pit Bulls I know are super human friendly. Tyler is definitely a social butterfly. He loves nothing more than when people tell him how handsome he is and rub his belly. He is also really good at reading people and if someone looks happy to see him, he will go up and give them a big kiss. I get asked if he is dangerous a lot, and I tell people he is only dangerous if you are allergic to kisses. He gives the best, most exuberant, kisses!
One last thing, start training early. If you decide to get a Pit Bull, realize that he will be incredibly strong by the time he turns 1. Stronger than you could imagine! I know I was shocked by the sheer pulling strength Tyler has. Also, I never recommend tie-outs for these guys because of their strength. I have gone through a lot of really good collars!