With all the media attention that pit bull breeds get, I’m sure most of us would be pretty confident in identifying this dog immediately.
The name pit bull seems to have morphed into a macro-category used as a metaphor to describe dangerous dogs. How could this confusion happen? Let’s delve a little further into this dog.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is a Pit Bull?
They are a type of dog (not a specific breed), which is often used to classify a number of purebred and mixed breed dogs. Within this type of dog there are a number of pit bull breeds including:
- Staffordshire bull terrier
- American pit bull terrier (APBT)
- American bulldog
- American Staffordshire terrier
Types of pit bull dogs first originated in Britain.
With their history, these dogs have earned a a place on the top 10 most dangerous dogs list and are banned in a large number of states and municipalities across the US, largely erasing their history of being known as a nanny dog.
They carry a contagious zest for life which always brightens your day. Had a rubbish day in work? Nothing will beat that smile that welcomes you through the door.
Pits are intelligent and love to please. This makes them trainable and obedient; this is actually their downfall. Pitties will do whatever you ask them to, this is how they get themselves into the wrong hands. If you train them to collect the mail, they will. If you train them to fight, they will.
Whilst we have mentioned that they are a type of dog, we need to get specific with regards to purebreds, mixed breeds and hybrids. American pit bull terriers are a type of pit bull too. We will now discuss the various pit bull breeds and types of pit bulls which fall under this classification to help you understand.
American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT)
The APBT is a purebred dog, but, due to its checkered past is not recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The APBT stands taller than some of the other pit bull breeds, usually around 6-8 inches taller than a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Many breeders argue that the only true Pittie dog is the APBT. Most breed specific legislation applies to the APBT and the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Under the APBT, you may notice that some dogs are named either a red nose pit bull or a blue nose pit bull. These aren’t a separate breed, they are just a particular color of the purebred dog.
They still have all the same qualities and characteristics, if anything, because they can be more sought after, over-breeding can result in more prevalent health problems.
Red Nose Pittie
You will easily spot a red nose pit bull from birth; they will have red/copper/brown tones to their fur, nose, eyes and toenails.
Often described as a rare breed, you will notice that the price tags for these incredible dogs are on the high side.
Aside from the color, they really are just like all the other APBTs; intelligent, trainable, loyal and gentle.
They suit most families if they have experience of large, powerful dogs. Give them time and patience, for training and socialization and they will give you their whole heart.
Just like the red nose, you can easily spot one of these guys too; the blue nose pit bull is just that. They will have blue and grey tones to their fur, eyes, toenails and noses!
Again, as a more sought after color, their price tags can be equally as high as a red nose.
Not boasting anything different to the rest of the Pitties, these fun loving guys just adore their family.
They thrive when they are busy, exercising or playing in the yard.
The downside of the Bluenose is their health. As the blue and grey hues are caused by a recessive gene resulting in low melanin levels, it can cause a range of health problems including a weakened immune system, deafness, cataracts, alopecia and a range of heart problems.
Bear in mind that both the red nose and the blue noses are as a result of breeding blue noses with blue noses, and red noses with red noses to result in the desired color.
The gene pool for both types could potentially be small which can result in more prevalent health issues.
Different Types of Pit Bull Mix Dogs
Widening the gene pool, there are some very popular pit bull breeds which are a pit bull mix (i.e. a cross breed).
Rottweiler Pit Bull Mix
A Rottweiler and pit bull mix can be result in a hybrid dog which is loyal, loving and affectionate.
The Rottweiler Pittie Mix is not a purebred dog but as a result of mating a purebred Rottweiler with a purebred APBT.
We end up with this hybrid dog when we cross-breed a Pittie with a Rottweiler. The result? An incredibly strong and loyal companion known as the Pitweiler.
A muscular dog which some say presents as intimidating couldn’t be further from the truth. When trained and socialized from an early age, you end up with dog yoga by your feet and the biggest smile greeting you.
Whilst it’s impossible to completely predict the temperament from a hybrid dog, both parent dogs have very similar characteristics; loving and confident.
It is worth noting that Rottweiler’s are renowned for sometimes being aloof! You may end up with this quality in your pitweiler. This can throw a cat amongst the pigeons during training sessions.
For more tips on training your pitweiler, take a look at our article on the pitweiler.
Pit Bull Husky Mix
Pitsky dogs are bred by mating a male pit bull (i.e. sire) with a husky (i.e. Dam).
We also have another favorite pit bull mix; the pitsky. This is when a pit bull is mated with a husky (this can be an Alaskan husky or a Siberian husky).
Here, we end up with a playful and affectionate mix of intelligence and cheekiness.
These hybrids are best suited to busy households with an active lifestyle. As with any hybrid, they could retain characteristics from either parent. A bored Husky will dig, chew and howl; they are also master escape artists.
If your pitsky is more husky like, you have to take these behaviors into consideration. Whilst not for the faint hearted, they are an affectionate and enthusiastic mix who will certainly keep you on your toes.
To learn more about if the pitsky is the right dog for you, take a look at our full article and breed analysis.
Which Is The Best Pit Bull?
If you have experience of large, powerful dogs and have the time and patience to give, what you receive in return is invaluable.
Pitties are loyal, gentle and wear their heart on their sleeve. A dog which carries a contagious zest for life.
We know they get a have a bad reputation, which may take generations to remove, and face bans or restrictions in multiple US cities. We also know that they are involved in the most dog bite related fatalities compared with any other breed.
But, we also know that when temperament tested by the American Temperament Test Society, Pitties pass 87% of the time.
The American Temperament Test Society Temperament Test simulates a dog walk to trigger various experiences to understanding a dog’s ability to different between non-threatening and threatening scenarios. A fail would be aggression in a non-threatening scenario, panic (and no recovery) or strong avoidance (e.g. shyness).
We’re not breed-ist, but looking at a comparable sample size, the Schnauzer had a pass rate of 77%.
What we will say, with a pure bred Pittie, you’ve got more of a chance of predicting their characteristics and temperament. With a hybrid, you never really know what you’ll end up with. You may end up with more Pittie than Husky, or more Rottie than Pit.
7 Pit Bull Facts and Myths
|1||They are involved in the most dog bite related injuries||True, however, they also pass the American Temperament Test Society’s test 87% of the time.
|2||They are banned or restricted in a number of states or municipalities in the US.||True. They are banned in 1089 cities across the US and there is breed specific legislation including bans or restrictions on pit bulls.
|3||They are aggressive||True – every dog has the potential to be aggressive. Aggression in dogs is defined as the threat of harm including, snarling, growling, barking, lunging or biting. These behaviors aren’t specific to pit bulls, studies have shown, the most common cause of aggression in dogs is fear and anxiety; those are emotions that every dog can feel.
|4||They are actually really trainable||True – Bull terriers come in as an average working dog, who in general will learn a new trick after 25-40 repetitions compared against a Shih Tzu; who on average takes 40-80 repetitions.
|5||They make incredible working dogs||True – Take the story of Weela who, when the river of Tijuana flooded, guided search teams through the flood to save victims and carried food and resources to those stranded! For this great service she received the Dog Hero of the Year Award.
|6||Pitties do actually smile!||Well, as we’ve mentioned in do dogs smile?, science isn’t entirely sure if dogs smile, but, ask any Pittie owner and we reckon they do.
Hopefully, by now, you understand the Pittie is not a specific breed of dog, but, a general classification used to describe lots of different purebred and mix dogs. Most commonly, when discussing pit bull breeds, people mean the APBT.
However, there are also other purebred dogs which are types of pit bulls, such as the Staffordshire bull terrier or the American Staffordshire terrier.
Finally, we can get a pit bull mix dog which is normally a APBT mated with another breed of dog (e.g. Pitsky).
Whilst we’ve discussed all of the positive attributes of the faithful Pit, we just ask that you are realistic with your capabilities as a dog handler.
Their high intelligence makes them responsive to training and with early and continued socialization, these guys are loving and playful family dogs. The problem is when they get into the wrong hands; whether this be for totally barbaric reasons, or simply that owners don’t have the time to spend with them.
Time, patience and love are all these guys want; in return they will give you their heart (and steal yours in the process).
Would you rather a purebred, a mix, or none at all?! Let us know with a comment below.
Just got a Pittie puppies and he is absolutely amazing. Great with my kids and a real family dog, he even lays on the dinner table chair while we’re eating. He loves being around us and we love being around him!
I adopted 2 dogs from a shelter one was supposed to be a Shepherd Mix and the other dog a black lab. But the Shepherd mix is actually a Staffordshire Terrier, and the black lab is a very small 25 pound pitbull mix. Both dogs are very sweet. Thier tails never stop wagging.
I have a pitbull mix , her dad is a pure bred staffy and her mom is a red nose pitbull , according to articles I can find my baby is a staffy bull pit , is there any more information about this mix breed , she is my entire life, spoiled and soooooo friendly. I would just like more info about the mix breed please.
I have a Lab/Pit mix…one of the best dogs ever. Recently I rescued a 10yr old Staffordshire Pit who had been used as a bait dog in a dog fighting ring. Very smart, funny, and incredibly loving. Love my Pits!
I recently rescued a Staffordshire Terrier. Winnie is mostly black with white on her chest and paws. She is a year and 4 months old, weighs in at 47 lbs. She is pure love and she has found her forever home.
After having Rottweilers, Shepherds, Old English Sheep dogs and a Newfoundland we took a chance rescuing a 1yr old Pit. That was 16yrs ago and one of the best choices we’ve made in our life. She practically raised our kids and their friends tolerating many accidental ear pulls, eye pokings and not-so-accidental horseback rides from the 2 year olds. She changed many people’s opinions about Pits. We loved her so much we got a second. We lost Christine a year ago (15yrs old) and everyone that knew her cried as if we lost a child. She was universally loved. Roxy learned from mama Pit and carries on her legacy of a loving, tolerant, happy Pit!
Aaah Rich & Kathy, this is such a beautiful story. Before me & hubby were married I often told him that if we were to get a dog one day, I want a Pitbull & he/she will sleep with us on our bed by my feet. My husband always replied that he wants to know nothing about “that dog” only because of what he heard about them. I can choose any dog under the sun except a Pittbull! I tried to rectify that they’re not anything near agressive & it only depends on how their owners raise them. Still I could’nt change his mind about how he felt about them. About 2 years ago I got in touch with my mom’s friend (who knows me before I went to school) after losing contact for about 5 years. She & her husband were living with her husbands brother at the time & didn’t warn us that her brother in law owns a dog (let alone a Pitbull). So we got the surprise at the gate when we met up & my husband’s facial expression told me everything he was thinking without saying one single word. So then I was more determined to prove his mindset wrong about Pitbulls. I asked my aunt does the dog bite strangers & she said no, so I told my husband “watch how wrong you have been all this time believing lies.” I climbed out of the car, greeted my aunt & then when the dog approached me, I stuck out my hand. He was sniffing sniffing at me & then he licked my hand. I started to rub his ear & head & gave him a rub on his back, then I left him & approached my aunt’s front door. So the dog didn’t want me to go inside, blocking me the whole time & my aunt said he wanted more rubs. So I gave him more rubs behind his ears & on his back. Then I hugged him for quite a bit & that dog didn’t show any aggression whatsoever. He just loved the attention from this complete stranger. Last year February I got my little Rednose puppy Bullitt😃😍. Now no one dares to try say anything negative about a Pitbull in front of my husband lol, he’s very quick to quiet & rectify them🤣. He loves the Pitbull more than he loves me lol. Oh ja & Bullitt is to this day sleeping with us on the bed, not just at our feet. Anywhere he feels like plunging down, thinking he’s human & taking over the bed lol. Bullitt also changed many peoples opinion about Pitbulls
Thank you for sharing your great story Michelle.
My husband was the same way then I brought him around my families pit, and last year after we got married he got me my little girl. A blue fawn pittie (Jade) and you ask him whose dog she is, he swears she is his!
Sorry for the lose of your beloved Christine your story is similar to mine. We lost our pit Lady Girl after 16 of the most wonderful and amazing years with her being a part of our family she was the most loyal and loveable dog I have ever come to known in my life. She fought thru her sickness trying to not leave her babies (referring to my kids)and my husband and I I assured her that we would be ok. She passed peacefully. All of our friends was so heartbroken over the loss of our amazing pit they all she’d tears and to told the story of the impact she had on their lives. About a week after the loss of our Lady Girl we had a friend call us about a red nose Pitt named Sunshine she was 2 months old and she needed a forever home we got in the car and went to meet her when we rounded the corner she was outside playing with some of her previous owners kids and my husband and I looked at each other and said that is our dog she was so smart and loving we had to make her our Sunshine and 4 almost 5 years later she still is the Sunshine of my families lives. Love my Pitt bull puppers
We have a Lab/Put mix “Kai”
Love him very much as he does us.
I want to get another one for him to play with.
I have an American Bully. She is the most loving and smartest dog I have ever had.
I would take all. I have a APBT and staffordshire mix now. I have had her since she was 8 weeks old. She is now 13. She is a reverse brindle-blue nose and she does have high blood pressure and now noticing her hearing is starting to go. At age 2 she started becoming animal aggressive to those outside her pack (Pomeranian and rottweiler) but as a responsible owner I made sure, knowing this problem I took all precautions. Although I love rottweilers I was skeptic about the pitbull, which actually was acquired by my son she attached herself to me and I have been an advocate ever since for this breed. I will get another pittbull-mix etc and probably not one but 2 or 3, these are very loyal dogs and will love you and your family unconditionally- my mother calls her her granddog and cancels all her activities when I go out of town to take care of her to make sure she gets the best care. (shes not spoiled).
I would like to know if you can find out about a pitbull breed called a Roscoe breed. Ive been searching to know avail.
Apologies, we have never heard of this breed. Are you sure on the spelling?
Roscoe would you the name of the bloodline not the breed.. i.e gator,jack, etc
Milo is our 5th rescue and first pit bull. We adored and loved all our dogs, but Milo is different. We had a DNA test done and he is 100% American Staffordshire Terrier. He is so easy to train and he is more human than dog. He loves so much! He has changed people’s opinion about pit bulls but sadly some are still skeptical. I decided to write a kids book about Milo in hope to teach about pit bulls and in hope that people will stop stereotyping these amazing dogs, other dogs and humans.:)
I would love to own the purebred pitbull. I know what this means now after reading this article, I think every breeder should be licensed and face charges for anything they are doing wrong (such as over-breeding). With Lots of Love and education this breed will flourish, thank you for writing article and we all have to do our part to protect this breed.
I’ve always been fascinated with this breed and finally took that leap and chose to save a 2 year old fawn/blue red nose APBT from the shelter -which coincidently was confiscated from its original owner (reasons unknown per the shelter). Everything I researched about this breed is absolutely true. My dog Taz has been with me for just a little over 1 year now, and is the most loving, loyal, family orientated, wanting to please, intelligent, nanny dog, etc… best friend I’ve ever had!!! Taz is quite a character – from his snoring, the odd sleeping positions, his nonstop kisses, to his belief that he’s a small lap dog. My family loves him so much!! I ALWAYS remember the following…
Taz will only be around for a small part of my life, but I am his ENTIRE life!
My Pitt is a red nose/blue her mom is a red nose and Dad a blue we took her in when she was 2 months old and we kept the name Sunshine which previous owner we often say we should’ve named her Taz because she loves to run around the yard and while running she has the tendencies to start spinning in circles over and over just like the tazmanin devil from the cartoons lol.
Both of my Pitties do that, too. We call it doing their “zoomies,” which is a term I can’t take credit for. Mention zoomies on any FB pittie group and you’ll get tons of replies saying “mine do that” and ” that’s what I call that, too. “
We had 2 Labs, then we got my American Staffordshire terrier (Salome) in 2015, our female Lab died 10/26/2016 and our male Lab died on 4/29/2019. After we got our American Staffordshire terrier I said to my husband I will never get anything but a pit bull again. 2 weeks ago we got an 8 week old Pit bull puppy(Moses), like I said I will never have a different breed again.
Your situation sounds like mine! I am seriously thinking about getting a 14 week old female Pittie, a rescue in foster now. We have 2 Labs, a female 11.5 yrs old and a male 10 yrs old. I am a little worried my female lab will not really like the puppy. Did you have problems introducing them? My male Lab I am not a bit worried about. Thx
The more dogs you have, the more time you have to spend introducing them (and by more time I mean many more structured activities to help them get used to one another). It takes time for most dogs to get them to a comfort level that you can live with, too. With three dogs, you are at the “quasi-pack” level, so finding out about pack mentality and roles can help. If you get to four dogs, you will have a pack.
Hi, thanks for this article, I have an American Staffordshire Terrier,his name is Chopper, my first dog, i have had him since he was 4months old , he’s 6 now, hes very sharp and aware of his surroundings, lovable, loyal and has the biggest smile, my grandkids are his buddies, loves the attention
I have an American pitbull name Majic, He will be 6 years old on June 28. He is loyal, loveable an he is great with children and adults. I trained him myself and l I wouldn’t trade him for anything in this world.
I got a 20 week old pit from someone that let him nip and bite. How do I stop him?
Can you clarify if they are mouthing or biting? Is it during times when you play or walk
I have owned pits since 1974, they are the best friends I ever had
My baby girl was listed as a Hound Great Dane at the pound. She is 1/4 Golden Retriever, 1/4 American Bull Dog, 1/4 Staffordshire Terrier and the rest is everything else. I have had her 5 years now and she loves people and other dogs. The first 4 years she had to touch me at all times, even sleeping under the covers next to my back. Because of the attachment at daycare they put her with little dogs and she loves them. They can roll all over her and play tag and she lets them win at times. I have never had a dog that loved people and other dogs as much as she does.
I had a mixed breed pitbull for must of my younger life, he was kindest most gentle and loyal dog and I will forever miss him. I recently adopted a blue nose and she has to be the most fun loving dog I have known.
My wife and I have a beautiful American Bulldog and people are very quick to judge him as a mindless dangerous dog, when in fact they are one of the most intelligent and well behaved dogs a person can have the privaledge of getting to know. Thank you for really doing your research and painting a true and honest portayal of the American Bulldog!
Our SPBT found my wife and I 4 years ago. She was a stray that showed up at our front door, we advertised at local kennels, dog parks, facebook, and flyers. Fortunately for us, nobody claimed her. Gypsy is the most loving, intelligent, and fun dog we could ever ask for.
Thank you for your most thorough article. I’m the third person to be my pit bull’s mom, and he’s mine forever. He’s the sweetest dog I’ve ever known. He enriches my life every day with his love, enthusiasm,and tenderness.
I have 2 of them. 1 is 13 she lab pit mix, the other is 6 she is a red nose pit. Best girls ever, all my neighbors love them also.
I rescued a Rednose after she had who knows how many litters. She’s goofy and just a funny pup. I also have a pup that is AMSTAFF/AMBulldog and Alaskan Malamute. Love them to pieces.
I will always have some form of a “bully” breed.
Owned juju from puppy till cancer killed her last may. Was raised around all kinds of dogs. There is no other dog but a pit. He was 74 lb bluenose. Looking for another right now. Perfect family guard dog no biting just on duty 24-7 with barking. Heart big as a truck loved my grandchildren.
My husband and I have grown up with shepherds and we have a 14 year old collie. We adopted a bully breed pup 4 years ago and best dog ever, loves everything (well except cats) and everyone. Is just a giant baby and he totally changed how I feel about pit mix/bully breeds. I am so in love with them we now adopted a red nose pit pup I will never have anything else but this breed ever again! Thank you for the article, let us hope more people become better educated on thus type of dog and hope that one day dog fighting will no longer exist.
I have a brother sister team. Half American Stafford Shire terrier and Aussie. They are amazing. I would do it again in a heart beat, just maybe not both at once lol. They are 3 and a bundle of love and energy.
I have an American Staffordshire terrier hes smart easily trained and very loyal and loves people. Very good dog
I have a Piheeler, Pit mixed with an Australian Cattle Dog. She was the runt of of a litter of 7. She is amazing. A bit hard headed and extremely playful. But she has finally realized when it’s work time. Very trainable and very willing.
I was raised with beagles and a white german shepherd. Since I’ve had my pitties I would never have another breed. Both are extremely friendly and very smart. I joke that they would lick a burglar to death.
I rescued Chico last year as a 5 yr old after having lost my two girls. They were almost the same age. I finally saw this blue fawn pit and told my husband. So long story short, he had been on the kill list in southern california when I rescued him. Chico is the love of my life, he loves everyone and everything, even our bossy little pug mix.
They are the best dogs ever. Owned every color of pitty since 1984, fawn, Brendan, white, blue nose, red nose, black. All are and we’re awesome dogs.
I’m a true believer in the “way you raise a dog” saying now. I was a paramedic for 14 years and I was a Pitbull, Pincher, Rottweiler and similar breed hater; even though, I saw more damage done to people by Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas and small dogs like that. I fell into believing in the hype of the stigma these animals have been labeled with for so long.
I had a friend that had a litter of puppies and was left with 1 brindle female no one seemed to want. She is my lifesaver and my hero. I was in a very low place in my life when I got her but she pulled me out of a depression. She made me have to get up, take care of her, and go outside with her. I began to feel better soon after and I know if it wasn’t for her unconditional love, making me laugh and being my world.
As I read everyone’s stories I keep saying to myself, “I know, right?” Just over 10 years ago, after being rescued from a broken up fight ring, trying (rather unsuccessfully) to stand up during the hour long car ride from the rescue to my house and thoroughly coating himself in his own vomit due to getting carsick, I met my Prince Charming! At 9 weeks, he was a ball of skin and wet tongue kisses, energetic and inquisitive and oh so smart! To keep him from getting into things while I slept, I kept the little guy in bed with me at night because, with his being so small, my bed was high enough that he couldn’t get down on his own ( though I think that it was his plan all along as, to this day, he still sleeps in my bed, under the covers, every night!!) He truly is my Prince Charming, not only because that it what I named him, but because he has been here for me, loved me, and yes, even at times protected me! At 10 years old, a lot more of his day is spent under the covers snoring and dreaming but, in my opinion, he’s earned the right to do that!! I don’t know where I would be if he has not come into my life! He is my world!!
I have a female staffie. I got her when she was 7 wks old and she was a runt. She is now 1 yr and 6 mo now. She is so goofy and loves to play with my other dogs and cats. She even has a favorite cat. But even though I got her for myself she prefers my dad. She even sleeps with him and you can always find her laying in his lap when he sits in his chair. He spoils her all the time. And he use to also have the wrong idea about pitbulls. Now he doesn’t anymore. My Bella is the best. Thanks for letting me talk about and helping to change peoples perception of these beautiful creatures that are a gift from God.
Enjoy your precious pit bulls until it lasts.