Breed of the Month: American Pitbull Terrier

History

The blood sport of  “bull baiting” began over 1,000 years ago in England.  The American Pitbull Terrier was brought to the United States by immigrants from England, Ireland, and Scotland during the 19th century. Due to public outrage, bull baiting was banned in England in 1835. Bulldog breeders and owners then moved to the sport of “ratting,” where a number of rats were placed into a pit and wagers were made on how many rats the dog could kill in a certain time period. To increase agility, quickness and prey-drive in the bulldog, ratters crossed the breed with terriers. Essentially, it was the sport of ratting that combined the bulldog and terrier into the modern day pit bull terrier.  In America, selective breeding increased their weight and enlarged their jaws, giving them a more powerful-looking head.  On the heels of ratting, dogfighting developed. Pit bulls and dogfighting were exported to America as settlers made their way to the New World.  Dog fighting still exists today and these poor dogs are still a favorite choice for these brutal events.

Characteristics

Image result for pitbull

Pitbulls favorable traits

  • An affectionate companion and family dog
  • Lively, with a friendly personality
  • People-oriented and eager to please
  • Intelligent, friendly, and easily won over
  • Compact – does well in small living quarters
  • Has a short, easy-to-care-for coat

You may have also noticed these characteristics:

  • Needs regular exercise and diet regulation to avoid weight gain
  • Early obedience training and socialization is recommended
  • Overprotective of family and territory if not socialized properly
  • Aggressive toward other animals if not socialized
  • Sees cats and small animals as prey unless trained otherwise

General Health Information

Dental Disease

Dental disease is the most common chronic problem in pets, affecting 80% of all dogs by age two. And unfortunately, your American Pitbull Terrier is more likely than other dogs to have problems with their teeth. It starts with tartar build-up on the teeth and progresses to infection of the gums and roots of the teeth. If it is not prevented or treated, your buddy will lose their teeth and be in danger of damaging their kidneys, liver, heart, and joints. In fact, your American Pitbull Terrier’s life span may be cut short by one to three years!

Infections

American Pitbull Terriers are susceptible to bacterial and viral infections — the same ones that all dogs can get — such as parvo, rabies, and distemper. Many of these infections are preventable through vaccination.

Obesity

Image result for overweight pitbulls

Obesity can be a significant health problem in American Pitbull Terriers. It is a serious disease that may cause or worsen joint problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, back pain and heart disease.

Parasites

All kinds of worms and bugs can invade your Pit’s body, inside and out. Everything from fleas and ticks to ear mites can infest their skin and ears. Hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and whipworms can get into their system in a number of ways: drinking unclean water, walking on contaminated soil, or being bitten by an infected mosquito. Some of these parasites can be transmitted to you or a family member and are a serious concern for everyone. For your canine friend, these parasites can cause pain, discomfort, and even death. Preventive medication is recommended to keep them healthy.

Spay or Neuter

Image result for unwanted pitbulls

One of the best things you can do for your Pitbull is to have them spayed (neutered for males). In females, this means we surgically remove the ovaries and usually the uterus, and in males, it means we surgically remove the testicles. Spaying or neutering decreases the likelihood of certain types of cancers and eliminates the possibility of your pet becoming pregnant or fathering unwanted puppies.

Image result for pitbullRoutine Care

Build routine care into your schedule to help your Pit live longer, stay healthier, and be happier during her lifetime. We cannot overemphasize the importance of a proper diet and exercise routine.

  • Supervise your pet as you would a toddler. Keep doors closed, pick up after yourself, and block off rooms as necessary. This will keep them out of trouble and away from objects they shouldn’t put in their mouth.
  • They have low grooming needs. Brush their coat as needed, at least weekly.
  • American Pitbull Terriers generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week!
  • Clean their ears weekly, even as a puppy.
  • They are a smart dog with lots of energy, so keep their mind and body active, or they’ll get bored. That’s when the naughty stuff starts.
  • They are easy to train but early obedience and socialization are required to keep them from becoming overprotective and aggressive.
  • Keep your dog’s diet consistent and don’t give them people food.
  • Feed a high-quality diet appropriate for their age.
  • Exercise your dog regularly, but don’t overdo it at first.

What to Watch For

Any abnormal symptom could be a sign of serious disease, or it could just be a minor or temporary problem. The important thing is to be able to tell when to seek veterinary help, and how urgently. Many diseases cause dogs to have a characteristic combination of symptoms, which together can be a clear signal that your American Pitbull Terrier needs help.

Office calls

Give us a call for an appointment if you notice any of these types of signs:

  • Change in appetite or water consumption
  • Tartar build-up, bad breath, red gums, or broken teeth
  • Itchy skin (scratching, chewing or licking), hair loss
  • Lethargy, mental dullness, or excessive sleeping
  • Fearfulness, aggression, or other behavioral changes

Emergencies

Seek medical care immediately if you notice any of these types of signs:

  • Scratching or shaking the head, tender ears, or ear discharge
  • Inability or straining to urinate; discolored urine
  • Cloudiness, redness, itching, or any other abnormality involving the eyes
  • Leg stiffness, reluctance to rise, sit, use stairs, run, jump, or “bunny hopping”
  • Dull coat, hair loss, sluggish, weight gain
  • Dry, scaly, sometimes itchy hairless patches on face or paws
  • Excessive incoordination, beyond normal puppy clumsiness
  • Vomiting and bloody, watery diarrhea

References:

  • Ackerman L. The Genetic Connection: A Guide to Health Problems in Purebred Dogs. Second edition. AAHA Press; 2011.
  • Gough A, Thomas A. Breed Predispositions to Disease in Dogs and Cats. 2nd Edition. Wiley-Blackwell; 2010.
  • Crook A, Dawson S, Cote E, MacDonald S, Berry J. Canine Inherited Disorders Database [Internet]. University of Prince Edward Island. 2011. [cited 2013 Apr 11]. Available from: http:/ic.upei.ca/cidd/breed/american-pit-bull-terrier
By |April 30th, 2019|

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