To look at a pit bull, it is clear that this is an athletic, strong and powerful dog. The pit bull is known for strength and athleticism, his impressive physique inherited from his ancestor the English bulldog. But the bulldog has changed so much since the 19th century, when the pit bull was bred, that the features the pit bull inherited from his English bulldog forebear are no longer part of the bulldog standard.
Early English bulldogs were lean and athletic, and powerful enough to chase and herd cattle. Today's English bulldogs, who officially are called simply bulldogs, are smaller, loose-jointed and squat. Their physical strength and athleticism has diminished to the point that bulldogs, once favored for their ability to tackle bulls in the baiting ring, often cannot deliver puppies naturally. Selective breeding for exaggerated physical traits has given the breed many physical limitations pit bulls don't have.
The American bulldog is also a descendent of the original bulldog and is a good example of how the bred looked and carried itself in the 19th century. He is large, with a muscular physique and a broad jaw. While he is taller than the pit bull -- males are typically 27 inches tall; pit bull males are around 21 inches -- he is leaner and less powerful than the pit bull, who can weigh up to 70 pounds. Some American bulldogs may weigh more than a pit bull -- tall specimens sometimes tip the scales around 80 pounds, but the extra mass doesn’t necessarily equate to strength.
While the pit bull is colloquially considered to be among the strongest and most athletic dog breeds in the world, the claim of “strongest dog” relies as much on definition as it does on measurement. The breed regularly excels in schutzhund, protection work and agility competition. He is capable of pulling heavy weights, too, but the Siberian husky is better at coordinated pulling and is therefore more useful as a sled dog. Meanwhile, the pit bull has a strong bite, but not as powerful as the Rottweiler's.
Size and weight aside, the pit bull is the clear winner in terms of athleticism and physique when compared with either other kind of bulldog. The pit bull's short legs gives him a low center of gravity, ideal for pulling and climbing. His broad chest and dense shoulder muscles give him great explosive power, enabling him to jump, run and pull with great strength.
- American Kennel Club: Bulldog
- United Kennel Club: American Kennel Club
- United Kennel Club: American Pit Bull Terrier
- Telegraph: Why Do Over 80 Percent of Bulldog Births Happen by Caesarian Section?
- Pet Planet: Siberian Husky Dog Breed Profile
- Psychology Today: Dog Bite Force: Myths, Misinterpretations and Realities
- UCA Dogs: American Pit Bull Terriers
- Universities Federation for Animal Welfare: Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals
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