Blue noses, black noses and red noses -- oh my. The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is a breed of dog that can sport any of these nose colours. Note that red-nosed, black-nosed and blue-nosed pit bulls are all members of the same breed and are not breeds of their own. Though all dogs have individual personalities, there are characteristics that are common to the breed.
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Recognised by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as the American Staffordshire terrier, pit bulls are stocky and muscular. They weigh, on average, between 24.9 and 31.8 Kilogram. Their ears are short and can stand straight or fold over. The AKC recognises cropped ears, but discourages them as well as docked tails. Most, but not all, pit bulls have a multicolour coat that can include brown, tan, black and white.
Pit bulls have a violent past that revolved around the bloody sport of dog fighting. Because of this, pit bulls have a reputation as aggressive, unpredictable and dangerous dogs. This is an image that groups such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) are attempting to change. It is true that some pit bulls can be genetically predisposed to dog aggression, though breeders have, in recent years, selected away from that trait. Pit bulls are less likely to give warning before aggressive actions than other breeds, though they are no more likely to become aggressive unless they are provoked.
Even when dog fights were common, pit bulls were bred to be tolerant of their handlers and friendly with humans. It surprises many people to learn that most pit bulls are very affectionate and loving pets. When their human masters are present, and if they have been properly socialised, they are also accepting of strangers. Pit bulls can even make ideal pets for families with young children. They are sturdy dogs that can handle rough treatment from kids, and they are patient with children. They were once known as "nursemaids dogs" because of their ability to accept and be affectionate with children.
Though they can be stubborn, pit bulls are intelligent and eager to please. They are easily trained with positive reinforcement methods. Pit bulls love attention, and treats and praise will almost always encourage a pit bull to learn new tricks, follow rules and obey commands. Negative reinforcement techniques should be avoided, however, as punishment can cause a pit bull to resent training. It can also trigger aggressive behaviour. There is little that a pit bull cannot learn, from obedience commands to advanced tricks to canine sport training.
The pit bull is not a breed for inactive owners. They have energy to spare and require daily walks and exercise. Pit bulls can become bored easily and develop destructive or irritating habits such as chewing, digging, pacing or barking. In some cases, boredom can even lead to frustration and aggression. Pit bulls benefit from two daily walks of at least 30 minutes each, as well as from daily training sessions, structured play time in the yard, vigorous activities such as jogging, hiking or swimming, and participation in canine sports. Time spent chewing on bones and toys can also give pit bulls an outlet for their extra physical and mental energy.
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