Dog Breed Info Center(R) DBIC

American Pit Bull Terrier

Information and Pictures

A gray with white Pit Bull Terrier is sitting on grass in front of a red-nose Pit Bull Terrier and they both are looking to the right.

Leia the blue-nose Pit Bull and Sailor the red-nose Pit Bull, both rescued from high kill shelters.

Other Names
  • Pit Bull
  • Pitbull
  • Pit
  • Pit Terrier
  • Half and Half
  • Staffordshire Fighting Dog
  • Bull Baiter Dogs
  • Old Family Dog - the Irish name
  • Yankee Terrier - the Northern name
  • Rebel Terrier - the Southern name
Pronunciation

Description

The Pit Bull immediately strikes one as being a dog of power, passion and undying willingness. The brick-like head, which is especially broad between the cheeks (to house the powerful jaws), is carried upon a thickly muscled, well-defined neck. The neck runs into a deep, thick, well-sprung chest. The American Pit Bull is a very muscular, stocky, yet agile dog that is extremely strong for his size.The tail tapers to a point. The ears are generally cropped, though this is optional. Docked tails are not accepted by the UKC or the ADBA. The eyes are round. Both the ADBA and the UKC do not accept blue eyes or the coat color merle. The American Pitbull Registry does accept a merle coat. The teeth should form a scissors bite. Its coat is made up of thick, short, shiny hair. All colors are admissible. Shades of brown to red with a matching red/brown nose are referred to as red-nose Pit Bulls. Shades of gray with a matching gray nose are referred to as blue-nose Pit Bulls.

Temperament

The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) has a strong desire to please. The APBT has evoked more human emotional, rational and irrational response than any other breed that exists today. By no means are these dogs people-haters or people-eaters. Their natural aggressive tendencies are toward other dogs and animals, not people. However if they are properly socialized with a firm, but calm, confident, consistent pack leader, they will not even be aggressive with them. The American Pit Bull Terrier is a good-natured, amusing, extremely loyal and affectionate family pet that is good with children and adults. Almost always obedient, it is always eager to please its master. It is an extremely courageous and intelligent guard dog that is very full of vitality. Highly protective of his owners and the owner's property, it will fight an enemy to the death. It is usually very friendly, but has an uncanny ability to know when it needs to protect and when everything is okay. The American Pit Bull Terrier can be willful with meek owners and needs a firm hand. They are generally okay with other pets if they are raised with them from puppyhood. They are very friendly, but not recommended for most people, because most people do not understand how to properly raise and treat a dog. Problems arise when one does not understand natural dog behavior, seeing the dog as having human emotions, and ends up with a dog who thinks he is the boss of the house. For a smaller, not as powerful dog, people can sometimes get away with this, however, for a powerful breed, one really needs to understand and follow this concept of keeping a dog. An excellent guide to learning how to properly treat a dog is the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan (recommended to all dog owners regardless of the breed they own). Excellent with children in the family, they have a high pain tolerance and will happily put up with rough child play. As with any breed, they should not be left alone with unfamiliar children. Used as all-around working farm dogs, they were referred to as "the poor man’s horse." Later they were used as fighting dogs; the powerful American Pit Bull may go for the throat of strange dogs. A minimum of training, along with the proper amount of exercise and a firm pack leader, will produce a tranquil, obedient dog. Socialize very thoroughly when young to combat aggressive tendencies and be sure to keep the dog under control when other dogs are present. Teach this dog respect for humans by not allowing it to jump up and not allowing it to enter doorways first. The humans must make the dog heel beside or behind them when walking. It has given outstanding results as a guardian of property, but is at the same time esteemed as a companion dog. The objective in training this dog is to achieve pack leader status. It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an order in its pack. When we humans live with dogs, we become their pack. The entire pack cooperates under a single leader; lines are clearly defined and rules are set. You and all other humans MUST be higher up in the order than the dog. That is the only way your relationship can be a success. When properly trained and socialized, this is a very good dog and a great family companion. Unfortunately, some choose to promote the fighting instinct in the breed, giving it a bad name. If you would like to witness what a well-balanced Pitbull is like, tune into the Dog Whisperer and check out Daddy and Junior along with the rest of Cesar's pack of Pits. Daddy has since passed on, however there are still many episodes that air with him. R.I.P. Daddy.

Height, weight

Height: 14 - 24 inches (35 - 60 cm)

Weight: 22 - 78 pounds (10 - 35 kg)

The American Pit Bull Terrier is both powerful and agile. Actual weight and height are less important than the correct proportion of weight to height.

A very common misconception is that APBTs are muscle-bound hulks that weigh in around 85 pounds (39 kg) or more and this is generally not the majority. Most of the APBT's that are that large have been crossed with other breeds and are being called American Bullies. The general public often gets American Bullies mixed up with the American Pitbull Terriers. American Pitbull Terrier vs. American Bully

Health Problems

A generally healthy breed, although some are prone to hip dysplasia, hereditary cataracts, allergies to grass and congenital heart disease.

Living Conditions

Pits will do okay in an apartment if they are sufficiently exercised. They are very active indoors and will do alright without a yard provided they get enough exercise. Prefers warm climates.

Exercise

American Pit Bull Terriers must have plenty of regular exercise and need to be taken on long daily walks.

Life Expectancy

About 12 years.

Litter Size

Average of 5 - 10 puppies

Grooming

The smooth, shorthaired coat is easy to groom. Brush regularly with a firm bristle brush, and bathe or dry shampoo as necessary. A rub with a piece of toweling or chamois will make the coat gleam. This breed is an average shedder.

Origin

Developed from the Bull and Terrier types of yesteryear, the American Pit Bull Terrier was bred as an all-around farm dog, working the farms as a cattle/hog dog. Some chose to turn their talents into the sport of pit-fighting. The breed's tenacity and accompanying strength are unmatched in the canine world. As rich and captivating as the breed's history is, the Pit Bull's future is more worthy of commentary. Some proponents of the breed argue that this breed is the original bulldog of the past. Old prints and woodcarvings show reason to believe this. They show dogs that look exactly like the breed today, doing things the dog is still capable of doing. For more information on this theory you can read books by Richard F. Stratton. The APBT, as registered by the UKC, is an individual breed of dog and does not refer to just any ill-bred, mindless warrior-type mongrel. At one time, the Pit Bull had an all around reputation of a much loved, trustworthy companion. Unfortunately the breed has become a status symbol for many types of criminals who chose to train these dogs to fight. It is those types of people who are chiefly responsible for the banning and witch-hunting that has been sweeping the U.S. The media, however, should not go unmentioned, for it is also responsible for escalating isolated incidences in a relentless and attention-getting way. Most Pit Bulls are bred as family dogs or sports such as weight pulling, but the media will rarely mention this. They get more views pretending all Pit Bulls are bred by fighters. In a lot of cases when the media is reporting about a Pit Bull attacking, it is indeed not even a Pit Bull at all, but a mixed breed of some sort, or another bull breed all together. For example, there was a report on KYW news in Philadelphia about two Pit Bulls attacking a person. The dogs did not look like Pit Bulls, but rather Boxer mixes. The news station was called and asked if they knew the dogs were in fact purebred American Pit Bull Terriers, or another bull breed of some sort, or mutts, for that matter. They stated they did not know, and to call the police station to verify that information. They were asked how they could report something that they were not sure of. They had no answer and they were not sure of the dogs’ breeds. Even after admitting on the phone that they did not in fact know the breeds of the dogs in question, they kept calling the dogs Pit Bulls in their reports. Why? Because the name Pit Bull will draw out the most attention from the public. The Pit Bull's future has been perhaps irreparably undone and everyone is to blame except the dog itself. This very loyal dog is too set on pleasing his owner, and ironically this is the root of his own undoing. Accompanying this need to please are remarkable abilities of all kinds. Jack Dempsy, Teddy Roosevelt and Jack Johnson are just a few people who have owned Pit Bulls. Pit Bulls excel in practically every canine task including herding, guarding, hunting, policing, cart pulling and ratting. A Pit Bull named Banddog Dread holds more canine working titles than ANY other breed. The owner's name is Diane Jessup and you can reference her book "The Working Pit Bull." It tells all of Dread's accomplishments. These dogs are truly capable of many tasks. The difference between Pits and American Staffordshire Terriers is a difficult one. Even breeders can't agree. The main difference is the bloodline. Amstaffs are show dogs and dog fighters usually do not use dogs with Amstaff blood. As time progresses there will be more of a difference. Many are dual registered as Amstaffs with the AKC and Pits with the UKC.

Group

Terrier

Recognition
  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • ADBA = The American Dog Breeders Association Inc.
  • APBR = The American Pit Bull Registry
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • BBC = Backwoods Bulldog Club
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NAPDR = North American Purebred Dog Registry
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • PBFSA = Pit Bull Federation of South Africa
  • UKC = United Kennel Club
A brown Pit Bull Terrier islaying on a tiled floor and it is wearing a bandana.

Bella Luce the Pitbull Terrier at 1 1/2 years old—"I rescued my pup on her VERY LAST DAY from my local Animal Control. She was due to be euthanized THAT day!! She has been the light of my life since I got her, hence her name, Bella Luce (beautiful light in Italian)."

A brown with white American Pit Bull Terrier is standing on a lawn, it is wearing a first place ribbon. There is a car behind it.

"Pretty Boy Swag aka RedBoy is a prime example of the American Pit Bull Terrier breed. He is 14 months old in this picture and is owned by us here at Five Star Bullies in central Florida. RedBoy has a perfect even temperament. He is a fun-loving dog that loves attention and long walks. He requires about 3 hours of exercise each day to maintain his muscle tone and to keep him happy. Thank you for this opportunity to promote this breed in a positive light. Amber at Five Star Bullies"

A black American Pit Bull Terrier Puppy is wearing a chain collar and standing on a carpet

"This is my baby Isida. She's about 5 months in this picture. I adopted her from Greece. She was found on a streets. She some how escaped at 2 months old from an illegal breeder who was most likely using the puppies for dog fights. Isida likes playing with my socks! :)"

A white with tan Pit Bull puppy sitting outside and it is looking up.

Chance the Gator pit as a puppy at 6 weeks old—"Chance is a very cuddly pup. We received him at 5 weeks old. We were his 3rd family, so that's why his name is Chance. He hates water, loves to play with his lil Lab friend Riley. Also 8 months. He hates when you are on the phone and he knows a few tricks and loves to run. Hes also got a great personality!"

The back of a white with tan Pit Bull puppy that is sitting on a human's bed looking into a mirror.

Chance the Gator pit as a puppy at 8 months old—"Chance hates when you are on the phone and he knows a few tricks and loves to run. He's also got a great personality!"

A gray with white blue-nose Pit Bull Terrier is sitting on a dog bed in the back seat area of a vehicle.

From the pound to the perfect travel companion, Princess Leia (aka Leia) the blue-nose Pit Bull Terrier sure moved up in the world. Leia was rescued from a high kill shelter.

The front right side of a blue nose brindle Pit Bull puppy that is sitting outside calmly as a cat checks him out.

Spencer the 12-week-old blue-nose brindle Pit Bull puppy sits calmly as the cat checks him out. Watch Spencer the Pit puppy grow up.

The left side of a blue-nose brindle Pit Bull puppy that is taking a selfie in a chair with its owner

Selfie with Spencer the Pitbull

A True Story

A man was out walking his Pit Bull off-lead through the woods. When the Pit turned and started walking off in a different direction the owner called the dog back to him. The dog didn't listen; he obviously had something on his mind. This was so uncharacteristic of this particular dog, who always followed his owner, always listened to every command, that the owner of the Pit decided he had better follow his dog to see where he was going. The Pitbull led him to a secluded part of the woods, where an autistic boy had gotten himself into a deep mud hole and could not get out. The Pit proceeded to walk right up to the boy and lick his face. This story was told to me by the father of the autistic child. He stated, "The dog saved my son's life that day. Had it not been for that Pitbull, we never would have found my son."

The left side of a brown Pit Bull Terrier that is standing on rocky area. It is looking to the left.

Zeppelin the Pit Bull Terrier as an adult at 2 years old—"Your site was instrumental in helping us select a dog for our family. After researching your site we decided on a Pitbull puppy; his name is Zeppelin. He has been everything good your site has said about Pitbulls and more! He loves to be with the family, play and play all day. He is a guardian of the front door with his bark when the doorbell rings and then licks whoever is there once they come in. He was by far the easiest dog I have had to train. I only have skills to train in basic obedience, but he learned it all very easily. He is an indoor dog. Very social with people and other pets, although some people find him intimidating and that nervousness transfers to the dog. He is protective of our home and loves to play in water. Insists he's a 5-lb lap dog and enjoys hiking."

A brown Pit Bull Terrier Puppy is standing on a carpet and there are toys in front of it.

Zeppelin the Pitbull Terrier as a young puppy (adult pic shown above)

Pit Bull Terrier wearing a ribbon sitting on a lawn posing for a picture with its mouth open

"Tigger is a 20-month-old Pit Bull Terrier who weighs 60 lbs. He already obtained his Canine Good Citizen (CGC) through the AKC. Tigger loves his daily walks, going to doggy day care, and is currently training to compete in Novice Agility. He is very active, agile and is a great family pet! Tigger is loyal, caring, intelligent and friendly. He has many doggy friends, but his best friend is my sister's 4-lb. Yorkshire Terrier.  They have a blast together."

A black with white Pit Bull Terrier is sitting on a lawn with its mouth open and its tongue out.

Tigger the Pit Bull Terrier at 20 months old, weighing 60 pounds

A black with white Pit Bull Terrier is standing in tall grass and it is looking to the right.

Boomer the Pit Bull Terrier at 3 years old—"Boomer was given to me at 6 weeks old and we haven't spent one day apart since we met. He is the most loyal, loving, affectionate being I could ask for."

The right side of a black Pit Bull Terrier that is laying across a couch, on top of a blanket and it is looking forward.

Boomer the Pit Bull Terrier at 3 years old

Two blue Nose Pitbull Terriers wearing harnesses on top of rocks

"These are our babies. They are so loving and just love to be loved. This picture was taken when we went camping. They love being outside, and just love the water, well Caine does, Georgia just acts like she wants to get wet. They are both very good with kids, and they love little dogs too. We got Caine when he was 9 months, he is 5 years old in this picture, and we got Georgia when she was about 8 weeks old and she's 3 in this picture. We couldn't wait for her to get here. Caine didn't know it yet but his baby girl was on her way. We also have another Pit and he is their son. He's about 1 year old and he's a big ol’ baby. His name is Duke. We even had a little Chihuahua named Toby and he thinks he's a big dog, too. We love all of our babies."

Three Blue Nose Pitbull Terriers are sitting together and leaning against a house

Georgia, Duke and Caine, blue-nose Pit Bull Terriers

The front right side of a white with black Pitbull Terrier that is wearing a hat. It is laying against a chain link fence with its mouth open and tongue out

"This is Pip Felipe R. (aka mommy and daddy's baby boy) at 4 years old. He is the first dog I have owned and the only breed my fiancé and I will ever own. He is sweet, funny and affectionate. He attended puppy school and has always had plenty of puppy dates. He loves other dogs, and his first instinct with people is to show his pink belly! After watching Cesar Millan's show (marathon weekend viewings) and reading his books, we have learned so much about Pip and about our behavior; it has helped us walk him properly. I have become more of a calm, assertive mom and Pip has responded by listening to me. Everyone in our neighborhood loves him. He is always trying to get away with something though (counter-surfing, sock stealing, laundry rolling, etc.) so your best bet is to take him on walks, play ball with him, take him exploring (thus his Indiana Jones get-up in the pic) and give him as many belly rubs as you can. We are blessed to have him and have learned so much about this lovable and misunderstood breed."

The front left side of a gray with white blue nose Pit Bull Terrier puppy that is standing on grass riddled with leaves

King the blue nose Pit Bull Terrier puppy at 8 weeks old

The front right side of a gray with white blue nose Pit Bull Terrier puppy that is standing on grass and it is looking up

King the blue nose Pit Bull Terrier puppy at 8 weeks old

A lady with blonde hair is holding the leash of Four Pit Bull Terriers and a Pomeranian at a beach.

"Hi, I run a very successful Pit Bull rescue in Bluffton, SC called RecycleBulls. I would love for people to see what beautiful dogs are available for rescue rather than buying from a breeder. Most of my dogs come from death row at animal control. I have been doing this for 5 years and have placed over 300 spayed/neutered bullies into family homes."—Photo courtesy of RecycleBulls located in Bluffton, SC

The front right side of a white with black Pit Bull Terrier that is standing on a beach. There is a person behind it.

"Dice, a 3-year-old Pit Bull rescue—he's not only handsome, but a great ambassador of the breed."—Photo courtesy of RecycleBulls located in Bluffton, SC

Two Pit Bull Terriers are running down a beach playing with a toy

"Bambi and Nala, Pit Bull rescues, playing their favorite game of tug and run."—photo courtesy of RecycleBulls located in Bluffton, SC

The left side of a Pomeranian that is looking up at a white with black Pitbull Terrier at a beach

"Lucy Lou, a Pomeranian adoring her big daddy Dice, a Pit Bull rescue at 3 years old"—photo courtesy of RecycleBulls located in Bluffton, SC

A Pomeranian is laying on top of a brown with white Pit Bull Terrier that is laying on a leather couch

"Lucy Lou, a Pomeranian cuddling with Deuce, her 4-year-old Pit Bull who was rescued the day before his euthanasia date."—photo courtesy of RecycleBulls located in Bluffton, SC

Close up - The left side of a Pit Bull Terrier laying on a couch with a baby squirrel on top of it

Buster the American Pit Bull Terrier at 3 years old—"This is Buster. He is the most amazing dog I have ever been lucky enough to share my life with. I had just lost my 2 dogs, one 18 and the other 13. I was crushed and thought I'd never put my heart out there to be crushed again but when I came upon this fat shy puppy I fell in love. He was so easy to train. Yes he had a lot of energy but other than that he was perfect! Now that's he's 3 he has become my savior. He wants nothing more than to please us and make us laugh. He loves everyone. Adults, children and all other animals. The picture is him and Rocky, a squirrel I rescued when he was about a week old. Buster was just amazed with him and they became buddies. All these people that have been told that Pit bulls are dangerous animals should really do their research before judging. Buster has changed so many peoples opinions. Even his vet says he's her favorite. He loves to give hugs and he understands the largest vocabulary I've ever seen in a dog. There is no other breed like a Pit bull. I just hope that we who love our dogs will continue to fight for them. The only voice they have is ours."

A brindle with white American Pit Bull Terrier is sitting on a couch and it is wearing an Angry Birds hat.

Buster the American Pit Bull Terrier at 3 years old—"Every holiday he poses with a corresponding hat or outfit. He loves posing for the camera and as you can see, he loves to make a silly face."

The front right side of a brindle with white Pit Bull Terrier that is sitting on a lawn with its mouth open and its long tongue is hanging out

Pacino the brindle with white Pit Bull

The right side of a brown with white Pit Bull Terriers face that is being sniffed by a baby deer near a bed of flowers

Junior the 3-year-old Pit Bull Terrier loving the baby deer—"I picked Junior out when he was 3 days old. He has been many miles with me. I also have 2 young children and he is absolutely wonderful."

The left side of a brown with white Pit Bull Terrier that is sitting near a baby deer on a lawn

Junior the 3-year-old Pit Bull Terrier with a baby deer

A red nose American Pit Bull Terrier is laying down on a bed and a baby is crawling next to it.

Jager the red nose American Pit Bull Terrier at 10 months old—"We rescued Jager when he was 10 months old from a shelter in San Clemente, CA. We were looking for a dog for my 1-year-old daughter to grow up with so we went there looking for a small dog. After my daughter and Jager met there was an instant connection and we now had a new member in our family. Six years later he is still bringing joy to our lives. He is one of the most loving, gentle dogs ever. He also keeps me at peace due to the fact when I was in the Marines and deploying a lot. I knew he could keep my wife and 2 kids safe. Jager is AKC Good Citizen certified."

A red nose American Pit bull Terrier is laying next to a child that is hugging it.

Jager the red-nose American Pit Bull Terrier 6 years later

A red nose American Pit Bull Terrier is sitting on a floor and it is wearing a green collar

Jager the red-nose American Pitbull Terrier at 5 years old—"APBTs have received a horrible reputation due to misleading media and a few bad dog owners, which is now why we have bans on this breed. Not only do people want to ban this breed, the Marine Corps have deemed this a dangerous breed and have banned them from all Marine bases. This I have a huge problem with considering I can die for this country serving in the Marines to help protect people but I can't own a family member that can protect my own family while I am deployed. Thanks for the support to the ones that helped put these bans in place."

A red nose American Pitbull Terrier is laying across a the passenger seat of a vehicle, its mouth open and its tongue out

Jager the red-nose American Pitbull Terrier at 5 years old

A red nose American Pitbull Terrier is laying down on a black top surface.

Jager the red-nose American Pitbull Terrier at 5 years old