The UKC Standard for the American Pit Bull Terrier
Approved by the NAPBTA - from the UKC website.
Terrier Group
Official U.K.C. Breed Standard -

Revised November 21, 2008 ............................................(1) View Registration Requirements


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, Tracking, Agility 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.


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.

Very Serious Fault: Any disproportionate overdone characteristic (such as short legs, excessive bone or massive
head or body) that would interfere with working ability.


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.


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.

Very Serious Fault: Muzzle too short, which impairs breathing capability.

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


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

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

Very Serious Fault: A short, thick neck that would interfere with functional ability.


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.

Very Serious Fault: Legs shorter than half the total height at the withers.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Disqualification: Bobbed tail.


The coat is glossy and smooth, close, and moderately stiff to the touch.

Faults: Curly, wavy, or sparse coat.

Disqualification: Long coat.


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

Disqualification: Merle


The American Pit Bull Terrier must be both powerful and agile so actual weight and height are less important than
the correct proportion of weight to 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. Dogs over
these weights are not to be penalized unless they are disproportionately massive or rangy.

Very Serious Fault: Excessively large or overly massive dogs.


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.


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

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.