A pit bull isn't a specific breed—there are in fact many types of pit bulls. Pit bull is an umbrella term that's used for several breeds. Pit bull-type dogs often face unfair discrimination. These dogs were bred for their muscular build and consequently have been used in inhumane dogfighting sports. This has given them an inaccurate reputation as being overly aggressive dogs. In fact, pit bull-type dogs are usually incredibly loving, loyal, and gentle with their family members. They also tend to be playful and eager to please.
Here are the five breeds that are most commonly referred to as types of pit bull dogs.
Pit bull-type dogs typically have muscular, stocky builds with deep chests and large, square heads. They’re notoriously determined dogs. When given a task, whether it be learning a new trick or digging a hole, they won’t give up easily. And they usually love people, including strangers, and crave attention. Training and socialization from a young age are important for pit bulls. Otherwise, their size and strength can be difficult to handle, as they might pull hard on a leash or jump up on people to greet them.
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The American bully is a relatively new breed that was first developed in the '80s and '90s. Recognized by the United Kennel Club in 2013 but not yet by the American Kennel Club, the breed came from the American pit bull terrier and other bulldog-type breeds. In comparison to the American pit bull terrier, bullies are much broader, more compact, and have a wider head. Bullies from responsible breeders have been specifically developed for their gentle and affectionate temperament. But bullies are still strong and athletic, so they need plenty of exercise to keep them happy and healthy.
Height: 13 to 20 inches
Weight: 65 to 85 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Compact, strong, thickset, and muscular; short and smooth coat; comes in a wide variety of coat colors and patterns
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The American pit bull terrier is another breed recognized by the United Kennel Club but not the American Kennel Club. Its ancestors were 19th-century terriers and bulldogs that came from the United Kingdom, and the breed took shape in North America in the late 19th century. Sadly this breed has been commonly used for dogfighting. Although modern American pit bull terriers can have a high prey drive and don't always get along with other dogs, they're known for forming strong bonds with their families. And as with most pit bull types, they tend to be loyal and affectionate.
Height: 17 to 20 inches
Weight: 30 to 65 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Muscular build; short coat; colors include black, white, brindle, fawn, blue, red, brown, tan, and gray
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The American Staffordshire terrier also has roots in the terriers and bulldogs of 19th century England. Its development in late 19th century North America resulted in a dog that was larger than its English relatives. The breed wasn't used as commonly for fighting as some of the other pit bull types, which resulted in more mellow dogs. But Am Staffs still can have a high prey drive and don't always get along with other dogs. However, they're known for being loyal, playful, and good-natured with their families.
Height: 17 to 19 inches
Weight: 50 to 80 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Short coat; variety of colors including black, brown, blue, fawn, red, and liver; brindle pattern and/or white markings are also seen
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Despite the Staffordshire bull terrier's development in the 19th century for dogfighting, the breed today is more closely associated with being unfailingly loyal and affectionate with its family. These dogs often love nothing more than snuggling with their owners, and they tend to be patient and gentle with children. They are a breed that is best suited to a household where they will have company for most of the day, as they can be prone to separation anxiety. Moreover, they tend to be people-focused and don't always get along well with other dogs.
Height: 14 to 16 inches
Weight: 24 to 38 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Muscular build; colors include black, blue, brindle, fawn, white, and moreContinue to 5 of 5 below.
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The American bulldog is a descendant of English bulldogs, which were developed in the 17th century for bull baiting—a blood sport that involved dogs fighting bulls. In North America, bulldogs became working dogs on farms and all-around friendly companions. They tend to be extremely affectionate with their families, often wanting to sit in laps despite their large size. They also often love kids. But they can be very protective of their families, so training and socialization are a must to ensure they will be friendly to people outside of your household.
Height: 20 to 28 inches
Weight: 60 to 120 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Stocky build; deep chest; short muzzle; typically white with patches of brindle, red, black, or shades of brown or gray