Now-extinct ancestors of the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), Old English Terriers and Old English Bulldogs, were bred together in England to produce a breed that contains the traits and features of both the terrier and bulldog. These ancestors were used to catch and dispatch of certain animals such as wild cattle, hogs, foxes, and badgers. As hunting became less of a necessity, the brutal sport of bull-baiting became popular. When bull-baiting was banned in 1835, another deadly sport of dogfighting took its place using breeds including the Boston Terrier, Bull Terrier, and of course, the American Pit Bull Terrier, commonly referred to as a Pitbull or Pit. Today, dogfighting is considered a felony in all 50 states, but still continues underground. The reputation of the Pitbull seemed irreparable, but the breed is beginning to be shown in a positive light where they are commonly used in law enforcement, therapy, and assisting individuals with special needs.
Although Pitbulls closely resemble the American Staffordshire Terrier, they are considered two separate breeds - American Pit Bull Terriers tend to be smaller in size than their Am Staff counterpart. The APBT, known for its brick-shaped head, which is especially broad between the cheeks to house their powerful jaws, is carried upon a thickly muscled, well-defined neck that runs into a deep, thick, well-sprung chest. They are a very powerful, stocky, yet agile breed that is extremely strong for their size. Their coat is made up of thick, short, shiny hair and they have small eyes, ears that are either left natural or cropped, a well-developed muzzle, and a thick tail that hangs down when relaxed.
American Pit Bull Terriers are commonly given a bad rap since they have been used for dogfighting over the decades, but they are not considered to be aggressive towards humans by nature. The APBT is a good-natured, amusing, loyal, and affectionate family pet that is good with children and others. Almost always obedient, they are always eager to please. Pitbulls are an intelligent breed that responds best to positive reinforcement training. It is very important that obedience training and socialization are started early to avoid aggression and intolerance of other dogs and animals as an adult. They are extremely courageous, alert, and attentive to make a great watchdog that is full of vitality. Even though they are generally a friendly breed, Pitties have an uncanny ability to know when they need to protect. As with any medium-to-large breed, they should not be left alone with small children due to their size and strength. Consistent training, along with the proper amount of exercise, will produce a tranquil, obedient dog. The American Pit Bull Terrier has given outstanding results as a watchdog but is at the same time esteemed as a companion. When treated properly, Pitties are one of the friendliest and gentle-hearted breeds out there.