History of the American Pit Bull Terrier

APBT History -Pitbull Stories- Here is a Glimpse into the Interesting History of the American Pit Bull Terrier

The history of the American Pit Bull Terrier, or APBT, is a long and debatable one. Many feel that the APBT is the result of dog breeders crossing the Bull Dog with the Terrier. I am not one of those people. There are paintings that date back to the 1750s depicting pitbull history. One example is of the painting “The Bull Bait”. Painted by artist Thomas Rowlandson, it shows our breed about to bring down a bull with attentive bystanders close by. Paintings show the breed has been around for a very, very long time. The origin of the APBT is best explained by quoting from Richard Strattons book “The Truth About the American Pit Bull Terrier“. As stated on Page 15, “The Border Collie would be much more likely to bite my children or me than the Pit Bull! And please let me make it clear that I am personally a great admirer of the Border Collie; however, I am also willing to be honest about that breed, and its members are a little nippy– especially with strangers. The point is that //any// breed comes off second to the Pit Bull in terms of stable disposition with people. How ironic it is that this most gentle of breeds has become a household word as the incarnation of savagery! Of all dogs, this breed is most likely to elicit the comment, “why on Earth do you want to keep a dog that that?”.

This is so ironic because an American Pit Bull Terrier, or APBT, will take “mauling” from young children and thrive upon it. He likes rough play, as long as he knows it is play. This breed loves to play and has a true lust for life. This enthusiasm and positive attitude rubs off onto its owners. If not be sheer admiration, than by the need to “combat” the intelligence of the dog always wanting to learn and please the owner.

This breed is ready to go out in the heavy rain or heat with you if this is what you have to, or want to do. In turn the APBT puts his trust in you to provide a dry place to stay with him along with water to keep him cool. They are truly mans best friend. Bulldogs can play with each other with no problem, however some supervision is required in order to make sure the dogs do not get to carried away. American Pit Bull Terriers do not tend to bark that much. They are a very intelligent breed. The dogs tend to be endless entertainment. I know my first APBT will play fetch rain or shine. She will play night or day and would jump through burning hoops if I was to ever put some up. This dog is truly a game bred dog. A game bred dog is a dog that has endless drive and will never quite regardless of the circumstances. The APBT has beengame bred in order to take down livestock when needed, to navigate through the US territory and take care of settlers, as well as for dog fighting (we are 100% against dog fighting but do acknowledge its past). This trait has been carried on and has made the APBT a breed of dog that is a very loyal, big heartedand family oriented. These traits make them perfect for children who always want to play and need a companion. The dog is very formidable and will keep most if not all

potential dangers away. Dangers like muggers, rapists, as well as coyotes and Mountain Lions Joggers and hikers find them to be a great choice. Some people prefer to have a larger APBT and some people prefer to have a smaller dog. This breed tends to be available in weighs between 35 and 65 lbs., allowing the potential buyer to find the right dog for his or her particular circumstances. Here is a quote from the book “This is the American Pit Bull Terrier“(published in 1977) The book is written by Richard Stratton. The information is found on page 82 . “No one knows for sure when these dogs first came into the United States. However, a famous breeder by the name of William J. Lightner once told Richard Stratton “That his grandfather raised them before the Civil War. It is quite possible that they were even here before the Revolutionary War. In any case, it is clear that dogs of the breed came from various parts of Europe, specifically Spain and Sicily. But little is known about these earliest importations, because nothing was written about them (Books and periodicals containing information about dogs were rare in those days). Their existence can be inferred from artwork, however. The most famous importations were from Ireland, and generally made by the Irish themselves after they immigrated to this country”. End quote. On page 85 and 86, Stratton goes on to write …with all these importations from Ireland (and there were importations from other countries, too– including Spain), where do we get off calling our breed the American Bull Terrier!

(*side note* old school dog men call the APBT a Bulldog) Well… that’s a point! The breed does not really belong to any one country or even one era! However, I don’t believe many people are in favor of changing the name of the breed. For that matter, it is not really a Bull Terrier, either! But the name American (Pit) Bull Terrier has become part of that tradition we were talking about, and I think most of us prefer to keep it as a formal name for the breed”. End quote. Here is more information from Strattons book “This is the American Pit Bull Terrier” (from page 127).
Question: I have seen American (Pit) Bull Terriers 70, 80, and 90 pounds. I’ve also heard that they come as large as 100 pounds. In view of the fact that the A.P.B.T. was directly descended from the Stafford shire Bull Terrier of England, a breed which seldom goes over 40 pounds, how did this excess size come about?

Answer: Well, first of all, I certainly challenge the assumption that the A.P.B.T. is a descendant of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, although this curious idea has certainly been circulated in print. Rather the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has evolved from the A.P.B.T. To be more specific, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has evolved from pit dog stock of the British Isles. The American (pit) Bull Terrier today is identical to that stock of over a hundred years ago, whereas the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which was recognized as a breed in 1935, is not (being more stockily built, having a shorter and more snipy muzzle, etc.). (It is useful here to keep in mind that show dogs tend to change appearance in accordance with the style of the moment. Also, there is a tendency to emphasize the distinguishing features of a breed to the extent that the dogs become virtual creatures of their progenitors.) While the A.P.B.T. is an amalgamation of pit stock from the British Isles, Spain and Sicily, even if that were not the case, we should not be surprised at the occasional large dogs that turn up. Even some of the small individuals, such as Colby’s Pinscher (72 pounds). The fact is that variety of size is a traditional feature of the American (Pit) Bull Terrier breed (and, I think, a desirable one)”. End quote

On page 134 Richard Stratton writes “American (Pit) Bull Terrier was developed by simpily breeding dogs on the basis of their performance and success.

Still quoting from the book “This is the American Pit Bull Terrier” (Page 135 and 136) “The United Kennel Club was founded in 1898 by Chauncy Z. Bennett, and the first breed to be recognized was the American Pit Bull Terrier. Now Mr Bennett was not a pit dog man in the since that he ever matched dogs, but he was an enthusiastic promoter of the breed. He was not fool enough to fall for that absurd idea sometimes promulgated by kennel clubs that a breed is not a pure breed unless it is registered. He knew that the breeders of the Pit Bull often kept meticulous records, and not only did they keep the breed pure, they rarely bred outside their own strain. However, for the sale to the general public, registration and a formal pedigree had come to be expected, and Mr. Bennett felt that the breed needed that in order to become popular. He also believed, and I think rightly so (*again, this is a quote from Stratton I am 100% against dog fighting – it is good to know the history to recognize why the APBT is so “game”*), that the dogs would benefit from U.K.C. sanctioned pit rules and from having matches presided over by a U.K.C.-licensed referee. Thus came into being the United Kennel Club Pit Rules (*Side note from me, Michael Vick would have been looked down upon for what he did to the APBT by past breeders who would match their dogs to these set of 31 rules*) that are still occasionally used (* not condoned by me!!! I would never even think about fighting my dogs. However, to not understand why the APBT is so people friendly and “game bred” is to deny its past. There is no since putting your head in the sand. Just appreciate what went into making the breed what it is today, even if you are like me and could not even watch a hurt dog on You Tube*) much to the embarrassment of the U.K.C.!” End quote.

On page 143 Richard Stratton states “Many of thee breeders still did not registered their dogs because it went against a basic tradition to keep secret pedigrees. Part of the game was to know all about the other guy’s breeding with out him knowing anything about yours! And, too, many breeders were not happy with the name, as they had been used to calling the dogs skimpily “bulldogs“.” End Quote

This is written information from Richard Strattons book “The Truth About the American Pit Bull Terrier” printed in 1991. On page 32 he states “Long after the use of these dogs as hunters in ancient times, they were used by butchers to help them catch a bull that was ready for slaughter. The act of bullbaiting probably became a sport that grew out of this activity. This is what gave the breed the name “Bulldog”. Most people who have studied up on the APBT believe that they are the true “bulldog” and that other breeds like the American Bulldog, etc. descended down from the APBT (not the popular view that the APBT came from the “Bulldog” with the pushed in nose and the short and fat body. Which one do you think would be able to grab a bull by the nose and hold onto him until he is subdued?” End quote.

The information and opinions on pitbull history are out there. You make up your own mind on how the breed came to be.

Humboldt Pit Bulls has many Sorrell’s dogs in their pedigree. Here is some information on the pitbull from the dog breeder Bert himself. “Are pit bulls really as nasty as I’ve heard? The American Pitbull Terrier has always been MAN’s best friend (the dog in the ‘Little
Rascals’ All American TV show was an American Pitbull Terrier
). If you are looking to own an American Pitbull Terrier, you need to consider a few things: * Have you chosen a reputable breeder
* Are the dogs bred with people friendliness in mind
* What are the personalities of the sire and dam (the parents) of the dog you are
considering to purchase
* What is the history of the dogs from whom you are purchasing them from At Sorrells Ranch, Bert Sorrells has selectively bred his family of American Pitbull Terriers for over 45 years, keeping the people friendliness characteristic bred into his dogs. Most of Bert Sorrells American Pitbull Terriers even ‘smile’. Sorrells American Pitbull Terriers have been bred to the highest of standards, improving upon the traits that has made the Pitbull terrier loved by those that have them. The Sorrells American Pitbull Terriers are known for their loyalty, courage, agility, strength, devotion, beauty/conformation, hunting skills, ability to endure all circumstances, trainability, indomitable spirit and people friendliness. Sorrells dogs are one of the most people friendly bloodlines of the American Pitbull breed. These quality characteristics make the Sorrells Pitbull a wise choice for anyone seeking to own, buy or breed a top-notch Champion American Pitbull terrier.” End quote.

This dog is not ours! He is a rescue dog that is a good example of what most people think are “Pitbulls” now a days. Here is an example of an “American Bully”, not an APBT Here is the story that came with it. The willingness never to quit has been lost.

The photo and video above how the APBT has been bred with other dogs to create “The American Bully”. A mixed breed version of the APBT.

Capone is the winner of RPB Forum’s Monthly Photo
Contest.  His guardian, Garland of Bama Bully Rescue, had
this to say about him:
Capone is a huge snuggle bug and loves human
contact. He loves cats, dogs, kids and even
livestock. He is the laziest dog on the face of the
planet. He eats and drinks out of his bowls while
lying on the ground, only stands up for treats and
immediately rolls over when anyone tries to pet
him.  Besides being lazy, his two favorite things are
dressing up and getting baths. Sometimes, he
combines the two. Last year, he came to the back
door with a dead animal on his head, wearing it like
a headdress. This allowed him to dress up AND get a
bath, immediately! His name is Al Capone, because
my other dogs never got into the trash or found
holes in the fence until Capone showed up, so I
know he is the mastermind, but I can’t prove it.
Like his namesake, the only way he’ll ever be
indicted is on racketeering charges, because you’ll
never find a shred of evidence against him and
you’ll never catch him doing anything but sleeping
on the couch.

Here is an example of the types of emails I get about the pride of America changing into a Hippo.

“Hi Tim,
thanks for your quick respond.
Again, I’ve looked through some US sites and I was
horrified of the look of some dogs. They look like
So, that is why I contacted You. Please, contact me, when
you have any news, or contact anyway – we belong to a same
family of ultimate APBT lovers.

Best regards, Sasko”

  • ADBA= 99% of the high quality dogs found in any historical book on the American Pit Bull Terrier were registered by the ADBA
  • U.K.C.=The dogs are mostly show stock with Staffordshire Terrier mixed in. Their muscles are big and puffy. Most lack the game bred quality of the ADBA registered dogs (the ADBA registered dogs that have not been mixed with other breeds yet). Old stock is good
  • ABKC=Mixed breed Pit Bull. This is the pride and joy for many people. It is “The American Bully”. Many times this breed is papered as a pure bred APBT in both the U.K.C. and the ADBA