Think pit bull, and what comes to mind is a dog with a large head, wide jaws, a muscular, stocky body, and a short coat. Indeed, the pit bull’s appearance can seem intimidating to some and endearing to others. As descendants of European dogs trained specifically for vicious modes of “entertainment”, pit bulls have had a past ridden with misfortune and tragedy. As their abuse at human hands continues, these dogs or any breed with the slightest resemblance evoke feelings of dread.
Pit bulls have performed excellently as police dogs in the military as well as animal-assisted therapy. Known to be loyal to a fault, these dogs will go to any lengths to please their master, which probably did their undoing, as they can be trained to attack and maul, as much as cuddle and love.
However, if one considers the origins of the dogs as the determining factor, only the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) and the American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff) can be called ‘Pit Bulls’.
The general consensus among experts is that it is not possible to correctly identify a pit bull breed only on the basis of visual clues. There are several dogs, including Boston Terriers, Boxers, and Bullmastiffs sharing similar physical characteristics as the pit bull. Therefore, the best way to identify one is by knowing about the dog’s lineage.
It has a smooth, short coat with varying colors and is quite glossy.
The ears are small to medium in length and can be naturally floppy or cropped.
The tail is small, thick, and tapers to a point.
Its height is in the range of 17 to 21 in (43 to 53 cm) at shoulders.
Females weigh between 30 and 50 lb, and males weigh between 35 and 60 lb.
The two breeds differ mainly on two grounds – height and weight; the AmStaff is slightly heavier and taller.
This breed was named, thus, by the AKC, so as to differentiate it from the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, an English breed.