Pit bulls are an oft-misunderstood family of dogs, often perceived as aggressive, despite a devoted nature and penchant for snuggles. One common myth about pit bulls is that they have locking jaws, implying that a mechanism in their mouths latches on to victims. The truth is that because of the pit bulls' tenacious and determined personalities, when they bite down on something, they are often reluctant to release it.
Another myth about pit bulls is that they are vicious and cruel creatures. This stereotype stems from the actions of those who train their pit bulls for illegal dog fighting. In general, however, the pit bull is a compassionate dog, capable of being a wonderful family pet If well-trained and socialized from an early age.
Unfortunately, this negative reputation has resulted in the prohibition of pit bulls in cities like Denver and Miami, with pet parents in other areas struggling to get homeowner's insurance policies because of their supposedly violent pets. Other communities have specific ordinances as well, particularly rules about fence construction for yards housing pit bulls, so be sure to check local ordinances carefully before adopting.
What Are the Different Types of Pit Bulls?
When you say the term “pit bull,” most people believe that it refers to a single breed of dog. However, there are actually several types of pit bull breeds, with the three most common types being the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Here are some facts about the three different types of pit bulls:
American Pit Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier typically weighs between 30 to 60 pounds and stands 17 to 21 inches high. This dog's coat is short and smooth and can be a variety of colors including red, brown, black, and white.
This terrier is very muscular and can be a challenge to walk on a leash if not properly trained. At one point in time, the American Pit Bull Terrier was an iconic breed, frequently used in advertising, but their reputation changed once dog fighters began to exploit the breed.
They have a reputation for being aggressive because of their history as a fighting dog, but with a loving family, training, and socialization, the American Pit Bull Terrier can be a docile and affectionate family pet.
To avoid the destructive behavior that pit bulls are known for, specifically digging, pulling, and chewing, give your pup plenty of chew toys and a place where they are allowed to dig in the yard.
American Staffordshire Terrier
The American Staffordshire Terrier is closely related to the American Pit Bull Terrier, but is the larger of the two breeds, despite having a similar personality and activity level.
Staffordshires typically weigh between 50 and 60 pounds, and stand between 17 and 19 inches high. This dog's coat is thick, but short, and build muscular, and can be found in a variety of colors and patterns.
Although they may look intimidating, the American Staffordshire Terrier is more of a lover than a fighter. Very friendly and devoted to their owners, they generally love humans and being the center of attention, and if given the proper structure and training, they can be trustworthy pets.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier typically weighs 28 to 38 pounds, and stands about 14 to 16 inches high. This broad-headed dog's coat is smooth and short and can be found in a variety of colors including fawn, white, black, blue, and brindle.
In their native Great Britain, these pups are nicknamed “the children's nursemaid” and the “nanny dog,” since they make excellent playmates for children, if properly supervised.
Despite this jovial nature, they're certainly capable of some mischief, including digging, chasing cats, and arguing with other dogs.
What You Need to Know About the Pit Bull Temperament
If you're thinking about getting a pit bull, it is imperative that you understand the pit bull temperament.
A strong determination is one trait that deters people from adopting. Combine that unyielding determination with their enormous strength and powerful jaws, and you'll see why a pit bull can be considered a fearsome creature.
They are superb fighting machines, and a serious confrontation can be fatal for the opponent. That being said, pit bulls also love being around people. A pit bull loves their family and wants to be a part of everything they do, making them extremely protective and loyal.
Separation anxiety is another big part of the pit bull temperament. It is very important that pit bulls get enough exercise throughout the day, and that they activities to keep them busy when left alone. Otherwise, they may become destructive.
To learn more about the pit bull temperament, go to What You Need to Know About the Pit Bull Temperament.
Common Pit Bull Health Problems
If you're thinking of getting a pit bull, you'll want to consider their genetic health problems.
The American Pit Bull Terrier can develop issues including hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, allergies, and demodectic mange. If getting a puppy from a breeder, be sure that they can provide documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or the University of Pennsylvania (PennHip) that both of your puppy's parents have hips that were rated in good condition. The breeder should also provide an OFA health certification for thyroid evaluation.
The American Staffordshire Terrier can develop genetic health problems that include hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, allergies, demodectic mange, cerebellar ataxia, and heart disease.
Before buying a American Staffordshire Terrier, make sure that the breeders can provide documentation about hip condition, an OFA evaluation by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist, an OFA thyroid evaluation from an approved laboratory, and an OptiGen DNA test for cerebellar ataxia.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier can develop genetic health problems that include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, juvenile cataracts, and allergies. These dogs can also suffer from a metabolic disorder known as L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria. The ADNA test can tell breeders if a dog is a carrier of this condition. Do not buy a dog from a breeder that cannot provide written documentation that the parents do not suffer from this condition.
To learn more about pit bull health problems, go to Common Pitbull Health Problems.