Pit Bull, “pit bull”

The ONLY true Pit Bull is the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT). This is the only breed name with the words “Pit Bull” in it and thus is the only correct breed to abbreviate as such. As the Chow Chow is often abbreviated to “Chow” and the Doberman Pinscher is abbreviated to “Doberman”, the American Pit Bull Terrier is abbreviated to “Pit Bull”.

It’s pretty easy to prove this is the case if you take a look at how other breeds are grouped with a common name. For example, all Labradors are part of the Retriever grouping yet not all Retrievers are Labrador Retrievers. When a dog breed is grouped, the name used to describe the group is determined by the word that is common to all the breeds in said grouping. This is one reason why it is incorrect to use “Pit Bull” as an umbrella  term for breeds without “Pit Bull” in their full breed name but it is correct to say that the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) or Pit Bull, is a Terrier.

Some groups will use “pit bull” in lower case or in quotes when they are referring to dogs of
a breed commonly mistaken for a true APBT. This tactic is employed to make it easy to describe a group of dogs that share some similar physical characteristics and are often targeted by Breed Specific Legislation. We feel this practice is both confusing and misleading and actually dangerous.

The oft-quoted Centers for Disease Control bite study cites “pit bull type” dogs as having the highest incidents of bites. “Pit Bull type” is a generic term that covers any breed that someone may think is a Pit Bull, even when the dog is not. The CDC does not advocate for Breed Specific Legislation and their fact sheet states: “Many practical alternatives to breed-specific policies exist and hold promise for preventing dog bites.”

Using an inaccurate generic umbrella term to lump several breeds together only serves to increase bite incidents for the given group. It really is a numbers game – obviously the more dog breeds included in a given category, the greater number of individual dogs are included. A higher number of dogs sampled means a higher number of bites. Naturally, you will have more bites from a group of 5000 dogs versus a group of 10 dogs. Because of this, we cannot support any terminology that would allow statistics to be skewed to unfairly persecute the APBT as a breed that is more likely to cause injury or harm to a human.

For this reason, we strongly advocate against the incorrect use of Pit Bull, in any form, whether with quotes, in lower-case, or otherwise, as an umbrella or generic term. However, we do acknowledge the need to sometimes discuss multiple breeds under one term, such as when addressing BSL’s (Breed Specific Legislation) often vague breed-labeling. We choose to use the term “Targeted Breeds”. Targeted Breeds are any and all breeds that are often caught in the crossfire of irrational and irresponsible Breed Specific Laws.

The Registries

In 1898, the UKC (United Kennel Club) registered its first Bull and Terrier dog as the American Pit Bull Terrier. The American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA) began registering the American Pit Bull Terrier in 1909. In 1936, the AKC (American Kennel Club), wanting to distance itself from the American Pit Bull Terrier’s fighting heritage, registered 50 UKC registered American Pit Bull Terrier dogs under the name of Staffordshire Terrier. The breed name was changed again in 1972 by the AKC to American Staffordshire Terrier to avoid confusion with England’s Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a breed not recognized by the AKC until 1974.

 History of the American Staffordshire Terrier 

Photos used with permission

Photos used with permission

Although there are dogs who have “dual registration” today, some fanciers believe that the AST and APBT are two separate breeds. Dual registration is when one dog is registered with more than one registry.

photos used with permission

photos used with permission

Photos used with permission

Photos used with permission

The Breed Standards

A breed standard is a “word picture” that describes the key traits that any individual dog of any given breed should possess from the given breed group. It is essentially a measurement tool used in dog show competitions and is also very helpful when trying to determine breed. Although many dogs will fall short of standard, if they diverge grossly from the standard, they are most likely not a purebred.

Each registry is made up of “parent” clubs for each breed. The club for that breed has the task of establishing the standard, which is then adopted by the registry.

United Kennel Club (UKC) Standard for the American Pit Bull Terrier

American Kennel Club (AKC) Standard for the American Staffordshire Terrier

American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA) Standard for the American Pit Bull Terrier

United Kennel Club (UKC) Standard for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

American Kennel Club (AKC) Standard for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

United Kennel Club (UKC) Standard for the American Bully

Note that the AKC does not have a breed standard for the APBT as they do not register dogs under that breed name. Note that the UKC does not have a breed standard for the AST as they do not register dogs under that breed name.

Nose Color

Many folks mistakenly believe that nose color is used to differentiate “types” of Pit Bulls. Nose color refers to the color of the nose “leather” (skin).  A “red nose” dog will have a red nose. A “blue nose” dog will have a nose that is blue (grey). The nose color has little to do with lineage except in the cases of the OFRN (Old Family Red Nose) which is a specific bloodline (still an APBT though) and the fact that a red nose is a fault in the breed standard for the American Stafforshire Terrier (AST); if you have dog with a red nose, it is most likely from APBT lines as opposed to AST bloodlines.

This chart shows the different color noses and how they are named: Nose Color Chart

If you’ve ever heard of Old Family Red Nose (OFRN), you’ve heard of a bloodline that produces “..amber-eyed, red-nosed, red-toe-nailed, red-coated dogs…” {McNolty – 30-30 Journal (1967)} The OFRN bloodline should not be confused with simply having a red nose, however. Very few dogs with red noses that you commonly see today are truly from OFRN stock.

There are several links here that explain the history of the OFRN bloodline:

History of the OFRN

“Pit Bull Type”, “Bully Breeds”, and the American Bully

Breed Specific Legislation, known as BSL, is any kind of law that targets a specific group of dog breeds. Many of these laws are vague in their definition of breed which has resulted in lumping several distinct breeds under one title. Since BSL very often targets dogs that look similar to Pit Bull dogs, “Pit Bull type” was invented. This term covers dogs that share similar physical characteristics with Pit Bulls such as a muscular body, wide forehead, and blocky head shape. From a technical standpoint, “Pit Bull type” is neither a type nor a breed, it is simply a term utilized to aid in the enforcement of poorly written breed discrimination laws.

“Bully breed” is often used with affection when referring to any of the Bulldog descended breeds. Nowadays, “bully” is incresingly used to identify the American Bully. The breed is still in development, and was created in the early 1990′s by Dave Wilson. It recently gained recognition by the UKC in July of 2013 as part of the Terrier Group, later moving to the the Companion Dog Group. The breed was started by mixing the American Pit Bull Terrier with other breeds such as Mastiffs and English Bulldogs to produce a short, stocky, wide dog with a very large head. American Bullies enjoy a huge following and pups are sold for thousands of dollars, much more than one would pay to get a very responsibly bred APBT. They are also very commonly found in shelters and rescues across the country, often mistakenly labeled as Pit Bulls.

Many American Bully fanciers mistakenly believe that their dogs are Pit Bulls due to a practice of some unscrupulous breeders known as “paper hanging” which resulted in mixed-breed dogs gaining kennel club recognition as purebred APBTs or ASTs when they are in fact, neither purebred Pit Bulls or American Staffordshire Terriers.

This photo appeared on the home page of Atomic Dog Magazine. All of these dogs are American Bullies.

This photo appeared on the home page of Atomic Dog Magazine. All of these dogs are American Bullies.

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