For some, just hearing “Pit Bull” instills fear and worry in a lot of people. I’m hoping to help dispel some of the myths and negative feelings toward this type of dog. The word Pit Bull itself is not an actual breed of dog, it is more a classification of a type of dog with similar traits and characteristics often known by the public as Pit Bulls. There are three breeds that are commonly classified as a Pit Bull: American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
History: Pit Bulls were created by crossbreeding bulldogs and terriers. England, Ireland, and Scotland were the front runners who tried creating a dog that had the best qualities of both breeds.
The American Pit Bull Terrier came from the breeding of Old English Terriers and English Bulldogs. They originally were used to hunt, bring in livestock and as family companions.
The American Staffordshire Terrier was also bred from Terriers and Bulldogs, and were mainly imported into the U.S. for dog fighting purposes.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Early Bull and Terriers were not originally bred as companion animals, but as bait for bears, bulls and exotic animals.
Size: These pups are generally medium-sized, stock and muscular, but they can come in a varying array of sizes, dependent on the breeder. Typically, they can grow between 14 and 24 inches tall and weigh 22 – 78 lbs.
The truth behind some popular myths:
1. Pit Bulls can’t actually lock their jaws, their jaws work the exact same way as any other dog’s jaw.
2. Pit Bulls are actually good with children! They are one of the most stable breeds of dogs in the country and are very tolerant of and patient with children. They used to be referred to as “nanny dogs”.
3. Pit Bulls can happily be a part of a multi-pet family, however, based on individual dog experiences, there may be exceptions to this.
Colors/Markings: Pit Bulls come in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. “Blue” coats, which are really diluted black or grey, and white coats are very popular now. Red noses and blue noses are very common.
Urban/Rural: An urban, rural or suburban living space will work well for this type of dog. The key is to make sure they get plenty of exercise so that they don’t become bored or destructive.
Apartment/House: Though Pit Bulls are athletic and love to get out and play, anyone who knows a Pit Bull personally knows they can love to be couch potatoes. They have short coats, and should not be kept outside for long periods of time in very cold or very hot weather.
Temperment: Contrary to popular belief, Pit Bulls are very friendly! They are affectionate, and they crave human attention. Proper training and socialization is as important with them as it is with any breed of dog. They are very responsive to training, are actually commonly used as therapy dogs, used in search and rescue work, and they are narcotic and bomb sniffing dogs.
Exercise needs: These intelligent, athletic dogs generally have a lot of energy and need to be properly exercised daily. They can live anywhere between 12 and 16 years, generally, so if you have, or are looking to get a Pit Bull puppy, be prepared for lots of walks!
Health: Pit Bulls are a generally healthy breed, but they can suffer from hip dysplasia, patella problems, thyroid dysfunction and congenital heart defects, skin allergies, elbow dysplasia, senior ataxia, cataracts, urinary tract infections, autoimmune diseases, spondylosis, osteoarthritis, and can be prone to Demodex Mange.
Grooming: Pits are pretty low-maintenance dogs. You should brush these pups regularly with a firm bristled brush and bathe as necessary.
If you mishandle, abuse, improperly breed a dog, and refuse to have your dog socialized appropriately, it can result in inappropriate aggression. Pit Bulls can be large, strong and powerful without even realizing that they are. Most times, they consider themselves a lap dog! Experience as a dog owner before you bring a Pit Bull into your family, and proper training and socializing can’t be stressed enough for any dog, so that they and their owner can enjoy a long, happy life together.
Juliet Carty Greene is the proud pet Mommy of Yoda, Wendy, Willow and the proud foster Mom of Batman 1 dog, 3 cats!). She has been happily married for over a year and lives in Salem, MA. Besides writing and expanding her knowledge on dogs, she’s an avid winter-time knitter and all around animal lover.