The pit bull is a strong, distinctive dog; crossbred between a bull dog and a terrier and originating in England. There are three types of pit bulls, all descendants of the original bull-baiting dog, but bred for distinctive purposes and characteristics. These are the Staffordshire terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier and the American pit bull. Before becoming a pit bull parent, it is important to understand the differences between the three.
Pit bulls have a distinctive short, broad head and a stocky body. The American Kennel Club describes pit bulls as strong, courageous and sturdy dogs with a muscular body and a short, smooth, easy to maintain coat. Pit bulls are intelligent, fast and eager, making them suitable for agility, obedience and tracking and confirmation training. They are people oriented, friendly and enjoy being part of a family.
Cole miners in England bred the Staffordshire bull terrier because they needed a fast, small working dog. The Staffordshire is the shortest and lightest of the three breeds for this reason. They stand 14 to 16 inches tall and typically weigh 24 to 38 pounds. The Staffordshire is bred to have a natural working drive and is best suited for a person or family with an active lifestyle. The Staffordshire's personality is typically affectionate, loyal and loving.
Americans bred the Staffordshire terrier because they needed a general purpose dog. The American Staffordshire is the tallest, heaviest and most muscular of the three breeds for this reason. They are 17 to 19 inches tall and typically weigh 60 to 90 pounds. They have much the same personality as the original Staffordshire, notably outgoing and confident. They enjoy working, but are not meant to have the strong working drive of the English Staffordshire, making them suitable for various lifestyles.
The American pit bull was bred as a combat and working dog. They needed to be quick and strong. The American pit bulls typically stand 15 to 17 inches and weigh 35 to 65 pounds, making them the medium size of the three breeds. They are typically the least outgoing of the three breeds because they are bred to show caution around strangers. This breed is suitable for protection and make good watch dogs. Socializing the American pit bull well as puppy will avoid having an overly aggressive dog.
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