The American Pit Bull Terrier is a brawny, tremendously powerful yet nimble and intelligent breed native to the United States. Despite the fact that it descended from fighting dogs most of present-day breed members is characterised by a first-rate trainability, unwavering devotion to its masters and human friendliness. It makes a wonderful companion animal as well as a dependable watcher.
Photo: © Caragan Kennel American Pit Bull Terriers (www.caragankennel.com)
In 1835 English authority adopted a law that prohibited any form of inhumane treatment of animals. Bloody sport of bull- and bear- baiting became illegal and the fanciers of such kind of entertainments switched over to dog fighting, which can be fairly successfully run underground. The bulldog was the first choice for the role of a fighter because of its compactness, dexterity and incredible gameness. The tough, quarrelsome hunting terriers were then crossed with this breed in order to improve these qualities. The hybrid received the name bull-and-terrier. There is also a marginal probability that the original Pit Bull Terrier was developed without any infusion of the terriers’ blood and represents the reduced replica of the old-fashioned Bulldog.
The breed that is presently known as the American Pit Bull Terrier was specifically and meticulously bred for participation in canine fights. Nonetheless thanks to its bulldogs’ forebears it proved to be useful in a number of other tasks. This tenacious and hardy dog was charged with taming an unruly boar or bull and keeping off wild and stray animals from much treasured stock in country England, and later on in America. It’s also worth to mention that in the first stages of the breed’s history there was no difference between fighting and non-fighting (working) dogs in conformation and temperament. Actually lots of these canine gladiators were pluralistically beloved pets.
The first members of the Pit Bull Terrier were brought to America shortly before the Civil War and were utilised in the same vein as they were in their homeland. But in the United States the breed was quickly standardised and was called – the American Pit Bull Terrier. Lines of the fighting canine that stayed in England lately became known as Staffordshire Bull Terriers. These two breeds were developed around the same time and from resembling but different strains of bull-and-terriers so they are related fairly distantly.
The United Kennel club (UKC) recognised this breed in 1898. The American Pit Bull Terrier enjoys vast popularity in its native land in the roles of a companion dog and family protector.
Staunch, joyful, intrepid and gentle, the American Pit Bull Terrier wants nothing more than to shower its masters with its love. Despite its undeserved reputation of a vicious breed it has all essential traits to become a perfect companion animal. A well-bred and well-socialised specimen develops deep affinity to family kids and treats them with outmost tenderness. However, this dog must be exposed to various situations, people and animals as early as possible if you prefer to have an always predictable and manageable dog in the house.
Sociable disposition of the American Pit Bull Terrier makes it to perceive any unfamiliar person as a potential playmate. However this dog is always ready to switch from friendly mode to protective mode and will sacrifice its life to defend its masters. On the whole it’s not so interested in guarding its territory so it will deter unwelcomed guests only by its ferocious appearance. It’s only fair to say though that some of these dogs become very reliable guardians of both people and their property. This dog keeps alert at all times and will signal its family about any suspicious activity in its surroundings with its resounding voice. So it commonly makes an excellent watcher.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is prone to take aggressive stand towards other dogs. It treats strange canines of the same sex as rivals for its alpha status and can pick a quarrel without any external provocation. That’s why this dog should be released off-leash only in a safely enclosed area. It also tends to chase and kill homeless cats and other non-canine animals and can’t be considered as an optimal choice for families with other pre-existing pets. Of course early and continuous socialisation can make it to accept an individual cat as a part of its pack.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· canine hip dysplasia;
· elbow dysplasia;
· demodex mange;
· cerebellar abiotrophy;
· cleft lip/palette;
· luxating patella;
· zinc responsive dermatosis;
· congenital heart failure.
The American Pit Bull Terrier needs minimal amount of grooming. Its short coat should be brushed once a week in order to always remain shiny and neat. This breed sheds almost unnoticeably all the year around and much more intensely twice a year when the seasons change. It can’t stand when someone touches its feet so it’s highly important to train the dog to nail trimming since an early age.
As bad breath is a common problem for all American Pit Bull Terriers regular teeth brushing should be included in its maintenance routine. The dog’s ears also require regular examination but they should be cleaned only if it’s necessary. Bathe your Pit Bull only occasionally, preferably no more than two or three times a year.
The training of the American Pit Bull Terrier may become a real challenge for an inexperienced dog owner. This headstrong and independent dog will listen only to a strong and skilful handler who can assert his authority without unnecessary harshness. Consistent and reasonably firm approach is a crucial requirement for its successful training.
Remember that this dog learns most readily and quickly if its efforts are rewarded with its favourite food and praise. Extensive socialisation is not just a recommendation for this breed but it’s rather an indispensable condition of its peaceable co-existence with humans and other animals.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is a spirited and athletic dog whose exercise routine should consist of a daily long walk and playtime in a well-fenced territory. Actually it welcomes any type of activity regardless of its intensity and usually becomes a tough and enthusiastic companion for a bicyclist or jogger.
The Pit Bull behaves itself calmly indoors once its exercise needs were properly satisfied. That’s why this breed is well-suited for keeping in an apartment. Make sure to provide your dog with sufficient amount of both physical and mental stimulation otherwise it may develop propensity towards destructiveness and uncontrollable aggressiveness.