It is a sad world we live in. Why? Because people have such a bad image of one of the best breeds in the world, the American Pit Bull terrier. Because of its awful history and past in dog fighting, the American Pitbull terrier has seen its fair share of a bad reputation. But when you read all about the facts about Pit Bulls, I guarantee you will have a different view of this canine.
The APBT is a companion and family dog breed. Yes, it was originally bred to bait bulls, but it has since evolved into one of the best family dogs around.
These dogs will capture your heart with their tenacity, courage, playfulness, joy, and will to live and play. How much do you know about the Pit Bull terrier? Let’s take a look.
Pit Bull ID
Origin: Great Britain
Size: 17 to 21 inches
Weight: 50 to 70 pounds
Lifespan: 8 to 15 years
Group: Terrier group
Whenever you think of a Pitbull terrier, you think of a muscular, short-haired dog with a broad head, deep chest, and medium size. But the reality is that you cannot classify that dog as a Pitbull. What you probably described there is the American Staffordshire Terrier. And yes, those two are different breeds.
While The American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize both of them, the United Kennel Club does. In the US, the term Pitbull is an umbrella term, used to describe several different dog breeds
We will get more into that later on. For now, we can only mention that the term is used to describe bully breeds.
The APBT is a member of the terrier group, but it doesn’t carry many of the classic terrier traits. For example, this puppy is much more affectionate and loving, and less stubborn than say, a Jack Russell terrier or a Yorkshire terrier.
It is a sad thing, but these dogs face unfair discrimination. They were originally bred for their muscular build and used in inhumane dog fighting sports.
The reputation has stuck with the canine, which is why a lot of people avoid them or are afraid of them. The locking jaw myth, which we will get into later on, doesn’t help as well.
When you talk about the American Pit Bull, you are talking about a determined dog, who will not give up easily. These puppies love people, and that includes strangers. They simply crave attention. When you are trying to train one, more on this later, affection is your best reward. They are not driven by treats or toys as much as they are by attention.
History Of The Breed
The term Pit Bull has been around since the 20th century. In the United States, many dogs are classified as Pitbulls, even though the breed is not officially recognized by The American Kennel Club. In fact, the AKC recognizes the American Staffordshire Terrier, and that puppy is a member of the Pit Bull umbrella term.
As we said before, a lot of the bad reputation of the Pit Bull breed stems from its history. So, let’s take a look at its history.
These puppies were first imported to the US in the 1870s. Before that, they originated in the United Kingdom.
In the early 19th century, they were used for sports like dog fighting and rat baiting. The Pit Bull was created by combining the muscled Old English Bulldog, with the agile and feisty Black and Tan terrier.
Here is a fun fact. The Old English Bulldog was actually an aggressive dog used for bear and bull baiting. Nowadays, we know it as the friendly and cuddly lap dog.
With that said, dog fighting also became a popular sport in the 19th century in America. When the sport was banned in the UK, breeders moved their canines across the Atlantic Ocean, and into the US.
There, they continued developing the breed, resulting in the more agile and athletic-looking Pit Bull we know today.
Breeders tried to get the dog registered with the AKC, but because of the association with dog fighting, the club rejected the entries.
In 1898, breeders of the terrier established a rival club, the United Kennel Club. The club recognized APBT and regulated dog fights.
The AKC faced a dilemma in the 1930s. They wanted to register the dog with years of history and breeding records, but they wanted to condone dog fighting. So, their solution was to recognize the breed as Staffordshire Terrier.
The term Staffordshire Bull terrier was actually used for the first time in Britain, in 1930. It was used for an advertisement for bull and terrier-type dogs.
Despite criminalization, dog fights continued to operate across the US. Despite the lobby of animal rights groups trying their best to stop the sport, it has continued to live to this day.
That, combined with the myth of locking jaws and dog bites, has ruined the reputation of one of the most lovable canines in the world.
Types Of Pit Bulls
As we said before, the term American Pit Bull Terrier is an umbrella one. Before we get into some interesting facts about Pit Bulls, let’s get to know the breed first. Here are the five types of breeds that fall into the umbrella term.
The American Bully is a relatively new breed. Breeders began developing it in the 1980s and 1990s, and it was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 2013.
It is a cross between the American Pitbull and other bulldog-type breeds. Bullies are broader, more compact, and have a wider head.
Bullies have been developed for their gentle and affectionate temperament. They are strong and athletic but need less exercise than the APBT.
These dogs grow between 13 and 20 inches and weigh between 65 and 85 pounds.
American Pit Bull Terrier
Of course, we have the original APBT here as well. The difference is this puppy grows between 17 and 20 inches, and weighs between 30 and 65 pounds. It has a leaner and more agile body.
These puppies need the most exercise of any other dog breed in the APBT group. They have a short coat, and the widest range of colors, including black, white, brindle, fawn, red, brown, blue, gray, and more.
American Staffordshire Terrier
The dog that is actually recognized by The American Kennel Club, this one was developed in North America. As a result, it has a larger body than its English relatives.
They were not used for dog fighting. And as a result, many people consider them more mellow dogs. Staffies, however, have a higher prey drive and do not get along with other dogs as much as Pitbulls.
They grow between 17 and 19 inches and weigh between 50 and 80 pounds.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
You might think it is the same dog, but it is not. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier does have a history of dog fighting. The similar dog to its American counterpart is a bit smaller. They grow between 14 and 16 inches and weigh 30 to 40 pounds.
The breed is best suited for a household with a company because they are prone to separation anxiety. They have a smaller, yet more muscular build.
The American Bulldog is a descendant of the English Bulldog, a dog that was used for creating the original Pit Bull. When the breed moved to the US, it was used for farm work and serving as a companion.
The American Bulldog loves children and can be quite protective of its family, territory, and everything in between. Training and socialization are a must.
Now let’s talk more in-depth about the appearance of the American Pit Bull dog breed. Recognized by the United Kennel Club, it is a medium-sized, short-haired dog with a solid build. Because it is not recognized by the AKC, there is no breed standard in the US. But the UKC sets a breed standard.
Compared to the larger Staffordshire Terrier, the APBT weighs between 35 and 60 pounds and grows between 18 and 20 inches.
Described as a medium-sized dog with a well-defined muscle structure, this dog has an athletic and sporty build. The eyes can be round to almond-shaped, with ears small to medium in size.
Color patterns are solid, and the range can go from white, cream, yellow, black, brown, tan, fawn, red, blue, grey, and so on.
The coat, while rangy in colors, it has to be glossy, short, and smooth. It should also be stiff to the touch. Many colors are accepted by the American Breeds Dog Association.
Despite the umbrella term, many breeders and supporters say that the American Pit Bull Terrier is the only true Pit Bull type dog.
Now onto the temperament of this famous breed. This is where many people make the mistake of looking at history than at the Pit Bull breed itself. The Pit Bull dog has a bad reputation because of its history in dog fighting and baiting sports.
Yet, this canine is one of the most affectionate and loving in the whole world. Its unique set of characteristics makes the American Pitbull terrier a desirable dog, despite its reputation. Here are some common personality traits you need to know about.
- Strong and determined, this puppy is known for its tenacity and determination. They are as driven and as persistent as ever when they pursue a task
- Intelligent, they are quick to learn and often eager to please their Pit Bull owners
- APBTs have a reputation for being highly loyal and loving toward its family and owners. They will create an unbreakable bond with the family
- While friendly, they have some small protective instincts for their family and territory. But they are no guard dogs. They are quite friendly with strangers and rarely show their protective nature
- People-oriented, they are social dogs that enjoy human companionship and crave attention from everyone around them
- Their playful nature will provide entertainment and joy for the household 24×7
- Despite being used in dog fighting, these dogs have an amazing reputation for being good with children. They can be some of the best family dogs in the canine world
- Pitbulls are gentle, patient, and loving with everyone, including children
- They possess a confident and self-assured demeanor and nature
- The dog breed is physically agile and athletic and needs plenty of exercise to keep its body moving
- Known to be problem solvers, they are persistent in finding the solution to the task or challenge at hand
- Highly trainable dogs that are eager to please their owners and respond well to positive reinforcement dog training
- One of the most sociable breeds around, they love to be around animals, people, and everyone in between. You can see them wagging their tail all day long
- Sensitive to their owner’s emotions and can be quite intuitive
- Prone to separation anxiety because of their desire to be around humans all day long
- Sensitive to changes in the environment
As we said before, Pit Bulls are relatively easy to train. Why is that? Well, it all stems from their desire to please their owner. The trick is finding what motivates and drives them.
And because they are people-pleasers and crave attention, there is no better reward for doing their job than affection and attention.
Treats and food might work well, but they are generally motivated by your affection. Cuddle them every time they do a good job, and you will have a puppy that will love training and working with you.
Very importantly, do not use a loud voice during training. As we said before, they can pick up your emotions. If you are angry, that will not work during training.
These dogs do not respond well to negative training, punishments, and so on. You might have some early success with balanced training, but positive training works much better here.
When they pick up your emotions, they might become stressed, and their anxiety will kick in. So, be wary of how you respond to them not doing the task you want.
Pitbulls are some of the most agile breeds in the canine world. They have a desire to work and play all day long.
If you do not have the time and patience to dedicate to them, I suggest trying to find a different breed. For example, try American Bully, a similar pit bull-type dog that needs less exercise.
Generally speaking, these dogs need between 45 and 60 minutes of physical exercise per day. And the more you do it by playing games, the better. If you can provide more exercise, the better.
When you look at American Pit Bull Terriers, these dogs are generally healthy. But they can also fall in the lower range. Their lifespan is between 8 and 15 years. Check the medical history if you can. While generally healthy, they are prone to some serious health issues.
For example, they are prone to hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint ball and socket. While not deadly, this condition can be painful to your dog and cost quite a lot of vet bills and supplements.
Because of their short, smooth coat, Pitbulls are prone to allergies. Environment allergens such as fleas, grass, pollen, dust, and everything in between can cause serious skin allergies in your Pit Bull dog.
Next on the list is hypothyroidism, a dysfunction of the thyroid gland that results in weight gain, poor coat, and reproductive problems.
Last, but not least, we have to mention heart diseases, including aortic stenosis, a congenital heart defect. In many situations, dogs are born with it. It results in your dog having little energy.
The good news is that American Pit Bulls require little maintenance. Brushing your puppy’s coat once every week is more than enough to help with shedding.
Yes, they do shed year-round, but to a minimal extent. They have a single coat, meaning there is no such thing as blowout season.
Be careful with bathing. You do not want to bathe your APBT often and increase the risk of skin issues.
Are Pit Bulls Dangerous?
Now let’s address the elephant in the room. Pitbulls are not dangerous. In fact, their dog bite is lower than some “friendly dogs”, like the German Shepherd.
The APBT has a bite force of 240 to 260 PSI, allowing it to bring down prey. But that doesn’t mean they are dangerous.
Take this into consideration. The German Shepherd has a PSI of 238 and is considered one of the best family dogs in the world. Even smaller breeds, like Jack Russell terriers, have a bite force of 200 PSI.
The strongest bite force belongs to the Turkish Kangal. Producing a bite force of 743 PSI, this dog is the king of the canine world in terms of raw power.
The Locking Jaw Myth
There is no such thing as a locking jaw mechanism that exists in any dog, let alone the Pit Bull. There is nothing uncommon in the size and functionality of the dog’s jaw or teeth. So far, there has been no study that proved Pitbulls have a locking jaw mechanism.
Let’s try and explain how the jaw works. Dogs have a lower jaw, or the mandible, which has two parts that meet at the front through the mandibular symphysis. The upper jaw, or the maxilla, is fixed and cannot move. So, when your dog bites, the upper and lower jaws work together by moving in opposite directions.
Every breed has the same jaw structure, but the power of dog bites can vary.
Fun Facts About Pitbull
Now let’s take a look at some of the funniest facts about Pitbulls. We mentioned some of the general facts, like size, umbrella term, origin, and more. But let’s take a look at some of the more interesting facts about the misunderstood breed.
- At birth, these puppies have a wrinkled forehead, but it becomes smooth as they grow older. Science has yet to explain this phenomenon
- The breed has been quite popular in the White House, with Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson owning a Pit Bull
- Sergeant Stubby is one of the most popular Pitbulls, serving as a wartime hero in France for 18 months during WWI
- Some other famous pitbulls include Nipper, the Buster Brown shoe mascot, and Petey, the canine companion of the Little Rascals
- Despite their bad reputation, at one point in history, they were considered nanny dogs because of how well they took care of children
- Michael Vick, a former professional football player, is infamous for having more than 50 Pit Bulls at the time of his arrest for dog fighting. Four of them have been resocialized to become therapy dogs
- Before you get a Pit Bull, you have to check with law authorities, since they are banned in some countries in the US
- They have been used on farms and served a role in agriculture in the past
- Sallie Ann Jarrett, was a service dog and a mascot for the Union Army’s 11th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. She stood guard for days over a group of wounded soldiers during the Battle of Gettysburg
- These dogs have appeared in logos, including the Radio Corporation of America and the Brown Shoe Company
- They are the only dogs to ever feature in Life Magazine, during the 1900s, when the magazine featured them several times
Pit Bull Celebrity Owners
As we said before, these dogs have a bad reputation because of their history in dog-fighting sports. Nowadays, many celebrities are advocating for awareness, saying the breed is unfairly stigmatized. Here are some of the popular celebrities that own a Pit Bull.
- Kaley Cuoco might be the most popular Pit Bull owner in the world, with the American actress always advocating and rescuing dogs
- John Bernthal, the Punisher star, says he wants to change people’s ideas of pit bulls. He has two dogs, Boss and Venice, and he often brings them on set
- Justin Theroux, the guy who voiced Tramp in Lady and the Tramp, brings his dog Kuma with him everywhere
- Jessica Biel is another famous actress and owner of Pit Bull, and she often shows her dog Tina on social media
- Rachael Ray lost her beloved Pit Bull, Isaboo in 2020
- Katherine Heigl has a dog with an appropriate name for a Pit Bull, Apollo. She is extremely passionate about animal rights
- Channing Tatum used the relationship with his beloved Pit Bull to make his movie Dog
- Marc Jacobs has a bull terrier named Neville Jacobs, and he is a social media celebrity
- Tom Brady is a famous athlete who loves doing activities with his pit bull, Lua
- Jessica Alba named her adorable Pit Bull Bowie, after the late David Bowie
- Jennifer Anniston is proud owner of Pit Bull mixed breed she adopted in 2012
- Adam Brody gifted his fiancé Rachel Bilson a Pit Bull. When they broke up, they continued caring for their dog and shared custody
- Alicia Silverstone has three rescued puppies, one of which is her Pit Bull named Butterfly. She claims the dog is the princess of her house
- Kevin Bacon and his wife Kyra Sedgwick are huge animal lovers and ambassadors of the Pit Bull dog breed. Their dog is named Lilly
- Cesar Millan is the king of trying to remove the stigma of Pit Bulls, by working with owners around the world to train their dog
- The late Betty White had a Pit named Elle
- Liam Hemsworth almost broke the internet when he posted a photo with his rescue dog, Tani