The history of the American Pit Bull Terrier, aka the Pitbull is somewhat vague and some history is heavily theorized. However, although it is theory there have been historical art, documents, books, and other artifacts that do not exactly prove the origins of the pitbull, but it does strongly support the theories of the breed origins that we know today. We will go over a few of those theories of Pitbull origins here.
Pitbull Origins – A Brief History
A Pitbull is a dog breed that has been recognized as a breed for over 150 years. Given the bloodsport of dog fighting in this breed’s past, many assume that the word “pit” in “Pit Bull” references the dog pit where the dogs competed. However, this is not true. The “pit” in “PitBull”refers to the past sport of ratting. When bull baiting was banned in 1835, ratting became a sport. In ratting competitions, dogs were put in a pit of rats. The dog that caught the most rats won. Handlers would place bets and earn extra funds through this sport. The Pit became a popular ratting dog both in sport and as a job in the home and at the farm. Ratting also became a way for lower income families to not only earn extra through sport, but as a way to feed their sporting and working dogs without feeding their own sources of food.
In 1898 this breed of dog, theorized to have been created from a combination of dogs brought into America by English and Irish immigrants, was recognized as a breed by the United Kennel Club. In 1945, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed. However, as a way to steer away from this breed’s bloody past, the breed was renamed The American Staffordshire Terrier (the “Amstaff for short”). The Amstaff is an American Pit Bull Terrier by genetics. No other breeds were combined with the Pit Bull to create the Amstaff.
Today, the Pitbull is known as an excellent companion dog, a working K9, service animals, and (humane) athletes.