Most people, including some Pit Bull owners, don’t truly understand Pit Bulls as a type of dog because this dog breed is ambiguous- it encompasses a range of pedigree breeds with informal appearances and behaviors that cynologists and other dog experts cannot reliably identify. In reality, Pit Bull is a name for a dog breed that descends from a bulldog and Terrier.
Formal breeds of dogs that fall under the Pit Bull-type are American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully and the American Bulldog. Since there are mixed-breed dogs that physically resemble the American Pit Bull Terrier and other dogs already mentioned, some people think of them as Pit Bulls.
What’s the History Behind Pit Bull-type Dog?
No doubt, Pit Bulls are the descendants of bulldogs and Terriers. But do you know the history of their ancestors? In the 18th century in Great Britain, Brits loved bull and bear-baiting sports. In this spectator sports, dog handlers turned a pack of bulldogs or Terriers loose to taunt bulls and bears.
Spectators would then bet on the outcome of the sport which was always grisly. You should note that the bulldogs of 200 years ago were different in build and behavioral traits from the bulldogs of today (the lovable, “sourmugs” bulldogs of today).
When bull and bear-baiting became illegal in the 1800s due to its inhumane nature, Brits shifted their attention to dogfighting, where they antagonized bulldogs and Terriers against each other. This new sport necessitated the need to have stronger, agile and fierce dogs for fighting other dogs.
Dog handlers also wanted dogs that were unwilling to bite or attack humans despite their willingness to attack other dogs or animals. So, what did they do? They crossbred bulldogs with Terriers to give you bull-type Terrier breeds such as bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terrier and American bully among others.
So, today’s Pit Bulls trace their impressive strength from bulldogs (bull-baiting dogs) and agility and willingness to perform a task from Terriers. Since professional dog handlers made sure that bulldogs and Terriers never attacked them during dogfight separation, these Pit Bulls’ ancestors learned to be protective of their handlers or owners. They then passed this seemingly important trait onto their offspring- Pit Bulls.
When the Brit breeders or settlers immigrated to America from countries like England, they came along with their bull-type Terrier breeds. In America, these dogs performed new tasks such as hunting wild game, protecting property against intruders especially animals, ending up as an all-around farm dogs.
One such bull-type Terrier dog that came to America from England was the Staffordshire Terrier in the 1800s. While in America, U.S breeders developed the Staffordshire Terriers so they were larger than their English version. This, therefore, means that there were two versions of Staffordshire Terriers: The Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. The AmStaff (American Staffordshire Terrier) has become an American favorite Pit Bull-type dog and has featured in some of America’s popular cultures.
A good example is in Ken Burns’ 2003 documentary “Horatio’s Drive” that features an AmStaff breed as the dog breed to successfully complete the first cross-country auto trip. Also, an AmStaff has featured in a 1930s comedy “Our Gang.” Due to their genetic composition, Pit Bulls are generally strong and protective of their handlers. Also, they’re gentle and friendly to all members of a family, including little children.
What’s the Personality and Behavior of Pit Bulls?
The American Pit Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier initially had the job to bait large bulls while it was still in Great Britain. But all that changed when this dog came to America where he performed new tasks such as guarding the home property, hunting wild game and being a companion dog. His new roles made him develop a love for people and family members.
Since this dog breed hunted wild game and guarded property, it learned to be confident and keen, a trait that was crucial when it comes to guarding property. Today, this dog breed is keen and confident and have a love for people, especially family members. They’re also gentle around children.
This dog breed is willing to defend family members at all costs, even when his life is at stake. Their courage is unmatched and they’re agile and strong. Due to their love for people, American Pit Bull Terrier doesn’t make an excellent guard dog. What makes them special is their readiness to defend their handlers or the rest of the family members.
Just like any other breed, your American Pit Bull Terrier needs socialization from an early age. Exposing him to many people, sounds and experiences will make sure that he grows up a well-rounded dog.
American Staffordshire Terrier
AmStaffs generally have athletic and energetic bodies. As such, they require proper exercise. Also, this dog breed is people-oriented and has a high level of obedience. They generally do well when you incorporate them into the family. Since they are energetic and have high obedience levels, the American Pit Bull Terrier enjoys taking part in obedience, agility and dock diving sports that most canines participate in.
When you engage your dog in long play sessions, they develop psychological and mental health that makes them love and obey you. Due to their strong will, energy and agility, American Pit Bull Terrier usually excel in search and rescue missions.
What’s Pit Bull Nutrition?
An pit bull diet should be age-appropriate. This means that puppies, adult and senior pit bull have their own special meals. At all times, their meals should be of high-quality. You can either buy commercially manufactured dog foods or feed your pit bull home-made food. However, a professional veterinary doctor will have to supervise and approve the home-made food before you feed it to your dog.
Since dogs are prone to becoming overweight, you will have to watch his diet, especially calories intake. Even though treats come in handy during dog training, you should avoid giving your dog too much of it because he might be obese. Since you might be tempted to give human food to your dog, you should know which human foods are safe for him/her.
In case you aren’t sure of what to give your dog as food or have concerns about his weight, you should consult a professional veterinary doctor. And as a final touch, give your dog clean and fresh, water as much as he needs.
Pit Bull Health Condition
Generally, Pit Bulls are healthy but sometimes they become prone to some health conditions. What are these health conditions?
Hip Dysplasia (HD)
This is a dog hip condition where malformation of the hip joint ball and socket occurs. This health condition is always painful, with pain depending on the severity of the condition. Before breeding a dog, you will need to subject him/her to hips X-ray checks to ascertain they don’t have the Hip Dysplasia (HD) condition.
Pit Bulls also suffer from allergies sometimes. In most cases, they suffer from skin allergy. Some of the allergens that cause skin allergy include fleas, grass, pollen and dust. Skin allergies cause intense coat itching which makes dogs very uncomfortable. Itching drives dogs crazy, causing them to dig and chew their coat until they bleed.
Once they develop wounds on their skin, they become susceptible to secondary infections. Also, some Pit Bulls are allergic to some food types such as beef, rice, corn and wheat, though food allergy is less common with this breed. Allergies are untreatable. The only remedy is identifying the allergen and eliminating it from the dog’s environment. A veterinary expert will help you in this course.
This health condition results from thyroid gland dysfunction, which causes weight gain, poor coat, reproductive problems and other health-related issues. This condition usually plagues middle-aged dogs and can only be controlled with daily medication throughout the dog’s life.
One major heart disease that affects the life of this dog breed is Aortic Stenosis- a congenital heart defect from birth. Aortic Stenosis is the abnormal narrowing of the connection between your Pit Bull’s left ventricle and the aorta. This heart defect causes dogs to have less energy or cause sudden death among other dogs.
You should always see your dog to the veterinary doctor who will monitor his/her heart. If your professional veterinary doctor hears a heart murmur, he/she will check your dog’s heart using an X-ray and electrocardiogram to confirm whether your dog has this health condition or not.
How Should You Give Your Dog a Spa Grooming Experience?
When grooming your dog, there are 4 major areas to focus on:
Pit Bulls usually have short, shiny coat that’s stiff to the touch of your hands. Their coats can feature a variety of colors such as brown, grey, black and brindle among others. Due to the short and shiny nature of their coat, Pit Bulls require occasional baths, one bath a month or one bath after every 6 months.
In order to groom his coat during the days when you don’t have to bathe him, you will have to brush his coat with a Pit Bull brush that has stiff bristles with round tips. Also, you can wipe your dog’s coat with a piece of cloth to maintain its shiny look.
Pit Bulls’ skin is prone to allergies and mange. As you groom or bathe your dog, be on the lookout for visible skin irritations such as sores, scabs and hot spots. If you see such irritations, you will have to book an appointment with your veterinarian. Taking your dog to a veterinarian if he has irritations on his skin is one way of grooming him. You will be helping him have a smooth and attractive coat.
When it comes to oral hygiene, you should brush your dog’s teeth at least thrice a week but you can also brush his teeth daily. Brushing your dog’s teeth will reduce tartar and bacterial build-up, riding your dog of bad breath and gum disease.
Dogs naturally wear off their nails. But in case your dog doesn’t wear his nails off naturally, you can trim them once or twice a month. You should note that dog nails have blood vessels and nerve endings in them. If you trim too deep, you will hurt him and he will not cooperate the next time he’ll see nail clippers out.
As such, you have to take great caution and trim his nails right. If you don’t know how to trim your dog’s nails, you will have to give a pet groom or a veterinary expert the nail trimming job. You don’t have to complicate matters.
Pit Bull Training
Pit Bulls usually have impressive amounts of strength, excitement, obedience and strong will to perform a task. All these physical and behavioral traits make them easy to train. Besides, Pit Bulls have a high intelligence level and a desire to please his trainer. These qualities make training this breed very easy even further.
Even though you can successfully train a pit bull very easily, some behaviors such as digging and chewing may be hard to control. To reduce dog aggression, you should properly socialize your pit null. You should, however, not leave your pit bull alone with another dog because he will bully the other dog.
You finally have some tips about Pit Bull-type dogs. You now understand their history and the task they were originally developed to perform. Understanding your dog will help you treat him right. You will know what he’s capable of and how to properly make his life easier.
Also, you already know how to groom and take good care of your dog. Now, your only task is to find a dog and make him part of your family member. And just as you would take a son or daughter to a medical check-up, you should also see your dog to a professional veterinarian.