American Pit Bull Terrier is a descendant of bulldog and terrier crosses used in fights. Blood sports (pitting a dog against bulls or bears) were very popular in ancient Britain. These sports provided entertainment for both the working class and royalty, and dogs who fought well were treasured. Blood sports were outlawed in England in 1835, but illegal dog fighting continued in backyards, cellars, and the back rooms of pubs. Today’s American Pit Bull Terrier, or APBT, is probably descended from the bulldog and terrier crosses used in these fights.
The American Pit Bull Terrier dog that developed in America in the 17th and 18th centuries was a bigger dog; settlers needed a larger, more powerful dog to protect their homesteads. Although illegal dog fighting has continued, with the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier crosses in the midst of it, American Pit Bull Terriers have also found a home in the hearts of many owners as courageous yet gentle companions.
An American Pit Bull Terrier is a medium-sized dog whose muscular build makes him appear larger than he actually is. Males are normally between 18 and 22 inches tall at the shoulder and between 40 and 60 pounds, with females slightly smaller. The head is blocky with strong, muscular jaws, round eyes, and either cropped ears or natural half-pricked ears. The body is strongly muscled, giving the appearance of great strength. The coat is short and is stiff to the touch, but shiny and glossy.
American Pit Bull Terriers can be any color. Grooming an American Pit Bull Terrier is easy; the short coat can be brushed once or twice a week with a bristle brush or curry comb. Pit Bulls require daily exercise. A long, brisk walk is good, as is a session of weight pulling, a game of retrieve, or a session on the agility course. Although Pit Bulls can run, and can run quite quickly, they do not have the body build of a long-distance runner, so their exercise should not be centered around that type of activity. To prevent the dog from running off and to make sure problems with other dogs do not occur, all exercise should be within a fenced-in yard, or the dog should be on leash.
The ancestry of American Pit Bull Terriers includes dogs who were bred to fight, often with other dogs. Therefore, not all Pit Bulls can be social with dogs outside of their own family. However, if Pit Bulls puppies are socialized well to puppies of other breeds, sizes, and colors, then they often can learn to enjoy other dogs’ company and learn to play nicely.
All Pit Bulls must be supervised when interacting with other dogs, though, and those that show aggression should no longer be allowed to socialize. Training should be a part of every Pit Bulls upbringing, not just because a powerful breed such as this needs to learn manners, but because the breed is bright and enjoys learning.
The Pit Bulls training should be firm yet fair, and lots of fun. Pit Bulls are excellent watchdogs. With the bulk to stand behind their bark, they can be quite imposing.
However, to their family, American Pit Bull Terriers are gentle, affectionate, and silly clowns. They love to be the center of attention. They are also very tolerant of kids and take roughhousing well. When raised with other pets, they can be very gentle and patient, although interaction with other animals should always be supervised.
Pit Bulls can suffer from allergies, and hip dysplasia can be a problem. Incorrect, overly aggressive, or overly fearful temperaments are the biggest problem within the breed today.
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