AMERICAN PIT BULL TERRIER
American Pit Bull Terrier. Alternative names : APBT. Country of origin: United States. Common nicknames: Pit, Brittany. Classification and breed standards: UKC: Brittany Welch.
Notes : Many AKC registered ASTs can also be registered with the UKC as APBTs. The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is a breed of dog in the terrier group, one of several breeds loosely classified as pit bulls. Ownership of APBTs is controversial, due to publicized media stories of “pit bulls” having attacked children, strangers, and even adults. This has led to the ownership of APBTs and “pit bulls” in general being restricted or banned in many parts of the world.
For example, in Ontario, Canada, APBTs were declared to be a significant threat to the public, and were thus banned from the province. Well-bred APBTs are not aggressive toward humans in any way. The main problem stems from its popularity today. Given this fact, many unethical breeders breed APBT’s without testing them (health and temperament). The end result could be a dog that has human aggression tendencies. Breeding is a very complicated process, it entails detailed testing and experience. Hence, backyard breeding this breed (and any other breed) will create problems in the future.
The APBT is not recognized by the American Kennel Club, unlike the closely related breeds the American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. It is, however, recognized by the United Kennel Club. The Largest registry for the APBT is the American Dog Breeders Assoc., which has over 50 clubs nationwide that offer Shows and Weight pulls.
Appearance: The APBT is the midsized breed of the three generally referred to as pit bulls (see also American Staffordshire Terrier (AST) and Staffordshire Bull Terrier (SBT)), though the term has been deemed ‘slang’. Males should weigh 35 to 65 pounds (16 to 29 kg), females 30 to 60 pounds (16 to 27 kg), an APBT should be roughly around eight to twenty two inches tall. The coat is short, single layered, and stiff but glossy. Any color, save merle, is accepted and dogs may either have patches or be solid. It has been determined that the merle found in some dogs of this breed is due to the introduction of Catahoula Leopard Dog, and is a disqualification. Both the registering bodies of the APBT–the United Kennel Club and American Dog Breeder’s Association–have listed the color as a reason to deny registration.
All eye colors are accepted except blue. Ears are rose or semi pricked, and may be cropped, although un-cropped is preferred. The tail is short and tapering. The body is solidly built and muscular, with a wide chest. The head is wedge shaped with some slight forehead wrinkles; the muzzle is medium sized with the teeth forming a scissors bite. There is no specific preference for nose color in the APBT standard.
Confusion among Pit Bull breeds. APBT Standard: The three “pit bull” breeds all have nearly identical standards, with only the acceptable sizes and colors varying. Also, the AST and the APBT have the same heritage. Many people still consider them to be simply different types of the same breed. Dogs registered with the UKC as an APBT are often dual registered with the AKC as an AST. Adding to the muddle is the fact that many people refer to any dog of these breeds, as well as American Bulldogs and sometimes Bull Terriers, as “pit bulls.” There are actually twenty or more breeds that can easily be mistaken for a pit bull. American Pit Bull Terriers are a working breed, and American Staffordshire Terriers share their heritage until the 1960s, when the breeds split into two. The only difference is that the AST is the show strand and tend to be bigger and more ‘pet’-looking than the APBT, since they don’t retain much of the working attributes of the APBT.
Temperament: When professionally bred, APBTs typically have sunny personalities. They are very sweet, curious, intelligent, and clownish. They are noted for their outgoing, affectionate, eager-to-please disposition and their fondness for people. They adore attention, often relishing the company of humans and are notorious for their loyalty to their masters, even giving their lives for them. When raised well, given an adequate amount of exercise, an APBT can make a wonderful family pet, however, APBTs can also be stubborn and prone to display aggression towards other dogs, a normal trait of the breed. Thus, they should not be the first choice of dog for a novice dog owner.
As any other dog, when well bred, APBT’s have stable temperaments. However, a calm-assertive owner along with early obedience training are musts for this breed. Inexperienced owners tend to find them to be too much to handle – APBTs can be quite “bouncy”. They generally have a lot of energy and high predator drive; they need exercise and stimulation in order to channel that energy properly and not become frustrated, bored, and destructive.
Despite the stereotype, the average, sound-minded pit bull is not a threat where children are concerned. Though the AKC and UKC recommend that no child be left alone with any adult dog, the APBT, like many of its relatives, is a breed far more likely not to know its own strength and knock a toddler down in its exuberance by accident rather than by force. Generally, this is a breed that loves to play. It is also a breed that is very strong for its size and weight, so adults and older children are better recommended to take the dog on its leash.
APBTs often display some level of dog aggression, especially towards strange dogs of the same sex or level of assertiveness. Early socialization and good training can mean that many individuals of the breed can minimize the level of dog aggression. However, it must be remembered that this breed was traditionally developed for dog fighting purposes, and even APBTs that were previously sociable may develop dog aggression as they mature; as a breed they mature later than usual, between the ages of two and three years. A responsible APBT owner does not let their dog interact with strange dogs unsupervised, knows how to avoid a dog fight, and participates in on-going obedience training.
APBTs were never bred for human aggression or guarding behavior; generally they only will attack if they perceive an immediate threat to their masters or families rather than seeing every person as an intruder upon their territory. They were originally bred against human aggression because in the pit fighting days the handlers had to be able to handle their dogs as well as treat their wounds, and if necessary, quickly pull the dog out of a fight for various reasons. Any dog that did show the slightest sign of human aggression in that day was ‘culled’, and therefore, not allowed to carry on its bloodline. For that reason stable examples of the breed are generally not suitable as guard dogs. It is important that APBTs who display any sign of human aggression are not bred (in some cases PTS), in order to preserve the stable and friendly nature of the breed, and equally important that man aggressive dogs are never kept.
When selecting an APBT puppy, it is paramount to find a breeder who selects puppies for their good temperament and not for aggressive tendencies towards other dogs or towards humans. A good breeder should know the UKC standard, and should both health test and temperament test their breeding stock. A breeder who boasts about their dogs’ “guard dog” skills or “protective” behavior is a giveaway that their dogs are bred for improper human aggression. It is a good idea for prospective APBT owners to research the breeder, ask for references and ask to see their facilities and other dogs they have raised. It is also a good policy for owners to have their dog micro chipped where possible as this breed is often stolen in and near urban areas for ill uses; in the U.S. a dog license is recommended as well as most areas require them.
Adult pit bulls are also available from animal shelters. Reputable shelters will temperament test their dogs before adoption, so that only dogs with stable temperaments are available for adoption. The advantage of obtaining an adult dog from a shelter is that its temperament is already known, and a dog with low dog aggression or low prey drive can be selected if desired.
As bright, athletic dogs, American Pit Bull Terriers excel in many activities, including weight pulling, search and rescue, dog agility trials, fly ball, agility, and can even do well in some advanced obedience training. In the United States they have been used as narcotics detection police dogs, Border Patrol dogs, hearing dogs and Search and Rescue dogs because of their tenacity, high energy drive, and versatility. In a home they make wonderful dogs to go on a morning run with, take out on errands, and play fetch. They do best in a home with a backyard and a tall fence as they do “vertical jumps” much like any terrier breed, especially the Parsons Russell Terrier (formerly Jack Russell Terrier). APBTs will also do fine in an urban setting so long as they are walked and exercised daily.
Health: The life expectancy of this breed is approximately twelve to fourteen years.
Because APBTs are short-nosed dogs, they tend to overheat quicker than other dogs. This, coupled with their high energy levels, can create a dangerous situation for the dog on a hot day. Make sure your APBT is kept cool and calm in warmer weather.
Thanks to their hyper tendencies, joint problems are very common in APBTs. They can end up dislocating, spraining, twisting, or pulling their joints during play. Always do a light exercise before hard play, and watch their weight and movement.
History: Old Picture circa 1930sOriginally thought to be bred from bull-and-terrier crosses brought to America from England and Ireland in the 1800s, there is significant evidence otherwise, in particular, portraits and paintings from many centuries before show dogs that look very similar to modern American pit bull terriers, fighting against many different species of animals. As bull-baiting became illegal, owners moved onto dog fighting, which was much easier to organize and conceal than bull baiting. When that was also outlawed, some breeders began turning the APBTs into pets, retaining most of their working dog qualities and gaining a new spot in the world.
As the country grew, many dogs traveled with settlers to new homesteads where they were sometimes used as working dogs on farms.
When bred for fighting, the breeder would look for strength, and gameness: from its bulldog and terrier ancestors it inherited the instincts to never give up and to bite down and never let go. A breeder also knew that a dog like this could be dangerous to people and difficult to control if it were a man-biter, so he would look for the crucial trait of nonaggression towards humans. Any fighting dog that showed aggression towards its owner or handler would be culled immediately. This created a line of strong dogs that, while being dog aggressive, would not turn on their owners.
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 Breeder’s Association. The United Kennel Club was founded with an American Pit Bull Terrier. It was also the first registry to recognize them.
After dog fighting became unpopular in the United States, many dog owners wanted to legitimize the breed and distance it from its fighting roots. The name “Staffordshire Terrier” was adopted by some owners 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. Not all breeders, however, agreed with the standard adopted by the AKC, and continued to use the name APBT for their lines. Much confusion still remains in regards to the APBT, the AST, and the SBT.
Once an extremely popular family dog in the United States (in fact, the dog in the Our Gang movies 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. Pit bulls have been used for a variety of things from police to farm work as catch dogs. They have an excellent sense of smell and make good cattle dogs because they are a “tough” breed (can take being kicked by cattle and bounce right back up.
Activities: Most people who own these breeds direct their dogs’ plentiful energy toward nonviolent athletic tasks. Some people train their pit bulls for dog agility. Others involve their pit bulls in weight pulling competitions, obedience competitions, or schutzhund. The pit bull often excels at these sports. Out of the 25 dogs who have earned UKC “super dog” status (by gaining championship titles in conformation, obedience, agility, and weight pull), fourteen have been pit bulls.
American Pit Bull Terriers and the law
American Pit Bull Terriers are sometimes used for dog fights. Although dog fighting is illegal in the United States and in most countries, it is still practiced, and is usually accompanied by gambling. Participating in dog fighting is a felony in most states, and United States federal law prohibits interstate transport of dogs for fighting purposes.
American Pit Bull Terriers are increasingly being prevented from participating in positive dog sports due to the introduction of local legislation requiring the breed to be muzzled and on leash at all times when in public — with no exceptions for dog sports or obedience competitions.
This breed is also often the most common target of dog abuse in urban areas. Outside of dog fighting and guarding property, the APBTs have been found beaten, starved, burned, mutilated, and mistreated to make them particularly aggressive. After the owner no longer has any use for the dog, the dog is left for dead, turned loose to die, or finds its way into animal control services, where it will most likely have to be euthanized. A large percentage of dogs euthanized in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are pit bull type breeds, despite the fact that in all three cities this particular instance of animal cruelty is a felony.
In jurisdictions where breed-specific legislation threatens ownership of American Pit Bull Terriers, owners are often advised by their peers to refer to their Pit Bulls, Pit Bull crosses, or even “pit bull looking” dogs as ‘Staffys’ or ‘Amstaffs’, which may be exempt from such regulations. Purists among American Staffordshire and Staffordshire Bull Terrier owners find this unethical, and resent it, perhaps fearing that the ultimate result of the subterfuge will be restrictions on their breed as well.
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 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.
Also, as of August 29, 2005: the “owning, breeding, transferring, importing or abandoning” of APBTs is illegal in Ontario, Canada, given that it was found that the APBT breed “poses a danger to the public”.
American Pit Bull Terrier Ownership
Ownership of this breed can be a very rewarding experience, yet time consuming. The APBT is a high-energy dog, requiring lots of exercise. His/her love to be around humans also requires lots of time. At the same time, owning an APBT as your first dog is not a usual recommendation. Handling an APBT requires patience as it is a breed that can prove to be challenging. It’s determination allows it to be an excellent sports dog, a fun activity for any dog owner.
Pitbulls do not make good “outside” dogs. Given their human-friendliness trait, the APBT does better indoors. Early socializing is a must for this breed (as any other breed). The more the owner works in the beginning, the more rewarding the experience becomes. However, it is very important to note that training never stops, it is on-going, for the remainder of the dog’s life.
Owning an APBT with no training and no socialization; you might have opted for a nightmare instead of a joyful ride. The APBT has a great amount of energy, so a place is needed to vent it off. Frustration comes from the lack of energy, which in turn can turn your domesticated dog into an animal that is not suitable to live around humans.
Unfortunately, the ownership of an APBT can promote negative response from the public. Given its popularity increase in the early 90’s, unethical breeding has taken its toll, producing backyard bred pit bulls (badly bred). This continues today at a tremendous rate, giving the breed an on-going badrap. An APBT owner must be willing to bounce negative comments from the public, as well as educate.
Responsible pitbull ownership includes obedience training, neutering and spaying your dog as well as early and on-going socialization. Concurrently, the owner must respect off leash laws, accept harsh comments and know how to break up a fight. Most importantly, do not forget to enjoy your dog!
Pit Bulls in the media:
Pete the Pup, from Hal Roach’s Our Gang comedy short films of the 1920s and 30s, later known as The Little Rascals. An APBT was again used for the 1994 Little Rascals film remake as well.
Dakota, Tahoe and Cheyenne are search and rescue dogs that have responded to over 100 searches for missing persons, including the search for the astronauts of the space shuttle Columbia explosion and the search for Laci Peterson.
Popsicle, a United States Customs dog, is famous for sniffing out one of the biggest cocaine busts in Food and Drug Administration history.
Bandog Dread (Ch Bandog Dread, SchH3, IPO3, WH, WDS, CD, TD, U-CDX, S.D.-ducks/sheep) owned by Dianne Jessup was the most titled dog of any dog of any breed in history. He obtained multiple titles in conformation, competition obedience, Schutzhund, weightpull and herding.
RCA was the first certified hearing dog in Alaska.
Backup, the dog featured on the hit TV show “Veronica Mars”, is a pit bull.
Penny Lane, Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody’s dog, is a pit bull.
Tina, Jessica Biel’s dog, is a pitbull.
Jon Stewart, of The Daily Show, owns two pit bulls.
Rachel Ray, TV food personality, owns a pitbull.
Michael Vick’s interstate dog fighting ring used pit bulls bred in his Bad Newz Kennels.
If you can’t find a local breeder in your area don’t worry, many breeders are using the major airlines like American, Delta, Continental and Northwest airlines for shipping their puppies.
At this time the airlines will ship puppies to the following States: Alabama AL – Alaska AK – Arizona AZ – Arkansas AR – California CA – Colorado CO – Connecticut CT – Delaware DE – Florida FL – Georgia GA – Hawaii HI – Idaho ID – Illinois IL – Indiana IN – Iowa IA – Kansas KS – Kentucky KY – Louisiana LA – Maine ME – Maryland MD – Massachusetts MA – Michigan MI – Minnesota MN – Mississippi MS – Missouri MO – Montana MT – Nebraska NE – Nevada NV – New Hampshire NH – New Jersey NJ – New Mexico NM – New York NY – North Carolina NC – North Dakota ND – Ohio OH – Oklahoma OK – Oregon OR – Pennsylvania PA – Rhode Island RI – South Carolina SC – South Dakota SD – Tennessee TN – Texas TX – Utah UT – Vermont VT – Virginia VA – Washington WA – Washington, D.C. – West Virginia WV – Wisconsin WI – Wyoming WY – Hawaii HI.