Few breeds of dog invoke the same level or range of passionate emotions like the pit bull. This powerful breed first appeared in England during the 1800s as the hybrid between the English bulldog and the terrier. Although the size range for a pit bull can vary between 20 and 100 pounds (9 to 46kgs), the average size pit bull rarely exceeds 60 pounds (27kgs) unless mixed with another breed.
The American Temperament Test Society created a standardized assessment to determine, among other qualities, sensitivity to stimuli, aggression and friendliness within dog breeds. According to the society, any dog who displays aggression, human avoidance or panic fails the test. Eighty-six percent of the 772 pit bulls tested passed, compared to just 82 percent of golden retrievers.
The jaw muscle of a pit bull runs wider and longer compared to other breeds. This gives the pit bull extremely powerful jaws. Contrary to popular myth, the jaws of a pit bull cannot lock.
The American pit bull terrier was not recognized by any canine registry until 1898. The first American pit bull terrier to receive a registration number belonged to the organization’s founder, C.Z. Bennet. Today, only the United Kennel Club registers pit bulls. The American Kennel Club only recognizes the American Staffordshire terrier, a larger-sized relation of the pit bull whose purpose is exclusively show and not fighting.
Pit bulls are famously tenacious, whether it’s hunting down a rabbit or digging through a fence, this breed loves working hard and pleasing their owners. Unfortunately, an irresponsible or malicious owner can use these same traits of persistence and loyalty for negative goals like fighting.
During the early 20th century, pit bulls earned the title, “nanny dog” because of their tolerance and affinity for children. This concept was underscored by Petey, the pit bull from the TV series, “Little Rascals.”
Stubby was a stray pit bull who became a military mascot to the U.S. 102nd infantry division during World War I and earned commendations from three presidents. His remains, coat and medals of honor are currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution. Patriotic war posters used the image of a pit bull as a symbol of American strength, bravery and persistence during World War I and II.
Unlike other breeds whose colors must fit one of three or four variations, the United Kennel Club recognizes pit bull terrier dogs of any color or color pattern except merle.
High intelligence is a key characteristic of any well-bred pit bull, according to the United Kennel Club and Dog Breed info.
The muscular build, enthusiasm and energy level of the pit bull terrier makes this breed prime candidates for sporting events like agility competitions, flyball, disc retrieving and weight pulling.
Some breeds are known for being independent, even aloof, but not the pit bull. According to United Kennel Club registry descriptions, the pit bull terrier is a social butterfly who craves human contact, praise and interaction. Denying a people-loving dog like the pit bull appropriate human interaction causes undesirable behaviors such as anxiety, aggression and depression.