Article: Dog Types » Pit Bulls
A pit bull is any of several breeds of dog in the molosser breed group. All of the breeds share a similar history, with origins rooted from the bulldog and a variety of terriers. The dogs called bull terriers before the development of the modern bull terrier in the early 20th century may also be called pit bulls.
Though the pit bull type dogs were all created with similar crossbreeding between bulldogs and pit terriers, each individual breed within the type has a somewhat different history. There are an estimated 77.5 million owned dogs in the United States; however, the number of pit bull-type dogs has not been reliably determined.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire bull terrier had its beginnings in England many centuries ago. In the Elizabethan era, breeders produced large dogs, 100–120 pounds, but gave way to a small, more agile breed of up to 90 pounds.
The dog gained popularity in England in the early 19th century and a smaller, faster dog was developed. It was called by names such as “bulldog terrier” and “bull and terrier”. The bulldog at that time was larger than the modern-day English bulldog we know today, weighing about 60 pounds. This dog was crossed with a small native terrier, related to the present-day Manchester terrier to produce the Staffordshire bull terrier weighing on average between 30 and 45 pounds.
James Hinks, in about 1859, crossed the Old pit bull terrier, now known as the Staffordshire bull terrier, and produced the all-white English bull terrier. The Kennel Club in Great Britain recognized the bull terrier in the last quarter of the 19th century, but the Staffordshire bull terrier was not recognized until 1935.
The Staffordshire bull terrier was admitted to registration in the AKC Stud Book effective October 1, 1974, with regular show classification in the Terrier Group at AKC shows available on and after March 5, 1975.
American Pit Bull Terrier
The American pit bull terrier is the product of interbreeding between terriers and a breed of bulldogs to produce a dog that combined the gameness of the terrier with the strength and athleticism of the bulldog. These dogs were initially bred in England, Ireland, and Scotland, and arrived in the United States with immigrants from these countries. In the United States, these dogs were used as catch dogs for semi-wild cattle and hogs, to hunt, to drive livestock, and as family companions.
The United Kennel Club (UKC) was the first registry to recognize the American pit bull terrier. UKC founder C. Z. Bennett assigned UKC registration number 1 to his own dog, “Bennett’s Ring”, as an American pit bull terrier in 1898.
American pit bull terriers successfully fill the role of companion dog, police dog and therapy dog. Terriers in general have a higher tendency towards dog aggression.
American Staffordshire Terrier
The American Staffordshire terrier was the product of 19th century interbreeding between bulldogs and terriers that produced the “bull-and-terrier dog”, “Half and Half”, and at times “pit dog” or “pit bullterrier,” the last named becoming the “Staffordshire bull terrier” in England. The bulldog of that time differed from the modern Bulldog, having a full muzzle and a long, tapering tail. There is some debate whether the White English terrier, the Black and Tan terrier, the Fox terrier or some combination thereof were used. These dogs began to find their way into America as early as 1870 where they became known as pit dog, pit bull terrier, later American bull terrier, and still later as Yankee terrier.
In 1936, they were accepted by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as “Staffordshire terriers”. The name of the breed was revised effective January 1, 1972, to “American Staffordshire terrier” since breeders in the United States had developed a type which is heavier in weight than the Staffordshire bull terrier of England and the name was changed to distinguish them as separate breeds.
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