History of the American Pit Bull Terrier Dog Breed
The roots of today’s American Pit Bull Terrier (often spelled as one word pitbull), a member of the Molosser breed group, lie in 19th century England. They were the result of crossing English Bulldogs and Old English Terriers. This combination created a dog with the strength and athleticism of the bulldog together with the eager gameness of the terrier. They were bred to be sturdy, tenacious and courageous, and exceptionally human friendly. Unfortunately, some were also bred specifically for fighting. After accompanying their owners to the United States, they were used for hunting and driving livestock, and served as loyal and loving family companions. When the American Kennel Club refused to acknowledge them as a breed, Chauncy Bennet formed the United Kennel Club in 1898, becoming the first organization to recognize and accept the American Pit Bull Terrier as a legitimate breed. The term “Pit Bull” itself encompasses, not only the American Pit Bull Terrier, but the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and any mixes of the three.
Physical Description of the American Pit Bull Terrier Dog Breed
American PitBull Terriers range in height from 18 to 24 inches at the shoulders and weigh between 30 and 60 pounds. Their wedge-shaped heads are large, their foreheads slightly creased, and their bodies are muscular and powerfully built. Their ears may be cropped or, if left naturally, are either rose-shaped or semi-prick, and their short tails are tapered. Their single, short coat is glossy, lies close to their bodies and is slightly stiff to the touch. Their coats come in a wide array of colors, including gray, blue, brown, red, black and white, brindle and merle, and their remarkable eyes generally compliment the color of their coats. Grooming needs are simple: a weekly brushing with a stiff brush and a brisk wipe down with a damp cloth to keep their coats shiny, and only the occasional bath. Their ears should be checked regularly for signs of wax buildup, irritation or infection, their teeth brushed weekly for good dental hygiene, and their nails trimmed monthly if they’re not worn down naturally outdoors. A relatively healthy breed, the average life expectancy of the American Pit Bull Terrier is 12 years.
Is the American Pit Bull Terrier Right for You?
Socialization with people, dogs and other animals should start as early as seven weeks and continue through adulthood. Although tough on the outside, American PitBull Terriers are often extremely sensitive on the inside, requiring gentle and consistent obedience training based on positive reinforcement. Because they’re such high-energy dogs, they require daily aerobic exercise (from running alongside their owners to catching Frisbees) to tire them out. Mental workouts (from food-puzzle toys to entertaining “tasks” to perform) are also essential and can be just as tiring. Affectionate, good-natured and eager to please, they make wonderful family pets. And because they’re also highly intelligent, loyal and courageous, they serve as excellent guard dogs, companion and therapy dogs, and police dogs. Due, however, to recent Breed Specific Legislation in many areas, those considering an American PitBull Terrier, should diligently do their homework first.