By Dr. Watuwa JamesDr. James Watuwa Last updated: 22nd July 2023

American Pit Bull Terrier

The American pit bull terriers are medium-sized dogs with stocky, muscular physiques and short, whip-like tails ending in a point. These dogs have different sizes and colors since their breed is a mix of different types of bulldogs and terriers. Their eyes are almond-shaped to round with medium-sized half-pricked ears. Their breed has yet to be recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). However, the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA) gave recognition to this breed.

American Pit Bull Terrier Pitures

Quick Information  

Other NamesPitbull, Pit Terrier, Staffordshire Fighting Dog, Yankee Terrier, Rebel Terrier
CoatSingle coat – short, smooth, and stiff.
ColorBlack, blue, brindle, brown, fawn, gray, red, tan, and white.
Breed  TypeCrossbreed
GroupTerrier group
Life expectancy13 – 15 years
Height17-19 inches
Weight55 – 70 pounds
Litter Size1 – 10 puppies, an average of 5
Behavioral characteristicsFun-loving, gentle, and patient
Good with ChildrenYes
Barking TendencyAverage barkers, some may bark more than others depending on how anxious they are
Climate CompatibilityCannot tolerate the cold
Apartment CompatibilityGood
Do they shedThey shed a small amount throughout the year. They grow a thick coat during winter and shed it during spring.
Are they HypoallergenicNo
How much do they cost$1,300 to $2,500
Competitive Registration Qualification/InformationUnited Kennel Club, American Dog Breeders Association
CountryUnited States

History and Origin

The origin of the American pitbull terrier traces back to the old English bulldog and terriers, which are now extinct. Until the mid-1800s, bulldogs and terriers were bred together in the United Kingdom to create a breed that possessed both the strength and athleticism of a bulldog and the gameness of a terrier. People began to call the inter-bred dogs ‘bull and terrier’; they were used in blood sports like bear and bull baiting. In 1835, the British Parliament introduced Cruelty to Animals Act which outlawed these blood sports. However, dog fighting was still being organized since it was easier to hide from the law and was far cheaper than bear and bull baiting. Owners would pit their dogs against each other for blood sports that often involved gambling or to test their stock quality. 

The illegal dog fights continued secretly in many small regions of the British Isles. During the mid-late 1800s, these dogs arrived in the United States, where dog fighting was practiced as well, and became the American pit bull terriers’ direct ancestor. The United Kennel Club recognized this breed as the American Pit Bull Terrier on 10th February 1898. In the early 1900s, the UKC started registering this breed with the word ‘pit’ in their name in parentheses, for example, American (Pit) Bull Terrier, to make public acceptance of American Bull Terrier easier. However, this way of naming lasted only briefly and returned to its previous form. American people used pit bulls as catch dogs for semi-wild cattle, to drive livestock, to hunt hogs, as family companions, and as police dogs; according to the reports from law enforcement organizations, they were also used for criminal activities like attacking police, guarding illegal narcotics operations, etc.

Pit Bull Terriers are among most dogs used in illegal dog fighting in America. By the 1960s, it was made illegal in some states until 1976, when this blood sport was outlawed in all of the United States. 

Temperament and Personality

The American pit bull terrier is very friendly, playful, and highly energetic, which makes it a great companion dog. They are incredibly courageous and protective, especially when children are involved. These dogs are intelligent, eager to please their owners, and highly willing to work. Although, sometimes, they can be a bit stubborn while having too much fun or being hyper-focused on something.

Their Aggression

Like the American Staffordshire terrier, the American Pitbull terrier belongs to the list of dangerous breeds with a bite force of 240-330 PSI. Because pit bulls were selectively bred for dog fighting, they are highly aggressive, especially towards other dogs. Pit bulls can also show aggression due to lack of training, neglect, and irresponsible pet parents.



These are very energetic, playful dogs who love to spend time outside. They enjoy exercising as often as possible and need at least one to two hours of physical activity to feel satisfied. Take them on walks or for a run; it will help to tone their muscles. The level of exercise should be adjusted according to the dog’s age. Lack of physical activity in dogs can result in several health issues in the long term.


The American pit bull terriers have short and smooth coats that do not need regular grooming, although you can give them regular baths. Brush their fur in a circular motion once a week to lose the dead hair and stimulate the skin, which will help increase natural oil production that keeps the coat fresh and shiny. Visiting the groomer might help since they will trim your dog’s nails, clean their ears, and do everything necessary for their hygiene and good health.

Health Problems

Some common health problems that pit bulls face are bone diseases like degenerative myelopathy, hip dysplasia, and kneecap dislocation. They also suffer from skin problems like mange and skin allergies; some other illnesses that are seen in these dogs are congenital heart defects and thyroids.


A pitbull needs a diet that is rich in protein. Their diet should contain about 22% protein for growing dogs and 18% for adults. Some other necessities are carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
To generate the right amount of energy, puppies, and adults need 8% and 5% fat, respectively. Always choose high-quality animal-based protein such as beef, chicken, eggs, fish, lamb, and pork. They can also get nutrients from fruits, grains, legumes, and vegetables.


American pit bull terriers are very playful dogs. They are smart and responsive, so training them would be relatively easy if taught with the right techniques and maybe their favorite treats.

Socialization: One of the most essential tasks for pitbull owners is to socialize their dogs correctly. The socialization training should start when they are puppies; this process will teach them to adapt to other people, new objects, and even other animals around them. A puppy needs to be exposed to situations where it can get around other animals and people to become more comfortable with different surroundings. Socialization will lessen social anxiety and aggression, and the dogs will become calmer and well-behaved.

Obedience: Pitbulls are intelligent and can be trained to be obedient. It is essential to teach them basic commands like ‘come’, ‘heel’, ‘sit’, and ‘stay’, since obedient dogs seldom show or indulge in violent behavior. 

Leash: Leashes are very necessary if you have a pit bull terrier. Always put keep on leashes when taking them outside, for example, to a dog park or for a walk; this will do well to prevent any aggressive behavior, like biting and lunging, that they tend to show around other dogs.

Interesting Facts

  • Hulk the Dog is a 180-pound American pit bull terrier and bull terrier cross. As of 2015, Hulk was considered the biggest pit bull ever lived.


Q: Do American pit bull terriers make good guard dogs?

Ans: The American pit bull terrier may be protective in nature and can show aggressiveness while protecting their owner. However, when it comes to guarding properties, they are unreliable since they get friendly with people very easily. Therefore, they do not make good guard dogs.

Q:What is the difference between an American pit bull terrier and an American Staffordshire terrier?

Ans: One of the main differences between a pitbull and an American Staffordshire terrier is their appearance. Pitbulls tend to be much larger compared to American Staffordshire terriers. Also, the American Staffordshire terrier is less athletic with a calmer temperament than the Pitbulls. 

Q: What is the difference between an American pit bull terrier and an American bully?

Ans: Most people often confuse the American bully and the American Pit bull terrier; however, these two are not the same breed. Even though they have quite a few similarities, they differ in many ways. One example is their physique; the American bullies are very broad, with more muscular bodies and larger heads than the American pit bull terrier. Also, Pitbulls can be trained easily, whereas bullies tend to be stubborn.

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