The pit bull has to be one of the most, if not most, controversial dog breeds there are. Putting aside feelings and politics, let's look at the history of this distinguished animal.
The term “pit bull” isn't actually the name of one breed, but covers a group of breeds with similar characteristics. There is some leeway as to what constitutes a pit bull, since mixed breeds with a certain “look” can be considered pits, there are set breeds that fall into the pit category. American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier are the formal breeds of North America that are considered pit bulls, though the American Bulldog and Bull Terrier are sometimes included.
The pit bull's origin traces back to Ireland where bulldogs and terriers were bred for the combination of agility and strength. Later, the dogs were used in the United Kingdom for blood sports such as bull-baiting, bear-baiting and cock fighting. Though blood sports have been outlawed, pits today are still thought of as fighting dogs, as underground fighting rings still exist. Later, as America was settled by Europeans, pit bulls were used as catch dogs for wild animals and driving cattle.
With the origin of pit bulls being in Europe, there is a distinction now between 2 main groups of pits; the red nose and the blue nose. As they sound, each group really does have a different colored nose. However, there are more differences. Coat color of the blue noses tends to be in the gray ranges and smooth, whereas the red noses are the brown and red coats. The blue noses fetch a higher price, being thought of as the original pit and more true to the breed. The red noses tend to be more mixed breeds with the look of a pit, but diluted with the American breeds that came later.
Despite the pit bull's current reputation for violence, the bulldog it is bred from was used as a guard and companion dog, as well as bull baiting. Dating as far back as the 1500's we find bulldogs in paintings. A famous painting from 1817, entitled Crib and Rosa, shows the English Bull Dog from which the pit bull was bred.
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