Types and Breeds of Pitbull
With all the publicity that Pitbulls receive, both negative news articles, and even positive attention like the Don’t Bully My Breed movement, most people have seen a Pitbull and could easily identify one.
So what exactly is the Pitbull breed? Well, Pitties are actually a type of dog rather than a specific breed. Both purebred dogs and mixed breeds can fit into the Pitbull category based on their physical characteristics.
Most experts agree that there are four distinct breeds under the Pittie umbrella: American Pitbull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Bully. But the Pitbull term is also applied to other dogs that simply resemble these kinds of dogs, even if they don’t share the same genetic make up.
This can get a little confusing. Let’s dive into the history of Pitbulls so we can understand this type of dog a bit better.
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History: Bully Breeds in Britain
Unfortunately, centuries ago the British were huge fans of barbaric bloodsports. Most frequently, these games involved tying up livestock and placing them in a pit with a large dog. The dog would attack, and people would place bets. It quickly became a favorite pastime and the Brits set out to breed the perfect fighting dog.
Bulldogs were crossbred with terriers to produce a strong, prey-driven dog with extremely powerful jaws. Then, bloodsports were outlawed and dog fighting took their place. This is why Pitbulls have such a poor reputation.
In this article, we hope to show you why judging Pitties by their checkered past is unfair. Their true nature is sweet, patient, and fiercely loyal. They are incredibly intelligent and easy to train.
Pits want nothing more than to please their owners. In fact, this key trait is why they fall victim to abuse. A Pitbull will perform however you like them to - if you need a nanny dog, he’ll happily look after your children, if you train him to fight, he will obey.
Now, let’s get into the various breeds and types of Pitbull. From Staffordshires to the American Bully - Pits come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and temperaments.
Up First: American Pitbull Terrier
The American Pitbull Terrier is a purebred Pittie that some breeders argue is the only true Pitbull around. They are generally larger than other types of Pitties. Though they are pure blood, American Pitbull Terriers are not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), so there is not an official breed standard. However, the general set of physical traits apply: wide and flat skull, deep chest, smooth coat, broad and muscular shoulders, and of course a strong jaw.
Full grown American Pitbull Terriers may weigh anywhere from 30 to 60 pounds depending on their sex. And most are between 17 to 21 inches tall. They are generally divided into two most sought after categories - Red Nose Pitties and Blue Nose Pitties.
Though their noses can be any color, everyone seems to want a Pitbull with either a red or blue nose. Purebred Red Nose Pitties have red or brown fur, red or pink noses, and their toenails are even pink! They typically have a higher price tag too.
Blue Nose Pitties have gray fur with blue tones to their noses, skin, and nails. Unfortunately, the recessive genes that give rise to the beautiful blue hues also contribute to a host of health problems. Blue Nose Pits may suffer from cataracts, alopecia or hair loss, and even eventual deafness! Be sure to get a health check on your Blue Pittie pup!
Like all Pitbulls, the American Pitbull Terrier does best with lots of early socialization and will easily pick up on training cues. They require at least an hour of daily exercise and love to play. They make a great family dog for a responsible and loving owner.
Next: Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Unlike the American Pitbull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are recognized by the AKC and have a specific breed standard. They are described as clever, tenacious, and brave by the registering organization.
Smaller than the American Pittie, the Staffie only stands about 14 to 16 inches in height and weighs in between 24 to 38 pounds depending on their sex. They are stocky and very muscular - making them look a bit scary to those who don’t know their true nature.
These Pitties also have flat, block heads and pronounced cheek muscles that power their strong jaws. Staffies are known for their patience and love of children and they make great companions when trained appropriately.
Unlike the American Pitbull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier almost always has a black nose. A pink or red nose is actually considered a disqualification when it comes to the registry. And you can expect to pay about $1,500 for a Staffie puppy.
Unfortunately, because they are so misunderstood and misrepresented in the media, Pitbulls often find themselves in shelters. Staffies are no different. So you could actually adopt one instead!
Up Next: American Staffordshire Terrier
Like the Staffie, the American Staffordshire Terrier is also recognized by the AKC and has a very specific breed standard to adhere to. They are described as confident, smart, and good-natured - all key characteristics of a great dog if you ask us!
They are a bit larger than the Staffordshire Bull Terriers, coming in at 40 to 70 pounds and 17 to 19 inches in height, depending on their sex. Sometimes referred to as an AmStaff, this Pittie pup is stocky, strong, and has a great personality.
Like other Pitbulls, these dogs have broad shoulders, block heads, and deep chests. Their ears may either be natural or cropped, but they sit high on their heads - alert and intense. AmStaff coats are short, glossy, and may be any color. They are frequently patched with black, gray, or brown and white. And like other Pitties, they have the sweetest smile!
In fact, American Staffordshire Terriers are actually a favorite of old Hollywood. Petey from the 1930’s comedy “Our Gang” was an AmStaff named Pal. And when it was remade to “The Little Rascals,” the producers stayed true. They cast one of Pal’s descendants as Pete.
Finally: The American Bully
Like the American Pitbull Terrier, the American Bully is not recognized by the AKC and there is no formal breed standard. This is partly because it’s a fairly new breed - only coming about in the last 25 years.
Of the four types of purebred Pitbulls we’ve covered today, the American Bully is definitely the most imposing looking. They are much heavier than the other Pitties and have bred to be stockier and more muscular than the others. The American Bully breed also has a more pronounced block head. There are actually various sizes of the American Bully - from Pocket to XL.
The Pocket Bullies are 13 to 16 inches in height, whereas the XL are 19 to 23 inches. Other than these differences, American Bullies are the same as other Pitbulls - intelligent, loyal, loving, and good with children when raised and socialized appropriately.
That’s Not All: Hybrids and other Mixed Breeds
Like we’ve mentioned, the Pitbull term applies to many different breeds of dog. For example, the Pitsky Hybrid is becoming a fast favorite of dog lovers. This American Pitbull Terrier and Husky Mix is playful, energetic, smart, and loves to romp around and explore with their family.
According to US law, in addition to the four pure breeds, the Pitbull category also encompasses any mixed breed, regardless of ancestry, that “displays distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds.” So this means that any dog with a short, smooth coat, broad shoulders, and block head can be considered a Pitbull. No wonder Pitbulls are so commonly recognized!
Though many dogs are judged by their looks and labeled as a Pitbull, their temperament and personality go much further in determining what kind of dog they’ll really be.
And actually, science backs this up! When tested for their temperament, Pitties of all types achieved passing scores 87% of the time.
Now that we’ve covered all the various pure breeds, hybrids, and mixes, we understand that “Pitbull” is just an umbrella term used to describe any dog that looks a certain way. It has more to do with their looks than their behaviors, and they shouldn’t be judged so harshly.
All of the purebred Pitties rank high in intelligence, temperament, and loyalty. They are easy to train and will love their owners fiercely. Hybrids, like the Pitsky, are also bred to have sharp smarts and an easy going nature. Mixed breeds are less predictable, but the shelters are full of adorable mixed Pitties who just need a little tender loving care to really shine!
The key to responsible Pittie ownership is early and frequent socialization. When introduced to children and other pets at an early age, Pitbulls can be a well-adjusted and integral part of any happy family.
They really aren’t so different from other types of dogs after all. All they really need are attention, training, patience, and love. Then, they will be the perfect companion!
Do you have a Pitbull? Share a story in the comments!
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