American Bully History from the American Pit Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier ( APBT ) is a Descendent of the original English bull baiting bulldog and has Historically been bred with working / performance goals in mind. The challenge of describing the American pit bull Terrier inevitably invites a long sequence of superlatives. The APBT is a supremely athletic, highly versatile, adaptive, gushingly affectionate, eager to please, all around family dog. In courage, resolve, indefatigablenss, indifference to pain, and stubborn perseverance in overcoming any challenge, the APTB has no equal in the K-9 world. Although the American Pit Bull Terrier was once used as a national symbol of courage and pride, the breed is largely misunderstood today.
Even Though the American Pit Bull Terrier was historically bred to excel in combat with other dogs, a well bred APBT has rock steady temperament and, contrary to popular belief , is not inherently aggressive towards humans. However. as adults, some American Pit bulls may show aggression towards other dogs. This fact , along with the American pit bulls Strength and determination , should be taken into account when considering if the pit bull is the right breed for you. As with any companion dog, socialization and consistent fair mined training is a must from a very early age.
Some Pit bulls may be suspicious of strangers, as most dogs are and will protect loved ones if necessary in general they do not excel in protection / guard work. If your main reason for getting a dog is for protection, perhaps a Rottweiler or German Shephard, or even a Doberman Pinscher would suit you better . If you Really like the Bull dog phenotype look into the American Bully.
There are several types of dogs that are commonly called '' pit ". Primarily these are the American pit Bull terrier the American Staffordshire Terrier AST, and the stafford bull terrier. SBT, All three of these dogs share common ancestry but have been subsequently breed emphasizing different breeding criteria. Due to this divergence, some people feel that they are now different breeds. Others choose to view them as different "strains" of the same breed. Neither view is wrong, as it comes down to how one defines what a "breed" is. This FAQ is primarily about the American pit Bull terrier, specifically those dogs of relatively recent game-bred ancestry. Some of the material may ring true for the AST and the SBT, but the authors are biased toward the American Pit bull terrier from performance-bred lines , and this bias will be clear throughout the FAQ.
Among enthusiasts, the history of the APBT is as controversial as the breed itself is among the misled public. The breed's history is a recurrent subject of lively debate in the magazines devoted to the breed. In fact, this frequently asked question was hotly debated among the contributors before it reached its final form, and still everyone isn't 100% happy!
The original Bulldog chained in a barn although the precise origin of the APBT is not known, we can reliably trace its roots back at least one hundred and fifty years or so to England. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries the spot of bull-baiting was very much alive and dogs were bred to excel in this endeavor. The same type of dog was also used by hunters to catch game and by butchers and farmers to bring down unruly cattle. These dogs were called "bulldogs" Historically, the word "Bulldog" did not mean a specific breed of dog per se, but rather it was applied to descendants of the ancient Mastiff-type dogs that excelled in the task of bull-baiting. The "bulldogs" of yore were much different from, and should not be confused with, the love able clowns of the show ring today. The old, performance-bred, working bulldog was closer in phenotype and spirt to the American Pit Bull terrier and or the modern American Bulldog. The use of the word "bulldog" applied to APBT persists even today among American pit bull terrier fanciers.
Crib and Rosa by Abraham Cooper, 1817 When bull-baiting was outlaws in England in 1835 the sport of matching two dogs against one another in combat rose in popularity to fill the void. One point of contention about the history of the APBT is whether these pit fighting dogs were essentially a new breed of dog specially created for this poplar pastime. Some
authors, notably Richard Stratton, have theorized that the American pit bull is essentially the same breed as the Renaissance bull-baiting dogs, specifically terriers. These authors consider the present name, American Pit Bull terrier, a double misnomer, since in their view, the breed is not of American origin and is not a terrier. They explain the popular attribution of the breed's origin to a cross between bull-baiter's and terriers as a retrospective confusion with the breeding history of the English Bull Terrier, which is a totally distinct breed that was never successful at pit fighting but whose origin is well documented. Other authors who have researched the topic, such as Dr.Carl Semencic, argue that the APBT is indeed the product of a cross between bull baiting dogs and terriers and that the breed simply did not exist in its current form during the renaissance. they would argue that when we think of the terriers in the American Pit Bull ancestry, we should not envision modern-day show dogs like Yorkshire Terriers, but instead working terriers ( probably now extinct ) that were bred for great tenacity in hunting. The problem of proof, which hangs over the discussion of any early breed history, is compounded in this case by the extreme secrecy of the breeders of pit dogs. In the 19th century pedigrees, if committed to paper at all, were not divulged, since every breeder feared letting his rivals in on the secrets of his success and replicating it. In any case, by no later than the mid- 19th century, the breed had acquired all of essential characteristics for which it is still prized today, its awesome athletic abilities, its peerless gameness, and its easy- going temperament.
Teenagers and their family Pit sometime around the turn of the century The immediate ancestors of the APBT were Irish and English Pit fighting dogs imported to the states in the mid 19th century Once in the united states, the breed diverged
slightly from what was being produced back in England and Ireland. In America, where these dogs were used not as pit fighters, but also as catch dogs ( I.e. for forcibly retrieving stray hogs and cattle) and as guardians of family, the breeders
started producing a slightly larger, leggier dog. However, this gain in size and weight was small until very recently. The Old Family Dogs in 19th century Ireland were rarely above 25 lbs , and 15lbs-, Dogs were not uncommon. in American books on the breed from the early part of this century it is rare to find a specimen over 50 lbs ( with a few notable exceptions}. From 1900 to 1975 or so, there was probably a very small and gradual increment in the average weight of American pit bull terriers over the years, without any corresponding loss in performance abilities. But now that the vast majority of American pit Bulls are no longer performance-bred to the traditional pit standard (understandably, since the traditional performance test, the pit contest itself, is now a felony) the American axiom of "Bigger is Better" has taken over in the breeding practices of the many neophyte breeders who joined the bandwagon of the dog's popularity in the 1980s. This has resulted in a ballooning of the average size of the breed, in our opinion. Another, less visible modification of the breed since the 19th century was the selective intensification of genetically programmed fighting styles (such as front-end specialists, stifle specialists, etc,) as performance breeding became more sophisticated under competitive pressures. In spite of these changes, there has been a remarkable continuity in the breed for more than a century. Photos from a century ago show dogs indistinguishable from the dogs being bred today. Although , as in any performance breed, you will find a certain lateral ( synchronic ) variability in phenotype across different lines, you will nevertheless find uncanny chronological continuity in these types across decades. There are photos of pit dogs from the 1860s that are phenotypically ( and to judge by contemporary descriptions of matches constitutionally) identical to the American Pit Bull Terrier of today.
Throughout the 19th century, these dogs were known by a variety of names, pit terriers" Pit Bull Terriers" " Half and halfs" Staffordshire fighting Dogs" Old family dogs" ( the Irish name) Yankee terriers " (the northern name) Rebel terries (the southern name) to name a few . In 1898, a man by the name of Chauncy bennet formed the United kennel club UKC for the sole purpose of registering Pit Bulls a the American kennel club wanted nothing to do with the name Pit Bull. Originally he added the word American in the name and dropped the word "PIT" . This didnt please all the people so later the word Pit was added back to the name in parentheses as a compromise. The parentheses were then removed from the name about 15 years ago. All other breeds that are reqistered with UKC were accepted into the UKC after the APBT . Another registry of ADBA) which was started in September, 1909 by Guy McCord, a close friend of John P, Colby. Now under the stewardship of the only APBTs and is more in the tune with the APBT as a breed than the UKC the ADBA does sponsor conformations shows, but more importantly it sponsors weight pulling competitions whish test a dogs strength, stamina and heart. it also publishes a quarterly magazine dedicated to the APBT called the American Pit Bull Terrier Gazette ( See the References " section) The authors feel that the ADBA is preserve the original characteristics of the breed. The Lovable Petey and the rest of our Gang in 1936, thanks to petey the pup in the "lil Rascals" and Our Gang who familiarized a wider audience with the APBT, the AKC American Kennel Club jumped on the bandwagon and Registered the breed as the Staffordshire Terrier. The name was changed to " American Staffordshire Terrier AST in 1972 to distinguish it from its smaller, froggier, English cousin the saffordshire bull terrier also knows as the saffy bully. In 1936 for all intents and purposes, the AKC , UKC, ADBA Version of the Pit Bull were identical since the original AKC stock came from pit fighting dogs, which were UKC and ADBA registered.
During this time period, and the years that preceded it the APBT was a well liked dog in America. At this time the APBT was considered an idea family pet. Because of his fun-loving, forgiving temperament, the breed was rightly considered an excellent dog for families with small children. Even if most of them couldn't identify the breed by name, kids of the lil Rascals generation wanted a companion just like pete the pup During the first world war, there was an
American propaganda poster that represents the rival European nations with their national dogs dressed in Military uniforms and with their national dogs dressed in military uniforms and in the center representing the United stated was an APBT declaring in a caption below Im neutral but not afraid of any of them.
Since 1936, due to different breeding goals, the American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pit Bull terrier have diverged in both phenotype and spirit Temperament, although both Ideally continue to have on common an easy-going, friendly disposition. Some folks in the fancy feel that after 60 years of breeding for different goals, these two dogs now entirely different breeds. Other people choose to view them as two different stains of the same breed ( working and show) either way the gap continues to widen as breeders from both sides of the fence consider it undersirable to interbreed the two. To the untrained eye ADST may look more impressive and fearsome, with a larger and blocky head with bulging jaw muscles a wider chest and thicker neck. In general, however, they aren't nearly as game or athletic as game bred american pit bull terriers because of the standardization of their conformation for show purposes, ASTs tend to look alike to a much wider phenotypical range, since the primary breeding goal until fairly recently has been not to produce a dog with a certain
"look" but to produce one capable of winning pit contests in which the looks of a dog counted for nothing. There are some game-bred Ameriocan pit bulls that are practically indistinguishable from typical ASts but in general they are leaner, leggier and lighter on there toes and have more stamina, agility, speed, and explosive power.
Following the second World War , until the early 1980s the APBT lapsed into relative obscurity. but those devoted few who knew the breed knew it in intimate detail. These devotees typically knew much more about their dog's ancestry than about their own they werenofften able to recite pedigrees back six or eight generations. When American pit bull terriers became popular with the public around 1980, nefarious individuals with little or no knowledge of the breed started to own and breed them and predictably, problems started to crop up. many of these newcomers did not adhere to the traditional breeding goals of the old-time APBT breeders in typical backyard fashion they began randomly breeding dogs in order to mass produce puppies as profitable commodities. Worse, some unscrupupulous neophytes started selecting dogs for exactly the opposite criteria that had prevailed up to then they began selectively breeding dogs for the trait of human aggressiveness. before long individuals who shouldn't have been allowed near a gold fish were owning and producing poorly bred, human- aggressive "Pit bulls" for a mass market. This couples with media's propensity for over- semplification and Sensationalization , gave rise to the Anti Pit Bull hysteria that continues to this day. It should go without saying that,this breed, you should aviod backyard breedres. find a breeder with a national reputation, investigate for example the breeder who advertises in the breeds flagship magazine The American Pit bull Terrier Gazette. In spite of the introduction of some bad breeding practices in the last 15 years or so the vast majority of apbts remain very human friendly . the American Canine Temperament Testing Association, which sponsors tests for temperament titles for dogs, reported that 95% of all american pit bulls that take the test pass, compared with a 77% passing rate for all breeds on average. The American Pit bull terriers passing rate was the fourth highest of all breeds tested. Today, the APBT is still used ((Underground and Illegally) as a fighting dog in the united states Pit matches also take place in orther countries where there are no laws or where the existing laws are not enforced. However , the vast majority of American pit Bulls even within the kennels of breeders who breed for fighting ability never see any action in the pit. instead they are loyal, loving companion dogs and family pets. One activity that has realy grown in popularity among APBT fanciers is weight pulling contests. Weight-pulls retain something of the spirit of competition of the pit fighting world, but without the blood or sorrow. The APBT is ideally suited for these contests, in which the refusal to quit counts for as much as brute strength. Currently, American pit bull terriers hold world records in several weight classes. I have seen one 70 pound. American Pit bull terrier is ideally suited for is agility competition, where its athleticism and determination can be widely appreciated. Some Pit Bulls have been trained and done well in Schutzhund sport, these dogs, however are more the exception than the rule ( see the section on American Pit bull terriers and protection / guard work ).
1)- Actually one can trace the Bulldog" history back further than that, but for this document thats for enough. Readers who are interested in more information on the history of the breed are encouraged to refer to Dr. Carl Semencic's book " The world of fighting dogs".
2)- Through out this document, unless otherwise noted when we referring to the traditional American pit bull terrier breeding standards. In general. the UKC United kennel club version of the American pit bull terrier is now being bred mostly for looks alone and thus has much in common with AKC AST.