American Pit Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier or APBT was first bred to help in farm work, although they were soon made to participate in bloodsports and dogfights. They are tenacious dogs, and although there are stronger breeds, they are very powerful.
Although American Pit Bull Terriers have been trusted companions and nanny dogs, many owners have enhanced aggressive behaviors. Nowadays, some regions ban or restrict the ownership of American Pit Bull Terriers.
In this AnimalWised file we will go over what you need to know before adopting an American Pit Bull Terrier.
- United States
- More than 31
Physical traits of the American Pit Bull Terrier
The APBT measures 35 to 60 cm (14 to 24 in) to the withers and weighs 20 to 35 kg (44 to 77 lb): they are powerful, agile and strong dogs. Many people confuse them with American Staffordshire Terriers because of their similar looks.
American Pit Bull Terriers have a wide head with rose, half-pricked or dropped medium-sized ears. It was common to see them with cropped ears, but this cruel practice is now banned in many countries. Their eyes are very expressive and communicative, and they can be round or almond-shaped. Their overall structure is athletic, muscular and slightly elongated. Their coart is short and smooth, and it can come in any color and pattern, although merle is not usually accepted.
Temperament of the American Pit Bull Terrier
People who live with American Pit Bull Terriers always praise them and describe them as enthusiastic, vital and fun-loving. They are protective and headstrong, but they learn basic commands and adapt to change easily enough.
The APBT is an excellent dog for people who can spend time with their pets and have affection to spare. They are friendly, loving and willing to please, as they enjoy feeling useful and carrying out tasks. Although it may be hard to believe, American Pit Bull Terriers are not good guardian dogs, because they tend to be too friendly with strangers.
They are known to be intelligent, which is why many owners train them for dog sports such as Canicross and spend long times playing and learning new skills together.
Common health problems of the American Pit Bull Terrier
They are generally healthy dogs, although their skin is quite sensitive. Prevent related issues by offering your American Pit Bull Terrier a soft, comfortable bed as well as pipettes and collars to protect them against external parasites. Here you can learn more about the common diseases of American Pit Bull Terriers.
Living with an American Pit Bull Terrier
Despite what many people think, American Pit Bull Terriers are excellent with children, as they are patient and tolerant and won't mind being cuddled and playing games. They have high energy levels, which often suits children and allows them to have a great complementary relationship.
Because of their great strength, it is very important to train and socialize them properly as puppies. Your cohabitation depends on it, especially if you have other pets. American Pit Bull Terriers need to learn to relate with other animals, including smaller dogs and pets, for everyone's safety.
Caring for an American Pit Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier does not need complex care: it will be enough to brush your dog a couple of times a week, more during the molting period, and to wipe away rheum and dirt. They do not need to be bathed unless they are dirty, and if you do bathe your dog you shouldn't do it more often than once a month.
They are active dogs who must be walked for at least 45 minutes twice a day. Combining walks with exercise is a great way to strengthen their muscles and getting them to relax when they get back home.
Training an American Pit Bull Terrier
American Pit Bull Terriers are intelligent dogs that will soon get what you are asking from them. You must establish rules with the whole family and stick to them: it will not do to forbid a behavior if another member of the family allows it, as it would only confuse and stress the dog.
You must reward positive behaviors, and you must never allow your dog to act aggressively or threateningly. APBTs are strong dogs that require a firm guiding hand, but not punishment or scoldings.
As we must pointed out, it's easier to socialize as a puppy. You can still adopt an adult American Pit Bull Terrier and modify wrong behaviors, but the adaptation process will be long and you will need to have professional support.
The constant discrimination of the American Pit Bull Terrier has lead to condemnation by certain local and national authorities. They include:
- Australia prohibits the importing of Pit Bulls and enforces castration on any existing Pit Bulls in the country as a way to slowly eliminate the population of this dog.
- In Malta it is illegal to have a Pit Bull. If a person is caught with one in their possession, they will be prosecuted and the dog euthanized.
- In Venezuela, they need to be registered and kept under strict conditions. These conditions are inhumane in practice.
- Spain, Colombia and Chile consider the Pit Bull Terrier a ‘Potentially Dangerous Dog’. It is very difficult to obtain a license, liability insurance is required and the dog must be muzzled and leashed at all times.
There are associations around the world which act as advocates for these dogs. It is important to know that they are not a dangerous breed if well socialized, trained and cared for. It is irresponsible ownership which leads to problems since this is a very protective dog with a strong bite.