All Dog Breeds A To Z
American Pit Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is a purebred dog breed recognized by the United Kennel Club and American Dog Breeders Association, but not the American Kennel Club (AKC). It is a medium-sized, solidly-built, intelligent, short-haired dog, whose early ancestors came from the British Isles.
When compared with the English Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier is larger by margins of 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) in height and 25–35 pounds (11–16 kg) in weight. The American Pit Bull Terrier varies in size. Males normally are about 18-21 inches (45–53 cm) in height and around 35–60 pounds (15–27 kg) in weight. Females are normally around 17–20 inches (43–50 cm) in height and 30–50 pounds (13–22 kg) in weight.
According to the ADBA, the American Pit Bull is prescribed to be medium-sized and has a short coat and smooth well-defined muscle structure, and its eyes are to be round to almond-shaped, and its ears are to be small to medium in length, typically half prick or rose in carriage. The tail is prescribed to be slightly thick and tapering to a point.
The coat is required by the ADBA to be glossy, smooth, short, and stiff to the touch. Many colors, color patterns, and combinations of colors are acceptable to the ADBA, except that both the ADBA and UKC do not recognize merle coloring. Color patterns that are typical in the breed are solid and tuxedo.
Despite the colloquial use of the term “pit bull” to encompass a whole category of dogs and the legal use of the term to include several breeds in legislation, some conservative professional breeders of the American Pit Bull Terrier as well as some experts and supporters claim that historically the APBT is the only true “pit bull” and the only breed that should be denominated as such.
Twelve countries in Europe, as well as Australia, Canada, Ecuador, Malaysia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and Venezuela, have enacted some form of breed-specific legislation on pit bull-type dogs, including American Pit Bull Terriers, ranging from outright bans to restrictions and conditions on ownership. The state of New South Wales in Australia places restrictions on the breed, including mandatory sterilization. The breed is banned in the United Kingdom, in the Canadian province of Ontario, and in many locations in the United States.
The UKC gives this description of the characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier: “The essential characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier are strength, confidence, and zest for life. This breed is eager to please and brimming over with enthusiasm. APBTs make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their love of children. Because most APBTs exhibit some level of [inter]dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog.
The breed’s natural agility makes it one of the most capable canine climbers so good fencing is a must for this breed. The APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable. This breed does very well in performance events because of its high level of intelligence and its willingness to work.”
The standard imposed by the ADBA and OFRNR (Old Family Red Nose Registry) considers the human aggression a disqualification factor. The APDR (American Preservation Dog Registry) standard points out that “the temperament MUST be totally reliable with people”.
The ATTS (American Temperament Test Society) conducts temperament testing since 1977 with several dog breeds, and as of July 2018 has tested more than 900 APBTs. According to the tests conducted by ATTS, the APBTs has an 87.4% pass rate. This compares to a pass rate 85.6% for the Golden Retriever, which is one of America’s most popular dog breeds. However, the ATTS website does have a disclaimer: “The data presented on our web site is raw data; it is not a scientific study nor is there any statistical significance attached. We have no control over who brings their dog to the test and there is no accurate data as to a dog breed’s population in the US.”
In September 2000, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study that examined dog-bite–related fatalities (human death caused by dog-bite injuries) in order to “summarize breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks during a 20-year period and to assess policy implications.”
The study examined 238 fatalities between 1979 and 1998 in which the breed of dog was known. It found that “the data indicates that Rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs accounted for 67% of human DBRF [dog bite-related fatality] in the United States between 1997 and 1998” and that it was “extremely unlikely that they accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities.”
However, the article continued, saying that care should be taken in drawing conclusions based on these data because:
- first, the study likely covered only about 74% of actual DBRF cases;
- second, records of DBRF may have been biased by the propensity of media to report attacks by certain breeds over others;
- third, it is not always straightforward to identify a dog’s breed, and records may be biased towards reporting “known” aggressive breeds; and
- fourth, it was not clear how to count mixed breeds.
- fifth, such breeds have traditionally been used in dogfighting at a far higher percentage than others.
The authors concluded by noting that “breeds responsible for human DBRF have varied over time” (for example, Great Danes caused the most reported DBRF between 1979 and 1980). In the face of this inconclusive data, the study authors recommended that breed should not be the “primary factor driving public policy”, instead making the following policy recommendations: “adequate funding for animal control agencies, enforcement of existing animal control laws, and educational and policy strategies to reduce inappropriate dog and owner behaviors” as likely to be beneficial and specifically to decrease the occurrence of dog bites.
In a peer-reviewed literature review of 66 dog-bite risk studies, the American Veterinary Medical Association determined that “breed is a poor sole predictor of dog bites. Controlled studies reveal no increased risk for the group blamed most often for dog bites, ‘pit bull-type’ dogs. Accordingly, targeting this breed or any other as a basis for dog-bite prevention is unfounded.” As stated by the National Animal Control Association: “Dangerous and/or vicious animals should be labeled as such as a result of their actions or behavior and not because of their breed.”
In 2014, new statistical evidence emerged regarding the province-wide ban on “pit bulls”, more specifically the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier, in the Canadian province of Ontario. Since the ban had been implemented, dog bites involving pit bull types had dropped considerably as their populations decreased in the province’s largest city Toronto; yet overall dog bites hit their highest levels this century in 2013 and 2014.
Statistical evidence published in Global News implicates several other dog breeds had contributed to the rise, stating that “Toronto’s reported dog bites have been rising since 2012, and in 2013 and 2014 reached their highest levels this century, even as pit bulls and similar dogs neared local extinction.”
The breed tends to have a higher than average incidence of hip dysplasia. Culling for performance has helped eliminate this problem and others such as patella problems, thyroid dysfunction and congenital heart defects. American Pit Bull Terriers with dilute coat colors have not had a higher occurrence of skin allergies as other breeds. As a breed they are more susceptible to parvovirus than others if not vaccinated, especially as puppies, so vaccination is imperative beginning at 39 days old and continuing every 2 weeks until 4 months old. Then again at 8 months. Once a year after that, as recommend for all breeds.
They are very prone to Demodex Mange due to culling for performance. There are two different types of Demodex Mange, namely Localized and Generalized Demodex. Although it is not contagious it is sometimes difficult to treat due to immunodeficiency in some puppies. The Localized symptoms are usually loss of hair in small patches on the head and feet of the puppies. This type will usually heal as the puppies grow and their immune systems grow stronger.
The second type which is Generalized Demodex mange is a more severe form of the sickness. The symptoms are more severe and include loss of hair throughout the entire body and the skin may also be scabby and bloody. Generalized are usually hereditary due to immunodeficiency genes that are passed on from Sire and Dam to their puppies. A simple skin scraping test will allow the vet to diagnose demodex mange. The most widely used method to treat Demodex Mange is ivermectin injections or oral medications. Since Demodex Mange lives in the hair follicles of the dog, Ivermectin will kill these mites at the source.
Until the mid-19th century the now extinct Old English Terriers and Old English Bulldogs were bred together to produce a dog that combined the gameness of the terrier with the strength and athleticism of the bulldog. These dogs named Bull and Terriers were bred in the British Isles, and arrived in the United States in the late nineteenth century where they became the direct ancestors of the American Pit Bull Terrier.
In the United Kingdom, Bull-and-terriers were used in bloodsports such as bull baiting and bear baiting. These bloodsports were officially eliminated in 1835 when Britain introduced animal welfare laws. Since dog fightings are cheaper to organize and far easier to conceal from the law than bull or bear baits, bloodsport proponents turned to pitting their dogs against each other instead.
Dog fighting was used as both a bloodsport (often involving gambling) and a way to continue to test the quality of their stock. For decades afterwards, dog fighting clandestinely took place in small areas of Britain. These dogs arrived in America around 1845 to 1860, where the dog fighting practice had continuity and a new american dog breed arrived. In February 10, 1898 the breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) named as American Pit Bull Terrier.
For some time in the early part of the 20th century the UKC began to register the breed name with the word “pit” in parentheses (American (Pit) Bull Terrier), to facilitate public acceptance as American Bull Terrier. But this lasted a short time and returned to the previous form.
In the early 20th century, pit bulls were used as catch dogs in America for semi-wild cattle and hogs, to hunt hogs, and drive livestock, and as family companions. But the dog fighting remained the main use of the breed until 1976 when it was outlawed in all states.
Pit Bull Terriers successfully fill the role of companion dogs, and police dogs, and therapy dog. Pit Bull Terriers also constitute the majority of dogs used for illegal dog fighting in America In addition, law enforcement organizations report these dogs are used for other nefarious purposes, such as guarding illegal narcotics operations, use against police, and as attack dogs.
In an effort to counter the fighting reputation of pit bull-type dogs, in 1996 the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals renamed pit bull terriers “St. Francis Terriers”, hoping that people would be more likely to adopt them. 60 temperament-screened dogs were adopted until the program was halted, after several of the newly adopted pit bulls killed cats. The New York City Center for Animal Care and Control tried a similar approach in 2004, relabeling their pit bulls as “New Yorkies”, but dropped the idea in the face of overwhelming public opposition.
APBT, Pit Bull, Pitty, Pit, Pitbull
14-24 inches (35-60 cm)
22-78 pounds (10-35 kg)
Black and Tan
Average $500 – $1000 USD
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