What exactly counts as a “Pit Bull” is a bit complicated. Initially, this breed only referred to the American Pit Bull Terrier, which the UK Kennel Club recognized in 1927.
The American Kennel Club didn’t recognize this breed until years later. When it did add the Pit Bull to their list of recognized breeds, the AKC decided to change the name to the American Staffordshire Terrier.
For a time, the American Staffordshire Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier were the same dogs. However, they grew apart over the decades – and now, whether they are the same breed or not is entirely up in the air. It depends on who you ask!
The division of Pit Bull breeds gets more complicated from there. What exactly counts as a Pit Bull and what doesn’t primarily depends on where you’re located in the world.
Five different breeds are often recognized as Pit Bulls. We’ll take a look at each of them below.
The 5 Pit Bull Dog Breeds
1. American Pit Bull Terrier
Out of all the breeds on this list, the American Pit Bull Terrier is the only breed that everyone agrees is a Pit Bull. After all, it’s in their name!
Despite their name, these dogs are actually in the United Kingdom – not America. The breed was developed in the United States and then imported to the United Kingdom. Recognizing that this breed came from America, the UK Kennel Club used “American” in the name.
However, the American Kennel Club didn’t accept this breed until later. And, when they did, they changed the name.
This breed was primarily developed for use with dogfighting. This sport was illegal in the UK during the 19th century, but it was still legal in the States. Where it was illegal, bans were not readily enforced.
With that said, their aggression has primarily been bred out of them. They grew into companion animals after being imported into the UK. They form strong bonds with their families and are very affectionate. They can be a bit exuberant, requiring plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.
2. American Staffordshire Terrier
Technically, the American Staffordshire Terrier was the same breed as the American Pit Bull Terrier for decades. When the American Kennel Club decided to recognize the breed that the UK Kennel Club referred to as the “American Pit Bull Terrier,” they changed the name to the “American Staffordshire Terrier.”
This name change was an attempt to separate the breed from their dogfighting days. It was based on the then-accepted-myth of these dogs coming from the Staffordshire region of the British Isles.
As you might expect, this breed was also used in dogfighting. That’s how they developed.
However, breeders have been conscientious about removing much of the aggression from the breed. Today, these dogs are often mellow and very friendly with the correct socialization. They are loyal and bond closely with their families.
Some do have dog-on-dog aggression. However, socialization can go a long way to prevent this.
They are often described as playful and good-natured. Like most Pit Bulls, they are pretty excitable and energetic. We recommend them for active households only.
3. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a British breed. While the above two breeds developed in the United States, this breed results from the dogs left behind in the UK.
This breed developed from the Old English Bulldog and the Old English Terrier – the same foundation stock as most of the other Pit Bulls on this list.
When dog fighting was outlawed in the UK in 1835 and 1911, these dogs were mostly kept as companion animals. Some of their ancestors were transported to the United States, where the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier developed. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier developed from the dogs that weren’t exported.
These dogs are primarily companion animals. Even when they were used for dog fighting purposes, many of them were kept solely for companionship. They are known for being extremely loyal and affectionate.
This breed is a solid option for families with children, as they are gentle and great playmates.
4. American Bulldog
The American Bulldog is descended from the English Bulldog. In America, these dogs were primarily used as working dogs on farms and as companions. However, the English Bulldog was initially bred for bull-baiting and similar blood sport.
These dogs tend to be highly people-oriented. They can suffer from separation anxiety. However, they are perfect for families looking for a devoted, affectionate dog.
Socialization is required, as they can be unnecessarily protective of their families.
They are a good option for families with children. However, they can be pretty energetic. Their larger size makes it easy for them to knock children down, especially when they are excited. Socialization and training are both essential.
5. American Bully
The American Bully is a relatively new breed. The American Kennel Club does not recognize them. However, they are recognized by the United Kennel Club.
This breed first came into existence around the 1980s. With that said, their history is shrouded in misinformation, so we don’t know exactly when the breed first came into existence.
In comparison to other dogs on this list, the American Bully is much more compact and muscular. They are incredibly athletic and are made for a working purpose. They have giant heads and look much more “bully” like other Pit Bulls.
For this reason, they are exceedingly active. We only recommend them for active families for this reason. Otherwise, they can become bored and participate in destructive behaviors.
There are lots of misconceptions surrounding Pit Bulls. Many people consider them to be inherently dangerous – or at least more aggressive than other dogs. However, temperament testing has shown that Pit Bulls as a whole are less aggressive than other breeds.
There are many different Pit Bull breeds out there. What exactly counts as a Pit Bull breed, and what doesn’t, dependS on who you ask.
Most people accept the American Pit Bull Terrier as a Pit Bull. After all, they’re the breed that first created the term. The American Staffordshire Terrier is usually counted as a Pit Bull since it was initially just another name for the American Pit Bull Terrier.
With that said, other breeds are commonly included as well. The American Bully is often considered a Pit Bull in the UK, though the American Kennel Club doesn’t even recognize it.
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