The history of the American pit bull terrier

Animal file: American Pit Bull Terrier

The american pit bull terrier It has always been the center of bloody sports with dogs and, for some people, this is the perfect dog for this practice, considering it 100% functional. We must know that the world of fighting dogs is an intricate and especially complex maze. While the "bull baiting "stood out in the eighteenth century, the prohibition of bloody sports in 1835 gave rise to dogfighting, because in this new " sport "much less space was needed. So, starting with the ancient bulldog gladiators and the Spartans terriers, a new cross was born between bulldog and terrier that ushered in a new era in England when it comes to dogfighting.

Today the pitbull dog is one of the most popular in the world, either because of its undeserved reputation as a "dangerous dog " or because of its faithful character, and it is that, despite the bad press received, the pitbull is a can especially versatile and with multiple qualities. Therefore, in this AnimalWised article we will talk extensively about the history of the american pit bull terrier, offering you a real, professional perspective based on studies and proven facts. If you are a lover of the breed, this article interests you, ¡keep reading!

You may also be interested in: The Pit Bull Terrier as a Nanny Dog

The Bull Baiting

From 1816 to 1860, dogfighting was rampant. boom in england, Despite its prohibition between 1832 and 1833, when bull baiting (fights with bulls), bear baiting (fights with bears), rat baiting (fights with rats) and even dog fighting (fights between dogs) were abolished. ). In addition, this activity spread to the United States, around the years 1850 and 1855, rapidly gaining popularity among the population. In an attempt to end this practice, in 1978 the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) officially banned dogfighting, but even so, in 1880 this activity continued to take place in various regions of the United States.

After that time, the police gradually eliminated this practice, which remained in hiding for many years. In fact, even today dogfighting continues illegally. Nevertheless, ¿how did it all really start? Let's start at the beginning to know the history of the pitbull...

The birth of the American pit bull terrier

The history of the American pit bull terrier and its ancestors, bulldogs and terriers, is steeped in blood. The ancient pit bulls, "pit dogs " or "pit bulldogs ", they were dogs originally from Ireland and England and, in a small percentage, from Scotland.

Life in the 18th century was difficult, especially for the poor, who truly suffered from vermin infestations such as rats, foxes, and badgers. They had dogs out of necessity, otherwise they were exposed to diseases and supply problems in their homes. These dogs were the magnificent terriers, selectively bred from the strongest, most skillful and tenacious specimens. During the day, terriers patrolled near homes, but at night they protected potato plantations and farm fields. They themselves had to find shelter to be able to rest outside.

Little by little, the bulldog was introduced into the daily life of the population and then, from the cross between bulldogs and terrier dogs, the "bull & terrier ", the new breed that had specimens of different colors, such as fire, black or brindle.

These dogs were used by the humblest members of society as a form of entertainment., making them fight each other. In the early 1800s there were already fighting bulldog and terrier crosses in Ireland and England, ancient dogs that were bred in the Cork and Derry regions of Ireland. In fact, their descendants are known by the name of "Old family " (old family). But in addition, other English pit bull lineages were also born, such as "Murphy ", "Waterford ", "Killkinney ", "Galt ", "Semmes ", "Colby " and "Ofrn ". The latter was another lineage of the old family and, with time and selection in breeding, it came to be divided into other completely different lineages (or strains).

By then pedigrees were not written and duly registered, since many people were illiterate, so the usual practice was to raise them and pass them on from generation to generation, while they were carefully protected so that they did not mix with other bloodlines. The dogs of the old family were imported to the United States around the 1850s and 18555, as in the case of Charlie "Cockney " Lloyd.

Some of the older lineages They are: "Colby ", "Semmes ", "Corcoran ", "Sutton ", "Feeley " or "Lightener ", the latter being one of the most famous Red Nose breeders "Ofrn ", stopped raising them because they became too big for his taste, in addition to detesting completely red dogs.

At the beginning of the 19th century the breed had already acquired all the characteristics that still make it a particularly desired dog today: athletic ability, bravery and a friendly temperament towards people. Upon arrival in the United States, the breed diverged slightly from the dogs of England and Ireland..

The development of the breed in the United States

In the United States, these dogs were used not only as fighting dogs in the pit, but also as fighting dogs. major hunt, that is, wild boars and wild cattle, and as guardians of the family. Due to all this, breeders began to breed taller and slightly larger dogs..

This weight gain, however, was insignificant. We should keep in mind that old family dogs in 19th century Ireland rarely exceeded 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms) and those that weighed around 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) were not uncommon. In the American books of the breed in the early part of the nineteenth century it was truly rare to find a specimen of more than 50 pounds (22.6 kilograms), although with some exceptions.

From the year 1900 to about 1975, a small and gradual increase in average weight of the A.P.B.T, without any corresponding loss of performance capabilities. Right now, American Pit Bull Terriers no longer perform any of the traditional standard functions, such as dog fighting, since performance testing and competition in the pit are considered serious crimes in most countries..

Despite some changes to the standard, such as admitting slightly larger and heavier dogs, a remarkable continuity in the breed for more than a century. Archival photographs from 100 years ago showing show dogs are indistinguishable from those that are bred today. Although, as in any performance breed, there is some lateral variability (synchro) in the phenotype across different lines. We look at photos of fighting dogs from the 1860s that are phenotypically speaking (and judging by contemporary descriptions of match in a pit) identical to today's A.P.B.Ts..

The standardization of the American pit bull terrier

These dogs were known by a variety of names such as "pit terrier ", "pit bull terriers ", "staffordshire ighting dogs ", "old family dogs " (the name of Ireland), " yankee terrier "(the northern name) and " rebel terrier "(the southern name), just to name a few.

In 1898, a man named Chauncy Bennet formed the United Kennel Club (UKC) for the sole purpose of registering the "pit bull terriers ", since the American Kennel Club (AKC) wanted nothing to do with them for their selection and participation in the pit fights. Originally he was the one who added the word "american " to the name and dropped "pit ". This did not appeal to all razor lovers, and because of this, the word "pit " was added to the name in parentheses, as a compromise. Finally, the parentheses were removed around 15 years ago. All other breeds that are registered with the UKC were accepted after the A.P.B.T.

Another record of the A.P.B.T. we find it in the American Dog Breeder Association (ADBA), It was started in September 1909 by Guy McCord, a close friend of John P. Colby. Today, under the direction of the Greenwood family, the ADBA continues to register only the American Pit Bull Terrier and is more attuned to the breed than the UKC..

We should know that ADBA is a sponsor of conformation shows, but more importantly: it sponsors weight drag competitions, thus evaluating the resistance of the dogs. It also publishes a quarterly magazine dedicated to the A.P.B.T. call "American Pit Bull Terrier Gazette ". ADBA is considered to be the registry of the flagship standard of the pit bull, as it is the federation that strives the most to maintain the original standard of the race.

Pete and the little rascals

In 1936, thanks to "Pete the puppy " in "Little Rascals " and "Our Gang ", which familiarized a wider audience with the American pit bull terrier, he had the AKC register the breed. such as "staffordshire terrier ". This name was changed to American Staffordshire Terrier (AST) in 1972 to distinguish it from its smaller close relative, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. In 1936, the AKC, UKC, and ADBA version of the "pit bull" were identical, as the original AKC dogs were developed from pit fighting dogs, which were registered with the UKC and in ADBA.

During this period of time, as well as in the following years, the A.P.B.T. it was a dog much loved and popular in America, being considered the ideal dog for the family due to its affectionate and tolerant temperament with children. That's when the false myth of the pitbull as a babysitter dog appears. Young children of the "Little Rascals " generation wanted a companion like "Pete the puppy ".

First World War

During the First World War An American propaganda poster was observed representing rival European nations with their national dogs, dressed in military uniforms, and in the center, the one representing the United States, is an APBT, stating below: "I am neutral, but I'm not afraid of any of them. "

Differentiation of similar races

Since 1963, due to the different objectives in their upbringing and development, the American Staffordshire Terrier (A.S.T.) and the American Pit Bull Terrier (A.P.B.T) they have diverged, both in phenotype and temperament, although both, ideally, still have the same friendly predisposition. After 60 years of breeding with very different goals, these two dogs are now completely different breeds. However, some people prefer to see them as two different bloodlines of the same race: working and show. Either way, the gap continues to widen as breeders of both breeds consider unthinkable to intersect the two.

To the less experienced eye, the A.S.T. They can appear larger and more fearsome, thanks to their large and robust head, with well-developed muscles in the jaw, wider chest, and thick neck. However, in general, they have nothing to do with sports such as an A.P.B.T..

Due to the standardization of its conformation for show purposes, the A.S.T. It tends to be selected for its appearance rather than functionality, to a much greater degree than the A.P.B.T. We observe that the pit bull has a much broader phenotypic range, since the main objective of its breeding, until recently, has not been to achieve a dog with a specific appearance, but for work in the pit, leaving aside the search for certain physical characteristics.

Some A.P.B.T. breed are practically indistinguishable from A.S.T. typical, however, in general they are somewhat thinner, with longer and lighter limbs, something especially identifiable in the poise of the feet. Likewise, they tend to show more endurance, agility, speed and explosive strength..

Second World War

During and after the Second World War and until the early 1980s, the APBT was plunged into relative obscurity. However, there were still some devotees who knew the breed even in the smallest details and knew a lot about the ancestry of their dogs, capable of reciting genealogies of up to six or eight generations.

The pit bull today

When the A.P.B.T. became popular with the public around the year 1980, infamous individuals with little to no knowledge of the breed began to own and breed with them, and predictably, problems began to arise. Many of these newcomers did not adhere to the traditional breeding goals of A.P.B.T. Then the "backyard " trend began, in which they began to breed dogs at random, in order to mass raising puppies that they were considered a profitable commodity, without any knowledge or control, in their own homes.

But the worst was yet to come: they began to select dogs with the opposite criteria that had prevailed until then. Selective breeding of dogs that showed tendency to aggressiveness to the people. In a short time, those people who should not have been licensed, produced dogs bred in any way: aggressive pit bulls towards humans for a mass market.

This, added to the ease of means for oversimplification and sensationalism, resulted in the media war on pitbull, something that continues to this day. It goes without saying that, especially with this breed, "backyard" breeders with no experience or knowledge of the breed should be avoided, as health and behavioral problems are common..

Despite the introduction of some poor parenting practices in the last 15 years, the vast majority of A.P.B.T. they are still very human friendly. The American Canine Temperament Testing Association, which sponsors temperament titre testing of dogs, confirmed that 95% of all A.P.B.T. who took the test completed it successfully, taking into account the comparison with a 77% pass rate for all other races on average. The APBT pass rate was the fourth highest of all breeds tested.

Today, the A.P.B.T. is still used. in illegal fights, frequently in the United States and South America. Pit fights take place in other countries where there are no laws or where laws are not enforced. However, the vast majority of A.P.B.T., even within the cages of breeders who breed for fighting, have never seen action in the pit. Instead, they are companion dogs, loyal lovers, and family pets..

One of the activities that has really gained popularity among APBT fans is the weight drag contest. Weight pulling retains some of the competitive spirit of the pit fighting world, but without blood or pain. The A.P.B.T. it is a breed that excels in these contests, where refusal to resign counts as much as brute force. Currently the A.P.B.T. hold world records in various weight classes.

Another activity for the A.P.B.T. is ideal is an Agility competition, where your agility and determination can be greatly appreciated. Some A.P.B.T. they have been trained and have done the sport of Schutzhund well; these dogs, however, are the exception that confirms the rule.

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