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American Pit Bull Terrier

Pit Bull

Family: CanidaeAmerican Pit Bull Terrier, Pit Bull Picture"Tank"Canis lupus familiarisPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Landi Estess
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My daughter has a 2 year old pitbull and she loves everyone but my husband. My husband has been loving toward her dog. The dog barks and is afraid to go near him... (more)  Laura

  By nature the American Pit Bull Terrier (or Pit Bull) is friendly toward humans, which is enhanced by proper training. Socialization of your Pit Bull is of utmost importance.

Many people want Pit Bulls for guard dogs, but they are rarely aggressive in the absence of their families. They do function as a deterrent, due to their imposing appearance and people's perceptions of them. Dog lovers who want a partner for athletic activities often find good ones in Pit Bulls.


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Canidae
  • Genus: Canis
  • Species: lupus familiaris

Common Name(s) American Pit Bull Terrier, Pit Bull

Breed Type The Pit Bull is a Terrier breed. They are known for being aggressive toward other animals, and, if trained improperly, people. By nature, they are friendly toward humans. Some areas have instituted breed bans against the Pit Bull.

Background The American Pit Bull Terrier is thought to have been bred as a cross between the Bulldog and extinct hunting terriers. Originally bred for fighting purposes, the Pit Bull has also been used in hunting and war.

Description Pit Bulls come in a variety of colors, all of which are acceptable for registration purposes except for merle. Any eye color except blue is acceptable. The head should be wedge-shaped with slight wrinkling on the forehead, and the teeth should have a scissors bite.
Male Pit Bulls should weigh 35-65 pounds, and females about 5 pounds lighter. Both sexes should be about 18-22 inches tall measured at the withers.

Care and Feeding Pit Bulls do well on foods containing beef, poultry, brown rice, and corn. They need a diet high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. Giving your dog essential fatty acids will improve the condition of his skin and coat. A Pit Bull should be brushed regularly, because they are moderate shedders. They only need baths when they are dirty. Some owners have their Pit Bulls' ears clipped, although this practice is not preferred by kennel clubs.
Vaccinations should be given as follows, with checkups each year:

  • 6-8 weeks: Distemper, Leptospirosis, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo, and Corona virus (DHLPPC)
  • 10-12 weeks: Second DHLPPC
  • 14-16 weeks: Third DHLPPC and rabies
  • Annually: DHLPPC and rabies booster

Pit Bulls shed moderately, so regular vacuuming is required if they are to be kept inside.

Housing Your Dog Pit Bulls can be kept inside, and they will do well in an apartment as long as they get plenty of opportunity for exercise. They prefer locations with warm weather. They are active and do a lot of jumping when young.
Pit Bulls love toys, but they need ones that are extremely durable due to their love of chewing and sometimes rough play. It's also important that their beds and food and water bowls are durable.

Social Behaviors Pit Bulls generally get along well with people, unless they perceive a threat their family. They tend to be aggressive toward other pets, including dogs. Properly trained Pit Bulls do well with children, although it is not a good idea to leave them alone with kids they are not familiar with.

Handling and Training Socialization of your Pit Bull is of utmost importance. Teaching proper behavior around people and other dogs will make your relationship with your Pit Bull much more enjoyable. Pit Bulls can be trained for tracking and agility. They are quick learners at both.

Activities Pit Bulls need to go on long walks each day. They love vigorous exercise, and they are great hiking partners. Depending on your dog's temperament, however, it may be best to keep him away from other dogs. 'Pit fit' is a term used to describe the behavior of a Pit Bull that is sprinting about.

Breeding/Reproduction American Pit Bull Terriers are often confused with American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers, so it is important to make the distinction when seeking a mate for your dog. All three breeds may be referred to as Pit Bulls.

Common Health Problems Pit Bulls are usually healthy, but they sometimes develop joint problems including arthritis. Other health problems to look for include hip dysplasia, cataracts, allergies, and heart problems.

Availability American Pit Bull Terrier puppies are becoming more difficult to find due to breed bans in an increasing number of localities. They are available from breeders in some areas, with prices averaging around $500. Adult dogs can often be found through rescue operations for $150 or less.

References "American Pit Bull Terrier", Dog Breed Info Center, Copyright 1998-2008
"American Pit Bull Terrier", Answers.com, Copyright 2007, Referenced online, 2008
Harwelik, Mary, "Temperament", "History", The Real Pit Bull, Copyright 2000-2004
Cusick, William D., "What to Feed an American Pit Bull Terrier", Referenced online, 2008
Mann, Jason, "Pass the Fat! Or Why Essential Fatty Acids Are Vital to Pitbull Health", Copyright 2005, Referenced online, 2008
"Pet Library: Grooming Your Dog", Best Friends Pet Care, Referenced online, 2008
"Pit Bull Rescue", PitBullLovers.com, Copyright 2005, Referenced online, 2008

Lastest Animal Stories on American Pit Bull Terrier

Laura - 2010-04-19
My daughter has a 2 year old pitbull and she loves everyone but my husband. My husband has been loving toward her dog. The dog barks and is afraid to go near him for some odd reason. We have him feed her, walk her and everything else to help the dog stop barking. She will only get as close as an arm length from my husband and then runs scared. He has never raised his voice or hit her. We are bewildered. Before my daughter got the dog she was raised by a man that scolded her a lot. Does she remember this when it comes to a male figure although she loves other men/ boys just not my husband. Do you have any thoughts to the situation? Thanks

  • Dave B - 2010-06-07
    Wow... this is a really odd situation. Especially since your husband feeds, walks, plays with him. It may be that the dog really thinks he is her former owner but that is hard to believe. I wish I had an answer and Im very interested if you do. If you find an answer please let me know.
  • Laura - 2010-06-06
    Please respond to my question if you have a solution for me!
  • leona - 2010-08-01
    You really need to contact cesar millan. He can help anybody. Dogs live in the moment. He will tell you that. He will tell you that she does not think of her past owner as your husband.
  • Jordan - 2014-04-11
    The reason why she behaves this way is because of the previous owner. She associates your husband as being her older owner. If an animal is abused they will associate negative experiences with somebody else. For instance if someone who always wears orange abused the animal then it is common that the animal will have problems trusting others who wear orange. This is something that will heal in time but it can take a while depending on how sensitive your animal is and how deep the abuse was.
  • kyliegh stevens - 2014-04-16
    Well... I have had lots of pit bulls in my life and I am only 1. So the solution is to get her to trust him first. Like let her come to him not the other way around. Let her have her own quiet place, preferably dark for her to go when she is scared and runs. Don't run after her. You can make it under a desk with a blanket draped over it. She will feel safe in there. If she does not come to him within one month, at least once then you can try having your husband around a corner out of her sight while you are walking her and bring her around the corner to see if she will react. Just test her a little bit. Don't push her. She will come to when she is ready. This all worked with my pit bulls. One other thing is find a more confident dog and tie them together with a rope about 3-4 feet away from each other and have that other dog come to your husband. First make sure that the two dogs get along before doing this. And the more confident dog will show your dog that your husband is safe not the bad guy. If you need more help find me on face book 'isabella marie blue' I have 2 facebooks so do both. And keep doing this until your dog comes to your husband by herself.
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Bobbi-Jo - 2008-07-10
Hey my name is Bobbi-Jo and my boyfriend & I have a beautiful pitbull named KOBE! He is amazing in every way possible! HE is extremely loving and well behaved! We also have cats-which he loves too...we actually raised kittens with him around all the time! In fact the kittens preferred to sleep with him! He played with them and watched over them! Anyways I would love to help you with your fight against PITBULL HATERS-as the saying goes people are scared of what they don

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Diane Martinez - 2013-06-12
About 5 months ago we bought a beautiful little American Pit bull terrier puppy, and since then, she has been a pure terror. We say she is the Velasoraptor we never had. She bites, doesn't know her name, not potty trained, destructive, ETC. Now, we realize, she is deaf. We are so sad for her. But, I had decided, I do know some sign language, and I will adapt it for her, I will train her to walk by tying her to my waist, and basically, we shall figure this one out. Of course, she will have to be spade. And we will not be able to register her. I tried to call the breeder, but his voice mailbox was full. He may have some male 'blues' left, but if deafness is inherited, male blues inherit agressiveness I've heard when they get older. Not to mention the fact, we love this dog, and will keep her. (Tia Maria)

  • Clarice Brough - 2013-06-12
    What a surprise that must have been to realise your little pup was deaf! But it is so great that you are going to work with her and help her make her way in a world that for her is silent. You guys rock! and I am so very impressed with your commitment:)
  • Aloysius. A - 2013-10-17
    Hi Diane Martinez, You are great. GOD bless your family and your little American Pit bull terrier puppy. Actually the little one is soooo lucky to be born in this world that to have a guardian like you. I am soo happy when reading (we love this dog, and will keep her.) All the best.
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Rick - 2010-06-12
I've raised American Pit Bull Terriers for more than 25 years...not as a breeder, but simply as a pet owner. Most of the dogs I've raised were either shelter rescued or fostered from families that could no longer care for them. I may be biased, but I sincerely believe the APBT to be easily within the top 3 of the absolute best dog companions that a person could care for. They are loyal, fun-loving, energetic, bold, courageous, and playful...although not for everyone. Because of their natural tendency towards dog aggression and their indomitable spirit, they should be raised by committed and skilled owners who are familiar with their history. I currently have two, a male named Kane and a female named Trinity. They are both rescues from the local shelter. Kane is approximately three years old and I've had him since he was around six months; Trinity is 18 months and I've had her about a year. Kane was found as a stray before being taken to the shelter, and Trinity was surrendered by a family that could no longer care for her. Although, there were some initial challenges, the life of my family has been greatly rewarded by the inclusion of these two great dogs. I would encourage anyone who is looking to own a member of this beautiful breed of dog to do their research, become familiar with their local laws regarding ownership of the APBT, and consider adopting from a rescue organization or animal shelter. And, by all means, please spay or neuter your pet. Currently, the American Pit Bull Terrier is probably the most exploited dog in the world. Because of their desire to please their owner, they are successfully being utilized for both legal and nefarious purposes, and their reputation precedes them. This is the #1 breed of dog that is euthanized in shelters. This breed does not need any more back yard breeders. There are a sufficient quantity of APBTs being kept in shelters to satisfy the most discriminatory owner. If you are the right owner for this breed, your rewards will be immeasurable with the proper training and care of an adopted dog.

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Miles Cabrera - 2012-09-15
I recently adopted a 5 year old male pit bull mix ( I think he's mixed with a lab) he's well behaved and shows manors. I walk out the door first and got him to stop tugging the leash on our walks by simply pulling the leash up instead of back ( thanks to the dog whisper). He's a friendly dog but I feel he may be to friendly. How do I know if he will protect my family if we are in danger? There are also sometimes where I'll give him a tug  and and he doesn't respond, I've asked how to change this and people have told me to hit him hard. Is there another way to get this pit to respect and listen without beating him? I don't want him to become vicious I have a 4 year old and I don't need dog to attack. I just need him to respect what I say and protect my family. Are there any other methods ????

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-09-15
    I do not know how you train a pitt bull - I do know that you should never hit or beat a dog -
  • Anonymous - 2012-09-16
    Thanx but that really doesn't help much. Does anyone else know what to do ?
  • Robert - 2012-09-16
    Many say they have a  pitt bull lab mix - and I am not quite sure if I believe there are that many pitt bull lab mixes running around. In any case - you are saying you do not have complete control of the pup - then I would under no circumstances have him around a 4 year old child. Kids play, they make noise, they throw stuff animals for fun, and you do not know what will set the pup off - too many articles with these dogs hurting children. In some cases killing them. They are all friendly - till they are not. They require a strong, knowledgeable consistent trainer with a lot of experience.
  • Tabitha Boggs - 2012-11-23
    I personally use a 'pinch collar' to walk my pitbulls, both my pits are males, one neutered ones not. And without a pinch collar they pull me all over the place. With a pinch collar, it does not choke the dog in any way if fitted properly, and causes no harm IF used properly. It just causes a 'pinch' to the neck of the dog if they are pulling, 9 times out of 10 one little 'tug' (PLEASE never ever yank or pull extremely hard on the leash when using a pinch collar as it could cause damage to your dogs neck) a quick snap of the leash always puts my dogs right back at my side. Without having to use any type of 'hitting' your dog, you should never hit your dog, that will only cause him to become afraid of people and possibly even aggression. Hope this helps. Literally the first walk with a pinch collar had an amazing difference my dogs, Blade and Kadar now enjoy daily walks, and I now enjoy them as well because I'm not being pulled every which a way. :)
  • Tabitha Boggs - 2012-11-23
    As Far as protection goes a 'pitbull' or 'pitbull mix' become very attached to their owners. And though they may never show any signs of aggression or protection once your dog has had time to bond to you and your family I can ensure that he will protect you and your child. My dogs have had no training other than basic training (sit, come, stay, heal basic stuff) and I have no doubt in my mind they will protect me and they have proven it time and time again. 'Pitbulls' are naturally protective, but it would be wise to be extremely aware of your dogs body language around other dogs, no matter how friendly he seems with other dogs, some dogs can be fine with 100 dogs then for no reason whatsoever attack the 101st dog. If you don't put your dog in a situation to fail then he can't fail. Example: Pitbulls especially males can be dog aggressive so for obivious reasons my dogs don't go to the dog park. If you don't put your dog into a situation where something bad could happen and cause more people to fear the breed then you should have no problems with your new dog. I'm not saying keep him away from every other dog, i'm just saying it is wise to very slowly introduce your dog to any other dog you'd want them to play with. You need to be very aware of your dogs body language as almost always they give warning signs before they bite/attack.
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