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American Pit Bull Terrier

The American Pit Bull Terrier has been known by many names, including the Pit Bull and the American Bull Terrier. It is often confused with the American Staffordshire Terrier, however, the United Kennel Club recognizes the American Pit Bull Terrier as its own distinct breed. Affectionately known as "Pitties," the Pit Bull is known for being a loyal, protective, and athletic canine breed.

Physical Characteristics

The standard size of the American Pit Bull Terrier varies from medium to large, with a weight range of 30–90 lbs. The Pit Bull has a stocky, muscular build and a short, smooth coat varying in color. The fluctuation in the size and color of the Pit Bull is due to the breed being a mix between different types of Bulldogs and Terriers.

The body of the Pit Bull is long, with a short, whip-like tail that ends in a point. Small- to medium-sized ears are set high on its broad, flat head. The most defining facial characteristic of the Pit Bull is its wide, powerful jaw.

Personality and Temperament

The protective and fearless Pit Bull is noted for its playful temperament and friendly nature. The Pit Bull is also athletic, and has a strong desire to please people.

The Pit Bull breed has a high prey drive due to its being bred to chase and subdue livestock. However, the Pit Bull is not naturally aggressive towards people and is affectionate toward children. Depending on early socialization and handling, the Pit Bull can learn to restrain itself from unwarranted aggression towards other dogs.


Because it is a highly energetic and active breed, the American Pit Bull Terrier requires daily exercise — the more vigorous the better — to overcome boredom and possibly destructive behavior. Like the Greyhound breed, the Pit Bull has a particularly strong prey drive and may chase retreating animals. Taking a Pit Bull on a leashed walk is undoubtedly an important part of socializing it to "play nice." However, care must always be taken to keep the Pit Bull on its leash, to prevent it from running off if it should spot a potential prey animal.


Due to their athleticism and diverse breeding background, the Pit Bull breed tends to be hardy, with an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, longer than many breeds of a similar size. There are some genetic conditions to be watchful for. The Pit Bull tends to suffer from bone diseases such as hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy and kneecap dislocation. The Pit Bull can also suffer from skin problems, such as mange and skin allergies, because of its short coat. Other health ailments seen in Pit Bulls include thyroid and congenital heart defects.

History and Background

The Pit Bull’s origins can be traced back to early 19th-century England, Ireland and Scotland. The canine’s ancestors were the result of experimentally crossbreeding different Bulldog and Terrier breeds for the purpose of bear- and bull-baiting, a blood sport in which the dog was trained to attack until the larger animal was defeated. When baiting was banned in the 1800s, the dogs were then bred for the sport of ratting and dog fighting. European immigrants introduced the Pit Bull breed to North America.

Because of its controversial origins, the Pit Bull is not recognized by the American Kennel Club. This has resulted in the formation of two separate clubs for the specific purpose of registering Pit Bulls. The first was the United Kennel Club (UKC), which was formed in 1898 by founder C. Z. Bennett. The founder’s dog, Bennett’s Ring, was assigned UKC registration number one, making it the first registered Pit Bull in recorded history. The second club, the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA), began in 1909 as a multiple breed association, but it has been dedicated mainly to Pit Bulls, as the original president, Guy McCord, was an avid fancier and breeder of the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Contrary to its dubious reputation as an aggressive breed, the Pit Bull is regarded by many as a friendly dog with an outgoing disposition. As those who are loyal to this breed are becoming more active in the education and training of the breed, the Pit Bull is fast becoming a popular companion pet once again.

Comments  4

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  • I love Pit Bulls!
    04/25/2014 06:46am

    I just bought my 2nd Pit Bull baby yesterday.She is too cute,funny,happy and intelligent! Her name is Diamond and she is a sweetheart!

  • Rescuedogs
    05/16/2014 10:22am

    We just adopted our 4th and 5th rescue and the latest additions to our pack are an APBT and Amstaff. They are the most loveable, docile, and smart dogs! These breeds have such a bad rap and we felt that they needed to be rescued and not be destroyed. Also, the shelter we adopted them from is Dekalb County Animal Shelter in Georgia and they have an enormous amount of these dogs, which are being euthanized on a daily basis because they do not have enough room to keep them all. They have a special until the end of May, $20 fee covers spay/neuter, shots, heartworm check. What a deal, please visit them and save a dog!

  • Luv4K9s
    04/14/2015 01:27pm

    I have 3 American Pit Bull Terriers and 2 Boxers. I carry such a love for these incredible creatures that love us so unconditionally. One of loving Pit Bulls Terriers "Petey", is a license and registered Therapy Dog, and volunteers for one of New York's Largest Hospitals. He brings such joy and peace to the children and adults he visits. Rescue a pibble, and I guarantee you will want to rescue another, and another. THEY ARE THE BEST

    04/14/2016 01:02am

    I LOVE my 7 month old American Pitbull, Achilles Thor. He's already nearly 60 lb!. He comes from a long line of very large males that keep getting bigger with each new generation. I am lucky enough to have seen all of the males back to his great grandfather, who was all white. Sadly, his Grandfather, Papi, who was all white too and gorgeous, was extremely aggressive, did not have proper training and was not bred soon enough. He was also caged way too much, and never socialized. He could only be trusted out with certain trusted people as he had tasted human blood more than once. I was one of those trusted people, but I was even slightly intimidated by him. He ended up attacking both his female master and her daughter while they were having a physical altercation in front of him (a big NO NO). He ended up being put down after that at the age of 6. I received one of his great grands as a birthday gift as a companion for my 4 yr old Black Lab/Beagle. Achilles is half all white and the other side brown spotted. On the all white side he has a brown tear drop coming from that white eye. He has a lot of his grandfather's positive traits, but I was fortunate enough to be allowed to bring him home at 7 weeks and train him MY way and he is 0% aggressive and 100% sloppy lover. I'll never own another breed again.


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