Breed Type: Molosser
Country of Origin: United States
Popular Names: APBT, Pit Bull, Pit Bull Terrier, Pit Dog, Yankee Terrier, Half-and-Half
Height: (At the withers) Males 41-61 cm, Females 36 – 61 cm
Weight: Males 16 – 29 kg, Females 16 0 27 kg
Best suited as: Pet Lifespan: 10 -15 years
Popularity: Banned/Restricted in Australia
Intro This medium-sized breed is descended from dogs specifically bred for pit fighting and bull baiting, and has suffered from breed-specific legislation in recent years in many countries.
Appearance They are muscular, powerful-looking dogs and are solidly built. They have proportional, large wedge-shaped heads with rose or semi-prick ears. They have small wrinkles on the forehead. They may have eyes in any colour except blue, and those should complement the coat colouring. Their tails are short and tapered. Their single layer coats are short, stiff, and glossy. They can be almost any colour except merle. They are usually a solid colour on the body – except for white on the chest and toes – and might have patches of colour on the head, although all patterns are allowed. The hair is close to the body. History In the 1800s, the Pit Bull – a cross between a bulldog and terriers – and a variety of Terriers were crossbred. They were used as butcher’s assistants to help manage bulls, and by hunters to hold boar and other game at bay. Their ability to deal with bulls evolved into bull- and bear-baiting.
These activities were soon outlawed and the “sport” of dogfighting became popular. These dogs were forced to fight to the death in pits. The dogs were bred to have courage, tenacity, intelligence, strength, loyalty, obedience, and trustworthiness. They were non-aggressive towards humans. In the mid-1800s, these dogs (called Staffordshire Bull Terriers) were imported to the United States and were registered with the American Kennel Club as the Staffordshire Terrier in 1936. In 1972, the breed name was revised to American Staffordshire Terrier.
At that point, there were two camps of breeders: one wanted to keep the American Staffordshire Terrier name and one group that wanted to continue to develop a separate breed and call it the American Pit Bull Terrier. The APBT became known for all of its qualities and more people realized it made a great family pet. The breed declined in popularity after WWII but has garnered more support since then. Recent breed specific legislation targets this breed – among others – and it is illegal to import or breed these dogs in many countries, including Australia. Further, there are specific dog owner responsibilities that come with having one of these dogs. Examples include the use of a leash and muzzle when outdoors, special tag and licencing, age requirements for handlers, escape-proof enclosures, sterilization, microchip technology, special permits and notifications to council, signage, and other requirements depending on the local legislation.
Temperament A well-bred, properly raised Pit Bull is a loyal, loving, gentle dog that loves to clown around with kids and adults alike. They love being active with their family members and spending time with their people. They do not respond well to harsh tones or discipline. Calm, consistent, and assertive training in short sessions, begun when the dog is young, works best.
It can take a while to properly train them, but the time investment is worth the effort. As they get older, they can test their dominance; in these cases, calm assertion will set them in place. All Pit Bull owners should socialize their dogs to different situations, such as children of different ages. Some APBTs can develop aggression toward strange children and this must be avoided with ongoing socialization that shows all children are welcome. These dogs are prone to animal aggression, due to their inbred fighting instincts. No other dog or cat is ever truly safe around APBTs, even those raised alongside them. They are also prone to separation anxiety and need to be kept busy when they are alone. This will help protect your house and furniture from destructive behaviour. Dogs that help contribute to the general opinion of the breed being vicious or otherwise dangerous usually have suffered abusive owners, illegal fighting rings, mistreatment or neglect, poor socialization, lack of training, or from being chained most of the time.
Care and Grooming Their short, single-layer coat have very minimal maintenance requirements. An occasional bath or wipe-down with a damp cloth will keep the coat clean. Weekly brushing sessions will help keep the coat and skin healthy. In addition to coat grooming, they also require weekly ear cleaning and tooth brushing. They need their nails clipped once a month unless they wear the nails down outside. These are active dogs that need lots of vigorous activity on a daily basis. They need a combination of short runs, long walks, and games of fetch in a fenced-in area to keep them happy. An under-exercised APBT will display destructive tendencies or neurotic behaviour.
Health The average American Pit Bull Terrier will live anywhere between 10 and 15 years. Health concerns owners should be aware of include hip dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease, congenital heart disease (mostly subaortic stenosis), patella problems, allergies, actinic keratosis, bloat, cataracts, cranial cruciate ligament rupture, cancer, cutaneous histiocytoma, cutaneous hemangioma, and hypothyroidism. They are prone to Demodex Mange. The most common of these appears to be hip dysplasia. Have your vet check the dog’s hips early on to detect this problem.
Suitability As A Pet They make wonderful family pets but people with cats or other dogs should avoid choosing one as a pet. They do best in larger homes than small apartments, mostly because of their “bull in a china shop” tendencies towards rambunctious play. Owners who are active and dedicated to proper training are best suited for this breed. People who adopt these dogs must obey owner liability rules when it comes to prohibited/restricted dogs. Those who do not follow the rules risk lawsuits and other penalties and may have their dogs taken and destroyed.
American Pit Bull Terrier Organisations in Australia
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American Pit Bull Terrier Organisations in the US
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