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Buying or Adopting an American Pit Bull Terrier

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

American Pit Bull Terrier

Interested in the American Pit Bull Terrier? Read each post on this page. Make sure the breed is right for you (and that YOU are right for the breed). Decide on sex and age. Then begin the exciting adventure of finding and evaluating breeders and rescue groups and selecting the right Pit Bull Terrier. Don't be in a hurry!



Don't set your sights on the American Pit Bull Terrier until you read my advice in these posts.

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Should You Even Get a Dog? Are You Sure?
Important – I've been helping people choose and find dogs for nearly 40 years, and honestly, some people who decide to get a dog are making a big mistake... [read more]

Purebred dogs The Truth About Purebred Dogs
Pros and cons... (most people don't know about the cons)

Crossbred dogs The Truth About Crossbred Dogs
Pros and cons... (don't get taken by breeder hype)

Mixed breed dogs The Truth About Mixed Breed Dogs
Pros and cons... (are mixes inferior to purebreds and crosses?)

Is an American Pit Bull Terrier the right breed for you?

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton American Pit Bull Terrier Review
I'll tell you what's good about 'em, and what's bad about 'em... most honest review you'll ever find

puppy

Dog Breed Traits – Which Traits Are Right For You?

In this brand new series, I'll help you decide which dog breed traits would best suit you and your family, your home and yard, and your lifestyle, so you can choose the best dog breed for your family.

Are YOU the right owner for an American Pit Bull Terrier?

Can you provide what this breed needs?

  • Someone home most of the day
  • Fenced yard (6-8 feet high, not an electronic/underground fence)
  • No young children in the household
  • No other dogs in the household
  • No cats in the household
  • Extra safety precautions – ongoing supervision and surveillance of what's going on around your Pit Bull Terrier, especially the presence of strange dogs who might start something your Pit Bull might finish in a tragic manner
  • Restricted exercise when young – until maturity (at least 18 months old), exercise restricted to multiple short (20 minute) walks, fetch games, and playing with other dogs – no forced running (beside a jogger or bicyclist), no long-distance treks, minimal jumping
  • Ample exercise after maturity – enough ongoing exercise that your Pit Bull Terrier stays slim and is tired enough to sleep contentedly and not get into mischief
  • "Mental exercise" – interesting activities that keep the mind stimulated, such as a challenging dog sport (agility, rally obedience, flyball, schutzhund, tracking, carting, weight pulling); challenging dog toys; a homemade obstacle course; tricks and games such as Musical Toys and Hide 'n Seek; instructions in my training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words
  • An indoor lifestyle, except for exercise and bathroom breaks
  • A meat-heavy diet, either homemade or commercial – meat is expensive, so people with less money should opt for a smaller dog
  • An owner with enough money to treat the health problems Pit Bulls are prone to (pet health insurance can really help here!)
  • An owner who is okay with moderate shedding
  • Commitment to provide thorough socialization – introducing your Pit Bull Terrier to lots of people and other animals, diligently correcting any signs of misbehavior or aggression
  • Commitment to establish the proper Leader-Follower relationship with your American Pit Bull Terrier, teaching him to listen to you and do what you say

Which sex? What age?

Symbols for male and female Male Dogs vs. Female Dogs
Which one makes a better pet?

Girl hugging a dog Puppies vs. Adult Dogs
Should you get a young puppy, an older puppy, or an adult dog?

Where can you buy or adopt an American Pit Bull Terrier?

Pit Bull Terriers are a very common breed in the United States. You won't have any trouble finding a Pit Bull to buy or adopt. But you might have trouble finding a GOOD one to buy or adopt. I hope you've read my American Pit Bull Terrier Review.

Adopting From Dog Rescue Organizations
Lots of American Pit Bull Terriers (and Pit Bull crosses and mixes) are available from Dog Rescue groups.

American Pit Bull Terriers may be turned over to Rescue because they need more exercise and interesting activities to do than the owner expected. There might be dominance issues, or destructiveness, or aggression toward other animals. The dog might simply be too much for the owner to handle. You would need to provide these dogs with the exercise, training, and socialization that they are lacking. Other Pit Bulls are given up simply because of changed family circumstances, and these dogs may have no behavior problems at all.

Adopting From Public Animal Shelters and Humane Societies
Pit Bull Terriers are found here by the droves, at least in communities where it's legal to offer this breed for adoption. Some communities euthanize any Pit Bull Terrier that comes into their shelters. Also be aware that a large number of dogs labled by shelter staff as American Pit Bull Terriers are crosses or mixes rather than purebred.

Buying From a Dog Breeder
You can buy an American Pit Bull Terrier from a show breeder, who breeds Pit Bulls to match a detailed standard of appearance for the dog show ring.

Or you can buy a Pit Bull Terrier from a performance breeder, who emphasizes an energetic temperament and strong "prey (chasing) drives" for hunting wild boar, or for participating in protection dog sports (schutzhund) or weight pulling competitions.

Some breeders are a combination of show/performance, though how they prioritize those two goals can vary greatly. You can also buy an American Pit Bull Terrier from people who "just breed pets" or "just had one litter." But should you? Be sure to read the article to learn more about these people.

Here's one difference between a responsible breeder and an irresponsible breeder – BOTH PARENTS of an American Pit Bull Terrier puppy should have:

  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or PennHip certifying the dog to have normal hips
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) certifying the dog to have a normal thyroid
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or a report from a veterinary cardiologist – dated within the past year – certifying that the dog has had an Advanced Cardiac Exam and has a normal heart

If a seller can't show you those certificates, the puppies are higher risk for health problems. You might choose to accept that risk. But then you need to be willing (and able) to pay a couple thousand bucks for future surgeries and lifelong meds if your American Pit Bull Terrier ends up with hip dysplasia.

Puppy in a pet shop window Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store
I don't see American Pit Bull Terriers in pet shops in my area. Maybe the stores are afraid of the legal liabilities, I don't know. But I do have plenty to say about buying a puppy from a pet shop!

Which puppy?

Symbols for male and female Choosing the Right American Pit Bull Terrier Puppy
How to test the temperament and personality of American Pit Bull Terrier puppies and pick the best puppy in a litter.

Girl hugging a dog AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?
Should you buy only an AKC registered American Pit Bull Terrier puppy? Do AKC papers and pedigrees really matter?

Dog Quest book Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams
My dog buying/adoption book will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.