The Sweet (and Often Misunderstood) Pitbull Dog Breed

If there is any dog that has a bum reputation, it’s the pitbull dog breed. Although the AKC doesn’t recognize the pitbull as a breed, it does recognize the American Staffordshire terrier, which is the breed that is often referred to as a pitbull (which is also sometimes spelled as two words, pit bull). The name pitbull comes from a barbaric “sporting” practice involving dogs, bulls and rats, which we’d rather not get into.

The truth is these pitbull terriers can be lovable and loyal pets, and they, like other dog breeds, get bad reputations because of poor or aggressive dog training.

Is an American Staffordshire Terrier a Pitbull?

The AKC doesn’t recognize pit bulls as a breed because it’s an umbrella term for “bully” breeds that include the American Staffordshire bull terrier, often called an AmStaff. Many other beloved breeds such as the boxer and Boston terrier belong to this group as well. The group’s name is not representative of their personalities but of their lineage — they descend from Molossor dogs. These “bully” ancestors hailed from Greece and were large, muscular dogs with pendant ears and short muzzles.

Do Pit Bulls Bark a Lot?

Nobody likes a dog that barks like crazy. The good news is pitbulls aren’t known as barkaholics. With that said, Pit bulls do bark as a way of communicating with other dogs and humans. They are bred to be protective and vocal to fend off potential intruders. Pit bulls bark out of fear and from unfamiliar sounds or sights like sirens and people. You may also find your pitbull barks when he’s bored, wants your attention, or is lonely.

While this breed isn’t quick to start a bark fest, they can and do bark incessantly. Fortunately, for you and your neighbors, there are a few things you can do to reduce your pet’s barking episodes.  If you have established the reason for your dog’s barking, you can correct their behavior.

How to stop pit bulls from barking

If your dog’s barking is the result of a siren or other movement or sound outside, chances are he will stop barking once the trigger goes away. Distracting your pet is often effective. When your pit bull hears or sees the trigger, with a treat in hand, call his name and get him to sit. Once your dog sits, offer him the treat. 

Pitbulls are a high-energy breed that needs an incredible amount of love, affection, and stimulation. So it’s essential your pitbull gets plenty of exercise every day. Don’t forget to include mental engagement with puzzle games and chew toys. When leaving your pit bull alone at home, be sure to provide plenty of attention while you’re home and chew toys or a puzzle toy stuffed with peanut butter to help keep him occupied. 

If your pitbull is seeking your attention with his barks, the best thing you can do is ignore him. When you look, speak, or touch him after he’s done barking, you reinforce the behavior, ensuring it will continue. However, when you ignore your pit bull, he learns that he won’t get his way every time. Once he quiets down for a few seconds, you can give him attention.

Everyone in your household must agree about correcting your pit bull’s behavior. Without a joint effort, any steps you take will be for not.

Facts About Pit Bulls and American Staffordshire Pitbulls

The American Pit Bull Foundation estimates that 1,200 pit bulls are euthanized every day

Pit bulls, in general, are confident, smart, and good-natured. They are the loyal family guardians. These dogs were originally bred to “bait” bulls that eventually evolved into “nanny dogs” because of their gentle demeanor with children. They are best suited for experienced pet parents and families that can offer plenty of attention. It’s crucial you check your local ordinances as some areas have breed-specific legislation that may include pit bulls.

  • Size: American Staffordshire terriers grow up to 17 to 18 inches in height and weigh 40 to 70 pounds. Staffordshire bull terriers grow up to 14 to 16 inches in height and weigh 24-38 pounds.
  • Life expectancy: American Staffordshire terriers tend to live 12 to 16 years, while Staffordshire bull terriers live an average of 12 to 14 years.
  • Coat: American Staffordshire terriers have a stiff, glossy coat that comes in several colors and patterns. The Staffordshire bull terrier coat has a short, tight-fitting coat that comes in many colors.
  • AKC group: American Staffordshire terriers

Are Pit Bulls Easy to Train?

Due to the AmStaff’s physical strength, strong will, and exuberance, many dog experts recommend early socialization and puppy training classes. They are an intelligent breed, often making training easy. However, if you’re looking to train your AmStaff to stop unwanted behaviors like chewing or digging, you may find training difficult. Please note that even well-socialized AmStaffs can develop aggression. It is for this reason, many trainers recommend not leaving untrained pitbulls alone with other dogs.

The intelligent Staffordshire bull terrier learns easily and responds quickly. While they are eager to please and easily comply with their owner’s commands, they have a strong prey drive. Staffordshire bull terriers require clear and consistent training starting in puppyhood. Positive reinforcement training with praise and treats is necessary for both breeds. 

Do Pit Bulls Need Grooming?

Neither the Staffordshire bull terrier nor AmStaff requires an incredible amount of grooming. Weekly brushing with a soft bristle brush for an AmStaff’s coat, a horsehair mitt, or hound glove for a Staffordshire bull terrier coat will help remove any loose hairs and keep their coats in beautiful condition. Only occasional baths are needed. And as with all breeds, nails should be trimmed regularly to prevent them from growing too long and causing pain when walking or running.

What If My Breed Is a Pitbull or Staffordshire Bull Terrier Mix?

Pitbull or Staffordshire bull terrier breeds can make for some interesting and beautiful mixes. Research the parent breeds’ strengths and weaknesses to determine what characteristics the offspring may possess. While there isn’t any guarantee when it comes to mixes, you are sure to get a loyal, intelligent, and courageous dog with a pitbull or Staffordshire bull terrier mix.

Here are some popular pit bulls breed mixes: 

  • Border Stack – Staffordshire bull terrier + Border collie /Jack Russell terrier mix
  • Boston Pit – pit bull + Boston terrier
  • Boxer Staffy Bull – Staffordshire bull terrier + boxer
  • Bully Pit – pit bull + English bulldog
  • Doberman Pit – pit bull + Doberman pinscher
  • Golden Pit – pit bull + golden retriever
  • Pitador – pit bull + Labrador retriever
  • Pitsky — Pitbull + Siberian husky
  • Pitweiler – pit bull + rottweiler
  • Staffy Bull Pit – Staffordshire bull terrier + pit bull terrier
  • Staffy Bull Wolfhound – Staffordshire bull terrier + Irish wolfhound
  • Staffypit – pit bull + Staffordshire bull terrier
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