Breed Spotlight: Pit Bulls
While pit bulls sometimes get a bad rap, just like any dog, they can be great companions with the right owners and training. Many people only know these dogs by the name “pit bull,” but a “pit bull” actually isn’t a breed! It’s a generalized term used to describe several formal breeds that fall under that category.
Get in-the-know on all things “pit bull!”
What Is a Pit Bull?
There are actually four different formal breeds that fall under the pit bull category. Sometimes these are referred to as “bully breeds:”
- American pit bull terrier
- American Staffordshire terrier
- American bull terrier
- Staffordshire bull terrier
- American bulldog (occasionally)
It’s heavily debated which formal breeds can be considered pit bulls, and, often, dogs labeled “pit bulls” tend to be mixed breeds.
Each of these breeds is recognized differently by the AKC (American Kennel Club) and the UKC (United Kennel Club). They definitely do get a bad rap for their history, but with proper obedience training and discipline, they can be loyal and affectionate dogs. However, it is important to note, that these breeds are not for everyone.
The Basics on the Breed
Each of the different breeds of pit bull have different characteristics, so it’s unwise to generalize the behaviors and temperaments—and even appearances—of “pit bulls.”
The American pit bull terrier has a shiny, stiff, and short coat that comes in a range of colors between red and black. They have a medium, solid body (weighing 30 to 85 pounds) with a short tail, small ears, and a broad head. This breed tends to have a very athletic look and lives between 12 and 16 years.
The American Staffordshire terrier also comes in a variety of colors with a short coat, but their fur is smooth. Too much white in their coloring can actually be considered a fault in the breed. The American Staffordshire terrier’s body type is very similar to the body of the American pit bull terrier, but is smaller, weighing between 40 and 60 pounds. They also have a shorter lifespan of 10 to 15 years.
The Staffodshire Bull Terrier has a similar coat to the others with a strong jaw, broad head, and small tail. It is smaller than the other two breeds of pit bull, reaching a maximum weight of about 38 pounds. Their lifespan tends to be between 12 and 14 years.
Why Pit Bulls Make Great Pets
Pit bulls are strong, athletic, and determined, and these characteristics can make them difficult for some owners. If you understand what your breed of pit bull needs, they can make wonderful companions. They can be sensitive, loving, playful, and gentle, even if their appearance and reputation says “tough guy!” They’re responsive to training, and it’s recommended that you bring them to training classes as early as possible. It’s important to be responsible with this breed.
With the proper training and socialization, pit bulls can be extremely friendly with family, kids, and even strangers. Despite their reputation, they don’t always make the best guard dogs! Even though they’re very intelligent, these breeds tend to be a bit shy if not properly socialized.
Pit bulls can also be enthusiastic and eager to please, so they’re fairly easy to train for work.
Fun Facts About Pit Bulls!
Each breed that falls under the general category of “pit bull” is full of surprises! Here are just some of them:
- Many dogs that aren’t “pit bulls” get mistaken for them, including the Presa Canario and the boxer.
- Sergeant Stubby, a pit bull predecessor, is the most decorated dog, having served in World War I.
- It can be difficult to claim standards for pit bulls due to mixed breeds.
- Pit bulls are in several movies, including: Petey (played by Pal), the dog with the black eye, in “The Little Rascals” and Chance (played by Sure Grip Rattler in Homeward Bound).
- Several “spokesmen” dogs, like Blueberry, are working to dispel the myths surrounding pit bull breeds and raise awareness.
- The Animal Planet show “Pit Bulls and Parolees” works to educate viewers about the breeds through rescue stories.
Pit bulls can make wonderful pets; the key is being a responsible owner. Their behavior depends on your ability to train and handle them. Before adopting any of these wonderful breeds or mixed breeds, do your research:
- Talk to your local shelter(s) about the dog’s past life, temperament, and training.
- If you’re adopting from a breeder, read our post about how to find a breeder who is as responsible as you are.
- Confirm that your town, homeowner’s association, or apartment complex allows a pit bull to live with you. Breed discrimination of pit bulls is fairly common.
If you’re bringing home a pit bull, we’d love to meet them! It’s important they have their first check-up within a week of coming home. You can schedule your appointment by calling us at 281-693-7387.