What is a Pitbull?- The Basics

What is a Pitbull?



For various reasons, predominately ignorance, several breeds of dogs have become linked to the term “Pitbull”.

The term Pitbull refers to a bulldog that was used in the dog fighting pit.

Dog fighting is not something that I choose to partake in, rather its a simple fact that this is the history of these dogs, and I believe that if you want to own one of these dogs, you should be aware of their history, as well as their capabilities.

These are seriously powerful dogs, with serious drive, and must be properly trained and handled. That having been  said, with a firm experienced leader (as any working class, or powerful breed of dog) these can be some of the best types of dogs to own.

The Original Bulldogs were used in Britain for bloodsports such as bull baiting and bear-baiting. When these became illegal, dogmen took up the sport of dog fighting.

The Bulldog is the base stock of all dogs consider to be Pitbulls. From these Bulldogs, through the addition of the terrier and by the selective breeding of dogs for specific traits, several breeds of dog have emerged:

American Pitbull Terrier

The Ancestry of the APBT is sometimes argued as to whether APBT originates from the Bulldog directly, or whether it has terrier bred into it. The American Pitbull Terrier was brought to the USA by immigrants predominantly from Ireland, but England, Spain and Italy as well.

Many of these dog men brought their dogs over with the intentions of fighting them. These dogs were bred specifically to become fighting machines, bred to never quit (a trait called “gameness.”). Through very selective breeding, that typically involves inbreeding, and line breeding, to isolate certain traits that you want to pass forward.

Certain bloodlines of dogs can be traced back numerous generations, each bloodline of  dogs have their very own specific traits that make them unique.

However mighty and fearless these dogs were in the pit, these dogs were not bred to be aggressive towards people. Quite the opposite, aggression towards human is considered a fault in the breed, and would be considered bad practice to breed a dog that is human aggressive. The APBT is extremely loyal and loving of their family. These dogs were known to be great family dogs and good with children.

These dogs are typically between 35-60 lbs, with some dogs getting up to about 70 lbs. The APBT has an extremely high energy level, and must have an outlet for this energy. By nature the APBT has tendencies to be aggressive with other animals if not trained and socialized from a young age. But if raised around other animals from puppyhood, the APBT should be fine THESE animals. The APBT is an extremely high energy dog and needs more than a 10 minute walk a day to fulfill its physical needs. The APBT needs an outlet for its energy

In recent times, in light of the decline in popularity of dog fighting, there have become many new outlets out there for the APBT to excel in. The APBT is an extraordinary athlete by nature, has high intelligence, high motivation to work, a desire to please his owner and an unwillingness to quit anything it puts its mind to, the APBT excels in many forms of work. The APBT has served as police dogs and service dogs,, but the APBT can also work in personal protection, weight pull, flyball, and dock jumping, and hunting boar.

Bull Terrier

The Bull Terrier was created in the early 1800s by mixing the Bulldog with the White English Terrier. The Bull Terrier was created for vermin control, and dog fighting after other bloodsports became illegal. The Bull Terrier of old was not like those of today, without a bridge in their nose. The Bull terrier was a functional baiting, hunting, and as a pit dog. Its appearance was quite similar to that of the APBT.

As dog fighting became illegal in Britain, they started to breed their dogs less for pit fighting, and more for show and conformation. The look of the Bull terrier was created through selectively breeding for this trait. There are still working Bull Terriers to this day. The Bull Terrier has a natural tendency towards animal aggression, they should be socialized from an early age. The Bull Terrier is a high energy dog, and needs an outlet for its energy.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is an English Dog, it shares the same lineage as the APBT and potentially the Bull terrier, but was bred to a different breeding program.

The “Staffy” was bred to be a human companion. As the APBT, the staffy is by nature a very human friendly dog, and good with children. It was regarded as the “nanny dog” because of how well they are with kids. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, may also display courage and fearlessness earned in its ancestry. The Staffy does have a tendency towards animal agression, and should be socialized from an early age.

American Staffordshire Terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier was created directly from APBT stock, that then underwent their own specific breeding program. There have been cases of dogs that were registered as both American Pitbull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers. Some people use them as working dogs, but most were bred for conformation in mind. A good deal of them may retain some prey drive instincts of the APBT. Some breeders will selectively breed for the “blue” color, which is not common, or bred for in the APBT.  The Am Staff is a high energy dog, that needs exercise and obedience training.

American Bully


The American Bully is a fairly new breed of dog. There are many classifications or styles of this breed. Some of the most popular are; The Pocket, The Standard, The Classic, and The XL Bully. The Bully was created using APBT stock, some breeders maintain that this breed was created strictly through selectively breeding the APBT for select traits. (colour, size, muscle and temperament) Others say maintain that there were other breeds like different styles of bulldogs and/or mastiff type dogsto obtain specific traits. Regardless of the style of Bully, they were all created to be companion dogs primarily.The Bully was created to pass forward the most desirable traits of the APBT, while reducing the tendency for animal aggression.

Some types of American Bully can preform protection sports, weight pull or work as catch dogs at a very high level and they can be considered   a working class dog. The size of the American Bully varies largely depending on the variation of the breed, they are generally anywhere between 60-110 lbs +.

The energy levels of these dogs depend on the variety of Bully, the working class dogs naturally have a higher energy level than the conformation dogs, as well as higher levels of prey drive and the potential for animal aggression.

American Bulldog

The American Bulldog often falls in this same category, due to its ancestry from the Original Bulldog and the fact that they are commonly interbred with APBT.

APBT breeders may use American Bulldogs in their breeding program to add bone, muscle, and size to their dogs. American Bulldog breeders also use APBT in their breeding program to maintain athleticism.

The American Bulldog, like the APBT came to the USA from Britain with their owners as they immigrated to America. The primary purpose of these dogs was to be used as farm dogs, and catch dogs for hunting wild boar.

The nature of this work is very physical, a catch dog would be required to hold a boar still while the hunter can either kill, or tie it up. In the case of a farm dog, the dog would help the farmer to handle and control bulls, protect the farm from intruders, and protect the live stock from predation. As you can imagine, size is definitely an advantage for these dogs, thus these dogs were bred to be bigger than their APBT relatives, the average American bulldog is generally 80-110 lbs+.

There are 2 main types of American Bulldog. The Scott’s “standard” style or The Johnson “classic” style American Bulldog. The Scott’s American Bulldog is much more athletic, and functional as a working dog with higher energy levels. The Johnson style is bigger and bulkier, but doesn’t have as much athletic ability or energy as the standard American Bulldog.

The Right Pitbull For You

As shown, there are many types of Pitulls. They share similar origins, the Original Bulldog, but were then selectively bred for different traits and characteristics. When you are in search of a Pitbull of your own, please do your research, and get the dog that would best fit you and your lifestyle.

There is a dog out there that can suit our needs, Whether you are looking for a weight pulling dog, a catch dog, or a companion dog, there is a Pitbull out there for you.

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