Pit bulls – The Most Feared and Misunderstood Dog Breed

No dog breed in the world is more feared, and misunderstood, than Pit bulls (American Pit Bull Terriers). A powerful and muscular dog by nature, the pit bull’s imposing appearance has resulted in the entire breed being vilified as one of the most dangerous in the world. The sad truth behind this classification is that mankind is responsible for much of the woe and misinformation that surrounds this loyal breed of dog.

Much of what is known by the public today regarding the pit bull comes from the nightly news and reports of dog fighting rings throughout the country. In reality, the pit bull is a breed with a long history that begins across the Atlantic Ocean in the United Kingdom. Ironically, the country responsible for the pit bull breed Americans know today has since banned the breed.

The Science Behind Pit Bulls

pit bull infographic


History of the American Pitbull Terrier

The “American Pitbull Terrier”. One of the most famous dog is American history and a part of American History itself. The APBT has a reputation of one of the most feared, loved, hated, and misunderstood breeds of dogs link:

The pit bull breed can trace its roots back to Ireland and England during the early 1800s. The breed was the result of Old English Terriers and Old English Bulldogs being crossbred. The original purpose for this breeding mixture was farming. Individuals with land to work used the dog’s tenacity and strength, which many consider unrivaled by other dog breeds, to work land alongside farmers. Duties for the pitbull in these early days consisted of herding cattle and hogs.

Unfortunately, fans of popular bloodsports at the time would often use that same tenacity and strength for darker purposes. Many owners would breed the dogs, with their combination of gameness (terrier) and power (bulldog), to participate in pit matches and fighting rings. Examples of early bloodsports the pitbull competed in range from bull and bear baiting to dog fighting rings.

During many of these bloodsports, the pit bulls were often enclosed in a pit with other animals to do battle. At one point in time, pit bulls were even used in activities such as rat baiting. The dog would be placed in a pit and left to do battle with hoards of rats. These cruel games eventually gave rise to the breed’s popular name. Given their role in the pits, the breed picked up the colloquial name pitbull.

When Britain began enacting animal welfare laws during the 1830s, many of these popular bloodsports were outlawed and new forms of illegal games were created to satisfy the bloodlust of fans of the game. It was at this juncture in history that pit bulls were first forced into bloody battles against one another in dogfighting rings.

As the pit bull was introduced in the United States during the 1870s, it quickly became a popular breed. In the US the breed took on the official name of American Pitbull Terrier. Today, the breed technically has two different names. The American Kennel Club officially recognizes the breed as the American Staffordshire Terrier. Conversely, the United Kennel Club refers to the dog as American Pitbull Terrier.


muscle pit bull
Bully Max Sponsored APBT participating in a UKC show (2014).

Pitbulls have a strong drive to please their masters. As powerful and muscular as the pitbull is, it is equally passionate and loyal as a member of a pack. The image of pit bulls as dangerous or violent towards people by nature is a tragic misconception. This image has been cultivated through decades, even centuries, of abuse the breed has suffered in dog fighting rings run by humans.

When law enforcement officials capture dogs that have been used in dog fighting rings, the animals have had fear and aggression beaten into them for so long that violent outbursts are not uncommon. Likewise, a pitbull raised in a violent environment with poor training is just as likely to act out aggressively towards human beings.

In reality, the pitbull is just as capable of being a loyal best friend to mankind as any other breed. However, just like those breeds, a pitbull needs guidance and training in order to become man’s best friend and not the beast it is often portrayed as. Pit bulls do possess a natural aggression towards other dogs and animals through more than one hundred years of breeding as working dogs, but that does not have to be their fate.

The average pit bull is good-natured, amusing, and capable of extreme affection for the members of its pack. What a pit bull, like any other breed, really needs is a strong leader and early socialization. Owners that socialize a pitbull with a calm, confident demeanor will help the dog learn its place in the pack. With proper training from a young age, an owner will have a pit bull that is obedient and ready to please its master.

Socialization is extremely important in curtailing the aggressive tendencies of the pitbull. The breed is known for its intelligence, courage, and protective nature. A strong leader is necessary because an intelligent pit bull will defend its pack and home with violent aggression, unless it is shown from a young age how to interact with guests (both human and animal).

Unfortunately, all of these wonderful qualities a pit bull possesses can easily be taken advantage of to turn the dog into a vicious animal. No pit bull is born with violent tendencies. The combination of no socialization and physical (and emotional) abuse turn pit bulls into the violent dogs rescued from dog fighting rings. These individuals take advantage of the natural instincts of the pit bull, using fear, beatings, and starvation to turn this lovable breed into violent aggressors.

Size, Structure, and Physical Characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier

American Pitbull Terriers can vary in size drastically based upon a number of factors. The amount of exercise a pit bull receives, its daily diet, and its role as a working dog or family pet can determine its weight. As for its size, male pit bulls generally reach taller heights than females of the breed.

The average pit bull will reach a height of 14 to 24 inches when fully grown, with an average weight anywhere between 22 lbs. and 78 lbs. There is potential for confusion in the general public between the pit bull and closely related breed known as the American Bully. The latter breed has similar physical characteristics to the APBT, but tends to weigh upwards of 90 to 100 lbs. APBT dogs that reach these weights are often the result of breeding with other, larger dog breeds and not indicative of the usual weight pit bulls reach.

Pit bulls have a smooth, short coat that is easy to groom with a once-weekly brushing. Owners can expect the average pit bull to live roughly 12 years and experience relatively few health problems. In some cases, pit bulls are prone to hip dysplasia, cataracts (hereditary), grass allergies, and even congenital heart disease. By in large though, the breed is extremely healthy.

Raising an American Pitbull Terrier

weight pulling pit bull bloodlines
A standard APBT participating in a weight pulling event.

In addition to the socialization, training, and care guidelines provided above, individuals wishing to own a pit bull need to be prepared to provide their dog with a useful outlet for its natural working dog instincts. The pitbull was bred to work on a farm, so living its life stuck inside an apartment all day simply won’t do for this dog.

Pit bulls need regular exercise to stay healthy and prevent them from acting out around the home in a destructive manner.

Those looking to own a pit bull should take extra time to research breed-specific legislations enacted in their area.

Pitbull breeds have been banned in numerous nations and municipalities around the world, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Canadian province of Ontario.

In the US, individual counties and cities have enacted breed-specific legislation targeting the pitbull and other misunderstood breeds. Thorough research is required before purchasing a pitbull to ensure that it is not banned by local and regional officials. To date, there is no state in the US with a statewide ban on pitbulls.

Pit Bull bloodlines

  • Castillo: Created by Tekla Castillo in California around 1984. This line was created by line breeding Champion and Grand Champion Family Red Nose Bloodlines. These included Hemphill and Wallace bloodlines.
  • Bette’s Mealers: Created by Greg Mealer roughly 25 years ago. Mealer’s bloodline is considered an XXL bloodline. The Mealer bloodline was created by line breeding a handful of red nose bloodlines. These included Chevy Red Dog, Camelot, Bismarck, Eddingington, and Whopper to name a few.
  • Eddington: Created by Edgar Eddington. This bloodline is a cross between the American Bulldog, the Dogue de Bordeaux, and the Freeman bloodline pit bull. Edgar was given a permission for a single registry for his dog “Wanna be a Whopper”. This was the start of the Eddington line of XXL pit bulls.
  • Camelot : The Camelot bloodline was been founded by Kenny Sonia in Tennessee. The foundation of this line is based off of SPAULDING’S Chevy Red Dog. Currently the most well known and heavily bred on Kenny’s yard is a dog by the name of Sonias Chief.

Red Devil and Old Family Reds: One of the oldest bloodline that dates back before the civil war period. The exact dates of when these dogs were imported is unclear since no records were kept. However, one thing that is clear is that these dogs came from various parts of Europe, specifically Spain and Sicily. Some of the most famous importations were also made from Ireland. These dogs were mainly imported by the Boston-Irish immigrants themselves after them emigrated to America. The majority of the irish pit bulls importations closely follow the great Irish migration that resulted from the famous potato famine. The dogs were, small, bred very tightly, and showed immense gameness. Especially the strain known as the Old Family. Iron Kid: A line based off of the dog registered as Garlaunis’ Rambo (he was generally known as Iron Kid). This dog made its name known in the 1980’s when a dogman called Cune, from Serbia, imported him from Holland. He was sired by Van Herpen’s Ace, his dam was Garlaunis’ Susy. ColbyColby is one of the most easily recognized and oldest bloodlines. Created by John P. Colby in 1889, his bloodline was created by importing dogs from England and Ireland into the US. They were brought here by immigrants to such ports as Boston, Ma, Portsmouth, NH and New York. The Colby bloodline has been bred continuously since then. A “Colby dog” is readily recognized by game breeders anywhere in the USA. Their gameness, conformation, and temperament are the attributes that made this bloodline popular with game dog breeders and owners worldwide. This bloodline has an extremely high energy level and must be exercised daily.

Other noteworthy pit bull bloodlines:

Corvino, Patricks (Bolio/Tombstone), Banjo, Hollingsworth, Hammonds, Boyles, McCoy, Sorrells, Sarona, Homer (Mountain Man), Ironline,(Norrod), Clemmons, Snooty, Cowboy, Maverick, Clouse, Giroux, Tab, Nigerino, Rascal, Jee, Six Bits, Honeybunch, Red Boy, Jocko, Tant, Wildside, Buck, Mayday, Lonzo, Greenwood, Gambler’s Virgil, Zeno, Whitsell, Bullyson (Hall), Mayfield (Tudor), Lightner, Two Eyes (Fat Bill), Alligator (Rufus), Peterson, Boudreaux, Carver, T-N-T, Chinaman, Frisco (Chinaman), Jeep, and Maximillion. The majority of game bloodlines all follow the same structure and characteristics. That can be traced back to the fighting dogs imported from Italy, Ireland, and England in the 1800’s. They show extreme drive and gameness. These dogs should never show human aggression and should have family oriented temperaments. These dogs can potentially be extremely dog aggressive is raised improperly. It’s recommend that game bred dogs should only be owned by experienced dog owners who are able to handle a strong dog breed.

Game Bred Pit Bull Photos

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