The term “pit bull” is a misleading one. Many people are surprised to learn that a pit bull isn’t even a dog breed. Rather, it’s an umbrella term to refer to as many as five different dog breeds—and all mixes of these breeds. The most specific definition, and arguably the most accurate, of “pit bull” refers to two breeds: the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) and the American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff or “Staffie”). Other breeds such as the Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Bulldog are sometimes combined in this group because these breeds share a similarly large head and body type.
Pit bulls are strong, powerful dogs with broad, brick-like heads and muscular bodies. They can have brown, blue, hazel, or green eyes. Their short shiny coats come in a wide range of colors including white, black, blue, silver, tan, brown, red, and mixed variations.
The American Pit Bull Terrier was created by interbreeding Old English Terriers and English Bulldogs to produce a dog who combined the gameness of the terrier with the strength and athleticism of the bulldog. These dogs were initially bred in England, and eventually came to the United States with the breed’s founders. In the U.S., these dogs were used as catch dogs for semi-wild cattle and hogs to hunt, drive livestock, and as family companions.
During the first half of the 20th century, Pit Bulls were so widely adored and esteemed that they were regarded as America’s national dog of sorts. Pit bulls were prominently featured on U.S. recruiting posters during both World War I and II, featured as corporate mascots, lauded in TV and movies, and regarded as the ideal family dog because of their superb temperament with children. They weren’t wrong about pit bulls. Even today, credible organizations, including the SPCA and United States Humane Society stand behind pit bulls as being among the most good-natured, balanced, loyal and affectionate of family pets.
Some pit bulls are registered therapy dogs, visiting hospitals and nursing homes. Some work in search-and-rescue, including several who worked heroically at the World Trade Center following the 9/11. attacks.
Unfortunately some “macho” criminals have perverted the breed’s strength, power, and eagerness to please their guardians at all costs, to raise these naturally sweet dogs as illegal fighting dogs. This small group of individuals (read: cruel and cowardly scumbags) has twisted the breed’s image and too many have formed misconceptions about the pit bull’s true temperament. That’s lead to banning and breed restriction laws placed on pit bulls, though the practice of discriminating by breed is condemned by credible organizations and researchers. According to the SPCA, breed restriction laws have proven essentially ineffective, create a false sense of security, and takes resources from programs that could actually significantly reduce dog bites. The Center for Disease Control finds that 92% of all dog bite fatalities are by unspayed and unneutered dogs under two years old.What’s portrayed in the media are attacks representative of young unspayed or unneutered dogs, not a breed. Unfortunately, that distortion isn’t explained and quite apparently, a news segment about a labrador or standard poodle attack lacks the velocity of perpetuating fear and persecuting a cluster of breeds.
American Pit Bull Terriers are good-natured, amusing, extremely loyal, and affectionate family pets who are good with children and adults. Almost always obedient, they are very eager to please their families. Pit Bulls are extremely courageous, intelligent guard dogs full of vitality. Highly protective of their human family members and property, they will ward off intruders. This breed is usually very friendly, and have an uncanny ability to know when they need to protect.
By no means are these dogs natural people haters, animal haters, or fighters. If you properly socialize your Pit with other animals, adults, and children they will not show aggressiveness later in life. Excellent with children in the family, they have a high pain tolerance and will happily put up with rough child’s play. Properly training your Pit is extremely important, especially due to the unfair scrutiny the breed receives. Be firm during training, and socialize your Pit well to show the world this breed’s truly sweet personality.
- Height: 14 – 24 inches
- Weight: 22 – 78 pounds
- Lifespan: About 12 years
- Grooming: Bathe as necessary and brush regularly
Care & Health
Pit Bulls will do alright in an apartment if they are exercised daily. Originally bred for working on farms, this breed needs a brisk daily walk at the very least. They like to stay active indoors and love a good game of tug-of-war. This breed prefers to live in warm climates. They are generally healthy dogs although they can be prone to hip dysplasia, cataracts, and grass allergies. Proper training and socialization are essential in the care of your Pit Bull. Families shouldn’t be timid with training. Introduce your Pit in a safe environment to as many people, children, and other animals as possible early on in their training. Be firm and gentle with your Pit during training and it will go a long ways for them in the future.
Your Love Match
The perfect pet parent of a Pit Bull:
- Has ample time to train and socialize