Pitbull Terrier

Recommended for: Couples, Families with older children
Maintenance Level: High
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Loyal, energetic
Health Risk:
This breed has an around average probability of having health issues in its lifetime, hence it is one of the more affordable breeds to insure.
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Breed Overview

The Pit Bull Terrier is a strong, loyal and energetic medium-sized domesticated dog with short hair and a stout, muscular profile. The term Pit Bull is used by many to describe a number of breeds that are related or have similar physical characteristics as stated above. Some of these breeds include: the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the larger American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Bull Dog, the Bull Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier.

The Pit Bull and Staffordshire Bull Terrier are of the same lineage and were bred from a mix of the English Bulldog and a variety of terriers. The breed was initially bred in Birmingham, England for use in blood sports such as bull baiting and dog fighting after baiting became illegal. The breed is known for its aggression and has a poor reputation for dog-on-dog aggression as well as a high number of attacks aimed at humans.

The Pit Bull is a fiercely loyal dog, courageous and tenacious in nature. They are employed successfully as guard dogs and have a reputation for steadfast ferocity when provoked. Although Pit Bulls have the reputation for a high level of ferocity, they are very fond of children, showing a high degree of care and protection. While fond of children generally, supervision is always advised and greater care taken with younger kids.

Pit Bulls are very enthusiastic and energetic dogs. They must be walked at least once a day, the further the better, and given a great deal of human contact. Behavioural problems often occur in Pit Bulls that do not have a strong pack leader. Strong, consistent training and discipline from a young age is essential and law in many countries. Also, in New South Wales, it is a legal requirement of ownership that Pit Bulls be sterilised.

While there are very strict restrictions in place on ownership and breeding in Australia, the United Kingdom has banned ownership of the Pit Bull and it is illegal to have a Pit Bull in Ontario, Canada.

The average size of a Pit Bull Terrier measures between 43 to 48cm and should weigh between 22 and 34kgs. Pit Bulls live to somewhere between 10 and 15 years.

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Personality and Temperament

The Pit Bull has been specifically bred for fighting and it can show a great deal of aggression towards other animals, especially other dogs. Although they are very loyal and affectionate dogs with their owners and are quite good with children in their family, a great deal of care must be taken when around strangers.

Pit Bulls are exceedingly loyal animals and they are known to attack strange people and animals when provoked. They have been used throughout their history to guard property and humans and unfortunately it is common for the breed to attack strangers, even small children.


This muscular and enthusiastic dog is eager to please and largely obedient if dominance by the owner is maintained. Good and consistent training is essential from an early age to avoid behavioural problems developing and it is essential that the owner be viewed as a strong pack leader.

Behavioural problems may manifest if the Pit Bull Terrier is left without human attention for an extended period of time. The breed has been developed to be a companion dog and regular human contact is essential to keeping the animal healthy and happy.

Because the Pit Bull is highly energetic, it’s important to walk the dog at least once daily. Discipline while walking is very important to maintaining the pack order. Make sure you assert dominance over your Pit Bull by getting into good habits on the street; make the dog sit when commanded, for example and follow behind you instead of in front. Muzzles are important when in public and Pit Bulls should never be let off a leash.

Highly intelligent and strong, the Pit Bull is known to be a good climber so tall and strong fencing is a must for all owners of the breed.

Common Pitbull Terrier Diseases & Conditions

Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Congenital Heart Disease. All forms of congenital heart disease occur in dogs and the Pit Bull is one breed that is susceptible to the condition. Congenital heart disease is genetic and is the malformation of valves in the heart, causing serious problems that will often result in death within the first year of life. Those that have more mild forms of the condition will mostly survive but will show a tendency to avoid exercise, may have stunted growth or will occasionally faint. Cardiac arrest can occur at any time, but in most cases later in the Pit Bull’s life.
  • Heart Murmurs. While heart murmurs aren’t diseases, they are common in the Pit Bull and often reflective of congenital heart disease. A murmur is the sound the heart beat makes when an irregular amount of blood enters one of the heart’s chambers. Heart murmurs can be connected to endocardiosis, endocarditis, valvular stenosis or dysplasia. Many detected heart murmurs will not be severe or require any treatment. Contact your vet for a check-up if your Pit Bull is showing low exercise tolerance or faints during exercise.
  • Skin Allergies. Pit Bull Terriers are prone to skin irritations and should be regularly bathed.
  • Hip Dysplasia. This is a hereditary condition and common in many breeds where the hip doesn’t develop as it should, often resulting in prolonged limping and eventually lameness in later life.

Not all conditions are covered by Pet Insurance. For details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover, refer to the Product Disclosure Statement.

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Bred from the English Bulldog and a number of terrier breeds, the Pit Bull Terrier is strong, confident and very energetic. The dog was specifically bred in Birmingham in the 1700s and1800s for the purposes of bear and bull bating, practices that were banned in the UK in the 1830s.

Illegal dog fighting continued in the United Kingdom however, mainly for the purposes of gambling or testing the quality of breeding stock, and continues in some numbers to this day.

When introduced to the United States, the Pit Bull found immediate popularity with pioneering families and was used to hunt wild boar, guard property and persons and work with livestock. This all-purpose use saw the Pit Bull become a popular companion dog in the United States well into the 20th Century.

Although the Pit Bull Terrier’s history is entwined with violence, the American Staffordshire Terrier shares the same lineage. The American Staffy or Amstaff was developed from the early 1900s to be recognised as a show breed. Breeders aimed to remove the aggressiveness of the breed while still maintaining the type’s enthusiasm and spirit.

Unfortunately, there have been a number of attacks on humans and other dogs attributed to the Pit Bull. In the years 2010 and 2011 The Australian Veterinary Association reported 87 attacks by Pit Bull Terriers and 252 attacks by American Staffordshire Terriers.

Illegal use of the Pit Bull in the United States today includes: dog fighting, the guarding of contraband items and illegal substances and training as an attack dog or anti-police dog.

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Pitbull Terrier Facts!

  • It’s a common myth that many believe: Pit Bulls have lockable jaws. This is completely untrue, the Pit Bull has no lockable mechanism in its jaw makeup whatsoever.
  • This myth stems from the way that a Pit Bull tends to relentlessly hold onto a victim when it bites down. This enthusiasm can be explained by the requirements for bull baiting, the practice the Pit Bull was initially bred for.
  • A great deal of celebrities have owned Pit Bulls, including Humphrey Bogart, Orlando Bloom, Thomas Edison, Jessica Alba, Brad Pitt, Michael J. Fox and Madonna.
  • Many believe that Pit Bulls are vicious by nature. It’s not the intention of a Pit Bull to cause harm, it just wants to protect itself and its owner. The breed’s loyal nature does result in a great deal of attacks, however.
  • The Pit Bull is the only breed to have been on the front cover of Life Magazine three times.
  • The Pit Bull is on the illegal dogs list in the United Kingdom. In 2009 the RSPCA’s Victoria President called for the banning of all Pit Bull types in Australia. While the Pit Bull types are legal, there are heavy regulations for owners of the breeds.

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