There may not be any other breed in the world with a harsher rep than that of the American Pit Bull Terrier.
Yet, what did the Pit Bull Terrier do to deserve such fate? If you talk to their masters, the reputation is overblown and unfair. If you talk to Pit Bull detractors, then you hear about a barbaric history of ugly dog fighting and problem with aggression.
So what is the truth? What makes the American Pit Bull Terrier such a topic of interest? Why is the breed so popular with Pit Bull Terrier enthusiasts?
Here is what you need to know about the American Pit Bull Terrier.
There seems to be much confusion about this breed. You’ll often hear people call anything that resembles a Pit Bull… well, a Pit Bull. Whether they are mixed with Boxer, or the English Staffordshire, or the AmStaff Terrier, there seems to be confusion.
The right answer to the confusion; there’s no such breed known as the Pit Bull. Instead, the correct use is Pit Bull Terrier.
Much like the case with our friend, the American Pit Bull Terrier. This breed suffers at the hands of misfortune. Most of it brought upon by humans.
The history begins with three countries; Ireland, England and Scotland. Each country was practicing this barbaric ritual, “Bull Baiting.” This ritual was considered to be a sport. Until the sport became illegal in the early 1800’s.
Instead of Bull Baiting, breeders chose to pit dogs up against one another. These fanciers were quite greedy and what they wanted was an agile and strong dog.
Combining both the Old English Terrier and Old English Bulldog, these fanciers were finally appeased by their crossing of the breed. The American Pit Bull Terrier had all the convictions they sought for and became a beast at the sport.
Around the late 19th century, these immigrants packed up and left for the United States. They took their dogs with them.
People in the United States quickly grew fond with the breed. Ranchers and farmers created a different role for the Pit Bull Terrier. Suddenly, the fighting dog became a catching dog, where they would unleash the breed to catch feral pigs.
American Pit Bull Terriers became devout companions to their families in that time. However, due to their brutal upbringing, til’ this day, the American Kennel Club refused recognition of the American Pit Bull Terrier.
Sadly, that hurt the breed’s stock in many cities across the states and around the world. The American Pit Bull Terrier is a wonderful companion, with a rich history of being a hunting dog, a companion, driving cattle, and showcasing their talents as a athletic breed.
The founder of the United Kennel Club saw promise in the breed. Thanks to Chauncy Bennet’s efforts, the Pit Bull Terrier became the first dog ever to register with the UKC in 1898. The dog, “Bennet’s Ring,” was actually the founder’s own.
In 1909, the breed became recognized by the American Dog Breeders Association, which resembled a political statement about the breed more than anything else.
Dog fighting throughout the 20th century featured the American Pit Bull Terrier roughly 99 percent of the time. Michael Vick’s famous scandal in the early 2000’s exposed the world of bloodsport in the United States.
Today, many devout American Pit Bull Terrier enthusiasts maintain the gentle, loving and loyal side of the breed. One doesn’t have to look too far and find the breed competing in events featuring conformation, weight pulling, obedience, lure coursing, and dock jumping.
The medium size breed must maintain proper condition, according to the United Kennel Club. The club explains that, they don’t have a strict size standard with the American Pit Bull Terrier.
However, a male may weigh anywhere between 35 to 60 pounds, while a female can weigh 30 to 50 pounds.
Males should stand about 18 to 21 inches at the withers, as a female should stand 17 to 20 inches at the withers.
Despite the perception of an aggressive breed, the American Pit Bull Terrier, rather is a sweet and gentle dog, that is very loving and devotes positive energy towards their owners. As a result, owners of this breed understand how much of a clown this dog can be. Most of all, these Terriers won’t stop at any cost to divert your attention and are very vocal about their feelings.
Pit Bull Terriers are wonderful with children, and should be fine around other pets, however, if you haven’t socialized them earlier as a pup, you may want to supervise interaction. Some American Terriers can grow quite large, so you may need to keep an eye out for when your smaller child and dog play with one another.
A territorial dog if you allow them to be. Again, there are some methods that work quite well this breed. Positive reinforcement is something they adhere to much better than anger. This breed is rather protective. However, don’t be surprised to see them playing nice with a stranger. They do fine with strangers, yet it’s there appearance and bark that deters wrongdoing.
They are very intelligent and because of that, training is a piece of cake. American Pit Bull Terriers thrive with obedience, fetch, as well as walks to the park. You’ll need to have plenty of attention as well, as a result, prepare to play a lot. Keep them on a leash as to prevent them from wanderlust.
A healthy and well taken care of American Pit Bull Terrier should see an average life expectancy of 12-14 years. Most of the injuries affiliated with this breed appear to be minor and preventative.
When you buy from a breeder, you should always receive the proper amount of health clearance and obtain the proper documentation. Moreover, if you schedule regular visits with your veterinarian, most of these health issues can be treated or avoided.
Hip Dysplasia is an inherited disease that leads to arthritis, lameness and pain. This happens when the hip joints refuse to line up correctly.
Hypothyroidism; a disease that causes your dog’s thyroid gland to fail as a result of the thyroid glands producing too much hormones. Consequently, this leads to an increased metabolism, which will cause weight loss, pain, anxiety and extreme diarrhea.
For whatever reason, this breed is known for many skin issues. From itchy allergies to Demodectic Mange, these conditions will cause redness and irritation, as well as possible infections. Skin cancer can also be prevalent with the American Pit Bull Terrier.
Irregularities in their heart rhythm, valve malformation and other heart complications may be something to keep an eye out for.
A degenerative disease called, Ichtyosis, either causes oily looking skin, flaky skin or both. This disease causes the padding on your dog’s paws to thicken.
Also, you will want to keep an eye open for infections. The key is to check your American Pit Bull Terrier’s ears on regular occasion.
While many enthusiasts of this breed live in apartments, this is a dog that prefers open space to run and utilize their natural energy. Because the American Pit Bull Terrier adapts well and is eager to please, you may never encounter a problem. Just bear in mind, however, this dog isn’t shy about barking.
Plenty of exercise is needed for a breed of this caliber. You’ll want to walk or run with your Pit Bull Terrier twice a day. Around 40 to 60 minutes should cut the mustard. Also, consider offering plenty of mental challenges and stimulation for your American Pit Bull Terrier.
Brushing your Pit Bull Terrier’s teeth twice a week will help promote oral hygiene and keep their historically healthy teeth stay that way.
Early socialization is vital with this breed, as they can become territorial and isolated from other pets as they age. Positive reinforcement and a consistent hand will help speed up the process. Dog Kindergarten or parks are fine, while crane training has also been found to be successful.
This is a dog that relishes a role and by giving them one, either that’s hunting, tracking, sports or all of the above, keeping your Pit Bull Terrier busy is the best practice.
Due to their activity rate, the American Pit Bull Terrier must be fed appropriate amounts of protein value. While metabolism, being spayed or neutered and activity rate play into the equation of how much and what to feed your dog, the general guideline for this breed is a meat first diet.
For Instance, if you have a Pit Bull Terrier that is very active and a herding or working dog, you will want to assure a daily protein value of 40 to 50 percent. Yet, an average active American Pit Bull Terrier only requires between 25 to 30 percent protein per day.
The average 70 pound American Pit Bull Terrier, with an average active rate requires about 2120 calories per day. Another important consideration is what the dog eats. Protein sources like lamb, beef, chicken,and fish are great for your pet. Also, consider omega fatty acids and plenty of vitamins to help promote better skin and a healthier coat.
As always, you should provide fresh drinking water for your American Pit Bull Terrier.
The United Kennel Club claims that any color coat or combination is acceptable. However, the colors or patterns of Merle and Albinism are listed as unacceptable. The coat for an American Pit Bull Terrie shouldn’t be long, curly, wavy or sparse.
Rather, the coat should be glossy and smooth looking. A slight stiff texture when you touch the coat is okay.
Most colors on this breed’s coat are: black and tan, black, blue,brown, gray, red, white and yellow.
Brushing your American Pit Bull Terrier once a week will help reduce dead hair and skin from accumulating and will help keep the coat looking glossy.
Thanks to the poor choices of a few breeder, this breed still suffers from a tainted image. Yet, the American Pit Bull Terrier can still prove to their family and communities, that they are a gentle and sweet dog.
In the right hands, this is a breed of dog, that is highly intelligent, capable of learning most commands and obedience tricks, hard working and most important of all, an excellent companion to the family.