Dog Breed Guide – Pitbull Terrier

Everything You Need To Know About Pitbull Terriers

Pitbulls were originally from England, Scotland, and Ireland. They were created by breeding bulldogs and terriers resulting in a strong, gentle and courageous dog.

They were brought to North America by English immigrants.

They were originally bred for fighting large animals. They also make excellent rat hunters owning to their terrier traits.

Physical Characteristics

Pitbulls are medium to large breed dogs.

Males weigh approximately 30 to 60 pound and grow up to 21 inches at the withers while females weigh approximately 30 to 50 pounds and grow to a height of 20 inches.

They have large broad heads that are round in shape with the broadness running between the ears.

Their eyes are round in shape that sits low on the skull and is set well apart. Their eye color varies between golden brown, hazel, blue, brown and dark brown.

They have short-medium ears.

Their hair coat is short and fine with a smooth glossy appearance. It is almost stiff to touch. The color varies depending on the dogs they were bred form. Popular colors include brown, fawn, sable, black, chocolate, etc.

Their chest is well filled, wide and deep giving them a strong appearance.

The forequarters are muscular with wide long shoulder blades. The elbows are set closely and the forelegs are sturdy and muscular.

They also have a well-defined pelvis with muscular broad hindquarters.

Their tails are short thin and curls in a whip-like manner.

They have a life span of 12 to 14 years.

Temperament

Pitbulls take time to mature. They may not show their true temperament until they are about two to four years old.

Pitbulls are protective of their families and fearless. They also has a playful temperament and are very friendly. They are very humorous with many tricks up their sleeve and are a constant source of laughter.

They also have a high prey drive and should therefore not be kept in the same compound with cats, birds, chicken, and rodents. They were originally bred to chase and hunt livestock.

Pitbulls also get along with children.

They can, however, show aggression to other dogs. Same-sex aggression is very common among pitties, therefore, a same-sex household is highly discouraged.  Early socialization, training and management skills can help restrain them from unwarranted aggression towards other dogs.

They are also very intelligent, intuitive and have exceptional judgment. They will only react to real threats. They are very protective of their families.

They also do not need attack training as they don’t shy away from a fight if challenged.

Due to their friendly nature, they may not be the best guard dogs.

Living Conditions

Pitbulls do well in stand-alone homes due to their need for exercise and their high energy levels. They can also adapt to apartment living though you may need to set aside an hour daily for walks and ample playtime.

They should also not be left alone outside as they do not tolerate cold and hot temperatures.

They also loves to spend time with their families and are prone to separation anxiety.

Pitbulls make excellent playmates for children. However they should be taught makes to pull at the dog’s ears, tail, startle then while sleeping or take away their food. Playtime should also be supervised at all times.

Early socialized Pitbulls also get along with other pets though they have a high prey drive.

Trainability

Pitbulls get a bad reputation for being aggressive dogs. However early socialization is key to prevent this behavior.

Expose them to different people, animals, sights, and environment when they are still puppies. Get them used to being handled and being on a leash.

Punishment training or leash correction does not do well with Pitbulls as they are very strong, muscular and can be aggressive when challenged. However positive reinforcement or other reward-based training can do wonders when it comes to training.

Grooming

Their short hair coat makes grooming very easy. A bath and brushing with a stiff-bristled brush are usually enough.

Remember to also brush their teeth twice or thrice a week to prevent build up tartar and bacterial infections.

Nail clipping should also be done at least every two to three weeks.

Don’t forget the ears as they are prone to infection and wax build-up.

Health

Pitbulls are generally healthy dogs. They are however predisposed to certain health conditions such as:

  • Hip dysplasia: This refers to the displacement of the hip joint where the ball of the hip does not fit well into the socket. It mostly occurs when the socket is too shallow to completely cover the ball of the femur bone. Hip dysplasia can be a result of genetics, obesity, injury and nutritional causes. It is a debilitating disease which often causes a lot of pain, lameness and joint stiffness. If not treated on time it can cause arthritis in the affected joint.
  • Skin allergies: Pitbulls’ short hair coat is highly exposed to environmental effects making it prone to allergies. Skin allergies present with intense itching, redness, bald spots, hair loss, and secondary bacterial infection. Allergies can be caused by environmental effects such as a change in weather, pollen, etc. They can also be caused by certain ingredients contained in food e.g. gluten, dairy products, etc.
  • Parvovirus: This is a highly infectious viral diseases that affect unvaccinated pit puppies below 4 months of age. It presents with bloody odorous diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, etc. It spreads quickly in a litter and death is usually as a result of dehydration. It is incurable and treatment is geared towards alleviating symptoms.
  • Mange: This is a skin infection caused by microscopic parasites known as mites. Mites burrow deep into the skin and hair follicles leading to intense itching, hair loss, scab formation and in severe cases skin folding. It first occurs at the tips of the ear flaps before spreading across the body. Mange caused by Demodex canis mostly affects puppies and immuno-compromised dogs. Sarcoptic mange caused by Sarcoptes scabei is very contagious and spreads fast in crowded places such as grooming parlors, animal shelters, and boarding kennels.

Conclusion

Pitbulls get a bad reputation for being overly aggressive which is not true. They are very friendly, intelligent and make excellent companions for households with children.

Early socialization is key in training these fur babies to be all-rounded dogs. Exposure to different people, animals, sights, and sounds is very crucial. They love being with their families and are prone to separation anxiety.

They do well in an apartment building and stand-alone homes. However, they require regular exercise and one may be required to set aside at least an hour a day for walks or games. They do not do well I hot and cold temperature.

They are also easy to maintain and groom owning to their short glossy hair-coat.

They are easy to train and respond well to positive reinforcement and reward training.

Dr. Winnie
About Dr. Winnie 344 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time. Author and Contribturor at SeniorTailWaggers, A Love of Rottweilers, DogsCatsPets and TheDogsBone

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