This is a historical article, with this breed now banned in Australia.
The American Pit Bull Terrier has had a lot of controversy, but it is a strong and capable dog. However, unfortunately it is illegal to own these dogs in many parts of the world. Yet, if you can own one of these dogs and you get one that is well bred and trained, you will have no problems with them.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is the mid sized dog of the three dogs typically called pit bulls. The dog will weight approximately 16 to 29 kg or 35 to 65 pounds. The height varies but is proportional. These dogs have a single layered short haired coat. Any colour is acceptable in this breed, and it may be solid or patched. All eye colours are also accepted, with the exception of blue. The ears may be cropped and rose or semi pricked, although it is preferred that the ears not be cropped. They have a short and tapering tail. The body of the dog is solid and muscular, with a broad chest. The head of the animal is wedge shaped, and there may be some slight forehead wrinkles.
These dogs can be very sweet and kind, as well as intelligent, curious, and have a good sense of humour. These dogs have been noted for their fondness for people, affectionate and eager to please temperament, and outgoing personality. However, they can also be stubborn, pushy and prone to aggression with other dogs, so training with a firm hand is required. This is not a good dog to have if you are a beginning dog owner, because they must be handled in a certain way in order to be a good pet.
The American Temperament Test Society has passed around eighty percent of these dogs, showing that they tend to have a stable temperament. However, that rare twenty percent has given these dogs a bad name. Some American Pit Bull Terriers have been known to be aggressive toward humans. The attacks by these dogs have made it so that it is often illegal to own them in many areas. However, this behavior is not actually the norm, and these can be great pets with the right breeding and training.
American Pit Bull Terriers were originally bred for the sport of dog fighting in the eighteen hundreds, explaining their tendency toward aggressiveness to other dogs. However, any dog that showed aggressiveness toward its owner was culled, and therefore the breed became aggressive toward animals but not people. As the country began to grow settlers took these dogs with them to homesteads and used them as working dogs. When dog fighting became illegal, owners wanted to distance themselves from the fighting history and created new names for the breed, including the Stratfordshire Terrier. This is often confused with the English dog of the same name, and the three dogs are still confused quite regularly.
This dog began to lose its appeal as a family pet in the 1930s. Many people began to breed the dogs for human aggression, and this decreased their popularity. The dogs are often kept for illegal dog fighting, and as guard dogs. This breed is also often the most neglected and abused, making it even more aggressive toward people. It is important for all of these reasons that you get your Pit Bull Terrier from a breeder known to breed the dogs for their more genteel characteristics.