The American Pit Bull Terrier is a medium-sized, solidly built, short haired dog whose early ancestors came from England and Ireland. It is a member of the molosser breed group. The American Staffordshire Terrier and The American Pit Bull Terrier by breed are from the same lineage; Staffordshires was the name given by and American Pit Bull Terriers by . The real difference between the two breeds is 6–8" in height and 25–35 lb in weight; the American Staffordshire Terrier being the larger of the two.The dog was bred first to bait bulls and bears. When bear-baiting and bull-baiting were deemed inhumane, rat-baiting and dog fighting became more popular. The APBT Breed was used in both sports, and its prevalence in being put in pits with rats, or other dogs led to "pit" being added to its name.
The American Pit Bull is medium-sized, and has a short coat and smooth well-defined muscle structure. Its eyes are round to almond shaped, and its ears are small to medium in length and can be natural or cropped. The tail is slightly thick and tapers to a point. The coat is glossy, smooth, short, and stiff to the touch. The accepted coat color can vary widely, but, both the AKC and UKC do not recognize merle coloring.
Twelve countries in Europe, as well as Australia, Canada, Ecuador, Malaysia, New Zealand Puerto Rico, Singapore, and Venezuela have enacted some form of breed-specific legislation on pit bull-type dogs, including American Pit Bull Terriers, ranging from outright bans to restrictions and conditions on ownership. The state of New South Wales in Australia places restrictions on the breed, including mandatory sterilization. A few counties, and cities in the United States as well as the Province of Ontario in Canada, have outright banned ownership of the American Pit Bull terrier, and the breed is banned in the UK.