Known for their intelligence and loyalty American Pit Bull Terriers make excellent, loving and protective companions despite the unfair press they receive. A common question regarding the APBT is, "How is this breed different from the American Staffordshire Terrier?". In the eyes of the United Kennel Club, they are the same breed, but many disagree. Some AKC-registered American Staffordshire Terriers are dual-registered as American Pit Bull Terriers with the UKC; however, this draws criticism from many who point out that the bloodlines have been separate for too long for these to be considered the same breed. The AKC, on the other hand, does not allow a UKC-registered American Pit Bull Terrier to be registered as an American Staffordshire Terrier. To be dual-registered, the dog must first be an AKC-registered American Staffordshire Terrier and then it can be registered with the UKC as an APBT -- but not vice versa... Choose from a responsible breeder and make sure the puppy is properly socialized and handled. Solid training will produce a tranquil, good, obedient, companion dog.
His ancestors were brought to the Unites States in the mid - 1800's by Boston-Irish immigrants. Originally bred from a variety of bulldogs and terriers, American breeders increased his weight and gave him a more powerful head. A forbearer to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, they were originally bred to be a fighting dog. Bull baiting was banned in England in 1835 and these dogs are no longer been bred to fights. There is some complication in registries of this breed. The AKC considers the American Staffordshire Terrier as separate and distinct from the American Pit Bull Terrier, yet the UKC will register both as American Pit Bull Terriers (APBTs).
In America, the Pit Bull flourished. It was one of the most popular breeds, highly prized by a wide variety of people. The Pit Bull was used to represent the US in WW1 artwork; popular companies like RCA and the Buster Brown Shoe Company used the breed as their mascots. A Pit Bull named Petie starred in the popular children's television series, Our Gang; a Pit Bull mix named Stubby became a decorated WW1 hero. Pit Bulls accompanied pioneer familes on their explorations. Laura Ingalls Wilder of the popular Little House books owned a working Pit Bulldog named Jack. Famous individuals like Theodore Roosevelt and Helen Keller owned the breed. It was during this time that the Pit Bull truly became America?s sweetheart breed, admired, respected and loved.
In 1898 the United Kennel Club was formed with the express intent of providing registration and fighting guidelines for the now officially-named American Pit Bull Terrier. Later, those who wished to distance themselves from the fighting aspect of the breed petitioned the American Kennel Club for recognition of the Pit Bull so that it would be eligible for dog shows and other performance events. The AKC conceded in 1936 but only under the stipulation that the dogs registered with them be called "Staffordshire Terriers", the name of the province in England the breed supposedly originated in. Upon acceptance of the breed, many people dual-registered their dogs with both the AKC and the UKC. Lucenay's Peter (the dog that starred in the Our Gang series) was the first dual-registered Pit Bull/Staffordshire Terrier. The UKC evolved, eventually beginning to register other working-type breeds, and later holding shows similar to those of the AKC. Currently, the UKC is the second largest purebred dog registry in the United States, complete with strict bylaws that ban anyone who is convicted of dog fighting. The American Dog Breeders Association was formed in 1909 because of certain fanciers' opinions that the UKC was not doing it's job protecting and preserving the Pit Bull breed as they felt it should be preserved. The ADBA's goal is the same now is at was then: to register, promote and preserve the original American Pit Bull Terrier fighting-type dog.
The AKC eventually closed it's studbooks to American Pit Bull Terriers. They allowed registration only to those dogs with parents registered as Staffordshire Terriers. For a short period in the 1970's, the AKC reopened its studbooks to American Pit Bull Terriers. In 1973 the AKC added the prefix "American" to the breed's name in an effort to distinguish it from the newly recognized Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Today, only those dogs with AmStaff parents are eligible for registration. Both the UKC and the ADBA allow registration of AmStaffs, but in these organizations the dogs carry the original name, "American Pit Bull Terrier."
Today the Pit Bull has evolved into a marvelous working and companion dog, used for purposes as varied as those it originally performed. Pit Bulls are employed as police/armed services dogs, search and rescuers, therapy animals, and livestock workers. They compete in all manner of organized dog sports, from herding to agility to conformation to obedience and the bite sports like Schutzhund and French Ring. They make loving pets for children and seniors, and everyone in between. The are indeed one of the most versatile breeds on the planet. Much of this is owed to the activities it once performed. The harshness and physical demands of the activities molded a strong, healthy, stable animal, one anyone should be proud to own.
If there was a manual describing ideal Pit Bull temperament, it would probably read something like this: "The Pit Bull is goofily friendly towards people--family, friends, and strangers alike. Known for its sound character, strong nerve, and great intelligence, the breed makes an ideal companion for households with children, while remaining strong and vigilent enough to protect its loved ones if need be. It is never necessary to embark on guard or attack training with this breed, as they are naturally attuned to their environment and intuitive about real threats. Although never aggressive towards people without real need, the Pit Bull is dog-aggressive, to varying degrees. The properly socialized and trained Pit Bull should not be an instigater, yet neither should he shy away from a challenge. The breed is known for its high prey drive, and so due caution should be exercised when cats, rabbits, domestic fowl, and other such animals are present. Aggression towards other animals should not be viewed as a fault, although excessive, uncontrollable aggression is neither desired nor correct. Aggression towards humans should be viewed as a serious fault.
As our "ideal temperament manual" states above, the Pit Bull is generally a very friendly, stable, safe breed. Although in recent years some individuals have misused the breed and the media have misrepresented it, aggression towards humans never was and still isn't what the Pit Bull is about. Human-aggression is a serious matter, and not something that should be taken lightly. Human aggressive dogs (i.e. dogs that bite/attempt to bite humans) are an aberration. Growling (i.e. over toys, food, when moved off the sofa, bed, etc.) should be considered a warning, and possibly a precursor to biting behavior. It is imperative that owners seek professional help if their dog is exhibiting any of these behaviors.
Because the Pit Bull is generally such a people-friendly breed, they often make poor guards of property. Many specimens of the breed will allow strangers to enter the home or yard without a fuss, whether the owner is present or not. As a guardian of his human, however, the Pit Bull is quite willing and able to intercept an attack. The breed is credited with having exceptional judgement and will react only to real threats. Because of the Pit Bull's generally poor guarding instincts and natural inclination to protect his owner if need be, it is best to stay away from any sort of guard or protection dog training. A good dog can be ruined quite easily, making for a wary, untrusting animal that may become a danger to humans. Do not try to make the Pit Bull into something he is not. If a serious guard or attack dog is what you desire, it is best to look to one of the breeds that have been specifically created for that type of work.