American Pit Bull Terrier Overview
- Dog Breed:
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Breed Group:
- Not currently recognized
- Brave, athletic, loyal, affectionate, tenacious
- Males=18-21 inches; females=17-20 inches
- Males=35-60 pounds; females=30-50 pounds
- Life Span:
- 12-14 years
- Coat Colors:
- Any color or color combination except merle
- Area of Origin:
- England, Ireland, and Scotland
- Best For:
- Experienced owners
American Pit Bull Terrier Characteristics
American Pit Bull Terrier Gallery
About The American Pit Bull Terrier
Tenacious and game
Loyal and loving with people
Known for dog and small animal aggression
The athletic American Pit Bull Terrier is a dog of beauty and impressive musculature. A breed with a sad history, the American Pit Bull Terrier’s original purpose was to serve as a fighting dog in a pit in its native UK. In time, the American Pit Bull Terrier, an extremely intelligent and versatile breed, transitioned to life as a companion on the farm. Their gentleness with people makes them particularly well-suited to spending time with children.
There are several hallmarks of the American Pit Bull Terrier that set it apart from the crowd. The breed is highly prized for its gameness, bravery, and tenacity. These qualities, originally developed to make a great pit fighting dog, make today’s “Pit Bull” well suited to such dog performance events as weight pull, obedience, and even agility. But today, first and foremost, the American Pit Bull Terrier enjoys its role as a beloved family companion.
A dog breed well renowned for being devoted and deeply affectionate with its family, the American Pit Bull Terrier is a true family dog. This dog type is happiest when in the company of those it loves most. Some American Pit Bull Terriers can get along with other family pets if raised with them from puppyhood, but in general, this breed does best as an only dog due to its intense prey drive and game nature.
The American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier are two distinct breeds in their own right. However, they do have some differences that go beyond their names. Most aficionados of the breed believe the dogs became two separate entities when the American Kennel Club sought to recognize the breed but wanted to rename it to distance the dog from its more sordid past. Today, the American Staffordshire Terrier is recognized by the American Kennel club while the American Pit Bull Terrier is not.
Because many misconceptions exist about the American Pit Bull Terrier, owners must be prepared to face people who misunderstand the breed, believing it to be vicious and a threat to public safety. Though the American Pit Bull Terrier can display dog and small animal aggression, the breed should never be aggressive towards human beings. In fact, this very trait if displayed in a pit fighting ring in days of old would be sufficient for the dog to be euthanized.
The American Pit Bull Terrier loves to please. Its innate intelligence allows the breed to pick up new skills easily. Training exercises are fun for both the dog and the owner. For best results, the American Pit Bull Terrier should be taught using positive reinforcement techniques only.
A dog with medium to high activity requirements, the American Pit Bull Terrier does require regular daily exercise. Without this, the dog can resort to nuisance behaviors which may include destruction. If sufficiently exercised and properly fed, this dog type should not become overweight. To prevent obesity from occurring, it is recommended that the American Pit Bull Terrier’s meals be measured and all intake monitored.
The American Pit Bull Terrier does best in a home with a fenced in yard. Suburban or country life is fine for this happy terrier. However, apartment life is generally not the best fit for this athletic, active breed.
Because of its game nature and poor reputation, the American Pit Bull Terrier is best suited to life with an experienced dog owner.
American Pit Bull Terrier Breed History
Developed in the 19th century in England
Intended to serve as a pit fighter
Highly prized in America as a family companion and working farm dog
Most “bully” breeds trace their roots to the 1800s in England. Their primary role in society was to provide entertainment through acting as “bait” for bulls and bears in arenas. In 1835, England declared bull and bear baiting to be cruel and banned the practice. In its place rose up a new sport: dog fighting in pits. To create the ideal dog for this sport, breeders sought to produce dog types that would be renowned for their natural dog and small animal aggression.
However, since these breeds would require human intervention and treatment during fights, a vital component of this dog’s genetic makeup was a complete lack of aggression towards human beings. Owners would often have to step between fighting dogs to break up particularly grisly fights, and it was important that they not become hurt in the process. With this in mind, the American Pit Bull Terrier became known for its loyalty and bravery while still maintaining a gentle and friendly nature with those it loves most.
In time, these bully breeds were brought to America with immigrants from the UK. Here, the dogs enjoyed life as companions on the farm where their skills were put to work on hunts for game as well as keeping animal predators at bay. Another role they excelled at was providing deep companionship for their family members.
The American Pit Bull Terrier gained its name in 1898, a handle bestowed upon it by the United Kennel Club. In the 1930s, the American Kennel Club sought to recognize the breed but did not want to retain the Pit Bull part of its name, believing it was an unfavorable association with the breed’s grim past. The American Kennel Club renamed the breed the American Staffordshire Terrier.
Today, the American Pit Bull Terrier is not recognized as its own distinct breed with the American Kennel Club. However, its “sister” breed, the American Staffordshire Terrier or “Amstaff” is. The main differences between the two are their marginal differences in size and build and a slightly less game personality in the Amstaff.
American Pit Bull Terrier Size & Weight
Males measure 18 to 21 inches and females 17 to 20 inches
Males weigh between 35 to 60 pounds and females 30 to 50 pounds
Owners must be prepared to deal with prejudice, anger, fear, and unpopularity
The American Pit Bull Terrier is considered to be a banned breed in many countries in the world. A dog breed that is largely misunderstood, owners of the breed must be prepared to deal with the prejudice, fearmongering, ignorance, and poor treatment that comes with the territory. Owning an American Pit Bull Terrier is not for the faint of heart, and families must be willing to showcase the positive side of the breed to help dispel the myths.
The average male American Pit Bull Terrier stands between 18 and 21 inches at the shoulder. By comparison, females measure 17 to 20 inches. Weights for males range from 35 to 60 pounds with females topping the charts at 30-50.
American Pit Bull Terrier Personality & Temperament
Spirited and entertaining
Affectionate and loving
Game and tenacious
The American Pit Bull Terrier loves the opportunity to spend quality time with its family. Highly muscular and very strong, this dog type truly doesn’t know its size or strength, preferring to cuddle in the center of its owner’s lap.
A dog that is self assured and confident, the American Pit Bull Terrier will alert bark when sensing strangers are near but is so people driven that it makes a very poor watch dog. A lover of people of all ages, the American Pit Bull Terrier is praised for its gentle nature with children. To ensure the safety of both the dog and kids, all interactions between the two should be carefully supervised.
Deeply devoted to its family, the American Pit Bull Terrier will defend them to the death If necessary. Game, tenacious, and completely fearless, this dog possesses the intensity and drive to excel at many different activities including weight pull, agility, and more.
True to their original breeding, many American Pit Bull Terriers are dog and small animal aggressive. For this reason, this breed is not suitable for novice owners. Socializing the American Pit Bull Terrier with cats and dogs as a puppy may mean the dog will grow up able to live successfully in a multi-dog household. However, it should be noted that though the dog may come to love its family members, it most likely will still respond aggressively to animals outside its household.
With a short covering of fur over its body, the American Pit Bull Terrier is not a dog that is well suited to spending time outdoors in extreme weather. This dog breed does not do well when left alone for long periods of time and should be housed indoors with its family.
A dog of good intelligence, the American Pit Bull Terrier enjoys learning new skills and takes great pleasure in training sessions, particularly if they involve the dog’s three favorite things: treats, praise, and its owner.
American Pit Bull Terrier Health & Grooming
Low grooming requirements
Not much of a shedder
Not much of a drooler
The American Pit Bull Terrier enjoys excellent health. However, there are a few genetic problems the dog may develop. These include hip dysplasia, allergies, hypothyroidism, and heart disease. It is recommended that potential owners of this breed contact a breeder with a history of thorough health testing to prevent genetic disease in the American Pit Bull Terrier as much as is humanly possible.
The American Pit Bull Terrier has very low grooming requirements, needing only the occasional brushing and bathing on an as needed basis. Other important maintenance for this breed includes weekly nail trims and daily tooth brushing.
The American Pit Bull Terrier sheds minimally and is not known to suffer from much drooling.
American Pit Bull Terrier Training
Easy to train
Responds best to positive reinforcement
Though the American Pit Bull Terrier can possess a stubborn streak, this dog type loves to please its owner, making it a joy to train. This breed is easily motivated by treats and praise. With consistent practice, the American Pit Bull Terrier can easily learn its basic obedience commands in 4-6 weeks.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is known to be a very mouthy breed. Because of the stereotype against this breed and its extremely powerful jaws, owners must nip this bad habit in the bud. When the American Pit Bull Terrier attempts to bite or nip, owners should redirect the dog to an appropriate toy or bone. Biting should not be tolerated, but this gentle training technique should help the American Pit Bull Terrier learn how to use its mouth in a socially acceptable way.
A dog with immense prey drive, the American Pit Bull Terrier will roam if given the opportunity to do so. A secure containment system is an absolute necessity to keep this dog and any neighborhood pets safe.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is not known to be a big barker.
American Pit Bull Terrier Exercise Requirements
Easy to train
Responds best to positive reinforcement
The American Pit Bull Terrier has moderate to high activity levels. Experts agree that this breed does best if exercised at a vigorous pace for up to one hour per day. Because of this breed’s high prey drive, it should never be allowed to be off lead unless in a securely fenced back yard. The breed can and will climb or jump fences if sufficiently motivated, and thus, should not be left unsupervised.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is a very playful dog and takes great pleasure in joining its family on fun adventures at every opportunity.
American Pit Bull Terrier Diet & Feeding
Puppies should eat puppy food
Adults should eat adult food
Adjust amounts to reflect the activity level of the dog
To ensure the American Pit Bull Terrier’s nutritional needs are adequately met, it is an excellent idea to consult the advice of a veterinarian. Most American Pit Bull Terriers do very well on a diet that is comprised of high-quality ingredients, and that is properly balanced to meet the needs according to the dog’s age, activity level, and health condition.
Puppies should be fed an appropriate puppy food to support their growth and development. Adults should eat adult food that has been designed with their unique needs in mind.
Determining the amount of food to feed a American Pit Bull Terrier is not difficult. The bag of food will offer suggested serving sizes. Use these as a rough guideline, adjusting as needed to reflect the activity level of the dog. The dog’s weight and appetite will help with ascertaining the correct portion of food and the frequency with which meals should occur.
American Pit Bull Terrier Rescue Groups
For more information about American Pit Bull Terriers for adoption near you, we recommend the following resources:
Bullies in Need
Pit Bull Rescue Central