American Pit Bull Terriers (APT) are one of the most polarizing dog breeds. Currently, this breed is recognized by the United Kennel Club as a member of the Terrier group, but it is not recognized by American Kennel Club. The AKC does recognize a similar breed, the American Staffordshire Terrier. These dogs are often confused with a similarly named breed of dog, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
The American Pit Bull is described by the UKC as being strong, confident, and having a zest for life. Learn more about this wonderful (and sometimes misunderstood) dog breed and how to add one to your family.
About the American Pit Bull Terrier
The breed originated in the United Kingdom when terrier breeds were crossbred with bulldogs to increase their athletic performance. This new breed was used for a cruel sport called bull-baiting, in which they were trained to attack a chained bull (or even a bear). In 1835 the sport was banned, but other cruel sports, like dogfighting took its place.
The British eventually imported these dogs to the United States, where they became popular pets and companion animals. In fact, they were very common family dogs among the middle class. In the 1970’s they earned the reputation of “Nanny Dogs” because they were so good with (and so protective of ) the children in their families.
3 Pros of the American Pitt Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier loves children (and most people). They can become protective and guard children so it is important to always supervise kids and dogs and ensure proper training to avoid unwanted behaviors.
2. Natural athletes
By crossbreeding terriers and bulldogs, these resultant dogs are naturally more athletic. Today pit bulls can participate in a variety of competitive dog sports including dock diving and agility. Although the American Kennel Club does not recognize the ABT as a breed, they are welcome to compete in almost any AKC sporting competition.
3. Friendly personality
Did we mention these pups love their people? Some APT owners refer to their pups as their shadows or as velcro dogs because their dog always needs to be near them, or in some cases actually touching them.
3 Cons of the American Pitt Bull Terrier
1. Subject to breed-specific legislation (BSL)
Some states and countries have gone as far as to outlaw these dogs stating that it prevents dog bites. The AVMA is opposed to BSL and says it does not prevent dog bites. While Pit Bull-type dogs are the most frequently targeted by BSL other breeds including Rottweilers are not exempt.
The AVMA also goes on to explain that PSL is hard to enforce as dogs breeding (especially in mixed breeds) can be hard to identify just by sight. A good reference for this is a study conducted by Maddie's Fund, a national shelter initiative, which showed that even people very familiar with dog breeds cannot reliably determine the primary breed of a mutt, and dogs often are incorrectly classified as "pit bulls".
Even if Pit bull-type dogs are legal in your state, they can face additional discrimination as some landlords won’t rent to Pitt owners and some homeowner's policies won’t cover them. While people are fighting to change this, sometimes taking your dog through the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program can grant you an exception.
2. Prone to skin issues and allergies
Many ABT parents help their pups with dry itchy skin and food allergies. Sometimes this is as simple as regular baths with moisturizing shampoo but can also mean medication and prescription diets. The ABT is one of the 15 most popular among Ollie’s customers as our single protein recipes can help pet parents ensure their pups are getting the best nutrition while avoiding common allergens.
3. Overbreeding is common
From backyard breeders to unplanned litters, the pit bull is prone to overbreeding. This can land these pups in shelters or rescues, where due to prejudices they are often less likely to be adopted. Another issue with overbreeding is a lack of control over genetics. Most reputable breeders do health testing on their dogs and choose to breed for the most desirable traits or features that conform to a breed standard. When this isn’t the case, dogs risk passing on genetic conditions and health issues.
Is an American Pit Bull Terrier the same as a Pitbull?
This is a complicated question. The American Kennel Club does not recognize the American Pit Bull Terrier as a breed. The term pit bull has come to encompass a few breeds of dog that also include the American Staffordshire Terrier and some mixed breeds that have similar features.
In the US many dogs that come through the shelter system and are classified as Pit bulls are actually mixed breeds. Some of the most common mixes include American Staffordshire Terrier. Boxer, and hounds.
Are American Pit Bull Terriers good family dogs?
Yes, these dogs make wonderful family dogs. They enjoy being part of the family and might want to participate in everything from a weekend of hiking, to a leisurely brunch or family movie night. These smart and sensitive dogs will be there to entertain you with their endless antics and comfort you when you’re sad.
Their generally good health and easy-to-maintain coats also make them a lower maintenance choice than many long-haired pups who require frequent trips to the groomer.
The American Pit Bull Terrier’s intelligence makes them easy to train and they can learn everything from house training and basic obedience to the skills needed to be a therapy dog quickly and easily. Their friendly and social personalities make them the center of attention just about everywhere they go.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.