Pit Bulls are NOT terriers in any way, shape, or form; they are Molossers. Slapping the name “terrier” on a breed was common among early dog dealers seeking to suggest their dog was tough and game.
In the era before pit fights were illegal in Britain (1835), it was illegal for a commoner to own a big game hunting dog (such as a bulldog), but it was fine to own a terrier with a cropped tail which was not to be taxed. So what did people do? They called their smaller pit bull dogs "terriers," same as a Pit Bull owner today might tell his landlord his or her dog was "actually a Vizsla".
Shown above is an advertisement by John Colby for stud service for of two of his “fighting dogs”. Three quick points:
- Notice the size differential. Pit dogs were matched by weight. There is no one size or “one type” to a pit fighter, and anyone who tells you different just doesn’t know.
- Colby dogs were among the first Pit Bulls pulled into the AKC registry for the American Staffordshire Terrier (originally called the Staffordshire Terrier by the AKC, but no relation to the British dog). The first “good example of the breed” picture offered up by the AKC was a one-year old dog by the name of Colby’s Primo.
- The notion that the dogs never attacked people and were used as “nanny dogs” is dangerous fiction. Colby himself had his young nephew (Bert or Burt Colby Leadbetter, age two) killed by one of his Pit Bulls.