American Pit Bull Terrier

Fast Facts

Country of Origin:USA
AKC Group:Rare
UKC Group:Terrier
Use today:Companion
Life Span:10 to 12 years
Color:All colors, patterns, and combinations permitted. Any eye color except blue.
Coat:Short, smooth, glossy.
Grooming:Brush, trim nails, and clean teeth weekly.
Size:Medium Dog Breed
Height:18 to 22 inches
Weight:Males, 35 to 60 pounds; Females, 30 to 50 pounds.

This canine product of the American melting pot is a true success story, a bulldog-terrier cross that made its way out of the fighting pits and into the hearts of dog lovers. Bred in America from a blend of Bull and Terrier breeds, the APBT served many functions: on the farm he herded livestock and eliminated rats. In the home he played with the children and sat by his owner’s fire.

Nicknamed Yankee Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier, Half and Half, and American Bull Terrier, the breed has long been admired for its tenacity, courage, agility and spirit. Now known as the American Pit Bull Terrier, the breed has been recognized and registered by the United Kennel Club since 1898.

A loyal, strong and energetic companion, today’s APBT continues to provide good company to his owner, and also excels in everything from bomb detection, herding, therapy, search and rescue, to obedience. While Pit Bulls can make excellent pets, they are not for the first time owner. They might not go looking for trouble, but they won't back down from it either. While the APBT is friendly with children, supervision is in order because of his power and strength. It is essential to socialize this breed with humans and other animals early on. Early training and socialization result in a calm and loving dog.

This athletic breed requires a good amount of space and exercise. A fenced yard will help provide an area to burn off energy. Pit Bull’s often excel when they have a job to do. Owners of APBTs can pick just about any sport (weight pulling, flyball, rally), and their dog may fill the house with award ribbons.

Wary and at times unfriendly with new dogs, an APBT (typical of the Terrier breeds) is not the dog for a family that loves new animals coming in and over to play.

Potential owners need to know that breed specific legislation (and home owner’s insurance policies) may target their breed. APBT owners take on an important responsibility to dispel bad press.

About American Pit Bull Terriers:

American-made versatility
Happy to help
Pursues excitement

Should I get an American Pit Bull Terrier?

Terrific for a person who:

    Wants a dog tough enough for rugged trails, sweet enough to greet fellow hikers.
    Has a deep commitment to working a dog hard, and loving him even deeper.
    Values friendliness to people far above guard or watch dog traits.

Think twice if you’re a person who:

    Feels sensitive about conceptions and misconceptions about his breed of choice.
    Wants your dog to gets all of his exercise at the dog park.
    Values guard and watchdog duties very highly (many APBTs greet mailmen!).

American Pit Bull Terrier Care

Easy to care (wash and go) short coat. Regular brushing maintains the coat.

The Standard Look:

A medium-sized, solidly built dog, the American Pit Bull should appear strong and sleek with well-defined features. The head is large and broad, a unique feature of the breed. There are no specific requirements for height and weight, but they can range from 30 to 60 pounds with the body being slightly longer than tall. Ears may be cropped or natural. The short, close, stiff coat may be any color.

Possible health concerns

Hip dysplasia, hereditary cataracts, congenital heart disease.


Pit Bull Fun

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American Pit Bull Terrier Photos

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A Gentle Soul

September Morn


American Pit Bull Terrier with dog toyWhen Lauren Fox of Caon City, Colo., walks her 7-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier, Sid, people stare. But not for the reason you might think. Sid is a gentle soul -- friendly and obedient.

This is no accident.

"Living with American Pit Bull Terriers is different because of the extra responsibility for ownership," says Fox, who has trained and socialized her dog. "You have to make sure your APBT is always on its best behavior."

The powerful American Pit Bull Terrier stirs much controversy, often the target of "dangerous"-dog breed laws that affect fanciers' ability to keep or insure them. But responsible owners defend their good pit bulls with pride, touting their loyalty and athleticism.

The American Pit Bull Terrier 's history -- though murky and debated -- supports both sides. According to the United Kennel Club history of the dog breed, in the early 19th century, dog fanciers in England, Ireland, and Scotland experimented with crossing Bulldogs and Terriers to create a strong, athletic dog for gaming. Immigrants brought these fighting dogs with them to the United States. Farmers and ranchers used the muscular dogs to protect their property and to wrangle semi-wild cattle and hogs. The name of the breed changed over the years, but eventually became the American Pit Bull Terrier, the word "pit" adopted from the term for the fighting ring.

Selective breeding for separate purposes created two distinct types of Pit Bulls -- those that work and serve as companions and those that fight, says Gary R. Stephens Sr., past president of the National American Pit Bull Terrier Association. Though illegal in all 50 states, dog fighting continues throughout the country.

The Right Stuff

Despite characteristic aggression toward animals, the American Pit Bull Terrier is gentle and friendly toward humans. A well-bred APBT with sound temperament wants to love its owners, make them happy, and bring joy to their lives, Stephens says.

But the pit bull needs socialization and positive training. Clicker training and food rewards to lure the dog into new behaviors are essential, says professional trainer Laura Van Arendonk Baugh of Indianapolis. "The problem with training tough dogs is that often they've been bred to ignore physical discomfort," she says. "If you can get the dog's mind into the training, make it a game, they do just great.

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