Pit bulls are extremely misunderstood dogs who are heavily defended. Few dogs are as controversial thanks to negative associations, yet few dogs have as ardent a fan base. First, the term "pit bull' is often incorrectly used. There aren't pit bull breeds per se. Second, pit bull physical characteristics are similar to bulldogs and some terriers.
People often use the term "pit bull" when referring to several breeds of terriers: American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, and bull terriers as well as American pit bull terriers. However, the American pit bull terrier is the only real pit bull, but it's not a recognized American Kennel Club breed. A square head, a broad chest, a well-defined neck, and a shiny coat are some American pit bull puppy characteristics.
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Pit bull puppy characteristics: square head
Even as a puppy, the head of the American pit bull terrier is square. Pit bull puppies have loose skin around their heads, making their heads look wrinkled. As they grow, the wrinkled skin stretches out over the broad cheeks and thick neck. The pointed ears fall forward and remain that way unless they are cropped.
Many pit bulls have faces that are white with light brown or chocolate brown circles around one or both eyes (think Petey and Pal from "The Little Rascals"). Some pit bull faces are dark brown with a white stripe starting between the eyes and stretching down the nose. Colors of these dogs vary and are similar to bulldogs, terriers, and associated pit bull breeds.
Pit bull puppy characteristics: sturdy body
Pit bull puppies are about 7 to 10 ounces and 8 to 10 inches long at birth. However, they grow to be 30 to 85 pounds and 17 to 19 inches tall at the shoulder by adulthood. Puppies have short legs and a medium-length tail that tapers to a point, which is sometimes one of the characteristics used to define the breed. Pit bulls also have larger chests and broader shoulders than most other puppies of the same size.
Pit bull puppies grow most rapidly between the ages of 4 and 9 months and should reach their full height by 18 months. After 1 year old, the pit bull puppy begins to fill out his sturdy muscular body. At this age, an American pit bull terrier is still a puppy at heart but has likely reached his adult size. Final size, of course, depends on a number of factors including genetics, exercise, and quality of diet.
Pit bull puppy characteristics: shiny coat
Although their coats are thick, American pit bull puppies' hair is extremely shiny and comes in a wide range of colors. Puppies can have coats that are one, two, or three colors, ranging from tan, brown, and "blue" to brindle. The coat remains thick and shiny into the dog's adulthood and is easy to groom.
Pit bulls do shed, but you'll rarely find large clumps of hair balls. They require minimal brushing and the occasional bath. In between baths, they should be wiped down with a damp cloth to keep the coat shiny.
Pit bull puppy characteristics: wide mouth
The strong American pit bull terrier jaw is a characteristic of the breed. The dog's ability to "lock" the jaw is a myth, but pit bulls can grab and hold on with determination. Unfortunately, misunderstanding about what the jaws can and cannot do is reasoning for breed-specific legislation in many regions.
While the strong jaw is a source of misunderstanding about the pit bull's character, ironically, it's the pit bull mouth shape that gives the dog its charm. When open, this wide mouth looks like a clown-like grin, disarming some negative first impressions.