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American Pit Bull Terrier


American Pit Bull Terrier Dog Breed Photo © Joe Hammer


UKC: Terrier Group
CKC: Mastiff Group


Though the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier are technically different breeds and are recognized by different kennel clubs, the two share the same origins. Their roots can be traced back to 19th century England, when Bulldogs and terriers of the time were crossed to create a dog that possessed desirable attributes of each breed. The resulting dog had a Bulldog-like perseverance and confidence as well as the agility and energy of terriers. The breed was originally called the Bull-and-Terrier Dog, Half and Half or Pit Dog. Eventually, it became known in England as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Sadly, the dogs were most commonly used for fighting until the early 20th century when dog fighting was made illegal.

The Bull-and-Terrier dogs came to the United Stated towards the end of the 19th century where they became known as Pit Bull Terriers and then American Bull Terriers. Though there is some disagreement on the details, is is said that these dogs were not widely used for dog fighting like their ancestors, but were more commonly used for general farm work, hunting and companionship. As time went on, the breed was developed into taller dogs with larger builds than their English counterparts. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1936 as the Staffordshire Terrier. The name was changed in 1972 to differentiate between the shorter, smaller English version (today's Staffordshire Bull Terrier). It was around this time that breed enthusiasts went in two directions: American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. Today's American Pit Bull Terrier is still quite similar to the American Staffordshire Terrier, but with more variation in size and physical attributes.


Weight: about 40-90 pounds (depending on which set of standards the breeder is following)
Height: about 17-23 inches at the shoulder


The American Pit Bull Terrier is seen in a wide variety of colors, including black, brown, blue, red, liver and fawn. Brindle pattern and/or white markings are also seen in combination with these colors.

Health Issues:

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the UKC and the CKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

About the Breed:

The American Pit Bull Terrier, casually called the Pit Bull, "Pit" or "Pitty" is a medium to large dog with a sturdy, athletic build and a muscular head. Its name is often abbreviated as the APBT. Contrary to its tough appearance, the Pit is a gentle, loyal and highly affectionate dog breed. The American Pit Bull has an affectionate and loyal disposition, but is also well-known for its high energy level and overall courage. This breed is quite powerful and tends to be stoic in the face of pain.

The APBT has a very short, smooth hair coat that requires little more than routine grooming. This breed tends to shed at a low to moderate rate, though shedding may increase seasonally.

American Pit Bull Terriers are quite intelligent dogs that may be stubborn and prone to following their own wills if permitted. Therefore, obedience training is essential in order to manage your Pitty. Because of the fact that "pit bull-type" dogs are commonly misunderstood and even wrongly portrayed, some people will fear your APBT. Dog trainers and animal professionals often recommend that you put your pit bull through Canine Good Citizen certification as an added step in responsible dog ownership.

The APBT is an athletic dog breed with plenty of energy, so routine exercise is a must. Be sure to use caution in warmer weather, as the breed is sensitive to heat. Pits will especially benefit from dog sports that challenge them mentally and physically. Regardless of the type of exercise you give your APBT, be sure it is provided about twice daily or more.

Overall, American Pit Bull Terriers have friendly, gentle dispositions and make loving companions. In general, the breed gets along well with children and can therefore be a wonderful family pet if properly trained and socialized. Many Pits also get along well with other household pets, but be aware that the breed has a strong prey drive and a history of dog fighting, so your Pit should be supervised and properly introduced when meeting other animals. Overall, the APBT can make a wonderful pet for many kinds of active households. As with any breed, if you think the American Pit Bull Terrier is right for you, be sure to do plenty of research before obtaining one. Talk to other American Pit Bull Terrier owners, reputable American Pit Bull Terrier breeders and American Pit Bull Terrier rescue groups to learn more.

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