Common Characteristics

American Pit Bull Terrier

Alternative name

Nick name
Pit Bull

United States

Male weight
35 lb / 60 kg

Femail weight
30 lb / 50 kg

Mail height
18 in / 22 cm

Female height
18 in / 22 cm

Litter size

Life span
~12 years

American Pit Bull Terrier

The '''American Pit Bull Terrier''' (APBT) is a breed of dog.


During the nineteenth century, dog fanciers in England, Ireland, and Scotland began to experiment with crosses between bulldogs and terriers, looking for a dog that combined the gameness of the terrier with the strength and athleticism of the bulldog. In the late 1800s to early 1900s, two clubs were formed for the specific purpose of registering APBTs: the United Kennel Club and the American Dog Breeders Association. The United Kennel Club was founded with the registration of an American Pit Bull Terrier and was the first registry to recognize the breed. The dog was bred first to bait bulls and bears. When baiting bulls was deemed inhumane, dogfighting became more popular, and the APBT was used in the sport. With time, the dogs became more commonly used as house pets due to their friendliness towards people. In America, farmers and ranchers used their APBTs for protection, as catch dogs for semi-wild cattle and hogs, to hunt, and to drive livestock. The dog was used during World War I and World War II as a way of delivering messages on the battlefield. The name "Staffordshire Terrier" was adopted by some owners as a way of distancing the breed from a name with a stigma, and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1936. Later, the word "American" was added to reduce confusion with its smaller British cousin, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Once an extremely popular family dog in the United States (for example, the dog in The Little Rascals movies and in Buster Brown was an APBT), the American Pit Bull Terrier's popularity began to decline in the United States following World War II in favor of other breeds.



The American Pit Bull Terrier is a medium-sized dog. It has a short coat and smooth, well-defined muscle structure. Its eyes are round to almond shaped, and its ears are small to medium in length and can be natural or cropped. The tail is thick and tapers to a point. The coat is glossy, smooth, short, and slightly coarse and can be any color. It is a common mistake to refer to dogs of many other breeds as a "pit bull" - thus "pit bull" has become an umbrella term for dogs that share some common physical characteristics. Breeds such as the Dogo Argentino, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and American Bulldog are just some of the 30 easily mistaken breeds.


The APBT is a breed that is loyal to friends and family. They generally greet strangers with wagging tails and big smiles as well. People have been known to be afraid of them because of their bad reputations. Nonetheless, an APBT can be a very congenial pet. Proper training can make the dog obedient and have a high desire to please. Without proper guidance, though, the breed can become dominant and destructive(like any dog). According to the UKC, "aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable." A study done by the CDC showed that "pit bull type" dogs accounted for the majority of dog related fatalities in the United States between 1979 and 1996, though the study admits some limitations in its data. These attacks were proven to be by pit bulls that were highly under socialized. The American Temperament Testing Society shows a pass percentage of 84.3% for American Pit Bull Terriers. Still, a firm, even hand and early obedience training are best. They generally have a lot of energy and high prey drive ; they need exercise and stimulation in order to channel their energy properly and not become frustrated, bored, and destructive.


Being intelligent, athletic dogs, American Pit Bull Terriers excel in many dog sports, including weight pulling, dog agility, flyball, lure coursing, and advanced obedience competition. Some APBTs have been known to do well in schutzhund as well. Out of the 25 dogs who have earned UKC "superdog" status (by gaining championship titles in conformation, obedience, agility, and weightpull), fourteen have been American Pit Bull Terriers. The American Pit Bull Terrier is a working dog, and is suitable for a wide range of working disciplines due to their intelligence, high energy, and endurance. In the United States they have been used as search and rescue dogs that save lives, police dogs performing narcotics and explosives detection, Border Patrol dogs, hearing dogs to provide services to the deaf, as well as general service dogs.


American Pit Bull Terriers have historically been and are still used for dog fighting. Although dog fighting is illegal in the United States and many other countries, it is still practiced, and is usually accompanied by gambling. In the United States, participating in dog fighting is a felony in 49 states, and United States federal law prohibits interstate transport of dogs for fighting purposes. Because of their natural inclination toward dog aggression, popularity with irresponsible breeders, and irresponsible owners, APBTs can often end up in the care of animal control services. Attempts to euthanize solely based on breed have been banned by laws in some American states. In the United Kingdom, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 prohibits the sale or breeding of "any dog of the type known as pit bull terrier." Some jurisdictions in the Australian states of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, and in the United States, have similar breed-specific legislation, varying from a total ban on ownership to muzzling in public. Similarly, in Ontario, Canada, the ownership of APBTs has been banned in the Dog Owners' Liability Act. As of August 29, 2005, the "owning, breeding, transferring, importing or abandoning" of APBTs is illegal in Ontario, Canada, given that it was alleged that the APBT breed "poses a danger to the public." Beginning in 1993, after three serious incidents, it was forbidden in the Netherlands to breed American Pit Bull Terriers or pit bull-like dogs. APBTs and pit bull-like dogs without a FCI pedigree could be impounded by authorities and euthanized. However, in June 2008, the Dutch government said it would lift the breed specific ban on pit bulls because of its ineffectiveness at reducing bite incidents. It is illegal in Miami-Dade County, Florida to own or keep American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or any other dog that substantially conforms to any of these breeds' characteristics.

Retrieved from