Pet owners

What You Need to Know About the American Pit Bull Terrier’s Temperament

    American Pit Bull Terriers have been in the US since the 1800s. These short-haired pooches are a crossbreed of bulldogs and terriers.

    It's an energetic, loyal breed that's often misunderstood. With the right training, a Pit Bull Terrier can be a beloved member of your family.

    Is a Pit Bull Terrier the dog for you? In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about the breed. We'll focus on temperament and the most common characteristics.

    And we'll talk about grooming, training, and the factors that can impact their personalities.

    Plus, we'll give you a rundown on how to get a rental property when you're a Pit Bull Terrier owner.

    What is an American Pit Bull Terrier?

    American Pit Bull Terriers are a medium-sized breed weighing between 30 and 60 pounds. The height ranges from 17 to 21 inches.

    They have broad heads, an athletic body type, and short tails. 

    These terriers are American but have origins in the United Kingdom. They were originally bred to be working dogs, and many lived on farms. Unfortunately, some owners used to train their dogs to fight, which is why they have a reputation as a dangerous breed.

    American Pit Bull Terriers have short hair and come in various colors. The most common hues include black, gray, brown, red, and white.

    Depending on the pup’s diet, lifestyle, and health, you can expect your American Pit Bull Terrier to live between 8 and 15 years. As an active breed, your dog will need at least one hour of daily physical activity.

    Breeds like the Pit Bull Terrier have an unearned bad reputation - as you’ll read later on, breed doesn’t predict behavior. As a property manager or a landlord, you can trust PetScreening and our unique software to measure the risk of a renter’s pet with a FIDO score. This score helps you rest assured that your renters’ pets are safe while helping you create a more pet-inclusive property where all dog breeds are allowed.

    How much grooming does an American Pit Bull Terrier need? 

    American Pit Bull Terriers have short, straight hair. Because of their low maintenance coat, they're suitable for indoor and outdoor living. They're not hypoallergenic but can be better for hayfever sufferers than long-haired breeds.

    American Pit Bull Terrier owners should brush their dog’s coat gently once a week. This routine will remove any loose hair and dust. However, these dogs may shed between seasons, so you'll have to increase the brushing frequency during these periods. 

    (Image Source).

    They can enjoy adventures, including swimming, digging, and playtime in the mud. Depending on the types of activities your Pitty enjoys, frequent baths may be necessary. At a minimum, your American Pitbull Terrier will need to be washed once a month.

    To keep your dog's teeth healthy, you should brush them every day. You'll also need to check their nails monthly and trim them when they get too long.

    Ears can get waxy, and prickles and dirt can cause irritation. Remember to look in their ears every few weeks to make sure there’s nothing abnormal.

    Common American Pit Bull Terrier characteristics

    Like any dog, the personality and behavior of your pet isn’t defined by its breed But, there are a few key characteristics common in American Pit Bull Terriers.

    What are they? Here's a look at the top five traits you can expect if you adopt a Pitty.

    1. Playful

    American Pit Bull Terriers can be a playful breed. They have adorable smiles and a zest for life many pet owners find irresistible.

    These Pit Bulls have tons of energy and need mental stimulation to keep them happy. They like to exercise and will enjoy exploring the neighborhood with daily walks. Just remember you need to keep them on a leash when you're out and about.

    Other activities you can do with your American Pit Bull Terrier include hiking, farming, and camping. Dogs in this breed group will never say no to a new adventure.

    (Image Source)

    If you plan to leave your dog alone, make sure to properly exercise your pup before doing so because they're prone to chewing. When they're bored and have energy to burn, your sofa, shoes, or curtains could get destroyed.

    2. Friendly

    American Pit Bull Terriers are usually a friendly breed. Their reputation as a violent dog type can be unfair, as these dogs can be excellent family companions when raised responsibly.

    Their attitude will depend on their upbringing, but they enjoy being around people. They like spending time with their owners and are affectionate. Despite their size, the American Pit Bull Terrier may jump on your lap for a cuddle.

    If you have children, it's recommended you wait until they're older before adopting one of these dogs. While they can be gentle, their energetic nature and strong physique can lead to injuries during playtime.

    If your dog isn't socialized from an early age, your Pit may be aggressive around other dogs. If they're provoked, they'll usually stand their ground.

    They can live happily in a multi-pet home, but once again, it's all about how they're raised. If your dog isn't used to other animals, the addition of a new fur family member may cause some undo stress.

    When you go for walks in the street, these pups can be friendly with strangers.  Interestingly, they're generally more sociable with humans than other animals.

    3. Confident

    This distinct breed isn't usually timid or docile. American Pit Bull Terrier dogs are full of confidence and can be good guard dogs. They only tend to bark when they have something to say, but their growl can be intimidating to intruders.

    Despite their outward confidence, the American Pit Bull Terrier will form a strong attachment to its owner. If you leave them alone for long periods, they'll start to fret and may even feel anxious. This separation anxiety can lead to misbehavior if not addressed.

    4. Intelligent

    American Pit Bull Terriers are known for their intelligence. This smart breed wants to learn, and they do well with positive reinforcement. For example, using treats as rewards will work better than discipline.

    With persistence, you can easily teach them basic commands. Over time, your American Pit Bull Terrier can learn fancier tricks. They can also work as farm dogs, helping you manage sheep or cattle.

    (Image Source)

    There's a downside to the American Pit Bull Terrier's intelligent nature. Their cleverness also means they can escape if they want to. Make sure your fence is secure because a determined Pitty can dig, climb, or jump their way to freedom.

    If they do break free from your yard, it can be difficult to get this high-energy level dog back home safely.

    5. Stubborn

    Some American Pit Bull Terriers have a stubborn streak. They can be strong-willed animals that like to get their own way.

    It's important to give your pooch proper training. You have to teach them that you're the boss and be consistent with your commands. 

    If you have any children in your home, make sure the American Pit Bull Terrier understands the hierarchy and their place in the family. 

    Once you deal with their stubbornness, your dog will be loyal and obedient to everyone in your household.

    What can affect the American Pit Bull Terrier personality?

    All breeds have a natural temperament, but this only goes so far. In fact, only 9% of behavior variation is attributed to the breed of the dog.

    So, what else can affect the personality of your American Pit Bull Terrier? Here's a guide to some of the factors that can impact your dog's behavior.


    One thing to consider is your dog's background. Where did the pet come from, and what age was it? Did you adopt your American Pit Bull Terrier as a puppy or an adult dog? A puppy will grow up around your family, and you'll know exactly how it's raised.

    The way the pooch was treated in the past can affect their future personality. For example, if it was neglected or trained to fight, you may see aggressive behavior or fear. On the other hand, if it was brought up in a loving home with children and other pets, the dog would be more sociable.

    (Image Source)

    If your American Pit Bull Terrier is a rescue pet, the background will be more difficult to determine. You’ll need to monitor their behavior and look for signs of distress or agitation.

    Remember, this doesn’t just apply to Pit Bulls; even a small dog can be aggressive or anxious with a poor upbringing.


    Next, there's genetics. The genes can impact the temperament of the dog, and it isn't just to do with the breed. 

    For example, a purebred American Pit Bull Terrier from an experienced trainer may have a calmer temperament than one born from a line of dogs that have been bred to fight. Around 25% of behavioral traits are inherited from the dog's parents.

    There's another reason to pay attention to genetics, and this is health. When you choose a reputable breeder, your dog will be less likely to have ongoing health conditions. 


    All dogs need training, regardless of their size or breed. An American Pit Bull Terrier is no exception — if a dog hasn't been trained, you will see more negative traits than with a dog who has been trained.

    While the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” isn’t actually true, it’s still best to set boundaries from an early age as this can improve their temperament and prevent misbehavior as they age.

    Remember, these dogs can be friendly and loyal companions. If you're having difficulty training your dog, consider seeing a pet behavior consultant.


    When we talk about training puppies, the word "socialization" often pops up. Dogs are creatures of habit, and their social experiences as a pup can be detrimental to their personality.

    When a dog is brought up around other animals, children, and adults, they'll be used to interacting with others. If your American Pit Bull Terrier has a positive experience around kids and pets, they'll be calmer and less likely to react.

    Puppies should be exposed to different noises and activities. For example, if they're familiar with lawnmowers and cyclists, they’ll be less likely to bark when they hear something in the neighborhood.

    Who are American Pit Bull Terriers best suited to?

    American Pit Bull Terriers need owners who are prepared to exercise them regularly. If you live an active lifestyle, this breed could be a good fit. From swimming to running to playing fetch, be prepared to play with your pooch.

    (Image Source)

    These are companion dogs, and they want to spend time with you. While they'll be happy to spend a few hours alone, they'll eagerly await your return.

    They can make good family pets when trained and socialized early. However, as mentioned earlier, they're better with older kids rather than toddlers and babies.

    These loyal companions can adapt to different living environments. Because they're active, this breed needs a home with a backyard. But, they can thrive on a smaller property as long as their exercise needs are met.

    American Pit Bull Terriers aren't always the best choice for a home with other pets. 

    Tips for getting a rental property with an American Pit Bull Terrier?

    American Pit Bull Terriers have a bad reputation. Because of their history of being raised as fighting dogs, it can be difficult to secure a rental when you own one.

    Of course, they can make excellent pets with proper training and socialization, and most of them don’t deserve this stigma. 

    The question is, how can you get a rental property without giving up your pet? Here are our top tips.

    1. Be realistic

    It's important to be realistic. When the rental market is competitive, it can be difficult getting accommodation with any pet. And, if it's an American Pit Bull Terrier, there can be added obstacles.

    Look for a property that's suitable for your dog. For example, a home with a secure backyard will be a better fit than an apartment. You'll be more likely to get an older property than a brand-new one.

    (Image Source)

    When you inspect a rental, check to see how close the neighbors are. Will bringing a dog into the street cause issues?

    2. Get a vet check

    A healthy dog will be a happier one. The landlord may ask about your dog's vaccination status, so make sure its immunizations are up to date.

    If there are other dogs around, you don’t want to spread anything, such as viruses or fleas.

    When you're at the veterinarian, ask them to check your dog for any potential health issues. You can also discuss any behavioral concerns.

    You want your dog to feel welcome in the neighborhood, so make sure they're healthy, calm, confident, and well-groomed.

    3. Be prepared to pay extra

    If your rental applications are denied because of your American Pit Bull Terrier, consider paying extra. When you pay a higher rent, the landlord can use the funds for any damage.

    This will give the property owner peace of mind while you get to stay with your canine companion. 

    Animal liability insurance is another option and can be a requirement depending on the property. This will cover you if your dog does any damage to property or people.

    4. Be a responsible pet owner

    The number one rule for any pet owner is to be responsible. Not only will it make it easier to manage your dog, but you may need a property reference in the future. With PetScreening, you can create a pet profile and use it to keep all of your pet’s information in one place.

    How? By now, you'll know how important it is to train your pet. Be consistent, and never encourage negative behavior. 

    Your rental home is still someone else's property, so try to minimize any damage. Give your American Pit Bull Terrier toys to play with, and make sure they're not left alone for too long to prevent separation anxiety induced misbehavior. 

    Be respectful of your local community by keeping your Pitty leashed. Even if your dog is the most well-behaved in the world, accidents, like bites, can occur if they approach another dog who is less friendly when running around off-leash.

    Mind their noise level as well. Train your dog early on to avoid excessive barking.

    (Image Source)

    Do your best to keep your American Pit Bull Terrier in your yard. If seen roaming the streets, you may get complaints from your neighbors. 

    About the American Pit Bull temperament

    American Terrier Pit Bull breeds can be excellent companions. This breed has had a complicated history, but they can be loving, loyal dogs. They need minimal coat grooming, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing.

    Not all of these dogs will be the same, but some of the personality traits you can expect include playfulness, friendliness, confidence, intelligence, and stubbornness.

    Some of the other factors that influence this dog’s personality include background, genetics, training, and socialization. 

    If you own an American Pit Bull Terrier and are looking for a rental, be realistic. Find a property that’s suitable for the breed, with space and a secure yard. Make sure your dog is in good health by getting a vet check, and be prepared to pay extra rent. Pet liability insurance can also boost your chances.

    Every pet owner should be responsible, whether it’s your own home or a rental property.

    Want to know more about PetScreening? Read about our pet owner service.