5 Pit Bulls together in harmony.

What exactly is a Pit Bull…? Ask ten people, and you’ll get ten different responses. However, this much we do know, there is no such recognized breed known as just “Pit Bull” in any dog registry. Pit Bull is a catch-all, umbrella term typically referring to three separate recognized breeds: the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Pit Bull Terrier. The confusion between the three resides within the two most popular American registries, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC). Both accept Staffordshire Bull Terriers, but the AKC also accepts American Staffordshire Terriers (AST), and the UKC only the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT). So, what is the difference between those two…?

American Pit Bull Terriers were first registered when the UKC formed back in 1898, by founder, C.Z. Bennett, who assigned registration number 1 to his own dog named, Bennett’s Ring. They describe the APBT as an absolutely wonderful dog, who originally was developed in the nineteenth century by crossing the gameness of a terrier with the strength and athleticism of a bulldog. Immigrant settlers from England and Ireland brought them with them to the States due to their farming and ranching ability, along with being a family companion, as they were known to have an immense love for children (not to be confused with the “nanny dog” theory). American Pit Bull Terriers were working dogs, not fighting dogs, who assisted as catch dogs for semi-wild cattle and hogs, to drive livestock and to help hunt. Contrary to popular belief, American Pit Bull Terriers were not meant to be big dogs, and by the UKC’s definition, are medium-sized, who should weigh no more than 60 pounds with their body in proportion with the rest of him or her.

The American Staffordshire Terrier was originally registered by the AKC in 1936. Their definition of its ancestry takes them back to early nineteenth century as well. The belief is the American Staffordshire Terrier was created when a bulldog (no longer in existence) was crossed with a game terrier, originally calling it the Bull and Terrier, Half and Half, or Pit dog, and later became known as the Stafforshire Bull Terrier, given its name due to the area it was created in the Staffordshire region in England. Later, when it reached the United States, the name was changed again to American Stafforshire Terrier to reflect the heavier body type and to distance them from the checkered history of the original bull-baiting bulldog (a completely separate dog) of a century ago. Some of the same characteristics regarding body type and size apply to the AST as the APBT, with the exception of weight. The American Staffordshire Terrier can weigh up to around 70 pounds, but, again, it is not as important as being proportionate.

So when we look at the two definitions of the breeds by the registries that accept them, the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier are closely related, sometimes almost identical in appearance and definiton. Either way, most people believe their main reason for existence is to take part in the inhumane blood “sport” of dogfighting. The fact is they are the most common type of dog used in this sickening match between dog and dog, but it is not the sole reason they were created. As one individual who rescue’s Greyhounds once told me… “Greyhounds were not originally created to be race dogs. ‘Farmer Bob’ and ‘Farmer Bill’ got together one day and said “I bet you my dog can beat yours in a race.” …and so years later a popular belief is born that all Greyhounds are bred to be good race track dogs, even though that is not correct. This is the case for “Pit Bull” dogs as well.

Can Pit Bulls have some levels of animal aggression? The answer is, yes, they can (not do) have some level of intolerance towards other dogs and animals, not because they are Pit Bulls, but because they fall in the Terrier group, and even that is on a per dog basis. Additionally, any rescue shelter or animal behaviorist will say that aggression is not breed specific, since aggression is a learned behavior, and not always a gene passed down from generation to generation. Most dogs are dog selective, meaning they are good with some dogs but not all. To assume all Pit Bulls are dog aggressive, or Labrador Retrievers love all dogs…couldn’t be further from the truth. Once we understand all dogs, like humans, are individuals and more of a product of our environment, the better our society will be.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animal are treated”
~ Gandhi


One response to “Understand-A-Bull

  1. When pit promoters say that pits are wonderful pets when raised correctly, gullible people buy pit puppies. This results in additional pit breeding and more pit homelessness.

    Re: the Gandhi quote…

    How do you judge the US now?” Did you watch the hour long Chicago dog fighting video? We are creating a whole generation of kids with no empathy, in part due to the fact that they grow up watching dog fights. Even when dog fights are investigated, convictions are difficult to obtain. “We were breeeding the dogs and they began fighting. The money? That was stud fees.” The fighters walk and the dogs are returned to the fighters.

    How do you judge the US now? Pit bulls are killed by the ton in pounds. Pits are breeding faster than homes can be found for them. It’s basic math. New England is beginning to see progress with dog overpopulation statistics, exception: pit types are still overflowing.

    How do you judge the US now?. Countless neighbor dogs are killed. Empirical evidence is that most are killed by pit types, sometimes before the shocked pit owners who never imagined their beloved dog could kill so quickly. Pit owners often fail to understand their dogs’ escaping, mauling and killing instincts. No one told the pit’s owner to practice using a breakstick, to pry open the pit’s jaws. Pits types are the best at mauling and fighting; that’s why with 100’s of breeds/types, the dog fighters all use pits.

    You can TRY TO REWRITE HISTORY, but the American Pit Bull Terrier UKC was created to fight and not stop. UKC sanctioned the dog fights, kept careful records. In order to become a UKC Champion APBT, the dog had to win dog fights. That’s fact.

    Unless your pound doesn’t mind risking a dog fight, adult pits must be housed in separate runs. This means fewer dogs can be housed in a pound. If a pit is dog aggressive, this means he is a risk if placed in a home with other dogs, or other dogs cannot join his home. Dog aggression kills: directly and indirectly.

    If the adopters are misinformed and have a severely negagtive experience with an adopted dog, this results in fewer adoptions, as pound dogs and shelters workers “cannot be trusted”. Dogs being held on bite quarantine displace more dogs.

    Show me a pit breeder website (APBT, AmStaff, SBT) that states: “All our dogs are dog friendly; we NEVER breed dog aggressive dogs.” I can’t find any. In fact the opposite is true. “Pits are the gladiator” “Dog aggression is what makes a pit a pit.” “My dog might not start a fight, but she will finish it,” What a horrible thing to say,

    Although you decry Michael Vick, explain to me how you are different from Michael Vick? You both glibly accept dog suffering and death. You both only care about yourselves and your ability to breed and own pit bulls, and get what you want from yours. Suffering dying dogs? “no problem”, you both say. You completely reject any suggestions at reducing pit suffering and death and that of the bait/neighbor dogs. See, you are the same!

    If you truly cared about reducing dog suffering and death, fighting and mauling, you would work to reduce it. But I see nothing that shows you are doing anything.

    Here’s my suggestiion: Free mandatory spay/neuter microchipping FMESNM of all pits, pit mixes, all dog aggressive dogs. If a boxer/lab is misidentified, no problem she gets a free spay. No responsible pit owner is punished, as his dogs are spays/neuters. Breeders of other types: take steps to protect your breed. Spay/neuter your pups before sale. Know who is buying your pups and for what purpose. If you fail and your breed is selectively bred for increasing reactivity and dog aggression, and becomes “the next pit bull” over the decades, your breed is added to the FMESNM law.

    What steps do you propose to reduce the suffering and losses that surround the pit types?

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