Pitbull, the American Pitbull Terrier, was a result of a crossbreed between a bulldog and a terrier. The aim was to produce dogs that have strength of bulldogs and feistiness of terriers combined. This aim was achieved as pitbulls are strong, powerful and aggressive dogs.
They were bred in 19th century England for the very first time, where bulldogs and terriers were used on farms for herding, safety purposes and managing livestock.
But the history of pitbull has a lot more than herding and protection. Almost all the breeds of pitbull were trained to become ring fighters in those days. So they developed a reputation for bear-baiting, bull-baiting and dog fighting. Majority of these activities were conducted in small areas of Britain and America. Due to this bad reputation, they were later banned in majority of states and municipalities across US. This helped decrease their use in the rings and increased inclination towards other areas where pitbull could perform great jobs.
During the 20th century, the pitbull became the most favorite breed for a family dog. Hence, they became to be known as ‘nanny dogs’. They were also widely known with the titles of ‘national mascots’ and ‘America’s dog’. Americans were so in love with pitbull breed that World War 1 and 2 recruitment posters had pictures of pitbull to represent strength and readiness.
Today, these dogs are still very popular and are used in variety of roles such as service dogs, family pets, therapy dogs, narcotics operations dogs, and K9 police dogs. Their use in the rings however has reduced due to illegality of dog fights. Their popularity has increased 20% more in the 21st century.
The pitbull has unique and different characteristics when it comes to their physical appearance and temperament.
Pitbull’s physical appearance is a representation of strength, power, and passion. Their head seems to be like a large brick with cheeks that have powerful jaws. When they bite, it’s dangerous and ferocious. Their body is very muscular. They are athletic and speedy dogs, and have a remarkably high jump.
Their ears can either be cropped or left to curl in the forward direction. The tail of pitbull is thin and long as well.
A pitbull’s body has coats of thick, short, and shiny hair. The color range includes shades of grey to brown to red. The nose matches the color of their coat. Due to this reason, they get different names such as Red-nose Pitbull and Blue-nose Pitbull.
When it comes to the height and weight, it varies from males to females.
- Female height = 35 – 55 cm
- Male height: 40 – 60 cm
- Female weight: 10 – 35 kg
- Male weight: 14 – 36 kg
The lifespan of a pitbull is usually 8 to 15 years.
Pitbull is a smiling dog. If you are having a bad day, you come home to a warm smile waiting for you. The temperament and personality of pitbulls largely depend on how they are trained and kept. If you train them to be fighters, they will fight. If you train them to catch mail for you, they will. If you want them to accompany your children and protect them accordingly, they love being around children.
And yes, you do not need to worry as pitbull do not bite humans. Biting humans is not in their genetics. This trait became prominent as pitbulls were required to stop and separate at times during the fights by owners/trainers. Therefore, they are trained in a way that they listen calmly and do not bite in return. Therefore, pitbull makes a very loyal, obedient and affectionate pet. They are great to keep along on a walk or any other exercise as well.
However, their temperament must not be underestimated. Pitbulls are mighty and has a strong mind. They can easily mess up the situation if they become aggressive and can become unmanageable. Therefore, make sure your pitbull is trained well. They love doing the jobs assigned to them. It is good to give them a purpose. Give your pitbull a role to perform and enjoy his calm temperament.
Pitbulls usually do well in warmer environments. They can become aggressive and stubborn in colder climates. Do not leave your pitbull outside for longer periods in colder weather. Moreover, cold weather is not the only reason they should not be left outside. They are a breed that loves company and do not tend to live alone. They need to live with their family or a pack. If this need is neglected, they can become very destructive.
Pitbulls love to chew stuff. Bring them big toys they can chew, and not eat or swallow.
Despite having a bad reputation due to their aggressiveness and ferocious nature, you must keep this in mind that their aggression comes due to negligence of the owners. If treated as a family member, they are very family-friendly dogs. They are very friendly and protective of the children they grow up and live with.
Not only this, they are friendly towards strangers as well. You do not need to worry about aggressiveness of your pitbull if family or friends are visiting you because they won’t show any sign of that. This is mainly because they grow up among people in a family-like environment and are not introverts. They love to interact and socialize.
One thing to remember is that pitbulls are very sensitive. They will be annoyed if someone else catches the mail for their owner or any other task they regularly do. They are always very eager to please their masters. Whether you train them or not, they perform their innate duty of being a guard dog quite well. They protect their masters and family very intelligently and courageously.
They are also very friendly towards other dogs if kept and trained with them properly. The key is to understand their true nature and train them accordingly. If done so, they are calm and friendly. If not, you are always going to face problems.
Caring for a Pitbull
The care of pitbulls involves keeping their nutrition, grooming, exercise, training and health in view at all times.
Pitbulls require a healthy protein diet as they are agile and strong dogs. Their diet must contain more proteins and less grains. Meat should be the first ingredient in their dog food. Wheat, corns, and potatoes should be avoided as they might be allergic to it. Also, avoid food that contains a lot of fillers.
If your pitbull is not on dog food but a homemade diet, he must be fed 2 – 4% of his total body weight daily.
Young pitbulls need to be fed 2 to 3 times a day. As they become adults, one or two time a day is enough as well. It is better to feed a half portion two times a day, than one portion at a time. It makes dogs obese and whiny.
Therefore, choose following food for your pitbull to make sure your pitbull is having a nutritious diet:
- High-quality dog food with meat
- Dry dog food (contains more fats and calories)
- Refrigerated meat-based food
- Raw bones
- Homemade food.
Using this in right proportions can keep your dog healthy.
Pitbulls are a low-maintenance dog. They are easy and fun to groom. When it comes to the grooming of pitbull, following are some important guidelines to follow:
- Brush the pitbull’s coat one to times a week using a rubber brush. It helps in keeping the air soft and remove dirt and dead skin cells.
- Clean the pitbull’s ear once a week.
- Brush his teeth one to two times a week.
- Trim his nails every two weeks.
- Get him bathed one time in six weeks at warm temperature. The water must NOT be cold.
- Take the pitbull to vet every two months for a regular checkup.
Some other grooming instructions to keep in mind are that make sure you are using high-quality products. Low-quality products are of no use. Shampoo, towel, ear sticks and any other accessory must be of good quality. Following these guidelines will keep your pitbull healthy, strong and safe from health problems.
Pitbulls never get tired. They can play and goof around with children for hours. This makes them best playmates. Exercise is vital to keep your dog healthy. As pitbulls have an athletic nature, they need exercise on a daily basis.
Pitbulls benefit physically as well as mentally from exercise. The dogs who do regular exercise are saved from health issues like obesity and arthritis. They also do not tend to develop behavioral issues.
Following are some healthy exercise ideas to keep your pitbull healthy and happy:
The easiest yet healthiest exercise is taking your pitbull on a daily walk. As pitbulls have a lot of muscles, running and walking are a good way to tone body muscles. It is also a great way to burn a little of your pitbull’s energy. They tend to pull, so check out some dog leashes for dogs that pull.
Some other great options to make your pitbull exercise include Fetch and Frisbee. It makes your dog run and jump – both of which are best activities to keep pitbull healthy. Either your pitbull will be naturally inclined towards the ball/frisbee or you will have to make him learn fetching the ball. Grab them an automatic fetch machine for when you’re not home.
Agility is another healthy exercise your pitbull can do. You can make him go through some easier obstacles initially and increase the difficulty level as your pitbull gets used to it. Agility is the best option to go for if you want to exercise both mind and body at the same time. It is equally effective to deal with the behavioral issues and develop bonding between you and your pet.
Training a pitbull is very easy because getting trained is in their genes. This makes it easier for the owners to train them in a short span of time. Pitbulls easily learn what their masters teach them. Therefore, the actions and reactions of pitbulls depend on how they are trained and what they are trained to do.
Many trainers train them to be aggressive and ferocious. This is usually the case when you use pitbulls inside the ring. Otherwise, they are trained to be a part of the family and do no harm to children.
Trainers can take big advantage of pitbull’s willing nature to learn what they want them to learn. In no time, great results are achieved.
With proper training, you can make your pitbull learn how to fetch mail for you, how to get the newspaper for you, how to catch a Frisbee, and many other activities. One thing pitbulls do not need to learn is protection. They are naturally very protective. They know when everything is okay and they also know when there is a need to fight and protect their owners. Due to their sharp minds, they can be actively trained for all the guarding and policing purposes.
For pitbull training, however, you need to have some basic training skills. This includes giving one-word commands at early age of 9 to 10 weeks. Taking your pitbull to socializing places when he is 6 to 7 months. Punishment must be given right when they do something wrong. Even half an hour later, pitbull won’t understand why he is being treated like that.
Similarly, to expect good behavior next time, give little rewards at every little achievement. Therefore, use positive reinforcements to get best results out of training.
When it comes to the health of pitbulls, they are usually healthy dogs. They do not tend to become ill very rapidly. It is only occasionally that they suffer any diseases. But when they do so, the situation can become highly sensitive and needs to be examined immediately. The main reason of health deterioration is that you do not give attention to their proper diet and exercise.
Some of the major diseases they are prone to include allergies to grass, heart diseases, hereditary cataracts, and hip dysplasia (which a preventative joint supplement can help with).
Hip Dysplasia is when the hip joint suffers malformation. It becomes very painful depending on the severity. It is a hereditary disease and is common in pitbulls. When your pitbull is two years of age, get an X-ray done to make sure his hip condition is perfect. If not, it can result in prolonged limping. In the later life, it eventually leads to lameness.
Heart diseases in pitbulls are by birth in most cases. These are often genetic. It is usually caused by aortic stenosis. It leads to congenital heart defect where the connection between left ventricle and aorta keeps narrowing with time.
If the case is mild, most pitbulls survive. However, they show the signs of weakness and lethargy. They will be unwilling to do exercises, stunted growth and occasional cardiac arrests.
Heart Murmur is not itself a disease but can be a cause of several diseases. Murmur is the sound of heart beat when disproportionate amount of blood enters the heart chambers. Even though it is not very serious, it is good to check with your vet.
Hypothyroidism is the dysfunction of thyroid gland. The symptoms include excessive weight gain, poor coat and hair condition as well as reproductive problems.
Skin Allergies are also common in pitbulls. They often get it from the grass. Add regular bath in routine of pitbull to avoid skin allergies. Get them a dog food for allergies.
Mange is another allergy disease which is caused by mites. If a number of mites start living in the hair follicles and skin of your pitbull, it results in mange.
Degenerative Myelopathy is usually the spinal cord or bone marrow disease. It affects the central nervous system of pitbull. Later on, it can affect cervical and lumber parts of the spinal cord. The common symptoms include inability to maintain a proper posture, inability to control urination, partial or full limb paralysis, and continually spinal reflexes. It is important to get spinal cord fluid examined to treat this disease in time.
Kneecap Dislocation is another common health problem that happens when the knee is dislocated from the actual position in the groove of the thigh bone. It often occurs if your dog is very much involved in athletic activities.
It can be easily cured with an at-home exercise that relaxes and lengthens the quadriceps muscles of the hind leg of pitbull. But if the condition is serious, it is advised to go for a skyline X-ray that helps in revealing the severity of dislocation.
If treated in time, these diseases can be cured and prevented.
Some other breeds that are similar to pitbull or are usually understood as pitbull mainly include:
The breeds within American Pitbull Terrier are:
- Colby Pitbull
- Gator Pitbull
- Blue-nosed Pitbull
- Red-nosed Pitbull
- Brindle Pitbull
- Whopper Pitbull
- Bullyson American Pitbull
- Benmar American Pitbull