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The American Pit Bull Terrier

The American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Sophia Sanchez

I ran into a neighbor this weekend who has a new pit bull puppy of roughly four months old.  Her name is Trixie and she is undoubtedly a pit bull-type pup covered in black and white spots.  She is absolutely the cutest thing you’ll ever see and as I let her sniff and jump all over us, I asked the nice lady if she knew what breed of dog her puppy was.  Her response was “she’s a purebred blue nose pit.”

The reason I bring this up is not to shame this person, rather to show how typically uninformed people are about “pits,” even as owners of them.  You’ve likely heard the terms “red nose,” “blue nose,” etc. But what does that mean and where did those terms come from?

But let us backtrack a little first.  There is only one true Pit Bull and that is the American Pit Bull Terrier (or APBT).  It is the only actual breed of dog with the name Pit Bull in it. In the age of the internet and the endless supply of instant information from the media at our fingertips - both reliable and unreliable - the general public has become highly uneducated about what a real APBT looks like and started attaching a generic name (pit bulls) to dogs similar in appearance.

The most common dogs referred to as “pit bulls” are:

  • The American Staffordshire Terrier (a close cousin to or some think the same breed as the APBT)
  • The Staffordshire Bull Terrier (also referred to as the English Staffordshire Bull Terrier)
  • The American Bulldog
  • The Dogo Argentino
  • The Bull Terrier
  • The Presa Canario
  • The American Pit Bull Terrier
  • And any mix of the above breeds.

So now that we know that, where did these “blue nose” and “red nose” terms come from?

Truthfully, I’m not sure.  But I have my best guess based on research I’ve done over the years.  There are “line types” within the APBT breed, which give each of these bloodlines distinct characteristics.  Line types are a result of a specific breeding programs' effects on the breed itself.  

For example:

Colby Dogs area type of APBT that after 100 years of breeding have given these dogs a black brindle coat with white blazes or a completely white head.

Sorrell dogs are another example.  These dogs are usually fawn with no other coloring and a black muzzle and nose, which have also been accomplished due to years of breeding within the same bloodline.

My best guess is that the red nose and blue nose trend came from similar breeding.  Eventually people started calling them by the color of their nose and today some believe they are actually different breeds of dogs.  Truth is they are nothing more than descriptors. At the end of the day, regardless of the line type, they’re all simply American Pit Bull Terriers (unless they’re a known mix).

Can you tell the difference between an APBT and other Pit Bull-type dogs?