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The Breed
The Breed
General Information, Statistics, Etc

The Pit Bull immediately strikes one as being a dog of power,
passion, and undying willingness. The brick-like head, which is
especially broad between the cheeks (to house the powerful
jaws), is carried upon a thickly muscled, well-defined neck. The
neck runs into a deep, thick, well-sprung chest. The American Pit
Bull is a very muscular, stocky, yet agile dog which is extremely
strong for his size. The ears are generally cropped, though this is
optional. Docked tails are not accepted by the UKC or the ADBA.
The eyes are round. Both the ADBA and the UKC do not accept
blue eyes or the coat color mearl. The American Pit bull Registry
does accept a mearl coat. The teeth should form a scissors bite.
Its coat is made up of thick, short, shiny hair. All colors are
admissible. The tail tapers to a point.

The American Pit Bull Terrier has a strong pleasure to please.
The APBT has evoked more human emotional, rational, and
irrational response than any other breed that exists today.  By no
means are these dogs people-haters or people-eaters. Their
natural aggressive tendencies are toward other dogs and
animals, not people. However if they are properly socialized with a
firm, but calm, confident, consistent pack leader, they will not even
be aggressive with them. The American Pit Bull Terrier is a
good-natured, amusing, extremely loyal and affectionate family
pet, which is good with children and adults. Almost always
obedient, it is always eager to please its master. It is an extremely
courageous and intelligent guard dog that is very full of vitality.
Highly protective of his owners and the owner's property, it will
fight an enemy to the death. It is usually very friendly, but has an
uncanny ability to know when it needs to protect and when
everything is okay. The American Pit Bull Terrier can be willful with
meek owners and needs a firm hand. They are generally okay
with other pets if they are raised with them from puppy hood.  
They are very friendly, but not recommended for most people,
because most people do not understand how to properly raise
and treat a dog. Problems arise when one does not understands
dog psychology, seeing the dog as having human emotions, and
ends up with a dog who thinks he is the boss of the house. For a
smaller, not as powerful dog, people can sometimes get away with
this, however, for a powerful breed, one really needs to
understand and follow this concept of keeping a dog. An excellent
guide to learning how to properly treat a dog is the Dog
Whisperer with Cesar Millan (recommended to all dog owners
regardless of the breed they own). Excellent with children in the
family, they have a high pain tolerance and will happily put up with
rough child play. As with any breed, they should not be left alone
with unfamiliar children. Originally used as fighting dogs, the
powerful American Pit Bull may go for the throat of strange dogs.
A minimum of training, along with the proper amount of exercise
and a firm pack leader, will produce a tranquil, obedient dog.
Socialize very thoroughly when young to combat aggressive
tendencies and be sure to keep the dog under control when other
dogs are present. Teach this dog respect for humans by not
allowing it to jump up and not allowing it to enter doorways first.
The humans must make the dog heel beside or behind them when
walking. It has given outstanding results as a guardian of
property, but is at the same time esteemed as a companion dog.
The objective in training this dog is to achieve a pack leader
status. It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an order in their
pack. When we humans live with dogs, we become their pack. The
entire pack cooperates under a single leader. Lines are clearly
defined and rules are set. You and all other humans MUST be
higher up in the order than the dog. That is the only way your
relationship can be a success. When properly trained and
socialized, this is a very good dog and a great family companion.
Unfortunately, some choose to promote the fighting instinct in the
breed, giving it a bad name. If you would like to witness what a
well-balanced Pit bull is like, tune into the Dog Whisperer and
check out Daddy and Junior along with the rest of Cesar's pack of
Pits. Daddy has since passed on, however there are still many
episodes that air with him. R.I.P. Daddy.

Height, Weight
Height: 18-22 inches (46-56 cm)
Weight: 22 -110 pounds (10-50 kg)
Please Note: The APBT ranges in size from 22 pounds to 110
pounds (rare), with the most common being between 35 - 55
pounds (16-25 kg.), in fact the original APBT's were between 20 -
40 pounds (9-18 kg.) and were bred small for their main purpose,
fighting, These dogs are varying from small to extra large.  A very
common misconception is that APBT's are muscle bound
(viscous) hulks that weigh in around 85 pounds (39 kg.) and this
is generally not the majority, Most of the APBT's that are that
large have been crossed with another breeds.

Health Problems
A generally healthy breed, although some are prone to hip
dysplasia, hereditary cataracts, allergies to grass and congenital
heart disease.

Living Conditions
Pits will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. They
are very active indoors and will do alright without a yard provided
they get enough exercise. Prefers warm climates.

American Pit Bull Terriers must have plenty of regular exercise
and need to be taken on long
daily walks.  

Life Expectancy
About 12 years.

Litter Size
Average of 5 - 10 puppies

The smooth, short-haired coat is easy to groom. Brush regularly
with a firm bristle brush, and bathe or dry shampoo as necessary.
A rub with a piece of toweling or chamois will make the coat
gleam. This breed is an average shedder.

History of the Pit Bull

The American Pit Bull Terrier is a wonderful dog, well-known for its
intelligence, strength, and loyalty. In recent years, the breed has
been unfairly villanized as overly aggressive and dangerous.
While the pit bull does indeed possess a feisty and spirited
character, the history of the breed reveals a much more complex
tapestry of temperament and personality.

Like many modern breeds, it is impossible to be completely sure
of the details of the American Pit Bull Terrier's long history.
However, many pit bull enthusiasts believe the origins of the
breed can be traced back to antiquity and the Molossian family of
dogs. The Molossian family of dogs bears the name of the people
with whom they were most often associated - the Molossi tribe, a
group of people who lived in ancient Greece and favored the use
of robust, muscular dogs in warfare. Officially termed canus
molossi (dogs of the Molossi), these animals were renowned for
their fierceness, and for their innate ability to intimidate the
enemies of the tribe.

During this same time period, it is also believed that the Molossian
dogs were used for other purposes. In fact, early Phoenician
traders may even have used the Molossians as a bargaining item
in their commercial transactions.

The Molossians gave rise to another family of dogs known as the
Mastiffs. The early Britons employed a variation of the Mastiffs as
pugnaces - fighting dogs that could be used in either a
guardianship or warfare capacity. When the Roman emperor
Claudius defeated the Briton Chief Caractacus in 50 AD, the
powerful pugnaces piqued his interest. He quickly seized on the
opportunity and began exporting select quantities of the dogs
back home to satiate his countrymen's appetite for entertainment
in the arenas and coliseums of Rome.

Once in Rome, the British dogs were crossbred with their Roman
counterparts. From the years 50 AD to 410 AD, the breed was
widely disseminated throughout the Roman Empire for use as
fighting dogs. Along the way they mixed with other indigenous
breeds throughout Europe, creating a genetic melting pot for the
bulldogs that are thought to have been the immediate
antecedents of the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Sadly, the Romans would not be the last to use pit bulls in cruel
and grisly blood sports. When the Normans invaded England in
1066, they introduced a new sport called baiting. Interestingly
enough, baiting originated with butchers who kept dogs (called
Bullenbeissers) to handle unruly bulls as they were herded to the
market for slaughter. When a bull stepped out of line or exhibited
uncontrollable behavior, the dogs would clamp down on its nose
and simply hang on until the handler could regain control of the
wayward animal.

Like most dog owners, the butchers were proud of their canine
companions and their stubborn tenacity in dealing with the much
larger, and potentially dangerous bulls. Consequently, pubic
displays were arranged to showcase the dogs' abilities and, quite
frankly, to appease the multitudes that attended baiting events for
their entertainment value.

By the 16th century, nearly every town in England had its own
baiting ring. The popularity of baiting events was unparalleled at
the time, as was their ability to draw spectators from every level of
society. Their popularity was further enhanced by the misguided
perception that prolonged torture ensured the tenderness of the

In baiting events, no more than one or two dogs were unleashed
on the bull. They were trained to unrelentingly harass the bulls
until they collapsed from fatigue, their injuries, or both. These
episodes lasted for prolonged periods, sometimes as long as
three or four hours. Eventually, the public's grew bored with bulls
and introduced a creative flair to the sport, baiting dogs with
bears, boars, horses, and even monkeys!

In 1406, Edmond de Langley - the Duke of York - produced a
short treatise for Henry IV entitled, "The Master of the Game and
of Hawks." In it, he described a descendent of the ancient Mastiffs
that he called the "Alaunt", the most commonly used baiting dog
of the era. A 1585 painting of the Alaunts hunting wild boar
portrayed lean, muscular animals with profound similarities to the
dogs we know as pit bulls.

Baiting was made illegal by the British parliament in 1835.
However, this legislation did little to satiate the public's desire to
watch the spectacle of dogs in fighting sports. As a result, their
attention turned to a variety of other pursuits such as ratting - a
practice in which a dog was thrown in a pit with a varying number
of rats. The dogs raced against the clock and each other to
determine which one could kill the most rats in the shortest period
of time. The "pit" in pit bulls comes from the fact that ratting
occurred in a pit that kept the rats from escaping.

Ultimately the public's fickle gaze fell on the sport of dog fighting,
primarily because it could be more easily hidden from the prying
eyes of the law than baiting and other fighting sports. Since dog
fighting required smaller and more agile animals than the ones
that were used in baiting, fighting bulldogs were bred with terriers
who were known for their feistiness and indefatigable focus. The
result was the bull-and-terrier, more commonly known as the first
pit bull terrier - a muscular, canine gladiator bred specifically for
combat with other dogs.

As you can imagine, dog fighting was an extremely cruel and
sadistic pursuit. The canine combatants were put through a
rigorous training process depriving them of normal contact with
humans and instilling in them an intense desire to spill the blood
of their opponents. It was not unusual for these dogs to be fed a
diet of blood and raw meat, and to be kept in complete darkness
apart from the few hours a day they spent training with their
handlers. To further enhance the dogs' eagerness for the kill,
handlers forced them to run on a stationary treadmill with a
weaker animal in front of them, but just out of reach. At the end of
the exercise, the dogs were allowed to kill the animal as their

During the course of a dog fight, the dogs were expected to
fearlessly hurl themselves at their opponents without flinching or
hesitation. If a dog turned away, it was viewed as a weakness and
could be grounds for forfeit. Even if the hesitant animal was lucky
enough to survive the encounter, he was still not out of the
woods. Many handlers killed their own dogs because they
believed a dog that hesitated even once could no longer be relied
on to fight with the verve and tenacity the sport required.

When English immigrants came to America, their dogs came with
them. Not surprisingly, dog fighting was common in America
throughout the 19th century. However, as the immigrants traveled
west, the pit bull took on a broader and more humane function.
On the frontier, pit bulls assumed the role of an all-purpose dog.
In addition to herding cattle and sheep they served as faithful
guardians, protecting families and livestock from the ever-present
threat of thieves and wild animals.

Despite their gallant history, pit bulls faced an uphill battle in
gaining official recognition. The American Kennel Club was
formed in 1884 for the sole purpose of promoting the interests of
purebred dogs and their owners. To accomplish this, they
sponsored events designed to test various breeds in the areas of
performance and conformation.

Conformation events judge the dogs according to the breed
standard - a pre-established set of guidelines that describe the
most-highly valued physical characteristics of each breed.
Performance events, on the other hand, test the dogs according
to the function for which they were bred. Some of the more
common performance categories include the working, sporting,
and herding categories.

The performance events created an immediate problem for the pit
bull since the function for which they were bred - fighting - was
illegal. Furthermore, the AKC understandably refused to remotely
endorse anything related to dog fighting.

In response to the AKC's unwillingness to include pit bulls as a
bonafide breed, in 1898 an alternative group was formed - the
UKC (United Kennel Club). The purpose of the UKC was to certify
breeds that were not eligible for certification by the AKC. Not
surprisingly, the UKC's charter member was the American Pit Bull

Ultimately the AKC did recognize the pit bull in 1936, albeit under
the designation of the Staffordshire Terrier, named after the
region of England where the crossbreeding of bulldogs and
terriers is thought to have begun. Today, the AKC continues to
include the American Staffordshire Terrier in its registry, although
ironically this has now developed into a breed that is distinct from
its American Pit Bull Terrier cousin.

Over the years, the American Pit Bull Terrier has been a beloved
symbol of Americana. In World War I, a pit bull named Stubby
captured the heart of the nation. Stubby was the unofficial mascot
of the 102nd Infantry Division and was credited with saving the
lives of several of his human comrades. For his valiant service,
Stubby won several medals and was even awarded the rank of
sergeant! He came home from the war to a hero's welcome and
went on to become the mascot for Georgetown University.

Over the years, many famous Americans have owned pit bulls.
Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thomas
Edison, Woodrow Wilson, John Steinbeck, Helen Keller, and Fred
Astaire have all been proud to own dogs of this breed. The actor
Ken Howard (the father on the TV show Crossing Jordan) even
credits his pit bull with saving his life.

Pit bulls have crept in the hearts of Americans through a variety of
ways. For years, RCA recording company looked to a pit bull as
its corporate logo. Similarly, Buster Brown Shoes used a pit bull
as the cornerstone of their marketing campaign.

But, perhaps the most famous pit bull was Petey, the adorable
ring-eyed cutey featured on the TV show Little Rascals. In no time
at all, Petey secured a place alongside Alfalfa, Spanky, and the
other rascals as a national treasure. A little known fact about
Petey is that his telltale ring actually changed form one eye to the
next between seasons of the TV show. Although no one knows for
sure why this happened, it is rumored that the original Petey was
poisoned and was replaced by a look-a-like, or at least a
look-a-like with markings that necessitated the eye change.

Today, the American Pit Bull Terrier is a beloved animal that is
used in a variety of helping functions in society including police
dogs, search dogs, therapy dogs, and farm dogs. Even so,
negative publicity has led many cities to condemn them as a
community problem. This perception has been supported by the
prevalence of illegal dog fighting in cities and small towns across
America. In recent years, gangs have taken a fancy to dog
fighting and elevated the ownership of trained fighting dogs as a
status symbol.

Pit bulls have born the brunt of the backlash because of their
popularity with dog fighters. This has caused the public to
demand legislative action against pit bulls. Yielding to the
pressure of their constituents, public officials have banned pit
bulls in many civil jurisdictions and others are following suit
including insurance companies who reserve the right to cancel a
homeowner's policy if it is learned that a pit bull resides on the

The negative treatment of pit bulls in our society is unfortunate to
say the least. Pit bulls and people can live harmoniously if given
the chance. Training is an important consideration in pit bull
ownership. The history of the breed demonstrates that unless he
is properly trained and socialized at a young age, this
strong-minded dog will quickly attempt to dominate the household.
However, with the proper training the American Pit Bull Terrier can
be a remarkably loyal and valued member of the family.

Check out a brief personal experience following this article
What Team Pit-a-Full Has taught Me...101
Without my knowledge, The Team has spent the past three years
teaching me about tolerance, loyalty, comradery, team work,  
unconditional love and acceptance, and what it is to be a
responsible owner.

As it is with any animal, not all people are meant to have pets.
This is particularly important when it comes to keeping a large
muscular breed of dog in your home as a family member.
As bringing a child into the world requires 110% commitment, so
does responsibly keeping a dog. I've personally met hundreds of
dog owners... and, unfortunately, the story is all too often a
familiar tune:

"We just don't have the time to walk him regularly"

"I just haven't gotten around to getting her spayed"

"He is just like that. We've tried training and it didn't work"

"We keep her tethered in the backyard so she doesn't get loose"

All these conditions (and hundreds of others) are what lead to
problems with a dog... and Pit Bulls are no different. I like to call it
setting the dog up for failure.
Without proper exercise and stimuli, set rules and boundaries,
proper diet, adequate veterinary care, spay/nuetering,
socialization, and affection... the conditions are such that
aggression or territoriality,  bites or attacks, escaping and running
at large, fighting with other dogs, and other undesirable behaviors
are imminent.  
With the  responsible elements in place, typically an owner can
expect a well balanced dog, a family oriented dog, a dog that will
protect his family with his last breath, and a dog that is loyal to a

                               ~ ~ ~

The fact that the bottom feeding element (ie gang members, drug
dealers, organized dog fighters, backyard breeders, etc) in our
society see and obtains these dogs as status symbols is
ridiculous. Without training, almost 100% of the Pit Bulls we have
met would make THE WORST guard dogs or dogs used for
personal protection. Commonly, a Pit Bull coming from a
responsible and loving home is HIGHLY social with people and
other dogs, gentle with small children and seniors, and just wants
to belong to a pack (human or K9).

                               ~ ~ ~

For more information on responsible ownership click
Also, run through the brief questionnaire on finding the right dog
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