American PitBull Terrier

A fairly old breed by American standards, the American PitBull Terrier’s ancestors were introduced to the US in the mid-1800s by Boston-Irish immigrants. These dogs were combined with stock from England and Scotland which dated back to before 1900 in their native lands and were early forebears of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Purpose by early breeders - blood sports played an important part in the development of the breed. These dogs have strong assertive personalities so owners have a responsibility to train the breed carefully.

Because of the breed’s characteristics, there are laws concerning ownership in some countries. In Great Britain, for instance, the Dangerous Dogs Act introduced in 1991 does not allow import or ownership of Pit Bulls unless a Certificate of exemption has been obtained.

This involves neutering the dog and implanting in the dog an identifying transponder. Owners must hold a third party insurance policy and the dog must be recorded on the index of Exempted Dogs. The dog must be muzzled in public places and held on the leash by someone who is at least sixteen years of age. Infringement of the Act results in a fine and/or imprisonment of the owner, and in many cases, an order for the destruction of the dog.

The American PitBull Terrier weighs between 35-60 pounds/16-27 kg and is muscularly built with a deep chest. Its skull should be flat, wide and brick-like and its ears may be natural or cropped.

Given their strong personality, obedience training is highly recommended.


This noble terrier, of American design, was only recognized relatively recently as a specific breed. It originate from the dogs that were imported to the US for the “sport” of dog fighting.

A great variety of breeds have been credited with the development of the "Amstaff" as it is known today.

Americans diverted from the old Staffordshire Bull Terrier-type dog through varied infusions. There was not so much emphasis on breeding a distinct type as there was in developing a great fighting machine. The resulting dog is one of tremendous stamina, legendary courage, adaptability and intelligence and yet it is not inclined toward viciousness. The breed’s fighting background has imparted courage and a protective nature. This combination makes the Amstaff an excellent guard dog. Many dog enthusiasts have come to appreciate the Amstaff’s numerous physical and temperamental assets. This breed has taken a secure place in the dog show world and there have been many specimens that have made great wins in the strongest all-terrier and all-breed competitions.


During World War II, posters featuring this dog as a symbol of American courage and determination were commonly found.


Muscular and remarkably agile rather than leggy or racy, American PitBull Terrier run from 17-19 inches/43-48 cm at the withers, depending upon their sex. The neck is heavy and of medium length; the chest is deep and strong; the ribs are well sprung; the front is rather wide. Its legs are straight with large, round bones supported on compact feet. Strength of jaw is of great importance and it should be well defined with obvious musculature, while the teeth should meet in a scissors bite capable of great punishing power.

The ears may be cropped or preferably natural or half pricked. If cropped, they are short, erect and set on high.

The short coat can be found in all colors and may be solid or multicolored. The eye rims, nose and lips should have complete pigment, preferably in black.

Health Matters

American PitBull Terrier suffers from no hereditary illnesses. This may be treated with antihistamines under the direction of the vet. Also, a bored Amstaff that is kenneled for long periods of time may lick its legs out of boredom and cause an unsightly redness on its white markings. The dog and its surroundings should always be kept very clean. It will benefit from increased “quality time” with walks, obedience training and companionship. As with any muscular, active dog, correct feeding of a balanced nutritious diet is essential.

Special Care

American PitBull Terrier requires no special coat care. It requires special training because of its aggressive nature. Since it is intelligent, it will be quick to learn anything that its owner chooses to teach it. It needs an assertive training regimen.


This breed will live happily in both an urban or country setting, and is equally at ease in an apartment or in a home with larger grounds.

Gallery of American PitBull Terrier