First let me state that the name Pit Bull is a term now used to describe several types of breeds, it is not a breed. Originally it was meant to describe the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier, but the ignorant media has changed that to any Terrier, Mastiff, Bulldog or mix that they feel will sell a story by naming it a 'Pit Bull'. Many people can not identify an American Pit Bull Terrier on this website. "Pit Bulls" are often mislabeled in shelters. Recent studies have proved that dogs commonly identified as "Pit Bulls" often are a mix of multiple breeds, so breed identification by appearance alone is considered inaccurate and misleading.
As far as dogs that have been categorized as "Pit Bulls", this would refer to the long list of "Bully" Breeds that you can see Here
The ancestors of modern pit bulls, English and French bulldogs, and other related breeds were powerful mastiffs bred for farm work. Specifically, these dogs accompanied farmers into the fields to assist with bringing bulls in for breeding, castration, or slaughter. The dogs, known generally as bulldogs, protected the farmer by subduing the bull if it attempted to gore him. Typically a dog would do this by biting the bull on the nose and holding on until the bull submitted. Because of the nature of their job, bulldogs were bred to have powerful jaws, muscular bodies, and the resolve to hold onto a violently-struggling bull, even when injured.
Eventually these dogs' purpose inspired the widespread practice of the bloody sports of bull-baiting and bear-baiting. In Bull-Baiting, Bulls brought to market were set upon by dogs as a way of tenderizing the meat and providing entertainment for the spectators; and dog fights with bears, bulls and other animals were often organized as entertainment for both royalty and commoners. Early Bull and Terriers were bred for the characteristic known as gameness. Breeders strive to produce a more muscular, compact, and agile dog for these competitions. The pitting of dogs against bear or bull tested the gameness, strength and skill of the dog. These early "proto-staffords" provided the ancestral foundation stock for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. This common ancestor was known as the "Bull and Terrier".
These bloodsports were officially eliminated in 1835 as Britain began to introduce animal welfare laws. Since dogfights were cheaper to organize and far easier to conceal from the law than bull or bear baits, bloodsport proponents turned to pitting their dogs against each other instead. Dog fighting was used as both a bloodsport (often involving gambling) and a way to continue to test the quality of their stock. For decades afterwards, dog fighting clandestinely took place in pockets of working-class Britain and America. Dogs were released into a pit, and the last dog still fighting was recognized as the winner. The quality of pluckiness or "gameness" was still highly prized, and dogs that gave up during a fight were reviled as "curs". Dogs were bred for specific traits useful in the dog-fighting ring, refining the agility, gameness, and power already present in the bull-and-terrier breeds. They were also bred to be intelligent and level-headed during fights and non aggressive toward humans. Part of the standard for organized dog-fighting required judges to be able to handle a dog and that an owner be able to enter the ring, pick up his dog while it was engaged in a fight, and carry it out of the ring without being bitten. Dogs that bit their owners were culled. As a result, Victorian fighting dogs (Staffordshire Bull Terriers and, though less commonly used as fighters, English Bull Terriers) generally had stable temperaments and were commonly kept in the home by the gambling men who owned them.
During the mid-1800s, immigration to the United States from Ireland and England brought an influx of these dogs to America, where they were bred to be larger and stockier, working as farm dogs in the West as much as fighting dogs in the cities. In the US many Staffordshire Bull Terriers were imported by pit fighters and used in their breeding programs to produce the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. Many were imported by British nationals who brought their dogs with them or U.S. expatriates who fell in love with the breed in England and brought it home. The resulting breed, the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, also called the American Pit Bull Terrier, became known as an "all-American" dog. Pit bull type dogs became popular as family pets for citizens who were not involved in dog-fighting or farming.
So, to say they were bred to be fighting dogs is true, but not all of them. It just depended on where they landed in America (City or Farm/West) After dog fighting was banned in the 1900's the breed again split. Now there were working dogs, fight dogs and show dogs and the most common trait that all 3 had bred into them was to be submissive to man. The dogs bred for show became the American Staffordshire Terrier in 1936. With this being fact, your "Pit Bull" could of come from any of these 3 backgrounds. Don't let people make a blanket statement about your dog in saying they were bred to fight.
Take a look at some of these "Classic Pits"
Where do "Blue" Pit bulls come from?
There is a recessive gene in dogs called a dilution gene. If both parents have the dilution gene, and it goes to the puppies, it dilutes (fades) colors. Brown dogs look fawn (red) colored while black dogs look (blue) gray. It is not a defect, just a gene pair that causes it. If your dog did not have a dilution gene, it would be black. Blue is NOT a skin deformity in any type of dog, it is simply a color. Blue is a recessive color, so the only way to get it is to breed two dogs that are carrying the gene. Since the easiest way to do this is to breed related dogs there is often a problem with health problems also being passed down the line along with the color in many breeds. As for where the "original" blue color came from in any breed of dog, it is a random genetic mutation. These can occur in any species at any time.
"Pit Bulls are aggressive"
This is rarely true, not only with Pit Bulls but with any dog. Dogs usually become aggressive when they are frightened or apprehensive and they give many signals when they are. Dogs have a very clear set of signals they use to indicate that they want to play or be left alone. If you ever watch a pack of feral dogs, they very rarely act aggressively towards each other. Because as pack animals it's in their DNA to live socially. Dogs do not respond to unbalanced energy, they are drawn to calm energy. When things become unbalanced they become frightened or apprehensive which can cause them to react aggressively.
You want statistics?
Although there are no accurate or even near accurate census records for dogs in the U.S., in some areas pit bulls are estimated to comprise some 30-40% of the dog population, making it by FAR the most popular breed. Considering that there are an estimated 53,000,000 dogs in the U.S., and assuming that pit bulls make up 20% of that population, there would be approximately 10,600,000 pit bulls in our society.
There are about 4.8 MILLION pits in the United States, alone, yet, over a period of about 20 YEARS, only a LITTLE OVER ONE HUNDRED people have been killed by them. You're probably thinking a little over one hundred is a big number, even over a period of 20 years, but consider this: 115 people die EVERY DAY in automobile accidents in the United States, alone. You should be far more afraid of automobiles than pit bulls.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
If it bites, it must be a pit bull, right? by David S. Greene
After doing research on this for a while by reading some old books and talking to some older people from England to verify this (which is about the best source you can get). The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was indeed called the Nanny Dog and the older people still refer to them as that today. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is classified as a "Pit Bull" and can be linked to the American Pit Bull Terrier. Here is the weak argument from the "Haters" It is not documented that the American Pit Bull Terrier was called the Nanny Dog. However, they did watch after Children while the family was working. So essentially they were doing the job of a "Nanny".