The American Pit Bull Terrier is a medium sized, short coated, muscular dog that was developed in the US.
It's origins lie in England, from where British settlers brought the Staffordshire Bull Terrier to the US and is was further developed as the distinct breed we know as the American Pit Bull Terrier.
It is the only breed of dog officially classified as a "Pit Bull."
The American Pit Bull Terrier History
The APBT is bred from bulldog/terrier crosses which originated from England and Ireland. The forefather of breeds such as the APBT, the AST, the SBT and the BT, is the Bull-and-Terrier which was created for the blood sport of bull-baiting. When bull-baiting was deemed illegal, owners changed to dog fighting, which was more convenient to arrange and required similar qualities from the dogs. Before long, dog fighting was prohibited as well, so some breeders began breeding them as pets while trying to maintain the specific qualities of this breed.
The APBT shares its heritage with the AST until the 60s, when the working breed APBT was separated from the show breed AST.
The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) a working dog of the terrier type, and one of the dog breeds that is most often referred to as a pitbull, along with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (SBT), the American Staffordshire Terrier (AST) and to a lesser extent for example the Argentine Dogo and Bull Terrier (BT). The APBT is recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA), two of the largest American registries for pure-bred dog pedigrees that are both especially noted for its promotion of performance/working dogs. The other large registry in the US, the American Kennel Club (AKC), as well as the international World Canine Organisation (WCO) or Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), does not recognize the APBT as a breed.
The APBT is a true working breed.
American Pit Bull Terrier Appearance
Body: the APBT has a short, tapering tail and a muscular, solid body with a broad chest. The front side of the dog looks more powerful than the back.
Head: the dog's head is shaped like a wedge with minor wrinkles on the forehead. The muzzle is medium-sized; the teeth form a scissor bite. The ears are rose and semi pricked; cropping is allowed but not advised.
Height at Withers: Height at the withers ranges from 46 to 56 cm (18 to 22 inches) for dogs and 43.5 cm to 53.5 cm (17 to 21 inches) for bitches. More importantly height and weight should be evenly matched.
Weight: a mature male APBT preferably weighs 16 to 30 kg (35 to 65 pounds), while a bitch is on average 2 to 3 kg lighter (14 to 27 kg, or 30 to 60 pounds). A solid link between height and weight is key.
Coat: APBTs have a single-layered, short coat that should shine.
Colors: although the stereotypical "pitbull" is often thought of as white, in fact every colour is permitted except for merle, which is associated with health deficits. Dogs can have patches or they can be coloured evenly. The only eye colour that is not permitted is blue; the nose can be any colour.
American Pit Bull Terrier Temperament
Character: APBT are intelligent, extremely loyal, affectionate, active and inquisitive dogs with a great sense of humor. They won't stop for a little discomfort.
Social Build: in contrast to popular belief, a responsibly bred APBT that is raised and treated well is far from an aggressive or dangerous dog. Their fighting roots have provided a very stable temperament towards people, since they were required to accept handling by the owner, the other dog's owner, or the referee during matches. Additionally, their resilience and high pain limit allow them to accept a great deal from people; therefore they are highly suited as companions for kids. This is reflected by their nickname, "nanny dogs". Also, they are often very dog aggressive, especially, as with every breed, the males. An APBT will not decline a challenge by another dog easily. The experience of having an angry APBT flinging and jumping at your dog can be frightening for that other person.
American Pit Bull Terrier Socially
Care: the coat care of this breed requires a minimum effort. A rubber massage glove is ideal to simply remove the loose coat every now and then. A well-bred and -raised APBT is generally a very healthy animal with relatively few problems compared to other breeds. Besides bad breeding and mistreatment, their own high energy level can be a threat to APBT since it causes them to expose their joints to considerable stress and can induce overheating on warm days. APBT life expectancy is 12 to 14 years on average.
Education: they are intelligent and can easily pack up new things, but need a need proper, strict training and an owner that can handle their considerable strength. Because of all popular beliefs, at least this one is true; APBT are very strong dogs for their size. APBT are not for everybody, they are not recommended to novice dog owners. Therefore, an aspiring owner should inform him/herself well about the dog he or she intends to purchase.
Activity: they ask for a lot of attention and are unbelievably energetic. Additionally, they need to have a lot of exercise, to prevent them from becoming bored, which can lead to destructive behaviour. For at least some people, that can be too much.
Usability: under the right owner this breed can excell in various sports. A stable, well-bred APBT is by nature not suitable for the task of guarding property.
American Pit Bull Terrier Quotes / Trivia
The standards for APBT, AST and SBT are very similar; it is mainly the height and weight deemed acceptable for the breed standard that varies.
A new breed is being developed by crossing Pitbulls with Rottweilers, now known as the Panja Mastiff.
American Pit Bull Terrier Myths
Although APBT have the reputation of being capable of delivering the strongest or one of the strongest bites in the whole canine world, recent research suggests that mainstream dogs such as the German Shepherd and the Rottweiler possess a bite force that is larger than that of an APBT. Apparently, bite force is mainly associated with the size of the dog; the larger the dog, the stronger the bite.
Another story that can be directly classified as a fable is the "lock-jaw" concept. Basically, when a pitbull bites, its jaws would lock so it is physically incapable of letting go. The origin of this idea might be the motivation and tenacity that APBT tend to demonstrate during play or in illegal dogfights. This however, is not exclusive to APBT, many other dogs have also been known to be motivated to such a degree that that will not let go of a pole, branch, or the protected arm of police dog trainer.
American Pit Bull Terrier Controversy
Due to its heritage, the APBT in many countries and especially the United States of America, is the most common breed used for dog fighting. This has contributed to the negative public image that has risen. Another main cause for this is that the APBT gained tremendous popularity in the USA during the last century, which meant that there was a lot of money was in breeding APBT. Breeders looking for financial benefit only, bred irresponsibly and delivered unhealthy animals, often bred for exaggerated physical characteristics that reduced the APBT working ability and overall athletic ability, with unstable temperaments. As these animals flooded the market, the unavoidable occurred: APBT like other breeds became involved in bite accidents. People got injured and died, and a public outcry against the APBT followed. The general public looked at the statistics, exaggerated by the media that knew that stories about aggressive fighting dogs were top sellers, caused by irresponsible breeders and ill-informed owners, then coupled this to the dogs' fighting heritage, and the stigma was born.
Sadly, as a dog that is bred specifically for fighting is actually far less likely to cause harm to a human than any other dog, as aggression to humans in the fighting pit meant instant disqualification. It is not difficult to imagine that a dog that is in violent combat with another dog, and is suffering grave injuries, but can still be handled by referee and the owner of either dog, must be inherently non-aggressive to people.
That said, APBT can pose a threat to other animals, they are very competitive and will never turn a challenge down from another dog and are likely to pose a challenge of their own. Additionally, their strong prey drive can mean trouble to smaller animals like cats or rabbits. Therefore, care needs to be taken around other animals and owners should be very reluctant in letting their dog wander around freely.