Breed traits are a result of breeding selectively for certain characteristics.
It’s important to be familiar with the breed standards for the Pit Bull to familiarize oneself with which traits are likely to be present in any given dog of the breed. Of course, each dog is an individual and not every dog will exhibit every trait. Some dogs may exhibit traits not even listed in a breed standard (usually this is considered to be a fault).
According to the UKC’s (United Kennel Club) standard, “The essential characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier are strength, confidence, and zest for life. This breed is eager to please and brimming over with enthusiasm. APBTs make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their love of children. Because most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog. The breed’s natural agility makes it one of the most capable canine climbers so good fencing is a must for this breed. The APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable. This breed does very well in performance events because of its high level of intelligence and its willingness to work.
Disqualifications: Viciousness or extreme shyness.”
The AADR’s (All American Dog Registry) standard states: “PERSONALITY – The APBT should be bold and confident. He should be curious with his environment, but responsive to his handler and gentle with family members. Unwarranted human aggression is highly unacceptable. Like most terriers, they can have a strong prey drive and many APBTs exhibit some level of aggression towards other dogs and/or non human animals. Their intelligence combined with their natural athleticism is best suited for families with prior dog ownership experience, individuals who are willing to research the breed and make adequate preparations, or those who have access to a breed mentor. Ultimately, if you are not prepared to hold your self up as a public example of responsible ownership, the AADR, LLC humbly asks that you do everyone a favor and choose another breed.”
The ADBA (American Dog Breeder’s Association) standard calls for,
“A. Confident and alert
B. Interested in things around them, in control of their space, not threatened by anything in their surroundings.
C. Gentle with loved ones Faults: shy or timid:”
Of The American Staffordshire Terrier, the AKC (American Kennel Club) notes:
“The Am Staff is a people-oriented dog that thrives when he is made part of the family and given a job to do. Although friendly, this breed is loyal to his family and will protect them from any threat. His short coat is low-maintenance, but regular exercise and training is necessary.” 1
On the Terrier group, which the AST belongs, the AKC provides the following breed trait information, “People familiar with this Group invariably comment on the distinctive terrier personality. These are feisty, energetic dogs whose sizes range from fairly small, as in the Norfolk, Cairn or West Highland White Terrier, to the grand Airedale Terrier. Terriers typically have little tolerance for other animals, including other dogs. Their ancestors were bred to hunt and kill vermin. Many continue to project the attitude that they’re always eager for a spirited argument. Most terriers have wiry coats that require special grooming known as stripping in order to maintain a characteristic appearance. In general, they make engaging pets, but require owners with the determination to match their dogs’ lively characters.” 2
With regard to the AST’s relation to the APBT, the AKC offers this history: “Until the early 19th century, the Bulldog used for bullbaiting in England was more active and longer-legged than the breed as we know it today. It is thought that the cross of this older Bulldog and a game terrier breed created the Staffordshire Terrier. Originally called the Bull-and-Terrier Dog, Half and Half or Pit Dog, it became known as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in England. When accepted for AKC registration in 1936, the name changed to American Staffordshire Terrier to reflect the heavier American type and to distinguish them as separate breeds.” 3
Whether your dog competes in a show ring or not, we highly recommend that anyone looking for a new dog become familiar with the characteristics common to that breed to help determine which dog would be the best fit for their family.