5 Types of Pit Bulls and How to Tell the Difference - Simply For Dogs
Pit Bulls

5 Types of Pit Bulls and How to Tell the Difference

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If you’ve ever seen a pit bull dog, you are probably remembering a stocky, muscular dog that had a big, goofy smile. This is the generic image of a pit bull that most of us know, whether we grew up watching The Little Rascals, or we were glued to the unfolding story of Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring. But the truth is that there are multiple dogs that are considered pit bulls. In fact, the term “pit bull” isn’t even really a breed name.

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There are a lot of dogs that get mistaken for pit bulls. Boxers are on that list. I’ve had many people get upset with me for having “dangerous” pit bulls – not realizing that pit bulls aren’t inherently dangerous, or that my dogs are pit bulls at all. If you have a pit bull, you may not realize what type of dog yours actually is. The AKC doesn’t recognize certain types of dogs that are classed under the umbrella of pit bull, so this may be something you want to know if you want to register your dog. Here are the five types of pit bulls, and how you can tell the difference.

(1) American Pit Bull Terrier

This is probably the dog you are thinking of when you think about pit bulls. This is the dog that we most often see representing the entire breed group. Interestingly enough, this is the specific breed that the AKC doesn’t recognize. This dog is muscular and short, weighing anywhere from 35 to 65 pounds, with a stocky build and a wide, flat head. They also have big smiles and are well-known for being smart, strong, and loyal.

American Pit Bull Terrier

This breed often works as a search and rescue dog, or as a drug-detecting dog. They are more recently being used as service dogs, too. They have very noticeable cheek muscles, which is what gives them that “smile”. They are great around people, especially kids, but they don’t tend to be very friendly towards other dogs.

(2) American Staffordshire Terrier

This is the breed of pit bull that the AKC recognizes. This dog is larger, weighting up to 80 pounds, and it lacks that big-cheeked smile that the APBT has However, this dog does still have the stocky, muscular body. While these dogs come from the same genetic ancestor, there are some differences due to breeding over time. For example, while all pit bulls are known to be good with children, the American Staffordshire Terrier has an exceptionally great reputation as a dog for kids.

American Staffordshire Terrier

 

This dog was first bred in Birmingham, not Staffordshire, and you may also hear it sometimes called an Amstaff (American Staffordshire). This is a good-natured dog that often greets strangers with friendliness.

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(3) Staffordshire Bull Terrier

When you think about a pit bull, do you picture a dog that is so ripped it makes you want to go to the gym? Then you probably met a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. This is the most muscular of the entire breed group, but oddly enough, it’s also one of the more affectionate of the group. This dog only weighs between 28 and 38 pounds and it’s pretty short – but those super muscular legs and chest make it seem powerful. However, in attitude, this dog is basically just a very strong kid. It wants to play, and loves children.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Training this particular pit bull can be a challenge. They are a bit stubborn and have a lot of stamina. This dog will need an owner that is confident in their training ability.

(4) American Bulldog

When you think of a pit bull, do you think of Petey from The Little Rascals? You’re thinking of the American Bulldog. Despite being called a Bulldog, this is still part of the pit bull family. They have droopy lips and muscular heads, often with furrowed or wrinkly brows. They also have pretty muscular bodies. These dogs are sociable and loyal, but they also have the most protective instincts out of all the pit bulls. That means they are great for kids, but need a little extra socialization to make sure they don’t get aggressive with other dogs.

American Bulldog

This is a big pit bull. These dogs can get up to 110 pounds, and are usually all white with spots of red, brindle, or black. They need a lot of exercise to keep them occupied.

(5) Bull Terrier

Many people don’t think of the Bull Terrier as being a pit bull, because they don’t really look anything like pit bulls. But this is in fact part of the pit bull family. The Bull Terrier has a long, oval head, with very small eyes and big bat-like ears. They are also very muscular and stocky, and were often used as guard dogs in their early days.

Bull Terrier

These days, this dog breed is known to be an energetic companion to their families, and they have been bred as both the standard size and as a miniature size. These dogs form very strong bonds with people, and often suffer from separation anxiety if left alone too long.

Blue Nose or Red Nose Pit Bull?

The five types I listed above are the five distinct breeds that fall under the term pit bull. However, you may also hear things like “Blue Nose Pit Bull” or “Red Nose Pit Bull” when talking to people who have a pit bull. What does this mean?

It quite literally means what it says. Some pit bulls have noses that appear blue-ish in color, due to the level of pigmentation in their nose. Some pit bulls have a more reddish or copper-colored nose. Many times, breeders will charge more for certain colors because of the demand for a specific coloring. However, this doesn’t mean anything at all for the breed or the dog. The color of the nose is the same thing as the color of the tip of their tail – inconsequential to them.

Additionally, a breeder that only focuses on breeding a red nose pit bull or a blue nose pit bull will inevitably start limiting the gene pool and causing other issues.

You may also hear the terms Razor Edge Pit Bull, Colby Pit Bull, and Gotti Pit Bull if you really start talking to breeders. These are just pit bulls that come from a specific blood line, going back many generations. The Razor Edge pit bulls are known for being very mellow and calm. The Colby pit bull was the main family of pit bulls that was big in the fighting scene in the 1890s, and many of these dogs are still used by criminals today to fight. The Gotti pit bull is a bloodline that specifically results in extremely stocky, intimidating-looking pit bulls.

Why So Many Pit Bulls?

To understand why there are so many dogs called pit bulls, you need to understand where pit bulls come from.

Pit bulls were created by breeding a bulldog with various terrier breeds. This is where the “bull” part of their name comes from. When they were bred in the beginning, these dogs were specifically bred to fight, chase rats, or bait bears – usually, in a pit where a crowd could gather to watch.

Thus, the dog was a bulldog meant for the pit – or, a pit bull.

This practice happened all over England, and that meant that several different terriers were part of the equation. While the bulldog stayed the same, the dog could have been bred with any number of terrier types of dogs. Sometimes this produced a dog with a broad head and a square body, more like a bull dog. Sometimes, it produced a leaner dog, more like a terrier.

And slowly, over time, it became clear that there were many dogs that had all come from the same origin, but had very different characteristics.

How to Tell the Difference

Now it’s time to help you figure out what type of pit bull you have.

First, start by weighing your dog. If your dog is overweight, this may not be the best way to tell. However, a normal sized pit bull can tell you a lot by their weight. I listed the weights for each type above – see which one your dog falls closest to, or at least eliminate a few.

Now look at your pit bull’s head. Most pit bulls have wide, flat heads. But if the skin between or right above the eyes is wrinkled, you may be looking at the American Bulldog. Some of them have more square-shaped heads, with more pronounced cheeks, while others have more rectangular or wide triangular shaped heads.

Don’t try to use coat markings, colors, or length to determine the type of pit bull you have. All of these dogs come in a variety of colors, and they all have short, flat coats. Check out any paperwork you may have gotten from the breeder, if you didn’t adopt your pit from a shelter.

Consider your dog’s overall build. For example, the American Staffordshire Terrier has a much more “square” shape overall than the American Pit Bull Terrier. Thee latter has a more proportionate shape between the head and body.

Consider using a canine DNA kit, or having your vet examine your dog, to tell you more.

Why It Matters

Because there is a misconception about pit bulls being dangerous, many people need to be able to show that their dog is less than 50% pit bull, or a specific type of pit bull, or not pit bull at all, in order to live with their dog in their home. The fact is that many dogs get mistaken for pit bulls all the time, which is why over 20% of shelter animals are pit bulls or pit bull mixes.

If you can show that your dog is a Staffordshire Terrier, however, you may have the ability to keep your dog in your home Another reason to find out about your dog’s background is that it can help you know what types of health problems to look for. Finally, it’s just fun to know exactly what lineage your dog has.

However, it’s important to note that the vast majority of dog breed identification that happens in the U.S. is estimation. Many, many dogs are labeled as something, when they are in reality mixed, or something else all together. So if you can’t look at your pit bull and guess what kind he may be, don’t sweat it. Chances are the vet is only making an educated guess.

The only way you can know for certain is to use a canine DNA kit to find out what breed your dog is. These tests can distinguish between the five types of pit bull, so you’ll be able to get the answers you are looking for from this system. However, keep in mind that it is possible to get incorrect results.

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Last update on 2018-12-11 at 04:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Final Word

Once I learned about all the many types of pit bulls, it was much easier to see why people mixed up my very distinct Boxers with another breed. The fact is that a pit bull can look like a lot of things. Some types of pit bulls look a lot like Labradors. Others look a lot like the chill bulldog. Still others look like Boxers, it would seem.

The phrase “pit bull” is more like talking about the group of dogs known as hound dogs. There are quite a lot of hound dogs – coonhounds, basset hounds, Irish Wolfhound, and so many more. So having a canine group with one name isn’t so uncommon. The problem is that many people just don’t know this.

If you’ve got a friend or family member that is just determined to believe that pit bulls are bad, send them this post. You can’t label an entire dog group as bad when there are so many different dogs involved. This is one way to start opening people’s eyes when it comes to how the pit bull really can be a great pet.

Related Content:

The Real Truth About Pit Bulls
10 Dog Breeds Mistaken for Pit Bulls
Breed Spotlight: The American Pit Bull Terrier
Toy Pit Bull, Anyone? The Truth About Small Dogs
4 Indestructible Chew Toys for Pit Bulls

Sources:

https://www.furrytips.com/different-types-of-pitbulls/#American_Pit_Bull_Terrier

http://www.thebarkbuzz.com/how-can-you-tell-what-type-of-pitbull-you-have-essential-things-you-need-to-know/

http://thebullybreeds.com/2013/02/22/how-to-determine-a-breed-of-pitbull/

https://www.today.com/pets/what-pit-bull-it-s-not-actually-dog-breed-t118066

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