A number of pure-bred dogs have some noted health issues, often due to irresponsible breeding practices which result in a weakening of the breed. But does this hold true for the American Pit Bull Terrier? Will a pit bull make a healthy choice as a pet?
Overall Health Of The American Pit Bull Terrier
All things considered, the American Pit Bull Terrier is a healthy choice as a pet, and is not guaranteed to be plagued with hereditary health issues the way some purebred breeds are. That being said, irresponsible breeding practices and nature in general have led to the appearance of some health problems in some pit bulls.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is considered a 'healthy' breed of dog, but owners should be prepared for the possibility of future health concerns. Diseases that have been known to develop in pit bulls include
Congenital heart disease
As often these are problems that are hereditary or present at birth, buying an American Pit Bull Terrier from a responsible, open and honest breeder who has the parent(s)* on site can help tip the odds that your pup will not grow up to be an unhealthy dog. Hip dysplasia and cataracts in particular are diseases that pass on from the parents, so it is in your best interest to thoroughly discuss the parental health history with the breeder. Heart disease in pit bulls is normally congenital in nature, so a thorough examination by a veterinarian may identify heart defects before you commit to the dog.
These issues aside, the American Pit Bull Terrier is a very muscular dog that was built for work and activity. What this means is that an inactive American Pit Bull Terrier will tend to gain weight easily and will often become a behavior problem. Learning how to properly feed and exercise your pit bull will ensure that health and behavioral problems due to lack of activity do not become an issue for your pet.
Pit bulls love active play such as Frisbee and fetch, and excel in sports of dog agility. For most pit bulls, however, a 15 minute romp around the yard will not meet their healthy exercise requirements. Owners should be prepared for long daily walks (2 miles or more is recommended by breeders) with their pit bull. This ensures that the dog has the opportunity to keep up muscle strength, burn excess energy and calories, and does not become overly bored to the point of property destruction.
Feeding needs are also of primary concern for pit bulls, and pit bull food requirements are directly related to their exercise output. For less active pit bulls, it is recommended that food intakes be cut back to avoid excessive energy and calorie inputs; however, it is very important to make sure the amount of food restriction falls within what is prudent for optimal health. For more specific feed requirements, you need to talk to your veterinarian and/or a knowledgeable pit bull breeder.
With proper research and care, a pit bull can be a valued family pet for many years; as with everything, though, pit bull owners need to know about the unique characteristics of this dog ahead of time so that good American Pit Bull Terrier health is not ruined due to a lack of understanding of the needs of the breed.
*It is not uncommon for the male dog not to be on premises, as they are often brought in only to stud, and many pit bulls do not tolerate other dogs well. At the very least, the breeder should be able to give you a complete history of the dog.