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Pit Bull Terrier Dog Breed Profile

American Staffordshire Terrier
Feared by many who have never known one, adored by those who have, the Pit Bull Terrier generates argument and debate wherever it goes, without any logical reason other than media scaremongering and misguided politics.


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The Pit Bull Terrier is not a specific breed of dog, but rather a term used to describe several breeds of dogs that all have similar characteristics. Some of these breeds are:

American Pit Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier

Other breeds that may be included under the “Pit Bull” title include the Argentine Dogo, the American Bulldog, the English Bull Terrier and the Perro de Presa Canario.

Because of the confusion as to what a “Pit Bull” actually is, these breeds are generally not included by breed name in breed-specification legislation. This wide variation in bull terrier type dogs has led to the tendency to call all dangerous dogs of this type, Pit Bulls. Allegedly because of many attacks by Pit Bull type dogs they are now listed on the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, and the Dangerous Dogs Amendment Act 1997.

In the United Kingdom, the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991 listed:

The Pit Bull Terrier
The Japanese Tosa
The Dogo Argentino
The Fila Brasileiro

Dangerous dogs are classified by “type” not by breed labels. Broadly speaking this gives the police and authorities the upper hand in deciding whether or not a Pit Bull type falls under the Act or not. This may depend on physical characteristics, i.e. whether the dog fits the description of a prohibited ‘type' in which the Pit Bull terrier is the most common of the four types of controlled dogs. In a leaflet provided by the government it states:

“In this country the pit bull terrier is generally regarded as being a cross between a bull breed of dog and larger dogs like the mastiff. It may also be obtained by breeding or cross breeding pit bull terriers themselves. The terms under Section 1 of the Act make it clear that the section applies not only to ‘pure' pit bull terriers but to any dog of the type known as the pit bull terrier.”

The Dangerous Dogs Act was amended in 1997 to say:

“It is now recognised that practioners sometimes face difficulties in deciding whether a dog is a pit bull terrier.”

In the leaflet: 'Types of dogs prohibited in Great Britain' it states:

“Not all Pit Bull Terriers will be described as a Pit Bull Terrier by their owner. Some owners may deliberately misrepresent the breed by using terms such as American Staffordshire Terriers, American Bulldogs and Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Old Fashioned Staffords or Traditional Staffords are likely names used by people breeding fighting dogs.”

Description of the main characteristics of the Pit Bull Terrier:

General Description: Muscular smooth-haired dog. Has a square profile (i.e. as tall from the ground to the top of the shoulder and as long from the point of the shoulder to point of the hip.

Height: Average for both male and female 45-55cm.

Head: Should be wedge-shaped when viewed from top or side and round when viewed from front. Broad jawbones, skull and strongly developed nostrils. Strongly developed cheek and jaw muscles.

Muzzle: Not pointed.

Ears: Located high on skull. Tip of ears folds foreword or sideways or have been cropped. No wrinkles.

Eyes: Elliptical when viewed from front. Triangular when viewed from the side. Small and deep set.

Neck: Muscular all the way up to the base of skull.

Chest: Broad. Deep ribcage. Ribs strongly curved tapering towards bottom.

Back: Muscular. Broad sloping hips. Broad loin.

Legs: Front legs are straight and give massive, solid impression. Hips are long and broad and continue on to become relatively long hind legs with a well muscled thigh.

Coat: Single coat. Short smooth haired but bristled to touch. Can be any colour.

Tail: Located low down in the hindquarters. Thick at base tapering to a point at the end. Narrows to a slender tip or has been docked. Should hang like a pump handle when relaxed.

Description of a Pit Bull Terrier as described in DEFRA leaflets:

“The character and temperament of a Pit Bull entirely depends on which side of the fence one sits. Some would instantly declare that pit bull type dogs are aggressive fighting dogs that will attack any other animal or human without warning. Others insist that the dog is a gentle loyal family dog that adores children.”

Pit Bull is a generic and derogatory term that encompasses several breeds of dogs or crossbreeds of a certain type. There are conscientious breeders who strive through generations to produce quality and sound of mind dogs and there are unethical breeders that participate in backyard breeding purely for profit. These people have no regard for the character, temperament or the physical attributes of their stock and even less concerns as to the suitability of the buyers or for what purpose the dog is required.

It is true that such type of bull terriers have a history of being used in blood sports such as bull baiting, bear and badger baiting and later dog fighting. At the same time these dogs were also used by hunters to bring down game, by farmers taking cattle to market and by butchers that were holding the cattle for slaughter. It is unlikely that all these people would have worked these dogs if they were being attacked on a regular basis!

Devoted breeders began to breed dogs that were less aggressive, gentle family loving dogs. Problems arose when nefarious individuals decided that backyard breeding could mass produce puppies for profit. As with all backyard breeders, dogs were produced with unstable characters and aggressive tendencies. Unsurprisingly this led to attacks on humans and other dogs and earned any dog that even faintly resembled a pit bull the title of ‘dangerous dog'.

Pit Bull Terrier K9 Obedience Breed Summary:

Pit Bulls are intelligent and easily trained. They are excellent athletes and do well competing in dog sports especially agility and obedience trials.

Pit Bulls love people and because this adoration includes strangers they do not generally make good guard dogs. They are just too friendly towards people in most cases! However because they have a high prey drive they often do not tolerate other dogs or animals, much like many other dogs in our dog breed profile directory.

One of the biggest problems these dogs face is irresponsible breeding. Dogs with poor temperaments and aggressive tendencies add fuel to the fire in the media's very unfair criticisms or the Pit Bull.

Properly socialised and trained from a pup, the Pit Bull will accept another dog but the owner is advised never to leave the animals alone together. These dogs just adore children and are in general exceptionally eager to please their family. This is a dog that thrives under “positive” leadership and they are devoted and loving family pets.

Pit Bull ‘type' dogs are banned in the United Kingdom

Here are two videos about Pit Bull Terriers which we feel you should watch. PLEASE NOTE that these videos are NOT for the faint hearted, and may contain strong language and disturbing images.

1. Pit Bull Terrier Viciously Attacks Baby

The Truth About The Pit Bull Terrier
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