This American Pitbull Terrier is a purebred dog.
With the media attention that Pitbull Breeds get, I’m sure most of us would be pretty confident in identifying this dog immediately.
Would you be surprised to hear that in a study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, a significant amount of shelter workers identified various purebred dog breeds such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog and American Bull Terrier as a Pittie?
This terminology, seems to have morphed into a macro-category used as a metaphor to describe dangerous dogs. How could this confusion happen? Let’s delve a little further into this dog.
Table des matières
- What is a Pitbull?
- American Pitbull Terrier (APBT)
- Different Types of Pitbull Mix Dogs
- Which Is The Best Pitbull?
- 7 Pitbull Facts and Myths
- What is a Pit Bull Exactly?
- Different Types of Pit Bulls
- Which Breed is the Closest to the Original Pit Bull Dogs?
- Why Are There So Many Types of Pit Bull Dogs?
- Rescued pit bulls are the star of this Chicago circus
What is a Pitbull?
Exclusive Free Guide: Grab Our Pitbull Dogs eBook To Learn Everything About This Furry Friend.
They are a type of dog (not a specific breed), which is often used to classify a number of purebred and mixed breed dogs. Within this type of dog there are a number of Pitbull Breeds including:
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- American Pitbull Terrier (APBT)
- American Bulldog
- American Staffordshire Terrier
Pictured, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier (1), American Bully (3), American Staffordshire Terrier (4) and a APBT (2)
Types of Pitbull dogs first originated in Britain.
Historically, the barbaric Brits were fans of these bloodsports known as bear and bull baiting. They would tie a bull or a bear to a post in a pit and set a dog to attack.
The Brits cross-bred bulldogs for their strength with the feistiness of terriers. The aim was to breed strong, powerful and aggressive dogs. Once these bloodsports were outlawed, they turned to dog fighting as it was easier to conceal as an underground operation.
Types of Pitbulls are still used widely to this day in illegal dog fighting rings.
With their history, these dogs have earned a very bad reputation and are banned in a large number of states and municipalities across the US, largely erasing their history of being known as a nanny dog.
The reality is that when raised in the right hands, with early socialization and consistent training, they can be be the most loyal and loving dog you could ever wish to meet.
They carry a contagious zest for life which always brightens your day. Had a rubbish day in work? Nothing will beat that smile that welcomes you through the door.
Pits are intelligent and love to please. This makes them trainable and obedient; this is actually their downfall. Pitties will do whatever you ask them to, this is how they get themselves into the wrong hands. If you train them to collect the mail, they will. If you train them to fight, they will.
Whilst we have mentioned that they are a type of dog, we need to get specific with regards to purebreds, mixed breeds and hybrids. American Pitbull Terriers are a type of Pitbull too. We will now discuss the various breeds and mixed breeds which fall under this classification to help you understand.
American Pitbull Terrier (APBT)
The APBT is a purebred dog, but, due to its checkered past is not recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The APBT stands taller than some of the other Pitbull Breeds, usually around 6-8 inches taller than a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Many breeders argue that the only true Pittie dog is the APBT. Most breed specific legislation applies to the APBT and the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Under the APBT, you may notice that some dogs are named either a Rednose or a Bluenose. These aren’t a separate breed, they are just a particular color of the purebred dog.
They still have all the same qualities and characteristics, if anything, because they can be more sought after, over-breeding can result in more prevalent health problems.
The Red Nose is a type of APBT, not a different breed, just a specific color.
You will easily spot a Rednose from birth; they will have red/copper/brown tones to their fur, nose, eyes and toenails.
Often described as a rare breed, you will notice that the price tags for these incredible dogs are on the high side.
Aside from the color, they really are just like all the other APBTs; intelligent, trainable, loyal and gentle.
They suit most families if they have experience of large, powerful dogs. Give them time and patience, for training and socialization and they will give you their whole heart.
Another type of a purebred APBT; just in blue.
Just like the rednose, you can easily spot one of these guys too; the bluenose is just that. They will have blue and grey tones to their fur, eyes, toenails and noses!
Again, as a more sought after color, their price tags can be equally as high as a rednose.
Not boasting anything different to the rest of the Pitties, these fun loving guys just adore their family.
They thrive when they are busy, exercising or playing in the yard.
The downside of the Bluenose is their health. As the blue and grey hues are caused by a recessive gene resulting in low melanin levels, it can cause a range of health problems including a weakened immune system, deafness, cataracts, alopecia and a range of heart problems.
Bear in mind that both the rednose and the bluenose are as a result of breeding bluenoses with bluenoses, and rednoses with rednoses to result in the desired color.
The gene pool for both types could potentially be small which can result in more prevalent health issues.
Different Types of Pitbull Mix Dogs
Widening the gene pool, there are some very popular Pitbull breeds which are a Pitbull Mix (i.e. a cross breed).
Rottweiler Pitbull Mix
A Rottweiler and Pitbull Mix can be result in a hybrid dog which is loyal, loving and affectionate.
The Rottweiler Pittie Mix is not a purebred dog but as a result of mating a purebred Rottweiler with a preubred APBT.
We end up with this hybrid dog when we cross-breed a Pittie with a Rottweiler. The result? An incredibly strong and loyal companion known as the Pitweiler.
A muscular dog which some say presents as intimidating couldn’t be further from the truth. When trained and socialized from an early age, you end up with dog yoga by your feet and the biggest smile greeting you.
Whilst it’s impossible to completely predict the temperament from a hybrid dog, both parent dogs have very similar characteristics; loving and confident.
It is worth noting that Rottweiler’s are renowned for sometimes being aloof! You may end up with this quality in your Pitweiler. This can throw a cat amongst the pigeons during training sessions.
For more tips on training your Pitweiler, take a look at our article on the Pitweiler.
Pitbull Husky Mix
Pitsky Dogs are bred by mating a male Pitbull (i.e. sire) with a Husky (i.e. Dam).
We also have another favourite Pitbull Mix; the Pitsky. This is when a Pitbull is mated with a Husky (this can be an Alaskan Husky or a Siberian Husky).
Here, we end up with a playful and affectionate mix of intelligence and cheekiness.
These hybrids are best suited to busy households with an active lifestyle. As with any hybrid, they could retain characteristics from either parent. A bored Husky will dig, chew and howl; they are also master escape artists.
If your Pitsky is more Husky like, you have to take these behaviors into consideration. Whilst not for the feint hearted, they are an affectionate and enthusiastic mix who will certainly keep you on your toes.
To learn more about if the Pitsky is the right dog for you, take a look at our full article and breed analysis.
Which Is The Best Pitbull?
If you have experience of large, powerful dogs and have the time and patience to give, what you receive in return is invaluable.
Pitties are loyal, gentle and wear their heart on their sleeve. A dog which carries a contagious zest for life.
We know they get a have a bad reputation, which may take generations to remove, and face bans or restrictions in multiple US cities. We also know that they are involved in the most dog bite related fatalities compared with any other breed.
But, we also know that when temperament tested by the American Temperament Test Society, Pitties pass 87% of the time.
The American Temperament Test Society Temperament Test simulates a dog walk to trigger various experiences to understanding a dog’s ability to different between non-threatening and threatening scenarios. A fail would be aggression in a non-threatening scenario, panic (and no recovery) or strong avoidance (e.g. shyness).
We’re not breed-ist, but looking at a comparable sample size, the Schnauzer had a pass rate of 77%.
What we will say, with a pure bred Pittie, you’ve got more of a chance of predicting their characteristics and temperament. With a hybrid, you never really know what you’ll end up with. You may end up with more Pittie than Husky, or more Rottie than Pit.
7 Pitbull Facts and Myths
|1||They are involved in the most dog bite related injuries||True, however, they also pass the American Temperament Test Society’s test 87% of the time.|
|2||They are banned or restricted in a number of states or municipalities in the US.||True. They are banned in 1089 cities across the US and there is breed specific legislation including bans or restrictions on Pitbulls.|
|3||They are aggressive||True – every dog has the potential to be aggressive. Aggression in dogs is defined as the threat of harm including, snarling, growling, barking, lunging or biting. These behaviors aren’t specific to Pitbulls, studies have shown, the most common cause of aggression in dogs is fear and anxiety; those are emotions that every dog can feel.|
|4||They are actually really trainable||True – Bull terriers come in as an average working dog, who in general will learn a new trick after 25-40 repetitions compared against a Shih Tzu; who on average takes 40-80 repetitions.|
|5||They make incredible working dogs||True – Take the story of Weela who, when the river of Tijuana flooded, guided search teams through the flood to save victims and carried food and resources to those stranded! For this great service she received the Dog Hero of the Year Award.|
|6||Pitties do actually smile!||Well, as we’ve mentioned in do dogs smile?, science isn’t entirely sure if dogs smile, but, ask any Pittie owner and we reckon they do.|
Hopefully, by now, you understand the Pittie is not a specific breed of dog, but, a general classification used to describe lots of different purebred and mix dogs. Most commonly, when discussing Pitbull Breeds, people mean the APBT.
However, there are also other purebred dogs which are types of Pitbulls, such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier or the American Staffordshire Terrier.
Finally, we can get a Pitbull Mix dog which is normally a APBT mated with another breed of dog (e.g. Pitsky).
Whilst we’ve discussed all of the positive attributes of the faithful Pit, we just ask that you are realistic with your capabilities as a dog handler.
Their high intelligence makes them responsive to training and with early and continued socialization, these guys are loving and playful family dogs. The problem is when they get into the wrong hands; whether this be for totally barbaric reasons, or simply that owners don’t have the time to spend with them.
Time, patience and love are all these guys want; in return they will give you their heart (and steal yours in the process).
What a pit bull is and is not, as you know, is a raging debate online and offline. Ask any pit bull fancier, breeder, and owner, and you will obtain a different response each time. The pit bull emerged as a type of dogs more than a single breed – yet, there is such a breed as the American Pit Bull Terrier…
So what are the different types of pit bull dogs currently? We’ve rounded up what the community believes belong under the umbrella of pit bull breeds. Some of the last breeds are a little less accepted by the majority.
What is a Pit Bull Exactly?
A pitbull is a name given to the type of dogs, descended from bulldogs and terriers. There is some confusion regarding what a Pit Bull exactly is, and whether it is at all a breed or not. Pit Bulls are indeed among the most misidentified and misunderstood breeds of dogs. Pit Bulls can be purebred or mixed dogs, containing bulldog-type dogs and bull terrier-type dogs.
As for the physical characteristics, Pit Bulls have a stocky body with a short and broad head. They are strong, courageous and sturdy with a muscular body structure. Their coats are usually smooth, short and easy to maintain. Their neck is thick, muscular, and require pitbull collars for maximum comfort.
Pit Bulls are fast, eager and extremely intelligent. They are admired for their agility and obedience. Activities like guarding herds or watching over your property suit the Pit Bulls. Their aggressiveness is misunderstood and overrated. Rather, they can be a welcome member of your family with their people-oriented and friendly nature. Plus, each type of Pit Bull comes with their unique set of physical and mental characteristics. To keep such lean and muscular bodies, pitbull-type dogs require a specific high-protein diet and intense training and exercising plans. Make sure you invest in some pit bull-friendly dog toys, too.
Different Types of Pit Bulls
The formal breeds that are usually considered to be of the bully type include the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
However, recently, the American Bully is a breed that is growing popularly recognized as one of the most expensive Pit Bull type dog breeds. On the other hand, the mixed-breed dogs that physically resemble these breeds are labeled as Pit Bulls by shelters. Here are the types explained in details.
Infographic: an overview of the different breeds of pitbull dogs.
American Pit Bull Terrier
The UKC recognizes the American Pit Bull Terrier as the first and the only official Pit Bull breed in the US today. A result of the American terriers and the English Bulldogs, the average height and weight of an American Pit Bull Terrier are 17” to 21” and 30 to 60 pounds respectively.
These dogs were traditionally raised as fighters. By nature, they are friendly, obedient and also cautious around unknown faces. However, they can also a bit naturally aggressive. To tame that hypothetical aggression, it is advisable for the owners to occasionally keep their pups surrounded by other animals and undergo a comprehension dog training course.
Blue Nose Pit Bull
A blue nose pitbull is a type of pit bull, characterized by its blue colored nose and coat. Dog lovers, who are acquainted with the different types Pit Bulls and their importance, know that the blue nose pit bulls are quite rare. These dogs with blue coat and nose are extremely desired and admired. In fact, they are not just a type of pit bull but actually a cross breed of a bull and a terrier.
Apart from the distinct color associated with these dogs, the rest of the features like body structure, coat quality, aggressiveness etc. is mostly similar to those of the other types.
Red Nose Pit Bull
Again a rare and desired color in the pitbull world, the red nose pitbulls come with a red colored nose and a copper-colored coat.
The history behind these pitbulls is interesting and worth a mention. The concept of the red nose is actually related to the Irish pit bulls that were traditionally used for bull baiting. The Irish came to the US with these red-nosed pitbulls that accompanied them. The reason for this red color of their nose is, however, not known. Owners of this particular type of pit bull must feed the dog, the best variety of fish oil available out there. This is necessary to keep their copper coat shiny and healthy. Breeding these dogs can let you get a red-nosed pup or a blue-nosed pup as well.
Two red-nosed pitbull puppies surrounding a blue-nosed puppy.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is yet another type of pitbull that is traditionally known to be a working dog. The breeding history of these dogs dates back to the 1970s when the Americans preferred an all-around working dog.
The average height of these dogs is 17” to 19” and their weight is 60 to 90 pounds approximately. They are the heftiest and also the tallest among the different kinds of Pit Bulls. Their drive for intensely heavy tasks and also the natural aggression is relatively less though.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier dogs were first bred by the coal miners of England in their desire for lighter, faster and reliable working dogs. Among the types of Pit Bulls, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is quite lightweight, weighing about 24 to 38 pounds with a height of about 14” to 16”.
Their body structure is muscular and their coat is shiny but easy to maintain. Named after a famous place in England, characteristically, these dogs are sweet and loyal and can perfectly fit into a small but active family.
The American Bully is a very popular and more recent type of pitbull breed. These dogs are the result of cross-breeding between the American Pit Bull Terrier and the English Bulldogs. The American Bully comes with immense fighting instinct and a drive for hard work, both of which are inherited from the parents.
The average height of an American Bully is 16” to 20” while its weight is proportional to its height. The American Bullies can be good family companions/members and hence, can serve as great pets at the same time. Check out our list of the most influential American Bully bloodlines.
Due to their recent rise in popularity, American Bullies are a scattered all over the place. Every new American Bully breeder wants his or her bloodline to be the very new breed standard. Here is a summary of each subtype within the American Bully breed.
The different varieties of American Bullies.
The XL Bully dogs, drawing from their name, are the biggest varieties of American Bully dogs. A male XL bully measures about 20” to 23” while the females appear in the range of 19” to 22”.
While the basic physical traits of these dogs are similar to most other types of American Bullies, the XL Bully is more muscular, taller, way more massive and much bulkier than the others. An XL bully needs to be taken care of well, its average life expectancy is 10 to 12 years. The dogs belonging to this category have a shiny coat that is stiff and close.
Breeders and owners love the XL bully because of its excellent height and overwhelmingly huge structure. In nature, these dogs are happy, friendly and sociable. They are powerful but soft-natured. Their muscular structure often makes the children scared but once acquainted, an XL bully can turn out to be the most loved member of a family.
The Extreme Bully is basically an amendment to the Standard Bully variety. An Extreme Bully dog is different in the sense that it has a heavier build and body structure. These dogs have a greater body mass due to their thick bones. The weight and height of this particular type are the same as that of the American Bully.
The facial structure, however, is wider and a bit wrinkled. The lips of these breeds are semi-closed and at times, loose. The rear portion of this dog is slightly heavier compared to the other breeds. A male bully has a height of 17” to 20” while a female bully is about 16” to 19” in height.
The Standard Bully is considered to be one of the best American Bully breed specimens – it is referred to as the Standard for a reason. In its overall look and size, it closely resembles a Bulldog. It is, in fact, closer to the American Pit Bull Terrier. Their bodies are compact and thick. The head is heavy, broad and often quite large, though not disproportional to their bodies. The muscles around the cheek are very pronounced while the entire body has a muscular build.
The Standard Bully comes with immense power and stamina. It turns out to be a great pet, mainly by virtue of its affectionate nature, especially towards the owners and the family members. Underneath the tough exterior, the dog has excellent bonding abilities and appears to love children. The breed is also tolerant towards strangers and can accept them well.
The Classic Bully is, on the surface, similar to a standard American Bully but with certain differences in its physical features. A Classic Bully is lighter in weight with a compact body, lean muscles, and heavier bones. These dogs are ideal for owners and breeders who want a less heavy bully breed with a lighter body mass.
The temperament of these dogs is somewhat similar to the Standard Bully. Therefore, the Classic Bully comes with a sociable, friendly behavior and a stable personality. They have a great personality with courage and intelligence being their dominant traits. They are also reliable and trustworthy and are much loved by their masters.
As the name suggests, a Pocket Bully is another subtype of American Bully that cannot literally be fitted in a pocket but is much shorter in height. The body of a Pocket Bully is visibly more compact compared to the other varieties. They look cuter and are perfect for owners looking for shorter bulldogs.
The head of these dogs is heavy, large and broader with the ears set high. Their eyes, on the other hand, appear in the shape of an almond or are simply oval. The color of the eyes can be blue or albino depending on the pedigree of the particular American Bully Pocket. A Pocket Bully is essentially friendly with a happy demeanor.
The American Bulldog is yet another popular type of pitbulls. Traditionally, these dogs were used as utility dogs and assigned to tasks like guarding the homes of their master. The lean, stout, muscular physique of an American Bulldog makes him suitable for different types of tasks, requiring hard work, strength, and stamina.
These dogs are assertive, loyal and affectionate at the same time, making them great work companions and even better family members. These days, many American Bulldogs, because of their sharp and diligent nature, are trained to become tracking and guard dogs.
The Bull Terrier is a breed of dog belonging to the Terrier family. These dogs are typically short and lack the bulkiness and muscular structure of the other bully breeds. The average height and weight of a male Bull Terrier are 18” to 22” and 25 to 29 kg respectively while the female Bull Terrier weights about 22 -25 kg.
With a lifespan of 10-14 years, the Bull Terrier comes with a short and dense coat and can be found in different colors including white, fawn, brindle, red, black and even tri-color.
Which Breed is the Closest to the Original Pit Bull Dogs?
The American Bully is bullier, less terrier than the Am Staff and the APBT.
In terms of their physical features as well as bloodline, the American Pit Bull Terrier can be considered to be the closest one to the original pitbull dogs. The American Pit Bull Terrier originates from popular old-school pitbull bloodlines, most of which were part of the dog fighting group.
They are solidly-built, medium-sized with short hair and smooth coat. Their structure is muscular, which is a dominant characteristic of the pitbull dogs. Compared to the Staffordshire Bull terrier, they are larger by 6” to 8” and heavier by 25 to 35 pounds. Being the closest to what the original Pit Bulls are, courage and tenacity form the basic character of an American Pit Bull Terrier. They can be aggressive to other animals but usually friendly and obedient to human.
Why Are There So Many Types of Pit Bull Dogs?
Unlike other breeds and types of dogs, pitbulls do not fall in a single category and the types of breeds that are considered to be pitbulls vary widely. This is primarily because of the absence of a central registry system like the AKC, which is applicable to all other breeds. This absence gives the buyers and breeders the freedom to do as per their choice and preference with practically no authoritarian body to oversee the matter.
This is coupled with the fact that most breeders and owners of pitbulls today are from a younger generation. They prefer their bloodline to be known for certain physical characteristics, purpose, skill or attribute of the dogs instead of something bestowed on them by a standardized system. Thus, new bloodlines and unofficial subtypes keep coming up without much organization or structure. At times, this process leads to remarkable results, inspiring fellow dog breeders to follow the same path. Other times, it leads to extinct bloodlines and unsuccessful bully breeders.
A little over a year ago, pet photographer and animal shelter advocate Adam Goldberg came up with an idea for a new photo series: The Pit Bull Picture Project.
Goldberg, who is based in Tampa, Florida, set out to photograph pitties in a way that would help dismantle untrue negative stereotypes about the dogs, and « show off their goofy and lovable side to inspire more adoptions, » he told TODAY.
Adam Goldberg’s Pit Bull Photo Project aims to knock down negative stereotypes and help pitties find homes.Courtesy of AGoldPhoto Pet Photography
About 300 pit bulls have been photographed so far for the series, which has received national attention. Most of the subjects are shelter dogs who need homes.
« When I volunteer at the shelter I ask to only take photos of pit bulls, » Goldberg said.
Usually that means he’s shooting dogs like the one above. But not that long ago, a shelter produced this sweet pupper to be part of the project.
This pupper is part of Adam Goldberg’s Pit Bull Photo Project, despite not displaying what you’d think of as typical pit bull-like physical characteristics.Courtesy of AGoldPhoto Pet Photography
« I remember thinking, this doesn’t really look like a pit bull, » Goldberg said.
Then the shelter brought him to meet the dog’s siblings. Their heads were bigger and blockier; more typical of what you imagine of a pit bull. « I was surprised, but when I saw his siblings, it made more sense, » Goldberg said.
Rescued pit bulls are the star of this Chicago circus
Oct. 12, 201701:05
So, what is a pit bull? This is a question with a complex answer. Bronwen Dickey, author of « Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon, » dates the early use of the term to the 1800s.
« The term ‘pit bull’ is a shortened version of the general term ‘pit bulldog,’ which was used throughout the 19th century, » Dickey said in an email. They were « smallish, stocky, smooth-coated » dogs, some of whom were used in dog fighting, she said, while « plenty of others lived low-key lives as farm dogs and family pets. »
Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY. Simba is even cuter than usual in some comfy pajamas.Courtesy of Jill Stafford
Today, the term pit bull generally does not refer to any one specific breed of dog. (Though some breed aficionados argue it should.)
Karryn Bishop’s granddaughter Breah and dog Justice.Courtesy of Karryn Bishop
Here’s where things might get confusing: The term pit bull often also refers to dogs who simply look like they belong to one of those breeds — even if they share no genetic connection. And in fact, as Dickey notes, « multiple studies on breed identification have shown, however, that often the dogs visually identified as pit bulls don’t have any of those breeds in their DNA.
« Even worse, studies have also confirmed that two animal professionals can look at the same photo of a dog and not agree on what breeds are likely in its heritage, » said Dickey. « That means that a large number of dogs labeled ‘pit bulls’ are really just mutts. »
Mizuki is on the left, with Meiko on the right. « My bebes, » says proud mom Daisy Wise, founder of the rescue group Hello Bully.Courtesy of Daisy Wise
Those mutts generally share some physical characteristics, though as Goldberg’s experience shows, even those traits aren’t universal.
« To me, they’re muscular, block-headed, empathic dogs that I occasionally muse are also part unicorn, since there’s really no such breed as the pit bull, » said Deirdre Franklin, founder of Pinups for Pitbulls, and co-author of « The Pit Bull Life: A Dog Lover’s Companion. » « They’re just individual dogs, but they happen to be some of my favorite dogs. »
Here’s where things get confusing, and problematic: Pit bulls may not necessarily share a genetic history, or any particular behavior traits, or even a particular look, but they do face widespread discrimination.
Hundreds of cities and counties across the United States ban or otherwise regulate pit bulls. So-called breed-specific legislation, or BSL, is on the wane; in June, Delaware became the 21st state to prohibit BSL anywhere within its borders.
NFL player Logan Ryan and his wife Ashley Bragg Ryan are big time pit bull advocates. Their daughter Avery loves dogs, too. Here she is with family dogs Leo and Nala.Courtesy of Ashley Bragg Ryan
Mountains of evidence shows that these laws are ineffective at promoting public safety, and are expensive to enforce, while also leading to heartbreak for families and dogs. Every reputable animal welfare organization has come out against BSL, but the breed-discriminatory laws persist in many jurisdictions.
Couple this with the fluid definition of what a pit bull is, and you run into countless stories of people whose dogs are taken away from them for no better reason than the way they look.
A dog named Charlie was just ordered to leave Lakewood, Ohio, because authorities decided he looked to be more than 50 percent pit bull, which meant under the local law he is banned from the city. To show how arbitrary this designation is, previously the city had said Charlie did not meet the banned dog definition.
Moreover, even when pit bulls are not banned in a given community, they face other uphill battles. A big one is the struggle to find pit bull-friendly housing. (The nonprofit My Pit Bull Is Family maintains a database of rentals that will accept pits and other pets.)
« Pit bull type dogs are more likely to end up homeless, and owners of pit bull-type dogs face housing restrictions and other repercussions of breed-specific legislation, » said Pamela Reid, vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals anti-cruelty behavior team. « As a result, pit bull-type dogs are the most at-risk population in shelters today, and in many communities, shelters take in more pit bulls than any other type of dog. »
Princess and Nate are available for adoption through Bastrop Animal Rescue in Texas.Courtesy of Bastrop Animal Rescu
That’s why even if pit bulls are not a breed, even if it’s confusing as heck to try to explain what the term actually means, there are advocates out there tirelessly dedicating their lives to making this world better for the dogs.
« Ask anyone with a pit bull-type dog and they’ll tell you that their dog seems to know how they’re feeling and they will do whatever it takes to put a smile on your face, » said Franklin. « Sure, some may say that of any other breed or type, but that’s what I love about them so much. How could I not want to help clear their name? They’re amazing! »
One big push is for dogs to be regulated by behavior instead of by appearance or breed. These breed-neutral dangerous dog laws are promoted as being fairer, and more effective.
Theodore was rescued from a dog fighting bust in 2013. He now lives with dog trainer and advocate Trish McMillan Loehr, who shares many adorable videos and photos of her dog.Courtesy of Trish McMillan Loehr
Another is for animal shelters, and others, to stop labeling dogs by breed absent certainty about their genetic makeup.
The idea is to help folks focus on an individual dog’s behavior and personality, and away from behavioral expectations based on untrue stereotypes. This way more families go home with a dog who will actually be a good fit for them instead of one whose looks conform to their idea of what a good dog looks like.
Captain Cowpants, right, and Tuggy are therapy dogs based in Utah.Courtesy of Melissa Lipani
« When someone asks us, ‘what kind of dog is that?,’ we answer honestly. ‘We don’t know — but I can tell you she is 60 pounds and prefers sleeping on a lap,' » said Nicole Juchem, shelter liaison for the advocacy group Animal Farm Foundation. « For shelters, if you are looking to describe a dog without using a guessed breed or breed type, it’s easy, you just need to look at the dog as an individual. »
Goldberg, the Pit Bull Photo Project photographer, said he’d be happy with that, too — if shelters stopped labeling dogs by breed, but especially if the dogs we know as pit bulls no longer needed him to show them off so well.
« If pit bulls didn’t require extra attention, I’d be thrilled, » he said.