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The Difference Between a Pit Bull and an American Pit Bull Terrier

Not only do American Pit Bull Terriers need better public relations, but there is also a lot of confusion between the actual breed and the dog “type.” Pit Bull is a description for a type of dog, but American Pit Bull Terriers are a breed. Other breeds that rightfully fall under the term “Pit Bull” include the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Bulldog, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Any dog in the bully breed can be classified as a Pit Bull, and they all hail from dogs that were originally a cross between some type of bulldog and a terrier.

Pit Bull myth vs. reality

The American Kennel Club does not recognize the American Pit Bull Terrier but does acknowledge a very similar breed, the Staffordshire Terrier. The name arose in an effort to separate the breed from a negative past. In fact, the breed has been through a number of name changes, but many people don’t realize that Pit Bull Terriers were once considered the “American family dog or “nanny dog.”

Petey, the adorable roly-poly canine companion of The Little Rascals was a Pit. So was Nipper, the RCA dog. And Tige, the mascot of the shoe brand Buster Brown, was also a Pit Bull.

When properly socialized and trained, Pit Bulls could be among the friendliest dogs you’ll ever meet, and they are naturally warm and kindhearted animals.

Pit Bull facts

These medium-sized, solidly built, short-haired dogs had early ancestors in the British Isles. They have well-defined muscles and thick tails that taper to a point. Their coat is glossy, short, smooth, and stiff to the touch. The typical coloration is spotted, brindled, or solid.

These are dogs that do well in the roles of companions, police dogs, and even therapy dogs. But because of their muscular stature, nefarious people often use the Pit Bull Terrier in illegal dog fighting operations, for guarding illegal narcotics operations, or as attack dogs.

Seeing beyond stereotypes

It seems every generation has a dog that it decides is dangerous. In the 1800s, that breed was the Bloodhound. Too often, dog breeds with a bad reputation get their bad rap because of the way people use them. Pit Bulls may be used for aggressive means, but not because they are inherently aggressive. Any poorly trained or abused dog can become violent even when that aggression goes against their basic nature.

In truth, the essential characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier are strength, confidence, and a zest for life. It’s a breed that is eager to please and brimming with enthusiasm. Look beyond the bad press. Then, you’ll understand that American Pit Bull Terriers make excellent family companions. This breed needs a parent who will carefully socialize and obedience train. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed. A well-trained American Pit Bull Terrier is a dependable, good-natured, and loyal companion.

Pit Bulls can be stubborn, but they respond well to a confident parent. A Pit parent must know how to establish and enforce rules of desirable behavior. Their attitude toward strangers varies from exuberant face kissing to polite reserve. The guarding instinct varies as well. Companionship and ongoing socialization are important. Moderate daily exercise to help maintain their muscle tone and agility is crucial, too. The breed is known for high intelligence and a willingness to work.

Despite the anti-breed sentiment Pit Bulls face, these dogs are not the best choice as a guard dog. They are usually extremely friendly, even with strangers. Because of the prejudices against the breed, every American Pit Bull Terrier should receive training and always be on a leash outside of the yard.


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