Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.
The Term "Pit Bull" Refers to Several Breeds
When you think of the word pit bull, do you think about a particular breed? Turns out that a pit bull is not really a dog breed per se, but rather a term that is loosely used to depict a particular type of dog. However, say the word pit bull, and people will give you different answers depending on who you ask!
If you ask the general public, the term is often used to vaguely depict dogs who share similar characteristics such as a muscular, stocky body and a blocky head. If you ask journalists, the term is used to depict any large vicious dog who ends up injuring anybody and becomes worthy of being slapped on the local newspaper's headline. If you ask the average dog owner, answers may vary widely. Even experts at times have a hard time defining what a pit bull truly is as the term has been heavily muddled and its true meaning still remains shrouded in ambiguity.
All this vagueness over the term has created quite some confusion, so much so that many dog breeds and even mutts are being mislabeled as pit bulls! To get a grasp of the idea, you can try a "find the pit bull" test online. It depicts dozens of dogs who are often confused for a pit bull. If you give the test a try, don't feel bad if you get it wrong; countless people require several attempts to get it right!
The Term "Pit Bull" Is a Group of Dogs
To make things even more confusing, the term pit bull had been used to depict formal dog breeds, more specifically the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), oftentimes along with the American Staffordshire Terrier (AST) and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (SBT). And to make things even more confusing, some others will also add the American Bulldog in the "pit bull" dog breed category!
For the sake of clarity, the term "pit bull" is used to depict a certain type of dog. Just like the term "hound" is used to depict breeds within the hound category like the beagle, bloodhound, and basset hound. The term "setter" has been used to depict breeds within the setter category like the English setter, Gordon setter, Irish red and white setter, and the Irish setter. But then, if one is asked exactly what type of pit bull? One can then go more into specifics and give out the exact breed name within the pit bull category.
What does the term pit bull really mean, by the way? The term pit bull derives from the ancient bloody sports of bear-baiting and bull-baiting. In these bloody sports, dogs that originated from the Bull and Terrier, a fighting dog developed in the 1800s, were forced to face these animals in the pit fighting circuit for entertainment purposes. Years later, when these bloody sports were finally outlawed in Great Britain in 1835, these dogs were then introduced to the United States by English immigrants who employed them on their farms. Back in those old days, coat color and nose color was probably the least important thing considered. All that mattered is that these dogs were able to excel in what they were bred for and take over certain tasks.
Rather than a specific breed, pit bull is more of a generic term to describe a group of dogs with similar characteristics — much as are “hound” and “terrier” — and encompasses both mixes and pure-bred dogs.
— Lisa Peterson, spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club
Blue Pit Bulls Are Pit Bulls With Blue Noses
Are you wondering what a bluenose pit bull is? Here are some interesting blue nose pit bull facts. In case you haven't noticed, the average nose color of most dog breeds is black; however, in the blue nose pit bull, the color of the nose’s leather (skin) just like the name implies, is blue. Here comes the element of surprise: despite what you may have heard, the blue nose pit bull is not an entirely separate breed of dog, it's simply a pit bull who happens to have a blue nose.
A pit bull with a blue nose mostly has what we know as “a blue coat.” Alright, before you get confused about what this means when we say blue, it is not like the electric blue or Smurfette blue one thinks of when you think about colors. It is a little bit different from the conventional blue color you are used to, in the dog world, it's more like a grayish color ranging from light silver to deep charcoal.
The blue coat color in dogs is a result of a dilution of the color black. For a puppy to get a blue coat color, it must come from parents who are carriers of the recessive dilution gene. What this implies is that the breeders purposely breeding for the blue coat colors will need to use a narrow gene pool of dogs, mostly crossing dogs who are closely related genetically (i.e., linebreeding or inbreeding.) In order to prevent genetic disorders, it is very important that you get these dogs from a breeder who is an expert in what he/she is doing.
Additionally, you should be aware that research has shown that blue coats are prone to skin problems. As a result of this, some breeders are embarking on public enlightenment to let people know about these implications associated with diluted coats.
The dilute colors (fawn and blue) do have coat and skin problems and there is a ton of available information on them.
— Teri Dickinson, DVM
Blue Nose Pit Bulls Aren't Rare
Note that a pit bull with a blue nose does not signify that it comes from any rare lineage and it is also not a sign of being a member of a different type of purebred pit bull breed. You can actually easily see a lot of pit bulls with "blue nose" colors.
Come to think of it; there wouldn’t be so many breeders advertising them if they are truly rare! In fact, it is believed that those breeders telling you that blue nose pit bulls are especially rare are doing so in order to increase the value of their pit bulls and force you into paying more for them!
Information from The Real Pit Bull website shows that unscrupulous breeders who only focus on producing the “special” blue coat color with the “rare” blue nose have almost no consideration for temperament and health. Breeding just for a specific coat color with little regard to other factors is a poor breeding practice.
Another thing to consider is that some breeders, eager to make fast money, started to cross American Staffordshire Terriers with American pit bull terriers in hopes of attaining a "rare" blue coat color with its accompanying blue nose. So if you notice blue pit bulls that carry exaggerated features such as massive bodies, blocky heads, wide chests, and heavy bone structure, you are likely looking at the result of these crosses, dogs known as "American bullies" which, according to the United Kennel Club, are simply American Pit Bull Terriers "blended with stock from other bull breeds." To put it more bluntly, they are simply poorly bred American pit bull terriers.
However, not all breeders of blue-nose pit bulls are crooks. Sure if they advertise them as rare or ask for a premium price, this is a big red flag, but sometimes there are genuine breeders who pay more attention to producing blue-coated specimens that are healthy and have a stable temperament. In summary, you must put a dog’s temperament and health above the coat or nose color.
Here's an interesting fact: Did you know that the term “Blue Lust” was coined over the past few years due to the high demand and associated high price tags of blue-nosed pit bulls?
What About Red-Nose Pit Bulls?
Want some interesting red nose pit bull facts? Well, here are some. Reports show that the Red Nose Pit Bull and the Blue Nose Pit Bull are among the most popular pit bull types people look for every day. Now here's a big fact: it is wrong to make statements such as "My dog is of the blue nose pit bull type," or the "red nose type" just as it would be wrong to say, "My yellow Labrador is the black nose type," as we're only talking about color!
So a red-nose pit bull is just a pit bull that happens to have a red nose, it is not a different breed of dog, and as such, it is not rare or expensive as some unscrupulous breeders may want people to believe! The term red nose and blue nose are therefore for the most part backyard breeder terms. Nowadays, pit bulls with a red coat ranging from deep red to light honey red are very popular, and so is the associated red nose.
Now, here is where things get even more confusing! You may have heard about a red nose pit bull that originated from the bloodline: old family red nose (OFRN) of Ireland. These were dogs belonging to a tight-knit family that were often inbred and who excelled in the pit. These dogs weren't purposely bred for color, but rather for their gameness. It only happened that since they were genetically close, this made it easy to pass on certain traits–and so came along the red coat, red lips, red toenails, red or amber eyes, and a red nose. William J. Lightner and Con Feeley were breeders who worked hard on this lineage.
The hype about "red nose" pit bulls may have therefore originated from the Old Family Red Nose dogs lineage out of Ireland. Unscrupulous breeders may have started calling any pit bull with a red nose "red nose," making people believe that they were a different breed and particularly rare. Just because a pit bull dog has a red nose doesn't mean it's from the old family strain!
The Bottom Line
Pit Bulls come in almost every color that is genetically possible in dogs. Some colors are more common (brindle or fawn for instance); some colors you don't see as often (such as spotted or black and tan). One thing is for certain, however: blue and red nosed dogs do NOT fall into the "rare" category
— Mary Harwelik /The Real Pit Bull
Now You Know The Difference!
Now that we have looked at some blue nose pit bull facts and some red nose pit bull facts, here's the bottom line. If we look beyond coat color and nose color, we must recognize that pit bulls whether they are the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), the American Staffordshire Terrier (AST), or the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (SBT) are all beautiful dogs and are priceless as they are unique in their own ways.
Pit bulls are loving creatures who are loyal and love to shower their owners with love and affection and nose color or coat color ultimately plays a little role in all this. A nose color does not a breed make.
© 2016 Adrienne Farricelli
Cyrus on August 16, 2020:
If you want to know the real history of this breed, check the entrys of UKC and ADBA about this breed or read the book of Richard F Stratton: The truth about the american pitbull terrier. Richard stratton is a sources from kind of people who deal with this kind of breed for more than 50 years and explain the complete difference between this breed and other similar breeds. and again, the media, people who dont know this breed or even amstaff owners often say that theyr dog is a pitbull or a group of dogs are pitbulls but that is not true, there is only one real breed with this name and its accepted by 2 big associations with exact this name and even breed standards where u exactly can see the difference between the staffordshire bull and the american stafford.
Cyrus on August 16, 2020:
Sorry to say that but you completly failed with researching about this and using the word Pitbull as the media uses it. Every REAL Pitbull breeder would scream up from his grave if they read this article, in the same time u mention akc several times and refer your information from them and say that people should ask the akc about this issue too. the akc is a shit association which never accepted the breed APBT. Its the UKC which accepted the breed in 1896 and the ADBA in 1904. The real american pitbull terrier is indeed a breed for his own and yes there is a difference between the amstaff and the apbt. if you cant read the history, research the difference and still claim that blue dogs are pitbulls too, then please end your career as a reporter and stop putting nonsense into this world. GameDog Lines are real apbt and a amstaff was breed without recognizing the gameness of this dogs. You should definetley watch some other ressources instead of claiming that the AKC (which only accepted the amstaff in 1936 as a breed) is saying that there is only one breed.
Even blue dogs are NOT pitbulls, colby himself sayd he saw in his life 2 real blue pitbulls and blue is a color which comes out of the dilute genetic error which causes alopecia. no serious breeder would breed sick dogs just because of this color trend. The history of the real american pitbull terrier is there and there is also a history of the american staffordshire terrier which came out of the american pitbull terrier (different breed goals, bigger, more muscles, conformation dogs). but the real american pitbull lines still exist and the ADBA is the only source to get those old lines. Please stop spreading bullshit and using the media pitbull slang for all those dogs.
Meredith on June 22, 2020:
I don't think you'll find any factual info on this considering that it seems like it's mostly a matter of personal opinion. And what MrHat says is nonsense.
He said" the American pit bull terrier, was the ONLY "BREED" of "Terrier" NOT able to be "registered" or acknowledged by the UKC.. As a pure breed."
I just went on UKC and looked up the ABPT standard and it says: "The United Kennel Club was the first registry to recognize the American Pit Bull Terrier. UKC founder C. Z. Bennett assigned UKC registration number 1 to his own APBT, Bennett’s Ring, in 1898." It's the AKC
How can we trust people making statements as such? This is so confusing! I don't even feel like getting there and figuring things out as the more I read the more insane thing seem to be. To sum it all, I think everybody is entitled to their opinion over usage of this term.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 22, 2020:
MrHat620, I appreciate taking your time for commenting, but we are still lacking reputable sources to backup these 'facts." It seems like the term pit bull is muddled and varies depending on who you ask. Personally, I am more inclined to believe the statement quoted from Lisa Peterson, spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club stating "Rather than a specific breed, pit bull is more of a generic term" more than random people posting here with no real sounding names, no explanations of what credentials they have and what reputable sources back up these statements. I would like to see in particular some reputable sources stating that "the APBT is the only breed of terrier." By reputable I mean reputable historical books, breed club members, judges etc.
MrHat620 on June 16, 2020:
@Chris... THANK YOU FOR THE FACTUAL EXPLANATION!!! MOST people have NO CLUE about the 1 &ONLY "PITBULL TERRIER".. Being the reason as to why IT (APBT), was the ONLY "BREED" of "Terrier" NOT able to be "registered" or acknowledged by the UKC.. As a pure breed.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 03, 2020:
Hi Chris, I am always open to learning things, but it doesn't really help if you don't provide some reputable references to cite your sources of information.
You state that the blue nose doesn't exist, but what do you mean exactly? Of course, no dog in the world will ever have a truly Smurf-colored blue nose!
Do you mean there is no breed who has it in its standard? If so, please notice may statement that a nose color does not make a breed.
So please clarify, because readers here will want to know why you say they don't exist when there have seen plenty of specimens with the blue coat and blue nose "(ok greyish) nose.
Please also clarify 'halfs and halfs weren't used in the bear and bull pits".
I source my info from my books (never Wikipedia!) and try my best to source only reputable sources.
Here is info I probably used when I wrote this article as I own the book by Joseph L. Colby. He states QUOTED:
"The pit bull terrier was made from the Bulldog and the old English White Terrier. It has been said that a cross of the old Spanish Pointer was used, but this has never been confirmed to be authentic.
The exact proportion in which each breed was used to produce the Pit Bull Terrier is not known.
During the Nineteenth Century when bull-baiting and dog-fighting were active sports, the bulldog was found to be too slow for pit purposes, hence the need for a dog with more speed and a good strong, punishing jaw.
This new breed met with success and was much superior to the bulldog for fighting in the pit."
From this reading, it implies that the terrier blood was added to make the dogs in the bull baiting pit more efficient.
Now, it could very likely be this occurred once the bull baiting was outlawed, but I need a source to confirm this.
Chris on April 19, 2020:
Sorry but there is no such thing as a blue nose and it just goes to show a dog trainer or vet is just as clueless as the rest! Also half and halfs werent the fight dog used in the bear and bull pits! They was created when the ban came in and a smaller gamer dog was needed for small concealed pits to fight each other hence the gameness etc of the terrier blood being add! The Irish are responsible for the red nose and the English for the black nose making there way to the states! Blue nose is just an american bullie or a pit cross! Ready some books on the real game breed apbt and about the bull & terrier of englanr not just wikipedia even tho thats more correct than the statement above! There is only one registered breed know as a pitbull the apbt! But the english never got rid of the pitbull, staffy ebt etc are show names not working game dogs!!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 01, 2020:
Skyler, let me know more specifically which picture exactly as there are two of red noses. Is it the one on the top or bottom? Most pictures are sourced through Pixabay or Morguefile.
SkylerS on December 27, 2019:
I would really like to know where you got the picture of the red nose Pitbull because that’s my dog Taco who’s been missing for 4 years.Any information would be helpful I just want to bring my baby home.
SkylerS on December 27, 2019:
Where did you get you get the picture of the red nose Pitbull?Because that’s my dog that’s been missing for four years.We've been trying to find him so any information would be great I just want to bring my baby home.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 02, 2019:
Mikeydogsydogs, I trust the AKC's statement on the term pitbull. The term pitbull is often misused and it seems to be subjected to personal interpretation.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 02, 2019:
Debbie, in my experience male and female combos works best rather than same-sex.
Mikeydogsydogs on May 28, 2019:
This article is silly. There is only 1 pitbull, the AmericanPit Bull Terrier. Some othe breeds are similar but not the same as a game bred APBT!!!!!
Debbie on May 16, 2019:
We are looking to get a pit pup for a play mate for our 1 year old female rottie. Any advise on breed and sex
Joe on May 09, 2019:
Dog broke out with rash all over body from nose to paws whats should i do
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 27, 2018:
Angelia, I am so so sorry for your loss. Have been through this having lost my heart dog 4 months ago to cancer and having her littermate who now is the only dog. It is tough. Spleen cancer, hemangiosarcoma is so cruel, I have an article here if you want to read about it, just google Pethelpful.com the silent killer, dog hemangiosarcoma it;s chockful of stories like yours. Try to be strong for your dog and keep her routines the same, play with her and let her feel loved. If you feel emotional, don't cry in front of her if you can, they sense our sadness. Only time will heal.
Angelia on December 21, 2018:
I have had dogs all my life and my kids saved some of there money and got a male blue nose well at ten weeks old he was are new addition to are family but some how he became my dog and for the last 9 years that dog has brought me more happiness and joy and the love that dog gave me was so special he was loved by so many people a couple of weeks ago i came home from work and ziggy was panting he got sick i justed looked at him and new he needed to get checked the ran some test i thought it was another ear infection but it was more then that they told that i had to get him to uc davis for an ultra sound and that if i didnt he was not going to make it so we drove at 2 am as fast as we could i layed with him and told him how i loved him they were waiting outside for us they took him he didnt make it he had three tumors along his spleen and one burst he was fine the day before i have never felt so sad and empty like i do no w i miss him so much i have a female she is not the same she is now scared of even gping for a walk she will start to play with a friends dog but she runs back into her roon gets in her bed and she will be shaking i never new how much she felt safe with ziggy her sparkel in her eyes are gone she looks so sad i. Dont know what to do anybody have any thoughts or ideas how to make her happy again it just makes me even more depressed cuz there eyes say so much this is like a bad dream i just want to wake up and have my babyback i dont know how im ever going to get over this its horrible
Henry Bailey on December 11, 2018:
What kind of rednose
Luz on September 29, 2018:
I have a pitbull blue nose i also have a chiguga and they get along just fine they argue but d ont fight all depends on the training what you teach them they are very smart. I have little children and they are great and protective of the kids. Pitbull are not bad dogs there lovable loyal protective and great guard dogs i can walk mine with no leash n i trained him my self. You have to be consistent with them and constantly telli them what you whant dog to do i have mine train hang signs and pop n snap finer clap is awsome you call him he dont listen without the sign and then talk.lol kool right
Diqnq Exter on August 03, 2018:
Red nose Pits. Cqlled Colbys. With. The. Long Snout. Are. The. Top. Of. The. Line. Red. Nose. Americqn. Pedigree. Stqffishire. Terriers. Hqnds. Down. Period End. Of. Discussion.
Layla on December 19, 2017:
I thank blue pitbulls are beeder i have 2 blue nosed pitbulls and i am only 9 years old and in 4th grade so yup but they just have a different color nosed and different colored fur i just love blue
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 23, 2017:
Sarah, Lisa Peterson, the spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club says."Rather than a specific breed, pit bull is more of a generic term to describe a group of dogs with similar characteristics — much as are “hound” and “terrier” — and encompasses both mixes and pure-bred dogs." I think AKC people know best what is meant by the term.
Sarah on November 15, 2017:
I will have to agree with Jenn. Article was interesting, but the fact that people just lightly used the term Pitbull for a group of dogs is incorrect. It's not an umbrella term there's only one Pitbull and that's the American Pitbull Terrier. If there is no pedigree it's not a pitbull. I respect the breed and think they are amazing especially for the history of Gaming.
j on May 29, 2017:
hy good article ,i have an american staffordshire terrier she is the most affectionate dog with us,now she is good around people when we go for walks,now she wont let people just reach n touch her she wont be agressive but she backs away,when my friends come to my house shes good with people but u got to let her come to u .wonderful dog with my kids n she like to sleep next to my bed n at night goes n lays right between both doors of my kids room ,after they go to bed.The only thing i dont play or let my kids play ruff with her since she was little ,i play with ropes with her ,i throw a ball for her to fetsh,i play a little rough with her but not to get her to the point of getting agressive,i feel she has certined limit she knows ,just by looking at her a certine way she knows im not happy if she did something,but great tempermint.American staffordshires tempermint are more of a mild temp. pits tend to be more upbeat.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 15, 2017:
Jenn, welcome to the pit bull condondrum! It's not really my "take", but what I have been hearing being around people and reading on the subject. I agree that a bull dog is not a pit bull, an old English bull dog is not a pit bull, but I hear several people claiming that the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), the American Staffordshire Terrier (AST) and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (SBT) fall into the "pit bull type."
Essentially, from my research, these 3 breeds are share the same lineage and just happened that they were just bred for different purposes and have slightly different size standards. For the most part, they simply have different bloodlines. Some of these dogs are indeed registered with more than one registry. Telling one breed from another is challenging, and even experts at times can't tell if a pit bull is an APBT, an AST or a SBT. Even DNA testing can be confusing, (source Pit Bull Rescue Central.)
If you are asking my personal opinion, I feel like sticking to what — Lisa Peterson, spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club says."Rather than a specific breed, pit bull is more of a generic term to describe a group of dogs with similar characteristics — much as are “hound” and “terrier” — and encompasses both mixes and pure-bred dogs." I mean I think these people should know best what is meant by the term.
If you are looking for more official statements I would ask breed clubs and the AKC for more specific elucidations. (if you do, please keep me posted on what they say!) For now, it just seems like there is no official usage or explanation for the term and it would be helpful if somebody with authority could clear things out once and for all so so many dogs are not euthanized unnecessarily.
Pit bulls are the friendliest dogs out there! I mean I have no clue how people can see them as vicious when every time I go to stores they come to greet me and lick my face with their tail wagging happily! Owning Rottweilers myself, I can't see a mean bone in these dogs when they are raised as they should be and yes, as with any breed it ultimately all sums up to how they are raised, but as you said, that's a whole another topic! Thanks for your time and comments and I agree, the term certainly needs more elucidation as it seems like it's prone to personal interpretation, but I think it's mostly because nobody seems to agree and there hasn't been an "official definition" coming from authority figures..
Jenn on April 13, 2017:
I'm confused on your take on the term "Pit Bull". Is your stand that it is a term or that it is a breed?
I have been a rescuer for 6 years now, rescuing all breeds. Taking in about 89 dogs a month. I can say without a doubt that there is most certainly a PitBull breed. The improper use of the name as a term to blanket a group of dogs is one of the largest problems in rescue. In fact if it's many dogs killed all over the country and should be Banished. It is not like saying Mastiff Breeds and having categories like English, Cane Cane, Great Dane... those are all types of mastiffs. There is only one American Pitbull Terrier. A Staffordshire bull terrier is not a pitbull and should not be classified as one. A bulldog is not a pitbull and should not be classified as one. A bully is not a pitbull and should not be classified as one. A bull terrier is not a pitbull and should not be classified as one. An old English bulldog is not a pitbull and should not be classified as one. There are so many new breeds that look close to a Pitbull which have 0 Pitbull DNA yet are euthanized in certain shelters because they do not adopt a pitbull's. And exotic bully is a mix of different types of bulldogs. As in French bulldogs, English bulldogs and a Boston terrier. However the resemble a Pitbull and are euthanized by shelter's that do not adopt out Pitbulls because of this use of Pitbull breeds as a term. There are no pitbull breeds. There are mastiff breed, there are bulldog breeds, there are terrier breeds, there are NO PITBULL BREEDS. By allowing people to use this blanket term which in fact is not true, dogs are dying for looking like another dog.
Pitbulls are are no more dangerous than a Rottweiler, doberman, Mastiff, or any other large strong breed. People choose to not train the breed accordingly to its needs but, that's a whole different box off cookies.
Bree on December 10, 2016:
Thank you for that. Agree but most people would not. So many people get APBT, Amstaff, bully breed mixed up. That have a amstaff and say it's a pit bull. Couldn't tell you how many agreements I have been in over their breed. Me personally know and own pit bulls and diffently know the difference. I wish people would recognize the breed they actual own. Hope people read this article.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 10, 2016:
Hi Tina, I have a bunch of training articles if you look for them, and one that also specifically addresses pit bulls.
Tina on December 10, 2016:
It's nice to have read this article. Is there any help for The training of the pit bulls? For everyone to get along.