The Body Types of the American Pitbull Terrier

Cuteness may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.
Image Credit: Tara Gregg / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

Pitbull is a general term applied to several breeds with similar physical characteristics, including the American pitbull terrier. The American pitbull terrier breed is not recognized by the American Kennel Club. There aren't multiple pitbull body types for American pitbulls, but there are characteristics for the breed as laid out by the United Kennel Club.


American Pitbull Terrier body characteristics

Pitbulls were created in the 19th century when breeders began to cross bulldogs and terriers to achieve a breed with strength and tenacity. Immigrants brought the dog to America where they were popular with farmers and ranchers. The American pitbull terrier is a strong, athletic breed that excels in a variety of sports including agility, obedience, tracking and dock jumping. The breed is of medium size and has a strong, muscular body type. The ideal weight for male dogs is 35 to 60 pounds and the ideal weight for female dogs is 30 to 50 pounds.

Video of the Day

The body is rectangular in shape and is slightly longer than it is tall. Male dogs measure 18 to 21 inches tall and female dogs measure 17 to 20 inches tall. When viewed from the front, the American pitbull stance is with the elbows close to the body and the forearms set wide and perpendicular to the ground. They have a deep chest and well-developed hindquarters.


The American pitbull head is large and broad between the ears. Dogs also have a broad muzzle and wide-set eyes. The eyes are round and can be any color except for blue. Ears are set high on the head and many owners opt to crop the ears. They have a medium neck that widens from the base of the head. The skin on the neck is tight, not loose.


Other American pitbull characteristics

American pitbull terriers have short, smooth coats. They can be nearly any color except for merle. Relaxed dogs carry their tails in a low position and the tail length is down to the dog's hock. Pitbulls have a smooth, powerful gate and confident attitude. Their topline remains level and the legs stay straight without turning in or out.


Image Credit: DevidDO/iStock/GettyImages

Pitbulls have a reputation for aggression, but this athletic breed is naturally highly intelligent and friendly. In fact, aggression, viciousness and extreme shyness are disqualifying traits in the United Kennel Club. They do require an owner who can cope with their intelligent and energetic nature.


With the right care and training, the American pitbull terrier can make an affectionate and eager-to-please companion. Without proper socialization, they may become overprotective of their family and be aggressive toward other animals. Always supervise pitbulls around children and other small animals like cats.



Other Pitbull Breeds

There are two other breeds that may be referred to as pitbulls: American Staffordshire terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier. Both breeds are recognized by the American Kennel Club and have a similar body type as the American pitbull terrier. Like the American pitbull terrier, both breeds are active and energetic. They need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.


American Staffordshire terriers are a bit stocker. The males grow 18 to 19 inches tall weight 50 to 70 pounds. Females of the breed grow 17 to 18 inches tall and weigh 40 to 55 pounds. They have a stocky, muscular body with a broad head and round, wide-set eyes.

Image Credit: Vladimir18/iStock/GettyImages

The Staffordshire bull terrier is the smallest of the three breeds. They grow only 14 to 16 inches tall. The males weigh 28 to 38 pounds and the females weigh 24 to 34 pounds. They are also a muscular breed but they have a shorter head with pronounced cheeks.


references & resources

Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...