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rec.pets.dogs: American Pit Bull Terriers Breed-FAQ, Part 1/3

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/apbt/part1
Last-modified: 1995/07/18

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
This is a regularly posted faq and appears every thirty days in
rec.pets.dogs.info, rec.answers and news.answers.

The most recently posted ASCII version of this file is available via
anonymous ftp to rtfm.mit.edu in the directory
pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/breeds

     _________________________________________________________________

   History:
	
	15DEC94-
	13APR95:  Original document created by authors.
	15APR95:  Initial posting to the net.
	25APR95:  Authors decide to make "guard" section more
                  comprehensive.
	09MAY95:  Approval by news.answers.
	18JUL95:  Authors section updated.
	25OCT95:  Still no revised "guard" section.
	
     _________________________________________________________________

   Unless otherwise noted, this article is Copyright (c) 1995 by
   Michael Bur.  It may be freely distributed in its entirety provided
   that this copyright notice is not removed.  It may not be sold for
   profit nor incorporated in commercial documents without the author's
   written permission.  This article is provided "as is" without express
   or implied warranty.
 
   Michael Bur (aka MAC)
   Internet: mbur@nyx10.cs.du.edu  USmail: PO BOX 966, Greenbelt, MD 20768 

     _________________________________________________________________




		The American Pit Bull Terrier(APBT) FAQ


Table of Contents

	* Authors
	* Disclaimer 
        * Introduction
        * History
        * Socialization, Training, and Recreational Activities
	* Health
        * Frequently Asked Questions

                + Do APBT's really have locking jaws?
 
                + My Vet said the APBT and American Staffordshire
                  Terrier are the same thing.  Are they?
 
                + My Uncle's Friend's Wife's step-brother said that APBT's
                  are born mean and can't be trusted.  Is this true?
 
                + Did Hellen Keller really own a "Pit Bull"?

             [*]+ Do APBT's make good guard dogs?

                + What are some activities that I can do with my
                  APBT?

                + What exactly is "gameness"?

		+ What is a "breaking stick", and how do I use one?


        * Miscellaneous
		+ The Rules.
		+ Match overview.
		+ Performance vs. Conformation.
                + Supplies.
                + APBT's and the law.
                + Where to find breeders.

        * References
                + Books.
                + Periodicals.
                + Breed Clubs.
		+ Breed Rescue Organizations.


[*] - Section is currently being re-worked.

     _________________________________________________________________

Authors

   The primary authors/editors of this FAQ are Scott Bradwell and
   Michael Bur.  Mikel Bartol also wrote or helped write several
   sections.  This FAQ, however, is the result of a collaborative
   effort.  Others have contributed a great deal through discussing
   and debating the material contained in this document.  These people
   are(in alphabetical order):  Aaron Dial, Paul Dunkel, Bryan Hinkle,
   Tim Mason, Carl Semencic, and Geoff Wright.  Also, in the interest
   of keeping information within this document as accurate as possible,
   reputable dogmen was contacted for feedback regarding this FAQ.
   These people have a national reputation for having bred and campaigned
   some famous dogs in the past and we could not have presented 'inside'
   information without his/her help.  Furthermore, the authors wish to
   acknowledge and thank both Carl Semencic and Richard Stratton whose
   books were drawn on heavily in the formation of this document.  The
   current maintainer of this FAQ is Michael Bur.  All comments should
   be directed to him at mbur@nox.cs.du.edu.


 
     _________________________________________________________________

Disclaimer

   This FAQ contains information that may seem disturbing or distasteful
   to some readers because it refers at various points to the subject of
   pit fighting.  A prospective owner might reasonably ask, "I definitely
   don't want my next dog for fighting purposes, so why should I even have
   to think about all that?"  The answer is that if you are considering
   this breed as your next pet, it would be irresponsible NOT to know
   about this aspect of the APBT's breeding history.  To comprehend both
   the admirable qualities and the potential drawbacks of this breed it
   is important, particularly for first-time dog owners, to understand
   the specific qualities for which it was selectively bred.  Ignorance
   is always dangerous, and in this case it is particularly so.

   The authors want to stress that the presentation of this material is
   for academic and historical purposes.  We in no way condone the activity
   of dog fighting as it is a felony in most parts of the United States.

   Now, let's talk bulldawgs!



     _________________________________________________________________

Introduction

   The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is a descendent of the original
   English bull-baiting Bulldog and has historically been bred with
   working/performance goals in mind.  The challenge of describing the
   American Pit Bull Terrier inevitably invites a long sequence of
   superlatives.  The APBT is a supremely athletic, highly versatile,
   adaptive, gushingly affectionate, eager-to-please, all-around family
   dog.  In courage, resolve, indefatigableness, indifference to pain,
   and stubborn perseverance in overcoming any challenge, the APBT has
   no equal in the canine world.  Although the APBT was once used as a
   national symbol of courage and pride, the breed is largely
   misunderstood today.

   Even though the APBT has historically been bred to excel in combat
   with other dogs, a well-bred APBT has a rock-steady temperament
   and, contrary to popular belief, is NOT inherently aggressive
   towards humans.  However, as adults, some APBTs may show aggression
   towards other dogs.  This fact, along with the APBT's strength and
   determination, should be taken into account when considering if the
   APBT is the right breed for you.  As with any companion dog,
   socialization and consistent fair-minded training is a must from a
   very early age.
  
   Although some APBTs may be suspicious of strangers, as most dogs are,
   and will protect loved ones if necessary, in general they do not
   excel in protection/guard work.  If your main reason for getting
   a dog is for protection/guard work, perhaps a Rottweiler, German
   Shephard, or a Doberman Pinscher would suit you better.  Or, if you
   really like the bulldog phenotype, look into an American Bulldog.

   There are several types of dogs that are commonly called "Pit Bulls."
   Primarly, these are the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American
   Staffordshire Terrier (AST), and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (SBT).
   All three of these dogs share common ancestry but have been
   subsequently bred emphasizing different breeding criteria.  Due to
   this divergence, some people feel that they are now different breeds.
   Others choose to view them as different "strains" of the same breed.
   Neither view is wrong, as it comes down to how one defines what a
   "breed" is.  This FAQ is primarily about the American Pit Bull Terrier,
   specifically those dogs of relatively recent game-bred ancestry.
   Some of the material may ring true for the AST and the SBT, but the
   authors are biased toward the APBT from performance-bred lines, and
   this bias will be clear throughout the FAQ.



     _________________________________________________________________

History

   Among enthusiasts, the history of the APBT is as controversial as 
   the breed itself is among the misled public.  The breed's history is
   a recurrent subject of lively debate in the magazines devoted to
   the breed.  In fact, this FAQ was hotly debated among the
   contributors before it reached its final form, and still everyone
   isn't 100% happy! 

   Although the precise origin of the APBT is not known, we can
   reliably trace its roots back at least one hundred and fifty years
   or so [1] to England.  During the late 18th and early 19th centuries 
   the sport of bull-baiting was very much alive and dogs were bred
   to excel in this endeavor.  The same type of dog was also used by
   hunters to catch game and by butchers and farmers to bring down
   unruly cattle.  These dogs were called "bulldogs."  Historically,
   the word "Bulldog" did not mean a specific breed of dog per se,
   but rather it was applied to descendants of the ancient Mastiff-
   type dogs that excelled in the task of bull-baiting.  The "bulldogs"
   of yore were much different from, and should not be confused with,
   the loveable clowns of the show ring today.  The old, performance-bred,
   working bulldog was closer in phenotype and spirit to the APBT and/or
   the modern American Bulldog.  The use of the word "bulldog" applied
   to APBT's persists even today among APBT fanciers. 
  
   When bull-baiting was outlawed in England in 1835 the sport of
   matching two dogs against one another in combat rose in popularity
   to fill the void.  One point of contention about the history of the
   APBT is whether these pit fighting dogs were essentially a new breed
   of dog specially created for this popular pastime.  Some authors,
   notably Richard Stratton, have theorized that the APBT is
   essentially the same breed as the Renaissiance bull-baiting dogs,
   largely unmixed with any other kind of dog, specifically terriers.
   These authors consider the present name, American Pit Bull Terrier,
   a double misnomer, since, in their view, the breed is not of
   American origin and is not a terrier.  They explain the popular
   attribution of the breed's origin to a cross between bull-baiters
   and terriers as a retrospective confusion with the breeding history
   of the English Bull Terrier, which is a totally distinct breed
   that was never successful at pit fighting but whose origin is
   well-documented.  Other authors who have researched the topic,
   such as Dr. Carl Semencic, argue that the APBT is indeed the product
   of a cross between bull-baiting dogs and terriers and that the breed
   simply did not exist in its current form during the Renaissance.
   They would argue that when we think of the terriers in the APBT's
   ancestry, we should not envision modern-day show dogs like
   Yorkshire Terriers, but instead working terriers (probably now
   extinct) that were bred for great tenacity in hunting.  The
   problem of proof, which hangs over the discussion of any early
   breed history, is compounded in this case by the extreme secrecy
   of the breeders of pit dogs.  In the 19th century pedigrees, if
   committed to paper at all, were not divulged, since every breeder
   feared letting his rivals in on the secrets of his success and
   replicating it.  In any case, by no later than the mid-19th century, 
   the breed had acquired all of the essential characteristics for
   which it is still prized today: its awesome athletic abilities,
   its peerless gameness, and its easy-going temperament.

   The immediate ancestors of the APBT were Irish and English pit
   fighting dogs imported to the States in the mid-19th century.
   Once in the United States, the breed diverged slightly from what
   was being produced back in England and Ireland.  In America,  
   where these dogs were used not only as pit fighters, but also as
   catch dogs (i.e., for forcibly retrieving stray hogs and cattle)
   and as guardians of family, the breeders started producing
   a slightly larger, leggier dog.  However, this gain in size and
   weight was small until very recently.  The Old Family Dogs in
   19th century Ireland were rarely above 25 lbs., and 15-lb. dogs
   were not uncommon.  In American books on the breed from the early
   part of this century, it is rare to find a specimen over 50 lbs.
   (with a few notable exceptions).  From 1900 to 1975 or so, there
   was probably a very small and gradual increment in the average
   weight of APBTs over the years, without any corresponding loss in
   performance abilities.  But now that the vast majority of APBTs
   are no longer performance-bred to the traditional pit standard
   (understandably, since the traditional performance test, the pit
   contest itself, is now a felony), the American axiom of "Bigger
   is Better" has taken over in the breeding practices of the many
   neophyte breeders who joined the bandwagon of the dog's popularity
   in the 1980s.  This has resulted in a ballooning of the average
   size of APBTs in the last 15 years--a harmful phenomenon for the
   breed, in our opinion.  Another, less visible modification of
   the breed since the 19th century was the selective intensification
   of genetically programmed fighting styles (such as front-end
   specialists, stifle specialists, etc.), as performance breeding
   became more sophisticated under competitive pressures.  In spite
   of these changes, there has been a remarkable continuity in the
   breed for more than a century.  Photos from a century ago show
   dogs indistinguishable from the dogs being bred today.  Although,
   as in any performance breed, you will find a certain lateral
   (synchronic) variability in phenotype across different lines,
   you will nevertheless find uncanny chronological continuity in
   these types across decades.  There are photos of pit dogs from
   the 1860s that are phenotypically (and, to judge by contemporary
   descriptions of pit matches, constitutionally) identical to the
   APBTs of today.
 
   Throughout the 19th century, these dogs were known by a variety
   of names.  "Pit Terriers", "Pit Bull Terriers", "Half and Half's",
   "Staffordshire Fighting Dogs", "Old Family Dogs"(the Irish name),
   "Yankee Terriers"(the Northern name), and "Rebel Terriers"(the
   Southern name) to name a few.  In 1898, a man by the name of Chauncy
   Bennet formed the United Kennel Club (UKC) for the sole purpose of
   registering "Pit Bull Terriers" as the American Kennel Club wanted
   nothing to do with them.  Originally, he added the word "American"
   to the name and dropped "Pit".  This didn't please all of the
   people so later the word "Pit" was added back to the name in
   parentheses as a compromise.  The parentheses were then removed from
   the name about 15 years ago.  All other breeds that are registered
   with UKC were accepted into the UKC after the APBT.  Another registry
   of APBTs is the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA) which was
   started in September, 1909 by Guy McCord, a close friend of John P.
   Colby.  Now under the stewardship of the Greenwood family, the ADBA
   continues to register only APBTs and is more in tune with the APBT
   as a breed than the UKC.  The ADBA does sponsor conformations shows,
   but more importantly, it sponsors weight pulling competitions which
   test a dogs strength, stamina, and heart.  It also publishes a
   quarterly magazine dedicated to the APBT called the American Pit
   Bull Terrier Gazette (see the "References" section).  The authors
   feel that the ADBA is now the flagship registry of APBT as it is
   doing more to preserve the original characteristics of the breed. 

   In 1936, thanks to "Pete the Pup" in the "Lil Rascals", who familiarized
   a wider audience with the APBT, the AKC jumped on the bandwagon and
   registered the breed as the "Staffordshire Terrier".  This name was
   changed to "American Staffordshire Terrier" (AST) in 1972 to
   distinguish it from its smaller, "froggier", English cousin the
   Staffordshire Bull Terrier.  In 1936, for all intents and purposes,
   the AKC, UKC, and ADBA version of the "Pit Bull" were identical since
   the original AKC stock came from pit fighting dogs, which were UKC
   and ADBA registered.  During this time period, and the years that
   preceded it, the APBT was a well-liked dog in America.  At this time
   the APBT was considered an ideal family pet.  Because of his fun-loving,
   forgiving temperament, the breed was rightly considered an excellent
   dog for families with small children.  Even if most of them couldn't
   identify the breed by name, kids of the Lil Rascals generation wanted
   a companion just like "Pete the Pup".  During the First World War,
   there was an American propaganda poster that represented the rival
   European nations with their national dogs dressed in military uniforms;
   and in the center representing the United States was an APBT declaring
   in a caption below: "I'm neutral, but not afraid of any of them."

   Since 1936, due to different breeding goals, the American Staffordshire
   Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier have diverged in both
   phenotype and spirit/temperament, although both, ideally, continue
   to have in common an easy-going, friendly disposition. [2]  Some
   folks in the fancy feel that after 60 years of breeding for different
   goals, these two dogs are now entirely different breeds.  Other people
   choose to view them as two different strains of the same breed (working
   and show).  Either way, the gap continues to widen as breeders from both
   sides of the fence consider it undesirable to interbreed the two.  To
   the untrained eye, ASTs may look more impressive and fearsome, with a
   larger and more blocky head, with bulging jaw muscles, a wider chest
   and thicker neck.  In general, however, they aren't nearly as "game" or
   athletic as game-bred APBTs.  Because of the standardization of their
   conformation for show purposes, ASTs tend to look alike, to a much
   greater degree than APBTs do.  APBTs have a much wider phenotypical
   range, since the primary breeding goal, until fairly recently, has been
   not to produce a dog with a certain "look" but to produce one capable
   of winning pit contests, in which the looks of a dog counted for nothing.
   There are some game-bred APBTs that are practically indistinguishable
   from typical ASTs, but in general they are leaner, leggier, and lighter
   on their toes and have more stamina, agility, speed, and explosive power.
   
   Following the second World War, until the early 1980s, the APBT lapsed
   into relative obscurity. But those devoted few who knew the breed knew
   it in intimate detail.  These devotees typically knew much more about
   their dogs' ancestry than about their own--they were often able to
   recite pedigrees back six or eight generations. When APBTs became
   popular with the public around 1980, nefarious individuals with little
   or no knowledge of the breed started to own and breed them and
   predictably, problems started to crop up.  Many of these newcomers did
   not adhere to the traditional breeding goals of the old-time APBT
   breeders.  In typical backyard fashion they began randomly breeding
   dogs in order to mass produce puppies as profitable commodities.
   Worse, some unscrupulous neophytes started selecting dogs for exactly
   the opposite criteria that had prevailed up to then: they began
   selectively breeding dogs for the trait of human aggressiveness.
   Before long, individuals who shouldn't have been allowed near a
   gold fish were owning and producing poorly bred, human-aggressive
   "Pit Bulls" for a mass market.  This, coupled with the media's
   propensity for over-simplification and sensationalization, gave rise
   to the anti-"Pit Bull" hysteria that continues to this day.  It
   should go without saying that, especially with this breed, you should
   avoid backyard breeders.  Find a breeder with a national reputation;
   investigate, for example, the breeders who advertise in the breed's
   flagship magazine, The American Pit Bull Terrier Gazette.  In spite
   of the introduction of some bad breeding practices in the last 15 years
   or so, the vast majority of APBTs remain very human-friendly.  The
   American Canine Temperament Testing Association, which sponsors tests
   for temperament titles for dogs, reported that 95% of all APBTs that
   take the test pass, compared with a 77% passing rate for all breeds
   on average.  The APBT's passing rate was the fourth highest of all
   the breeds tested.

   Today, the APBT is still used (underground and illegally) as a fighting
   dog in the United States; pit matches also take place in other countries
   where there are no laws or where the existing laws are not enforced.  
   However, the vast majority of APBT's--even within the kennels of
   breeders who breed for fighting ability--never see any action in the
   pit.  Instead they are loyal, loving, companion dogs and family pets. 
   One activity that has really grown in popularity among APBT fanciers
   is weight pulling contests.  Weight-pulls retain something of the
   spirit of competition of the pit fighting world, but without the blood
   or sorrow. The APBT is ideally suited for these contests, in which the
   refusal to quit counts for as much as brute strength. Currently, APBTs
   hold world records in several weight classes.  I have seen one 70-lb.
   APBT pull a mini-van!  Another activity that the APBT is ideally suited
   for is agility competition, where its athleticism and determination
   can be widely appreciated.  Some APBTs have been trained 
   and done well in Schutzhund sport; these dogs, however, are more
   the exception than the rule (see the section on APBT's and
   protection/guard work).

   [1]- Actually one can trace the "Bulldog" history back further than
       that, but for this document that's far enough.  Readers who are
       interested in more information on the history of the breed are
       encouraged to refer to Dr. Carl Semencic's book "The World of
       Fighting Dogs".

   [2]- Through out this document, unless otherwise noted, when we refer
       to the American Pit Bull Terrier(APBT), we are referring to the
       ADBA version which is more likely to be bred to the traditional
       APBT breeding standards.  In general, the UKC version of the APBT
       is now being bred mostly for looks alone, and thus has much in
       common with the AKC AST.



     _________________________________________________________________

Socialization, Training, and Recreational Activities

   APBTs are generally inclined to be extremely friendly and trusting
   around people.  This is usually true even with dogs that have not
   been properly socialized around people.  Still, you will want to
   take no chances.  From the time your puppy is tiny, you should
   encourage friends, strangers, and neighborhood kids of all ages
   to pick her up and play with her. Try to make your puppy's
   associations with humans overwhelmingly positive.  Walk your
   puppy through crowded public places, such as street fairs, to
   get her accustomed to the presence of lots of people.  With this
   breed, human-aggressiveness is rare.  Until fairly recently in the
   APBT's breeding history, this highly undesireable trait was kept
   out of the breed through brutal simplicity: a dog that displayed
   aggression toward people was shot on the spot, no second chance.
   As a result of this ruthless culling, today you're more likely to
   encounter the opposite problem: figuring out how to restrain your
   dog's insistence on licking every face that goes by.  However, as
   in all breeds, there will occasionally be a human-aggressive
   individual--usually, but not always, the result of backyard
   breeding or neglect and abuse.  Owning such a dog is, to say the
   least, a tremendous liability.  There are various degrees and
   causes of human-aggressiveness in dogs. Sometimes the problem is
   classic dominance-aggression, and it can be nipped in the bud at
   an early age if you appropriately re-establish your dominance.
   In any case, at the first sign of a problem, you should immediately
   seek expert help from a behaviorist or trainer with experience
   specifically with this breed. For your own safety, the safety of
   your neighbors, and for the sake of the breed, you should not
   hesitate to euthanize such a dog if necessary.

   With APBTs, a much more common problem than human-aggressiveness is
   dog-aggressiveness. If you want to be able to take your APBT to
   parks and other public places where other dogs may be present, you
   must begin its socialization very early.  Socialization with other
   dogs is important for every breed, but it is especially crucial for
   APBTs.  Not all APBT's are naturally inclined to dog-aggressiveness,
   but many are.  Early socialization is not a guarantee against the
   eventual development of dog-aggressiveness, but, combined with basic
   obedience training, it is often effective in countering the breed's
   aggressive tendency and permitting your APBT to enjoy the company
   of other dogs throughout its life.  The socialization process cannot
   begin too early.  Find other responsible owners of small puppies and
   non-aggressive adult dogs (all innoculated, of course) and make sure
   to have regular (daily, if possible) periods where the dogs can get
   together and play.  Like human beings, dogs are social creatures.
   They are happiest in the company of their own kind.  Yet playing
   with other dogs is not something that a dog is born knowing how to
   do; it is learned through experience: by imitiation a puppy learns
   the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.
   You should closely supervise your puppy in these dog play groups.
   Dog play consists of two primary actitivies: imitation of fighting
   and imitation of predatory chases.  To a novice dog owner, these
   play activities may seem much more serious than in fact they are.
   Dogs can take a lot of rough play with plenty of barking,
   play-growling and play-biting, so long as none of the dogs feels
   threatened.  You should look to see whether the dogs are exchanging
   top and bottom positions and taking turns chasing each other; this
   is an indication that they both accept the rules of appropriate play.
   A common problem with APBTs is that they play too roughly, and,
   not realizing this, frighten their play-mate into serious defensive
   posturing.  Ideally, you should choose large, easy-going dogs for
   your APBT puppy to play with.  If your puppy becomes too rough for
   her playmate, let her know your disapproval verbally and correct
   her by temporarily picking her up and ending the fun.  Remember, a
   10-week old pup is not a monster; she can't seriously hurt her
   playmates. The crucial formative period between 8 and 16 weeks is
   the time to socialize your APBT puppy most intensively.  If you
   wait till she is 6 months old before exposing her to other dogs,
   it may be too late to socialize her safely, and you will be stuck
   with a dog that can never let off-leash in public places.
   Socialization will not always succeed in preventing your APBT from
   becoming dog-aggressive; but failing to socialize your dog will
   almost certainly guarantee that you dog will become dog-aggressive.
   Throughout the process of socialization, you never want to allow
   your APBT to imperil other dogs.  You must keep in mind that
   sometimes even well-socialized APBTs, once they reach a certain
   age (usually between a year and a half and three years), can
   suddenly "turn on" toward dogs.  To be on the safe side, every
   APBT owner should carry a breaking stick and learn how to use
   it properly.  When you decide to buy an APBT, you must be clear
   that there is a possibility that your dog may eventually need to
   be isolated from other dogs, no matter how diligently you socialize
   her.  This is one of the potential inconveniences of owning
   an APBT.

   Like socialization, basic obedience training should also begin early.
   With this breed, it is essential to have your dog completely under
   voice control.  Contrary to a common misunderstanding, training will
   NOT "break the spirit" of an APBT.  Dogs are hierarchical pack animals.
   Their psychological well-being depends on their knowing with certainty
   their exact status in the pack and on their having a definite lead
   to follow.  This "pack mentality" is the instinct that made canines
   domesticable: a dog regards her human family as her pack and looks to
   her masters as the pack leaders.  A dog that is never trained and is
   allowed to do anything it pleases will be perpetually anxious and
   confused, since this absolute freedom and the resulting uncertainty
   as to who is really the pack leader produces insecurity in a canine.
   It is mainly for this reason, and not for hunger alone, that lone
   wolves and lost dogs are especially unhappy; their freedom is too much
   for them to handle. The APBT is no different in this respect than any
   other breed.

   Another harmful myth about APBTs is that they require a different
   kind of training than other breeds: "The only way to get these dogs
   to respect you is to beat the crap out of them."  In fact, APBTs
   tend to be very eager to please and emotionally sensitive, so that
   harsh treatment is counterproductive.  APBT's really love being
   praised and hugged, and it is mainly by these positive means that
   your APBT will learn to anticipate what you want and do it eagerly,
   just like any other breed of dog.

   When you find an obedience class in which to enroll your dog, you
   will need to make a decision about a training collar.  The APBT is
   the world's most pain-insensitive breed.  Therefore, an ordinary
   chain choke collar may not be sufficient to get your dog's attention
   when she gets a mind to chase a squirrel.  An ordinary chain choke
   make also do cumulative damage to your dog's trachea.  In this case,
   you should probably use a pinch collar.  Not only is it able to get
   a dog's attention better, but it is less likely to injure the dog's
   throat.

   Once your dog is properly socialized and trained, there is no limit
   to the actitvities that you can enjoy with your dog.  APBT's are
   extremely versatile and tireless athletes.  They have been known to
   excel at agility, fly races, tracking, and frisbee. Many excel 
   at big game hunting.  Having been bred for prolonged,
   high-intensity activity, they can run for hours and hours, and so
   they make great hiking or mountain-biking companions.  Many have
   phenomenal leaping ability.  Some can even climb trees.  One
   competitive sport specifically designed for APBTs is weight-pull
   competitions, a regular feature of ADBA-sponsored shows.

   APBTs not only enjoy lots of hard exercise, they NEED it.  An
   exhausted APBT is a happy APBT.  If you won't have the time to
   exercise your dog regularly, you should choose another breed.  You
   don't need a big back yard to provide you dog with sufficient 
   exercise. One popular indoor exercise device that many APBT owners
   rely on is a treadmill. You can work your dog up to 30-45 minutes
   daily. Another stationary exercise device is the spring pole.
   This device is a simple solo tug-of-war machine that some dogs
   will play with for hours.

   Be careful not to push your puppy to overexertion while her bones
   are still growing.  Puppies should be allowed to establish their
   own comfortable level of exercise.  Serious use of a treadmill
   should only begin at a year and a half or older.



     _________________________________________________________________

Health

   On the whole, the APBT are a very healthy, robust breed.  They usually
   do well at the vets, because they are not threatened too easily and
   have a high threshhold for pain.  My sister, who is a veternian
   technician and has handled thousands of dogs, said that the easiest
   breeds to work with/on are the Labrador Retreiver and the Pit Bull.
   The only health problem that I am aware of in certain lines is
   demotectic mange.  This can be treated with baths and topical ointment.

   As far as life span in concerned, 12-13 years is probably about average,
   although a 15-16 year old APBT is not unheard of.



     _________________________________________________________________

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