The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is a dog breed. It is a medium-sized, solidly-built, intelligent, short-haired dog whose early ancestors came from the British Isles. When compared with the English Staffordshire Bull Terrier (another breed within the type commonly called pit bulls), the American Pit Bull Terrier is larger by margins of 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) in height and 25–35 pounds (11–16 kg) in weight. The American Pit Bull Terrier varies in size. Males normally are about 18-21 inches (45–53 cm) in height and around 35-60 pounds (15–27 kg) in weight. Females are normally around 17-20 inches (43–50 cm) in height and 30-50 pounds (13–22 kg) in weight.
The American Pit Bull is medium-sized, and has a short coat and smooth well-defined muscle structure. Its eyes are round to almond-shaped, and its ears are small to medium in length, typically half prick or rose in carriage. The tail is slightly thick and tapers to a point. The coat is glossy, smooth, short, and stiff to the touch. Any color, color pattern, or combination of colors is acceptable, both the ADBA and UKC do not recognize merle coloring. Color patterns that are typical in the breed are spotted, brindled, solid, and with points.
Twelve countries in Europe, as well as Australia, Canada, Ecuador, Malaysia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and Venezuela have enacted some form of breed-specific legislation on pit bull-type dogs, including American Pit Bull Terriers, ranging from outright bans to restrictions and conditions on ownership. The state of New South Wales in Australia places restrictions on the breed, including mandatory sterilization. The breed is banned in the United Kingdom, in the Canadian province of Ontario, and in many locations in the United States.
The UKC gives this description of the characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier:
The essential characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier are strength, confidence, and zest for life. This breed is eager to please and brimming over with enthusiasm. APBTs make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their love of children. Because most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog. The breed’s natural agility makes it one of the most capable canine climbers so good fencing is a must for this breed. The APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable. This breed does very well in performance events because of its high level of intelligence and its willingness to work.
The standard imposed by the ADBA considers the human aggression as disqualification factor. The APDR (American Preservation Dog Registry) standard points out that "the temperament MUST be totally reliable with people". However, in all the standards it is mentioned that dog/animal aggression is common to the breed.
The ATTS (American Temperament Test Society) conducts temperament testing since 1977 with several dog breeds, and until now has tested more than 900 APBTs. According to the tests conducted by ATTS the APBTs had one of the highest percentages of approval.
In September 2000, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study which examined dog bite-related fatalities (human death caused by dog bite injuries) in order to "summarize breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks during a 20-year period and to assess policy implications."
The study examined 238 fatalities between 1979 and 1998 in which the breed of dog was known. It found that "the data indicates that Rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs accounted for 67% of human DBRF [dog bite-related fatality] in the United States between 1997 and 1998" and that it was "extremely unlikely that they accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities."
However, the article continued, saying that care should be taken in drawing conclusions based on these data because:
· first, the study likely covered only about 74% of actual DBRF cases;
· second, records of DBRF may have been biased by the propensity of media to report attacks by certain breeds over others;
· third, it is not always straightforward to identify a dog's breed, and records may be biased towards reporting 'known' aggressive breeds; and
· fourth, it was not clear how to count mixed breeds.
· fifth, such breeds have traditionally been used in dog fighting at a far higher percentage than others. Thus, the disparity of docility versus aggressiveness tends to rank very highly in Rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs when compared to other breeds, with human training playing the primary role.
The authors concluded by noting that "breeds responsible for human DBRF have varied over time" (for example, Great Danes caused the most reported DBRF between 1979 and 1980). In the face of this inconclusive data, the study authors recommended that breed should not be the "primary factor driving public policy", instead making the following policy recommendations: "adequate funding for animal control agencies, enforcement of existing animal control laws, and educational and policy strategies to reduce inappropriate dog and owner behaviors" as likely to be beneficial and specifically to decrease the occurrence of dog bites.
In a peer-reviewed literature review of 66 dog bite risk studies, the American Veterinary Medical Association determined that "breed is a poor sole predictor of dog bites. Controlled studies reveal no increased risk for the group blamed most often for dog bites, ‘pit bull-type’ dogs. Accordingly, targeting this breed or any another as a basis for dog-bite prevention is unfounded. As stated by the National Animal Control Association: "Dangerous and/or vicious animals should be labeled as such as a result of their actions or behavior and not because of their breed."
In 2014, new statistical evidence emerged regarding the province-wide ban on "pit bulls", more specifically the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier, in the Canadian province of Ontario. It was reported to show that since the ban had been implemented, dog bites involving the two breeds and dogs of their likeness had dropped considerably in the province's largest city Toronto, yet overall dog bites hit their highest levels this century in 2013 and 2014.
The breed tends to have a higher than average incidence of hip dysplasia. Culling for performance has helped eliminate this problem and others such as patella problems, thyroid dysfunction and congenital heart defects. American Pit Bull Terriers with dilute coat colors have not had a higher occurrence of skin allergies as other breeds. As a breed they are more susceptible to parvovirus than others if not vaccinated, especially as puppies, so vaccination is imperative beginning at 39 days old and continuing every 2 weeks until 4 months old. Then again at 8 months. Once a year after that, as recommend for all breeds.
They are very prone to Demodex Mange due to culling for performance. There are two different types of Demodex Mange, namely Localized and Generalized Demodex. Although it is not contagious it is sometimes difficult to treat due to immunodeficiency in some puppies. The Localized symptoms are usually loss of hair in small patches on the head and feet of the puppies. This type will usually heal as the puppies grow and their immune systems grow stronger. The second type which is Generalized Demodex mange is a more severe form of the sickness. The symptoms are more severe and include loss of hair throughout the entire body and the skin may also be scabby and bloody. Generalized are usually hereditary due to immunodeficiency genes that are passed on from Sire and Dam to their puppies. A simple skin scraping test will allow the vet to diagnose demodex mange. The most widely used method to treat Demodex Mange is ivermectin injections or oral medications. Since Demodex Mange lives in the hair follicles of the dog, Ivermectin will kill these mites at the source.
The APBT has several strains/bloodlines, many originated in dog fighting, and others developed for the conformation shows of the UKC. But at least two strains can be mentioned among some of the most important strains.
Colby pit bulls
The Colby dogs are an ancient black-nosed bloodline that served as one of the pillars of the APBT breed. Considered one of the most important strains, and one of the most famous, the Colby dogs were started by John P. Colby in 1889, who acquired the best fighting dogs (Bull and Terriers) imported from Ireland and England. One of the most famous dogs of this bloodline was Colby's Pincher. Pincher was known as an invincible fighting dog, was widely used as a stud dog and for this reason Pincher is present in pedigree of the vast majority of APBT specimens. Today, the Colby dogs strain remains preserved by the family of John P. Colby.
Old Family Red Nose
Old Family Red Nose (OFRN) is an old strain of American Pit Bull Terriers known for their specific and unique reddish coloration. A dog of the OFRN strain has a copper-red nose and coat, red lips, red toe nails, and red or amber eyes.
In the middle of the 19th century, there was a strain of pit dogs in Ireland that were known as "Old Family." At that time, all the bloodlines were closely inbred with each family clan. Since red is recessive to all colors but white, the strain was known as "Irish Old Family Reds." When the dogs began coming to America, they were already showing the red nose.
The "Old Family Reds" dogs found their way to America in the 19th century mainly via Irish immigrants though many in the United States did import the breed.
Many strains have been crossed with the Old Family Reds at some time in their existence. Consequently, nearly any strain will occasionally throw a red-nosed pup. This means that not every red-nose dog is an true OFRN. The Old Family Reds produced more than their share of good ones unlike other strains are known. Old Family Reds were sought after for their high percentage in ability to produce deep gameness. The strain in its purest form continues to be preserved by remaining breeders specializing in this bloodline.
Renowned for its gameness, it continues to be bred to maintain its unique reddish color and genetic. Some of the most reputable breeders in all Pit Bull history such as Lightner, McClintock, Hemphill, Williams, Menefee, Norrod and Wallace have contributed to the preservation and development of the strain. Finally, as McNolty said in his 30-30 Journal (1967) "Regardless of one's historical perspective, these old amber-eyed, red-nosed, red-toe-nailed, red-coated dogs represent some of the most significant pit bull history and tradition that stands on four legs today."
American Pit Bull Terriers excel in many dog sports, including weight pulling, dog agility, flyball, lure coursing, and advanced obedience competition. Out of the 115 dogs who have earned UKC "superdog" status (by gaining championship titles in conformation, obedience, agility, and weightpull), 34 have been American Pit Bull Terriers, and another 13 were American Staffordshire Terriers.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is a working dog, and is suitable for a wide range of working disciplines due to their intelligence, high energy, and endurance. In the United States they have been used as search and rescue dogs, police dogs performing narcotics and explosives detection, Border Patrol dogs, hearing dogs to provide services to the deaf, as well as general service dogs. In the South they are often a favorite dog for catching feral pigs.
Australia, Ecuador, Malaysia, New Zealand, the territory of Puerto Rico, Singapore, Venezuela Trinidad and Tobago Denmark, Israel, France, Germany, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Switzerland have enacted some form of breed-specific legislation on pit bull-type dogs, including American Pit Bull Terriers, ranging from outright bans to restrictions on import and conditions on ownership. The state of New South Wales in Australia places restrictions on the breed, including mandatory sterilization.