American Pit Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier is one of several breeds loosely classified as Pit Bulls. The APBT is a terrier bred for their loyalty, athleticism and agility. The American Pit Bull Terrier is the midsized breed of the three that are generally called Pit Bulls, although the term has been deemed slang. The other two breeds are the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier shared a heritage until the breeds split in the 1960s.
The American Pit Bull Terrier should weigh 30 to 65 pounds and be around 8 to 22 inches tall. The coat of the American Pit Bull Terrier is single-layered, short and glossy. Merle is the only coat color not accepted, and blue is the only eye color not accepted. The American Pit Bull Terrier has a wide-chested body, a wedge shaped head, a medium muzzle, semi-pricked ears and a short, tapering tail.
The American Pit Bull Terrier was never bred for aggression toward humans. Even those that were bred to fight in pits were trained so that the handlers could pull the dogs out of fights if necessary. In the days when dog fighting was a popular sport, any dog that did show human aggression was not allowed to be bred.
When the American Pit Bull Terrier is treated well, it has a sweet, clownish personality. The breed is fond of attention and affectionate toward people. Most American Pit Bull Terriers have stable temperaments, but this will only remain true with obedience training and a firm hand from the owner. The American Pit Bull Terrier needs assistance channeling its energy properly so that it will not become destructive. It needs a lot of attention, stimulation and exercise. Without this training it can become stubborn as well as aggressive toward other dogs. Despite the stereotype of Pit Bulls being aggressive, the American Pit Bull Terrier just loves to play. It is a very strong dog for its size, and occasionally play can and has been mistaken for aggression. These dogs can be clumsy and bouncy, and children should not be left alone with them, or with any other dog.
American Pit Bull Terriers excel in search and rescue, dog agility, weight pulling and advanced obedient training. They have been used as border patrol dogs, hearing dogs, search and rescue dogs and narcotics detection police dogs.
The United Kennel Club was founded with an American Pit Bull Terrier and was the first registry to recognize the breed. Because of many misinformed publicized media stories that put Pit Bulls in a negative light, many registries will not recognize the breed. For this same reason, many dog sports prevent the American Pit Bull Terrier from participating because of local requirements for the breed to be muzzled at all times when in public. Signs of people-aggression in the breed stem from owner abuse; the breed is the most common target of dog abuse in urban areas. In the UK the American Pit Bull Terrier is prohibited as well as in Ontario, Canada. Many states in the US and jurisdictions in Australia have similar breed-specific legislation.