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American Pit Bull Terrier Complete Information

The American Pit Bull Terrier is a breed known for its loyalty and intelligence.

It was bred for a variety of uses, including hunting and later for dogfighting, and so developed a reputation for being an aggressive breed.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Other Names: Pit Bull, Pitbull Terrier

Country Of Origin: USA

Dog Group: Terrier

Size: Medium

Recommended For: Families, couples, single owners

Maintenance Level: Low

Lifespan: 8-15 years

Temperament: Friendly, affectionate, loyal

FAQ:

Good For the First-Time Owner: Maybe

Good With Children: Yes

Good With Other Animals: Yes

Good With Strangers: Yes

Good For Apartments: No

Exercise Requirements: Daily walking

Can Live In Hot Weather: Yes

Can Live In Cold Weather: Yes

Can Tolerate Being Left Alone: Yes

Grooming: Low

Trainability: Easy/moderate

Breed Overview:

The American Pit Bull Terrier is an excellent family dog with the right training and socialization.

The Pit Bull is loyal to its owners and very good around children, particularly small kids. Similarly, they’re very easy to train and care for.

Color: Black, red, and buckskin are all common, but almost any color is possible.

 Height: Males – 18-21 inches, Females – 17-20 inches

 Weight: Males – 35-60lbs, Females – 30-50lbs

*Females have lesser muscle mass than their male counterparts.

Personality and Temperament:girl hugging a pit bull terrier

The American Pit Bull Terrier is a lively and energetic breed and has a temperament that’s eager to please.

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They happily give their owners plenty of affection and love human contact. This makes Pit Bulls a great choice as a companion pet.

However, a Pit Bull requires the right kind of socialization from an early age to ensure it develops the right temperament.

Puppy obedience training is a good idea, as this teaches the dog how to behave around other animals.

Providing they’re adequately trained, American Pit Bull Terriers are fine to be kept around other animals.

The breed is pretty easy to train and can learn a variety of complex commands.

However, the breed should also be given plenty of mental stimulation, as well as training, to keep them engaged.

Much of the bad reputation the breed has developed is from dogs that likely misbehaved through boredom.  A good game of fetch while out walking should do the trick.

The American Pit Bull Terrier is an energetic breed and so needs plenty of time outdoors.

They should be given at least one walk a day of 30 minutes, but more is better. Pit Bulls are suited to multiple walks a day or houses with plenty of lands for them to run around in.

One of the most common misconceptions about Pit Bulls is that they’re an aggressive breed.

While the breed was used for hunting and fighting purposes in the past, much of this behavior was trained into them, and American Pit Bulls are generally not aggressive towards people.

Similarly, Pit Bulls have a clownish personality and known for being very affectionate with children.

An American Pit Bull terrier with sunglasses inside a car.

‘Miss Freckles” courtesy of
Scott Younts

They’re a very caring and tolerant of kids, and so make a great family pet.

American Pit Bulls can be a good choice for first-time owners because they’re a low-maintenance breed, and are easy to socialize and train.

If you are planning to adopt one, you should look for one that has been around with kids, other dogs and is well socialized.

Due to their energy levels, American Pit Bulls aren’t the right choice for apartments.

While they’re not a very large breed, they’re solidly built and can be very energetic. Pit Bulls are much better suited to houses with large backyards for playing in.

Just make sure everything is secure, and the dog is microchipped, as the breed can jump quite high and love the idea of exploring.

American Pit Bull Terrier jumps over an obstacle in winter

Part of the breed’s reputation for aggression comes from their reactions to strangers.

While Pit Bulls can be wary around strangers, this is easy to avoid with socialization.

American Pit Bulls are very eager to please but can get spooked by sudden, potentially aggressive movements.

Teaching them early will help get over this issue though.

American Pit Bulls soared in popularity because of their versatility, and this is true of where they can live.

They have a short coat, so they can live in warm climates, but are very stocky so that they can stay warm in cold climates.

However, if you live somewhere very hot, just be careful at peak times of the year, and only walk your dog in the early morning or late evening.

Although Pit Bulls are a very friendly breed, they can also tolerate being left alone for more extended periods.

This is easier if you use crate training, which might seem cruel, but is usually much better for the dog because it establishes a clear routine that ends with you coming back.

American Pit Bull Terrier InfographicAmerican pit bull terrier infographic

Grooming:

 The American Pit Bull has a short coat that’s very stiff. This means they’re incredibly easy to take care of and require minimal grooming. Pit bulls will shed a lot more than other dogs.

So you should give their coat a once-over with a soft-bristle brush about once a week, but this is only to help remove debris.

When it comes to bathing, this can be done whenever, but it isn’t necessary to keep the dog’s coat in good condition.

Due to their short hair, it’s much easier to bathe them if they get very dirty, and drying them is a pretty simple job too.

American Pit Bulls can develop a certain “doggy” smell after a while, but this isn’t necessarily an offensive smell.

You should trim your American Pit Bull’s nails whenever necessary, but this won’t be too often if they get enough exercise.

Walking will wear them down naturally, but otherwise, just trim them every few weeks.

As with all breeds, brush their teeth several times a week, and check their ears weekly for debris and wax.

Common Diseases and Conditions:

As a general rule, American Pit Bull Terriers are healthy dogs, and usually very hardy.

Selective breeding reduced the risk of common thyroid and heart problems, although these may still pop up now and then.

However, all breeders will screen their stock for these conditions to ensure they’re not passing them on.

The only condition the breed is known to still suffer from at higher than average rates in hip dysplasia.

This condition is common in almost all purebred breeds and is again tested for by responsible breeders.

Hip dysplasia is luckily treatable through surgery but is also otherwise manageable.

History:

Through its ancestors, the American Pit Bull Terrier can trace its lineage all the way back to Ancient Greece, specifically to dogs of war.

Their two modern predecessors are Old English Terriers, which are now extinct, and Old English Bulldogs.

Both of these were popular hunting and working breeds used across the British Empire.

The result was the “Bull and Terrier“( Not to be confused with Bull Terrier) which had the strength and endurance of a bulldog combined with the fighting and hunting instincts of a terrier.

Bull and Terrier dog breed image taken in Paris in1863

“Bull and Terrier” Dog image in 1863 by L. CREMIÈRE, PHOT [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Bull and Terriers were bred in England and then transported to America for a variety of work purposes, which later included sport fighting.

Bull and Terriers were a common sight in fighting rings on both sides of the Atlantic, and after a while organizers began pitting dogs against each other because it was cheaper.

This is obviously how the American Pit Bull got its reputation for being aggressive, and while the breed does have a prey instinct, much of this aggression was trained into them through cruel practices.

The American Pit Bull Terrier was the natural descendant of the Bull and Terriers brought to America in the 19th century, and very little has changed with the breed in the last 200 years.

Although many American Pit Bulls were still bred for their aggression up until the 1970s, the breed has now found a place as a popular companion dog and excellent family pet.

There have been several occasions when companies have tried renaming the breed to cover its aggressive reputation.

For example, a charity in San Fransisco tried to rename it the St. Francis Terrier in 1996, but this was stopped after one of the selected dogs killed a cat.

Regardless of what this says about the breed’s natural aggression, it also says something about the importance of proper training.

Although the American Pit Bull has developed an aggressive reputation, many breeders and charities are working to change this stereotype.

As a result, the breed’s popularity has risen as a companion pet in recent years.

Similarly, selective breeding can play a large part in removing aggressive tendencies from the breed.

American Pit Bull Terrier Facts & Figures

Did You Know?

  • The American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize a breed called the American Pit Bull Terrier. This is largely in part to its aggressive reputation, and so it can’t be officially bred to standards like other breeds.
  • American Pit Bulls are a favorite of rapper Snoop Dogg, who once had 20 Pit Bulls while living in California.
  • The American Pit Bull Terrier was used in American Army propaganda posters in WW1. A dog represented each country, and this was America’s pick.
    WW1 poster featuring a pit_bull

    WW1 Poster featuring a Pit bull as a representation of the U.S by K84m97 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • The breed’s earliest ancestor is the Greek Molossian war dog.
  • An American Pit Bull owner founded the United Kennel Club (Great Britain’s official kennel club). This is still the largest registry of Pit Bulls in the world.
  • American Pit Bull Terrier is considered one of the “Pit Bull” type dogs along with the American Staffordshire Terrier,  and Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Bully.
  • Must Read:  Is That Dog a Pit Bull?  A Cross-Country Comparison of Perceptions of Shelter Workers Regarding Breed Identification
  • If you are thinking of getting a pit bull, price is around 500 – 700 USD.