American Pit Bull Terrier History
The term pit bull is actually used to describe several dog breeds, which means that the term is often used incorrectly when referring to the bull terrier, bull mastiff, and American bulldog. This is because these breeds can have similar characteristics, making it easy for people to use the proper terms. The American Staffordshire terrier is related to the American pit bull terrier, so many enthusiasts call the American pit bull terrier the working class of this breed and the American Staffordshire terrier the show type of the breed.
The American pit bull terrier is descendent of working dogs that were imported to the United States by immigrants from England, Scotland, and Ireland. These immigrants brought these working dogs to ports such as Boston and New York. The working dogs were then bred with each other in order to create a breed that was stronger and taller. This made an incredibly fit working dog that could be used for hunting, dog fighting, and protecting humans. Farmers also used this breed for protection and for catching wild hogs and semi-wild cattle.
The breed that resulted from this crossbreeding became known as the American pit bull terrier. These dogs become very popular as pets, even for people who had children. These dogs also made appearances in major movies such as The Little Rascals.
The United Kennel Club was developed by people who enjoyed the American pit bull and wanted to establish bloodlines and records of the dogs born in the United States. The founder’s dog was given U.K.C. number 11 in 1898. When this records system was established, cross-breeding was no longer acceptable. After registering American pit bulls exclusively for several years, the UKC began admitting other breeds and the American Dog Breeders Association was developed as a result.
The American Kennel Club allowed pit bull terriers into their registry under the name of the Staffordshire terrier in the 1930s. Along with the new breed name came the need for specific standards for the breeds. A committee visited several kennels and ended up choosing a dog named Colby’s Primo as the dog used to create the standards.
The Pit Bull immediately strikes one as being a dog of power, passion and undying willingness. The brick-like head, which is especially broad between the cheeks (to house the powerful jaws), is carried upon a thickly muscled, well-defined neck.
The neck runs into a deep, thick, well-sprung chest. The American Pit Bull is a very muscular, stocky, yet agile dog that is extremely strong for his size. The ears are generally cropped, though this is optional. Docked tails are not accepted by the UKC or the ADBA. The eyes are round.
Both the ADBA and the UKC do not accept blue eyes or the coat color merle. The American Pitbull Registry does accept a merle coat. The teeth should form a scissors bite. Its coat is made up of thick, short, shiny hair. All colors are admissible. The tail tapers to a point.
American Pit Bull Terrier Characteristics and Behavior
The American pit bull terrier breed is a well-muscled canine that has a thick neck and a large head. This particular breed is known for its persistence, strength, and loyalty to masters. The American pit bull terrier is often referred to as a pit bull but can be incorrectly classified with other terriers by major kennel clubs. In fact, the American pit bull terrier and the American Staffordshire terrier should be classified as bull and terrier breeds. They are also closely related to bulldogs in terms of their behavior and working abilities.
In the past, the pit bull was one of the most trusted companions and was loved by most people. In England, where the breed is no longer allowed, the pit bull was also considered one of the safest dogs to have around children. Unfortunately, negative attention has been given to this breed in the past several years. There are two groups to blame for these negative events. One group is the media, who report attacks in the most sensational way possible. The other group that needs to shoulder some of the blame is dog breeders who overbreed their dogs, resulting in high levels of aggression. Owners who train their dogs harshly or who encourage aggressive behavior can also be blamed for negative attention on the pit bull breed.
Many owners believe that a dog’s behavior is only influenced by how they are raised and not by any of the breed’s genetic characteristics. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Working breeds such as the pit bull need to have some activity such as obedience training or sports. If they are not given opportunities for activity, they may become bored and aggressive. For this reason, pit bulls are best suited to people with active lifestyles.
Adult pit bulls may become aggressive with other dogs without showing aggression towards humans. This does not mean that pit bulls should not be allowed near other dogs or that they are too aggressive to have as pets. It just means that it takes a lot less for a pit bull to become aggressive toward another dog than it does for another breed to become aggressive. In the past, this breed was bred specifically for dogfighting. However, the breeders worked hard to produce dogs that were aggressive in fighting but not mean or unfriendly with humans. This was necessary because human trainers had to pull pit bulls apart when fighting had concluded and they needed to be sure that the dogs would not turn on them. If one of the pit bulls turned on one of the humans, the dog was put down. These pit bulls were allowed to live with their owners and were friendly towards adults and children alike.
Aggression is common when other breeds are taken into consideration. Other aggressive dogs such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, and Malamutes can get into fights with pit bulls. This does not mean that pit bull owners need to stop enjoying activities with their dogs. It just means that the owners need to be responsible for their dogs and spend the time and money necessary for training their dogs properly. Many pit bulls are just as docile as beagles and golden retrievers, but it would be unfair of an owner to expect this from every working dog.
The American pit bull terrier is now known as an agile and versatile dog and is known for winning competitions in obedience, agility, tracking, weight pulls, and conformation. Famous pit Bull terrier bloodlines include Caver, Old Family Red Nose, Corvino, Colby, and Hammonds.
The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) has a strong pleasure to please. The APBT has evoked more human emotional, rational and irrational response than any other breed that exists today. By no means are these dogs people-haters or people-eaters. Their natural aggressive tendencies are toward other dogs and animals, not people. However, if they are properly socialized with a firm, but calm, confident, consistent pack leader, they will not even be aggressive with them.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is a good-natured, amusing, extremely loyal and affectionate family pet that is good with children and adults. Almost always obedient, it is always eager to please its master. It is an extremely courageous and intelligent guard dog that is very full of vitality. Highly protective of his owners and the owner’s property, it will fight an enemy to the death. It is usually very friendly but has an uncanny ability to know when it needs to protect and when everything is okay. The American Pit Bull Terrier can be willful with meek owners and needs a firm hand. They are generally okay with other pets if they are raised with them from puppyhood.
They are very friendly, but not recommended for most people, because most people do not understand how to properly raise and treat a dog. Problems arise when one does not understand natural dog behavior, seeing the dog as having human emotions, and ends up with a dog who thinks he is the boss of the house. For a smaller, not as powerful dog, people can sometimes get away with this, however, for a powerful breed, one really needs to understand and follow this concept of keeping a dog. An excellent guide to learning how to properly treat a dog is the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan (recommended to all dog owners regardless of the breed they own).
Excellent with children in the family, they have a high pain tolerance and will happily put up with rough child play. As with any breed, they should not be left alone with unfamiliar children. Used as all-around working farm dogs, they were referred to as “the poor man’s horse.” Later they were used as fighting dogs; the powerful American Pit Bull may go for the throat of strange dogs. A minimum of training, along with the proper amount of exercise and a firm pack leader, will produce a tranquil, obedient dog. Socialize very thoroughly when young to combat aggressive tendencies and be sure to keep the dog under control when other dogs are present.
Teach this dog respect for humans by not allowing it to jump up and not allowing it to enter doorways first. The humans must make the dog heel beside or behind them when walking. It has given outstanding results as a guardian of the property but is at the same time esteemed as a companion dog. The objective of training this dog is to achieve pack leader status. It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an order in its pack. When we humans live with dogs, we become their pack. The entire pack cooperates under a single leader; lines are clearly defined and rules are set. You and all other humans MUST be higher up in the order than the dog.
That is the only way your relationship can be a success. When properly trained and socialized, this is a very good dog and a great family companion. Unfortunately, some choose to promote the fighting instinct in the breed, giving it a bad name.
Height & weight
- Height: 14 – 24 inches (35 – 60 cm)
- Weight: 22 – 78 pounds (10 – 35 kg)
The American Pit Bull Terrier is both powerful and agile. Actual weight and height are less important than the correct proportion of weight to height.
A very common misconception is that APBTs are muscle-bound hulks that weigh in around 85 pounds (39 kg) or more and this is generally not the majority. Most of the APBT’s that are that large have been crossed with other breeds and are being called American Bullies. The general public often gets American Bullies mixed up with the American Pitbull Terriers. American Pitbull Terrier vs. American Bully
A generally healthy breed, although some are prone to hip dysplasia, hereditary cataracts, allergies to grass and congenital heart disease.
Pits will do okay in an apartment if they are sufficiently exercised.
They are very active indoors and will do alright without a yard provided they get enough exercise. Prefers warm climates.
American Pit Bull Terriers must have plenty of regular exercises and need to be taken on long daily walks.
About 12 years.
Average of 5 – 10 puppies
The smooth, shorthaired coat is easy to groom. Brush regularly with a firm bristle brush, and bathe or dry shampoo as necessary. A rub with a piece of toweling or chamois will make the coat gleam. This breed is an average shedder.
Developed from the Bull and Terrier types of yesteryear, the American Pit Bull Terrier was bred as an all-around farm dog, working the farms as a cattle/hog dog. Some chose to turn their talents into the sport of pit-fighting. The breed’s tenacity and accompanying strength are unmatched in the canine world. As rich and captivating as the breed’s history is, the Pit Bull’s future is more worthy of commentary. Some proponents of the breed argue that this breed is the original bulldog of the past. Old prints and woodcarvings show reason to believe this. They show dogs that look exactly like the breed today, doing things the dog is still capable of doing. For more information on this theory, you can read books by Richard F. Stratton.
The APBT, as registered by the UKC, is an individual breed of dog and does not refer to just any ill-bred, mindless warrior-type mongrel. At one time, the Pit Bull was a much loved, trustworthy companion. People who chose to train these dogs to fight are chiefly responsible for the banning and witch-hunting that has been sweeping the U.S. The media, however, should not go unmentioned, for it is also responsible for escalating isolated incidences in a relentless and attention-getting way. In a lot of cases when the media is reporting about a Pit Bull attacking, it is indeed not even a Pit Bull at all, but a mixed breed of some sort, or another bull breed all together. For example, there was a report on KYW news in Philadelphia about two Pit Bulls attacking a person.
The news station was called and asked if they knew the dogs were, in fact, purebred American Pit Bull Terriers, or another bull breed of some sort, or mutts, for that matter. They stated they did not know, and to call the police station to verify that information. They were asked how they could report something that they were not sure of. They had no answer and they were not sure of the dogs’ breeds. Even after admitting on the phone that they did not, in fact, know the breeds of the dogs in question, they kept calling the dogs Pit Bulls in their reports. Why? Because the name Pit Bull will draw out the most attention from the public. The Pit Bull’s future has been perhaps irreparably undone and everyone is to blame except the dog itself. This very loyal dog is too set on pleasing his owner, and ironically this is the root of his own undoing. Accompanying this need to please are remarkable abilities of all kinds. Jack Dempsy, Teddy Roosevelt, and Jack Johnson are just a few people who have owned Pit Bulls. Pit Bulls excel in practically every canine task including herding, guarding, hunting, policing, cart pulling and ratting.
A Pit Bull named Banddog Dread holds more canine working titles than ANY other breed. The owner’s name is Diane Jessup and you can reference her book “The Working Pit Bull.” It tells all of Dread’s accomplishments.
These dogs are truly capable of many tasks. The difference between Pits and American Staffordshire Terriers is a difficult one. Even breeders can’t agree. The main difference is the bloodline. Amstaffs are show dogs and dogfighters won’t use dogs with Amstaff blood. As time progresses there will be more of a difference. Many are dual registered as Amstaffs with the AKC and Pits with the UKC.
NAPDR, UKC, NKC, ADBA, CKC, APBR, APRI, ACR, PBFSA, DRA, BBC, NAPR
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