Pit Bull Phenotyping - A Guide
Phenotyping pit bulls can have it’s ups and downs. On one hand you have people phenotyping their bully breed mixes as pit bulls because it resembles one, and on the other hand you can tell the different breeds (and mixes) apart usually by phenotyping. It can be harder for the average person to distinguish between a purebred APBT with a mutt that looks really close to an APBT, and so that’s why I normally say to back up the claims that your mutt is an APBT with pedigree proof. Any purebred APBT breeder will be able to provide you with pedigrees, usually for no cost at all - they take pride in their work and want to show off years (even decades) of experience through pedigrees. You can ask your breeder for your dog’s sire and dam’s names and search them up on Google by typing in, for example Crenshaw’s Jeep pedigree.
You can even see the offspring of this dog if they are registered on that site.
Generally speaking, pit bull terriers all follow the same general look. They’re thin but muscular, they have a slender, muscular face with a slight forehead stop (though not as defined as an American Bulldog or a Rottweiler):
Big Snake’s Ch Winston:
Compared to a Rottweiler:
and an American Bulldog (Scott-type):
Staffordshire Bull Terriers have cute, round faces and a defined forehead stop:
They do not have chunky, jowly faces, and their heads aren’t massive. Jowly faces means risk of the dog “fanging” itself (getting one of it’s canines stabbed through it’s upper lip). There are some exceptions to this, and there are dogs with more square-looking heads and some slight neck folds, but these are the minority.
Eastside Kennel’s Redboy:
Eastside Kennel’s Little Ruby:
Big Snake’s Tito 1XW:
(and a notable example of a more jowly, thicker-headed dog):
Latin Force Kennel’s GrCh Barracuda:
(Although Barracuda’s jowly appearance could be due to scars, because he doesn’t look this way in other pictures)
Staffordshire Bull Terriers have very round faces with large, almond- shaped eyes:
and American Staffordshire Terriers have faces similar to pit bulls, but with harsher angles:
They are not 100lbs and they are not massive. If someone is telling you that their pit bull is 100lbs, they’re lying to your face, ignore them.
APBT rarely exceed 60lbs, and the ones that do are called catchweight. There is an actual fighting class for the super heavy dogs because they are a minority. They are also not big, they’re quite small dogs and rarely get above knee-height. In a dog-fight, the handlers were/are required to have their dogs between their legs before they scratch. How easy would this be if your dog was as big as people claim their pit bulls to be? Ridiculous. These dogs are meant to be extremely agile and fast, and a large dog like a Tosa or a Dogo Argentino would not make a good pit fighting dog due to this.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers tend to be quite small, about half the size of an APBT. The best way I can describe one is to say that they’re “compact”. American Staffordshire Terriers are a little bigger than pit bulls and more “boxy”.
You can check out the size of some Staffordshire Bull Terriers in this video here.
They do not all have cropped ears. In fact, most APBT are left with natural ears. While pit bulls do tend to have rose ears when left natural, they can have any shape of ears, some of them even have bat ears. It’s a myth that all fighting dogs were/are cropped, it’s believed that cropping a dog puts your dog at risk of having his ear injured in a fight (but it would be impossible for another dog to puncture an eardrum even if the opponent was cropped). American Staffordshire Terrier breeders and American Bully breeders tend to crop most of their dogs due to standard, but since there’s no real standard amongst general pit bull fanciers, nobody cares about ear shape.
Boudreaux’s Badger ROM/POR
Boudreaux’s Baaad Asss 2XW
Ch Maloney’s Strider
They do not have to be conditioned to be thin and athletic. A common misconception is that game bred dogs have a “look” to them and that if the dogs are not game bred, they’ll be chunkier, heavier, jowlier, etc. This is not true. Dogs that are extremely muscular and “ripped” are like this because their owner conditions them, or puts them on a “work out” routine and strict diet. Even when these dogs are not conditioned, they are still in good shape.
A well known “ripped” dog would be Marty’s Lilbit
and some examples of “chainweight” dogs (dogs who are weighed when they’re taken right off the chain, ie. a dog who has not been conditioned)
Most of them are not blue or tricolour. The reason for this being that the people who own and breed APBT (mainly dogfighters) do not breed for appearance. Blue is a dilute gene and can crop up in this breed, but not to the extent that people are claiming it to by calling their blue/tri dogs “pit bulls”. You’ll notice that none of the photos I’ve provided so far have been blue dogs, this is not intentional and is merely a coincidence.
They are not short, squat dogs with thick necks and wide chests. They have normal proportions and are not squat. In fact, if we were going by the ADBA standards, this is what a champion ADBA dog looks like:
That looks wildly different from this, does it not?
(Found that Googling “Pit Bull”)
American Staffordshire Terriers tend to have thick necks and wide chests, but not to the extent that occurs in the American Bully world.
When I look at a dog that is claimed to be a “pit bull”, I examine the above and judge my phenotypes based on that. Knowing what you know now, would you be able to tell which dogs here are the APBTs?