Pit Bull Terrier - Temperament & Personality

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
American Pit Bull Terrier


Pit Bull Terriers come with a huge stigma – they are famous for being viscous fighting dogs, and evening news programs often highlight stories of Pit Bull attacks. Shelters are overrun with Pit Bulls, entire cities have banned the breed, and saying the name “Pit Bull” can strike fear into the hearts of some people. But a well bred Pit Bull who lives in a loving, caring home is the opposite of the “killer” splashed around on television. Pit Bulls are loving, loyal, clown dogs who make excellent companions or those with active lifestyles. They love being with people and want to be included in all family activities whether it's a ride in the car, a neighborhood stroll or a romp in the park. While it's true that in the wrong hands, Pit Bulls can be viscous, in the right hands, Pit Bulls can be sweethearts, which many owners describe as babies in a dog's body.

Activity Requirements

Pit Bulls need a lot of vigorous exercise and are happiest when they are active. Long walks, short runs, or playing long games of ball in the back yard will meet their daily activity requirements. If a Pit Bull Terrier is not getting enough exercise, they are sure to let you know. They are notoriously destructive, making easy work of flower beds or expensive furniture, and some develop the neurotic behavior of obsessively chasing their own tail. Apartments or condos may not be the best homes for this breed, as they are rowdy and rambunctious and have been lovingly referred to as the proverbial “bull in a China shop.”


Training should be started early and always done in calm-assertive manner, as they won't respond to discipline or harsh tones. Training is best done in short sessions due to Pit Bull Terriers' short attention span and they will quickly become uninterested, even if treats are used as a reward. Lots of patience is necessary when working with a Pit Bull Terrier, as training can be a long process.

Even after a Bull Terrier is fully trained, they may decide to test their boundaries as they get older and project dominance. These situations should be handled with calm assertion; like a teenager, they just want to see what they can get away with.

Families with children should socialize puppies early on to accept outside children as welcome guests. While Pit Bull Terriers will bond nicely with kids in their own family, they can sometimes be aggressive to to other children and should be taught early on that all kids are to be welcomed with open arms.

Behavioral Traits

Separation Anxiety develops often in Pit Bulls. It is important that this breed get enough exercise throughout the day and have enough activities to keep them busy when left alone, or they will become destructive. Some Pit Bull Terriers need to be crated well into adulthood to keep them (and the house furniture) safe when left alone.

Animal aggression is very common in Pit Bulls. Their fighting roots are still present in many lines, and even if they are raised alongside cats or other dogs, there is no guarantee that they won't go after them one day. Even the most easy going Pit Bulls will not back down from a challenge. They may not start fights, but they will finish them. It is very important that when you take your Pitt Bull to the dog park that you closely supervise his activity, and remove him from the park immediately if other dogs are targeting him. Remember, your Pit Bull is an ambassador for the breed. They should also be leashed at all times, and your yard should be fenced.

Isolating a Pitt Bull is never a good idea. Socialize your Pit Bull from an early age so that he is accepting of new people and new situations, otherwise he will become naturally wary, which can lead to problems in adulthood. They are generally happy, easy going animals, and as long as they come from a reputable breeder and have polite parents, you can feel confident that your Pit Bull will be an excellent ambassador for the breed.

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