Official UKC Breed
Standard

Revised December 1, 2012

@Copyright 2012, United Kennel Club, Inc.


The goals and purposes of this breed standard  include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of  their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity  throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.

Breeders and judges have the responsibility to  avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health,  welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility  to see that these are not perpetuated.

 The American Pit Bull Terrier has a long history  of being a physically active, muscular, very agile breed, and has maintained  breed type for over 150 years. Any departure from the following should be  considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded  should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and  welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional  work.Quality is never to be sacrificed in favor of
size. Characteristics that very clearly indicate crossing with other breeds are
not to be tolerated.

 UKC is unwilling to condone the validity of  using exaggerated specimens of this breed in a breeding program and, to preserve  its health and vibrancy, cautions judges about awarding wins to these  representatives.
 
HISTORY
Sometime during the nineteenth century, dog  fanciers in England, Ireland and Scotland began to experiment with crosses  between Bulldogs and Terriers, looking for a dog that combined the gameness of  the terrier with the strength and athleticism of the Bulldog. The result was a  dog that embodied all of the virtues attributed to great warriors: strength,  indomitable courage, and gentleness with loved ones. Immigrants brought these  bull-and-terrier crosses to the United States. The American Pit Bull Terrier’s  many talents did not go unnoticed by farmers and ranchers who used their APBTs  as catch dogs for semi-wild cattle and hogs, to hunt, to drive livestock, and as  family companions. Today, the American Pit Bull Terrier continues to demonstrate  its versatility, competing successfully in Obedience, Rally Obedience, Tracking,  Agility, Lure Coursing, Dock Jumping and Weight Pulls, as well as  Conformation.

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.
 
GENERAL APPEARANCE
The American Pit Bull Terrier is a medium-sized,  solidly built, short-coated dog with smooth, well-defined musculature. This  breed is both powerful and athletic. The body is just slightly longer than tall,  but bitches may be somewhat longer in body than dogs. The length of the front  leg (measured from point of elbow to the ground) is approximately equal to  one-half of the dog’s height at the withers.

 The head is of medium length, with a broad, flat  skull, and a wide, deep muzzle. Ears are small to medium in size, high set, and  may be natural or cropped.
 The relatively short tail is set low, thick at  the base and tapers to a point.

 The American Pit Bull Terrier comes in all  colors and color patterns except merle. This breed combines strength and  athleticism with grace and agility and should never appear bulky or muscle-bound  or fine-boned and rangy.

Above all else, the APBT must have the  functional capability to be a catch dog that can hold, wrestle (push and pull),  and breathe easily while doing its job. Balance and harmony of all parts are  critical components of breed type.

 Eliminating Faults: Any disproportionate overdone characteristic (such as short legs,  excessive bone or massive head or body) that would interfere with physical
activity or working ability.

Disqualifications: Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.  Dwarfism.
 
CHARACTERISTICS
The essential characteristics of the American  Pit Bull Terrier are strength, confidence, and zest for life. This breed is  eager to please and brimming over with enthusiasm. APBTs make excellent family  companions and have always been noted for their love of children. Because most  APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful  physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience  train the dog. The breed’s natural agility makes it one of the most capable  canine climbers so good fencing is a must for this breed. The APBT is not the  best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with  strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed  and highly undesirable. This breed does very well in performance events because  of its high level of intelligence and its willingness to
work.

Disqualifications: Viciousness or extreme shyness.
 
HEAD
The APBT head is unique and a key element of  breed type. It is large and broad, giving the impression of great power, but it  is not disproportionate to the size of the body. Viewed from the front, the head  is shaped like a broad, blunt wedge. When viewed from the side, the skull and  muzzle are parallel to one another and joined by a well defined, moderately  deep stop. Supraorbital arches over the eyes are well defined but not  pronounced. The head is well chiseled, blending strength, elegance, and  character.

Very Serious Fault: Overly large, heavy heads.

 SKULL - The skull is large, flat or slightly  rounded, deep, and broad between the ears. Viewed from the top, the skull tapers  just slightly toward the stop. There is a deep median furrow that diminishes in  depth from the stop to the occiput. Cheek muscles are prominent but free of  wrinkles. When the dog is concentrating, wrinkles form on the forehead, which  give the APBT his unique expression.

 MUZZLE - The muzzle is broad and deep with a  very slight taper from the stop to the nose, and a slight falling away under the  eyes. The length of muzzle is shorter than the length of skull, with a ratio of  approximately 2:3. The topline of the muzzle is straight. The lower jaw is well  developed, wide and deep. Lips are clean and tight.

Faults: Snipey muzzle; flews; weak lower jaw.

 Eliminating Faults: Muzzle so short and blunt as to interfere with normal breathing. 

TEETH - The American Pit Bull Terrier has a  complete set of evenly spaced, white teeth meeting in a scissors bite.

Fault: Level bite.

Serious Faults: Undershot, or overshot bite; wry mouth; missing teeth (this does not
apply to teeth that have been lost or removed by a  veterinarian).

 NOSE - The nose is large with wide, open  nostrils. The nose may be any color.

 EYES - Eyes are medium size, round and set well  apart and low on the skull. All colors are equally acceptable except blue, which  is a serious fault. Haw should not be visible.

 Serious Faults: Bulging eyes; both eyes not matched in color; blue  eyes.

EARS - Ears are high set and may be natural or  cropped without preference. Prick, or flat, wide ears are not  desired.

Disqualifications: Unilateral or bilateral deafness.
 
NECK
The neck is of moderate length and muscular.  There is a slight arch at the crest. The neck widens gradually from where it  joins the skull to where it blends into well laid-back shoulders. The skin on  the neck is tight and without dewlap.

 Faults: Neck too thin or weak; ewe neck; dewlap.

 Very Serious Fault: A short, thick neck that would interfere with functional
  ability.
 
FOREQUARTERS
The shoulder blades are long, wide, muscular,  and well laid back. The upper arm is roughly equal in length to the shoulder  blade and joins it at an apparent right angle.

 The forelegs are strong and muscular. The elbows are set close to the body. Viewed from the front, the forelegs are set  moderately wide apart and perpendicular to the ground. The pasterns are short,  powerful, straight, and flexible. When viewed in profile, the pasterns are  nearly erect.

 Faults: Upright or loaded shoulders; elbows turned outward or tied-in; down at
the pasterns; front legs bowed; wrists knuckled over; toeing in or  out.

Eliminating Faults: Front legs (measured from elbow to ground) shorter than half the total  height at the withers. Front legs so bowed as to interfere with normal
movement.
 
BODY
The chest is deep, well filled in, and  moderately wide with ample room for heart and lungs, but the chest should never  be wider than it is deep. The forechest does not extend much beyond the point of  shoulder.The ribs extend well back and are well sprung from the spine,  then flattening to form a deep body extending to the elbows. The back is strong  and firm. The topline inclines very slightly downward from the withers to a  broad, muscular, level back. The loin is short, muscular and slightly arched to  the top of the croup, but narrower than the rib cage and with a moderate  tuck-up. The croup is slightly sloping downward.

 Very Serious Fault: Overly massive body style that impedes working  ability.

Eliminating Fault: Chest so wide as to interfere with normal
movement.

 HINDQUARTERS
The hindquarters are strong, muscular, and  moderately broad. The rump is well filled in on each side of the tail and deep  from the pelvis to the crotch. The bone, angulation, and musculature of the  hindquarters are in balance with the forequarters. The thighs are well developed  with thick, easily discerned muscles. Viewed from the side, the hock joint is  well bent and the rear pasterns are well let down and perpendicular to the  ground. Viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are straight and parallel to one  another.

Faults: Narrow hindquarters; hindquarters shallow from  pelvis to crotch; lack of muscle; straight or over angulated stifle joint; cow  hocks; sickle hocks; bowed legs.

 FEET
The feet are round, proportionate to the size of  the dog, well arched, and tight. Pads are hard, tough, and well cushioned.  Dewclaws may be removed.

Fault: Splayed feet.
 
TAIL
The tail is set on as a natural extension of the  topline, and tapers to a point. When the dog is relaxed, the tail is carried low  and extends approximately to the hock. When the dog is moving, the tail is  carried level with the backline. When the dog is excited, the tail may be  carried in a raised, upright position (challenge tail), but never curled over  the back (gay tail).

 Fault: Long tail (tail tip passes beyond point of hock).

Serious Faults: Gay tail (not to be confused with challenge tail); kinked tail. 

Eliminating Fault: Bobbed tail.

Disqualification: Screw tail.
 
COAT
The coat is glossy and smooth, close, and  moderately stiff to the touch.

 Faults: Curly, wavy, or sparse coat.

 Disqualification: Long coat.

COLOR
Any color, color pattern, or combination of  colors is acceptable, except for merle.

 Disqualifications: Albinism. Merle

 HEIGHT AND WEIGHT
The American Pit Bull Terrier must be both  powerful and agile; overall balance and the correct proportion of weight to  height, therefore, is far more important than the dog’s actual weight and/or  height.
Desirable weight for a mature male in good  condition is between 35 and 60 pounds. Desirable weight for a mature female in  good condition is between 30 and 50 pounds.

 As a general and approximate guideline only, the  desirable height range for mature males is from 18 to 21 inches at the withers;  for mature females it is from 17 to 20 inches at the  withers.

It is important to note that dogs over or under  these weight and height ranges are not to be penalized unless they are  disproportionately massive or rangy.

 Very Serious Fault: Excessively large or overly massive dogs and dogs with a height and/or  weight so far from what is desired as to compromise health, structure, movement  and physical ability.

GAIT
The American Pit Bull Terrier moves with a  jaunty, confident attitude, conveying the impression that he expects any minute  to see something new and exciting. When trotting, the gait is effortless,  smooth, powerful, and well coordinated, showing good reach in front and drive  behind. When moving, the backline remains level with only a slight flexing to  indicate suppleness. Viewed from any position, legs turn neither in nor out, nor  do feet cross or interfere with each other. As speed increases, feet tend to  converge toward center line of balance.

 Faults: Legs not moving on the same plane; legs over reaching; legs crossing
over in front or rear; rear legs moving too close or touching; rolling; pacing;
paddling; sidewinding; hackney action; pounding.

 ELIMINATING FAULTS
(
An Eliminating Fault is a Fault serious
enough that it eliminates the dog from obtaining any awards in a conformation
event.)

Any disproportionate overdone characteristic
(such as short legs, excessive bone or massive head or body) that would
interfere with physical activity or working ability.
Muzzle so short and blunt as to interfere with
normal breathing.
Front legs so bowed as to interfere with normal
movement.
Front legs (measured from elbow to ground)
shorter than half the total height at the withers.
Chest so wide as to interfere with normal
movement.
Bobbed tail.


DISQUALIFICATIONS
(
A dog with a Disqualification must not be
considered for placement in a bench show/conformation event, and must be
reported to UKC.)

Unilateral or bilateral
cryptorchid.
Viciousness or extreme
shyness.
Albinism.
Merle.
Unilateral or bilateral
deafness.
Long coat.
Dwarfism
Screw tail


Note: Although some level of dog aggression is  characteristic of this breed, handlers will be expected to comply with UKC  policy regarding dog temperament at UKC events.


The docking of tails and cropping of ears in America is legal and remains a personal choice. However, as an international  registry, the United Kennel Club, Inc. is aware that the practices of cropping  and docking have been forbidden in some countries. In light of these  developments, the United Kennel Club, Inc. feels that no dog in any UKC event  including conformation, shall be penalized for a full tail or natural ears.

 


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