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American Pit Bull Terrier

American Pit Bull Terrier

Country of Origin: United States
Height: 18–22 inches
Weight: 30–60 pounds
Coat: Glossy, smooth, close, fairly stiff
Colors: Any color, pattern, combination except merle
Registries (with Group): UKC (Terrier)


The American Pit Bull Terrier descends from early Greek Mastiff-type dogs called Molossians, who found their way into fighting arenas throughout the Roman Empire. Developed from bull and terrier types, APBTs were originally used by butchers to manage bulls and by hunters to help catch and hold wild boars and other game. In England, these tasks evolved to become the sports of bull- and bear baiting, the act of pitting dogs against bulls or bears, until these blood sports were outlawed in 1835 and dog fighting sprang up in its place.

American Pit Bull Terriers succeeded in the fighting ring by being tenacious, athletic, strong, intelligent, and courageous. Outside of the fighting ring, these dogs gained notoriety for their strong, handsome presentation and loyal, affectionate natures with their families. In fact, the breed quickly became popular in the United States as a hunting dog and family companion, and dog fighting was outlawed in most states by the 1860s. Today, dog fighting is illegal in most countries, including the United States, but the APBT’s negative reputation for being a fighting dog has stayed with him. Those who own and admire him for who he really is—and do so responsibly—hold the future of the breed in their hands.



When raised and trained with respect and knowledge, there is no finer companion than the American Pit Bull Terrier. A properly bred APBT is kind and caring toward children, intelligent and easily trained, loving, playful, expressive, faithful, and versatile. However, he is often aggressive toward other dogs and may see smaller animals as prey. He is adept at herding, guarding, hunting, and weight pulling.


  • Exercise: The high-energy American Pit Bull Terrier needs several walks a day to keep him physically fit and mentally challenged. The walks should also be occasions to properly introduce an APBT to different people so that he becomes well socialized.
  • Grooming: The APBT’s short, smooth coat is easily managed with regular brushing with a firm-bristled brush and an occasional bath.
  • Life Span: 12 years.
  • Training: Responsive and smart, the APBT is a relatively easy breed to train and has excelled in many areas that demand a high level of aptitude. A training issue with this breed can be how others perceive him, which makes being out with the APBT—who needs the exposure to all sorts of people and places to help him be a confident, trusting adult—sometimes difficult.

Find a Nylabone chew, treat, or toy for your American Pit Bull Terrier or large dog!

Excerpted from World Atlas of Dog Breeds, 6th Edition. © 2009 T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Used by Permission.

World Atlas of Dog Breeds

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