Characteristics of Pit Bulls

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American pit bull terriers, often referred to simply as pit bulls, are one of the most talked about dog breeds due to their popularity as household pets and their rich history. As a breed, they have distinct characteristics in looks and temperament.

American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers are sometimes called pit bulls by mistake, but that's a misconception.

Size and Weight

A pit bull usually weighs between 35 and 65 pounds and stands 24 inches tall, although some might be a bit smaller or larger. They are muscular dogs with stocky builds when healthy, and they are known for having great strength in relation to their size.


Pit bulls always have short hair. They come in a variety of colors, usually tan, brown, black and white, or a mixture of those colors with spots or brindle patterns.


Although pit bulls have a reputation for being strong and sometimes aggressive, their temperament is that of a loving household pet. Characteristics commonly associated with pit bulls include high energy, loving to please, quick learning ability and willingness to climb. They get along well with humans and other dogs if they're properly socialized.

Their reputation for being aggressive or prone to attack comes from the fact that some people mistreat and misuse dogs, often with the intention of dog fighting, and because some pet owners neglect to teach, train and properly socialize their dogs. Improper training can result in an unpredictable dog. As with all dog breeds, pit bulls require training, and their dispositions vary from individual to individual.

Life Expectancy

Although all dogs are the same species, each breed ages a bit differently, and the life expectancy of your dog will depend on genetic and health factors. The average life expectancy for pit bulls is 12 to 14 years.


About the Author

Sheila Zahra began working as an editor and writer in 2004. She has edited full-length works of fiction and nonfiction, and has written articles and essays for academic and business clients. Zahra earned a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and creative writing from California State University, Long Beach, in 2006. She currently lives and works in Eugene, Oregon.

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