The Character of Pit Bulls

A pit bull dog isn't recommended for everyone. Thanks to its strong temperament, it needs an authoritative owner who is willing to train it from young.
The Character of Pit Bulls
Georgelin Espinoza Medina

Written and verified by the biologist Georgelin Espinoza Medina.

Last update: 22 December, 2022

Temperament and personality can vary among dogs. Although there’s a genetic predisposition to certain behavior in different breeds, the truth is that not everything is written in the genes. Learned behavior also plays a role in shaping a dog’s final behavior. In this article, we’ll look at the character of pit bulls.

It has always been said that certain breeds are always aggressive, and pit bulls have often been branded as vicious dogs – even as killers.

Since their origin, pit bulls have been related to fights and defense, as these were the roles they usually played. However, throughout history, their role has been changing. Thanks to good training, they can be useful in drug detection or even as a rescue dog. If you want to learn more about the character and temperament of this breed, be sure to read this article and we’ll clarify questions and myths about them.

Characteristics of the breed

Pitbulls have robust and muscular bodies, usually with a somewhat square appearance – they measure almost the same from shoulder to buttock and from shoulder to the ground. They have a wide, powerful head, with very strong jaws, which make them fearsome dogs. Their eyes are round and are located in the lower part of the skull.

They have thick skin with a coat formed by an abundant, compact, and rough short fur. Their coat is very shiny and there’s a variety of colors among individuals. The tail is thick at the base and ends in a point, and the legs are usually small.

What is the character of pit bulls?

Although each breed has specific characteristics and behavioral patterns – which are defined by its genetics – the fact is that their final character is the product of learning and interaction. Especially during the first months of life. In fact, research has found that handling and training can influence up to 80% in the final temperament of a dog.

In general, pit bulls have strong characters, right from when they’re a puppy. Even their games involve innocent fights and battles. Their dominant temperament must be controlled.

It’s normal for the pit bull to try to be the king of the pack and usurp their owner’s authority. Therefore, they need an owner preferably with experience in handling dogs or who isn’t intimidated by their pet.

How aggressive are pit bull terriers?

We have already mentioned that pit bull terriers are categorized as aggressive and dangerous, due to their use in fighting and defending territories, for example on farms. They have also been associated with some tragic incidents. Despite all this, they aren’t aggressive dogs per se, it all depends on their training and socialization when puppies.

Some studies have revealed that pit bulls are one of the most aggressive breeds of dogs. However, it has also been observed that those with these temperaments have had little interaction with other dogs in the early stages of development (between 5 weeks and 5 months).

Like any dog, if they’re raised to fight and defend themselves while growing up, this will be their behavior as adults. If, on the other hand, they interact with other dogs from an early age, they’ll have a more social temperament.

Therefore, their level of aggressiveness will depend on the upbringing they receive.

Other aspects about the character of pit bull terriers

Having clarified the issue of aggressiveness and dominant behavior of pit bull dogs, these pets also have positive aspects. Among them, the protective character towards their pups and even towards their guardians and their children stands out. Thus, they play an important role as caretakers of the pack. For this reason, they’re also called nanny dogs.

In addition to this, pit bulls are usually quite obedient, brave, and hardworking. That’s why they excel in different roles in which they help humans. They’re very intelligent and loyal to their owners.

Some recommendations for handling pit bulls

To end this article, we’re going to give you some tips for the responsible handling of pitbull dogs, in order to avoid accidents. These are:

  • Regular exercise: This breed is muscular and active, so one way to release all that energy is through constant exercise. It can be through play or a daily walk of at least 15 minutes. This way, they’ll feel happy and loved.
  • The use of the leash: The most advisable thing to do when taking pit bulls for a walk is to control them with a leash and, if necessary, to use a muzzle. This will avoid unwanted incidents, particularly with aggressive and defense-trained dogs. In addition, the use of these implements is mandatory for this breed in some localities.
  • Always supervise them: Another aspect that shouldn’t be neglected with this type of pet is constant vigilance. Pit bulls shouldn’t be left alone or with other dogs, animals, or children. This basic rule will help to avoid accidents.
  • Training: The best way to discipline these dogs is through training. Ideally, this should be done by a professional dog trainer, who can control the strong character of pit bulls. Early socialization is also important.

In short, temperament is going to depend a lot on breeding. As long as they’re well trained, the character of pit bull dogs is very social and manageable. They’re like any other dogs who like to play and be loved. They’re intelligent and loyal, but they need a strong owner, one who is able to guide them during their development.

It might interest you...
How to Raise a Pit bull
My Animals
Read it in My Animals
How to Raise a Pit bull

Pitbulls have a reputation for being aggressive, but what really matters is their training. Here we're going to give you tips about how to raise a ...

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Barrera, G., Elgier, A., Jakovcevic, A., Mustaca, A., & Bentosela, M. (2009). Problemas de comportamiento en los perros domésticos (Canis familiaris): aportes de la psicología del aprendizaje. Revista de Psicología, XVIII(2), 123-146.
  • Gómez, L., Atehortua, C., & Orozco, S. (2006). La influencia de las mascotas en la vida humana. Revista Colombiana de Ciencias Pecuarias, 20, 377-386.
  • Luna, C. (2011). Determinación de las poblaciones de riesgo frente a la agresividad de perros pitbull y rottweiler a partir del año de edad en tres clínicas veterinarias de la ciudad de Latacunga. [Tesis de pregrado, Universidad de Cotopaxi].
  • Rehpani, J., & Almorahiza, A. (2012). Estudio en general de los pitbull. [Tesis de pregrado, Universidad de Guayaquil].

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.