Long-haired Pitbulls may not be part of the iconic American purebred pit bulls but they do make wonderful pets. This rare coat variant offers more than just distinctive looks because of the different hair lengths.
Dive into my comprehensive guide to understand the health, behavior, and unique needs of these distinctive dogs, and discover if it could be the perfect addition to your family.
What Is the Standard for A Purebred Pit Bull?
Before knowing about long-haired Pitbull, it’s essential to understand the standard that defines a purebred pit bull or whether it is really a breed.
First of all, the American Pit Bull Terrier is not recognized as a distinct breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and this decision dates back to when the breed was recognized as a dog fighting machine in the 1800s.Source: AnimalFoundation
A purebred pit bull is a medium size dog with a well-defined muscle structure. The very athletic build is sometimes mistaken for unfounded aggression that was historically used in illegal dog fighting, an activity that still, unfortunately, stays in some parts of the US today.
While physical characteristics do play a part in defining a breed standard, it’s important to understand certain misconceptions about the temperament of a pit bull.
Contrary to what many believe, these dogs are fun, gentle, and extremely loyal pets that seamlessly integrate into families, staying miles away from the unwarranted stigma of being aggressive.
Speaking of which, the purebred Pitbull has low grooming needs but high exercise needs. Luckily, they are intelligent enough to be trained easily.
When it comes to training, besides obedience, and agility, train the dog or desensitize it to certain stimuli, especially being left alone. The dogs get so attached to their owners that they develop separation anxiety when left for longer periods.
Since they have short coats, they cannot tolerate cold weather for a long time, but they do relatively well in hot weather.
Despite what normal observation says about the breeds that collectively make the pit bull category, these are undeniably one of the most popular dogs in the US.
They also include the long-haired version. Within the purebred categories, this variation occurs because of rare genetic phenomena where the recessive genes for long hair are inherited by the offspring from both parents, resulting in fluffy fur.
Such variations tell us that genetic surprises can pop up, even in dogs that are believed to be the lineage of a certain breed based on their appearance.
Are There Any Long-Haired Pitbulls?
As it happens, there are long-haired pit bulls, though quite rare. One such example that gained significant attention was Ruby, a pitbull from Asheville, North Carolina.
She was initially believed to be the result of several breeds based on her fluffy periods, but a DNA test revealed that she was 100% American Pit Bull Terrier. The test results also attributed her unique code to a recessive long-haired gene, called the FGF5.
What Two Parents Make Pit Bulls?
When we say Pitbull, we mean a certain type of dog rather than a specific breed.
It’s a common misconception to consider pit bulls as a separate breed when, as I said, it is the American Staffordshire Terriers that are recognized by the AKC and not the American Pit Bull Terriers because of their fighting past.
To clear the confusion, any dog can be classified as a pit bull that has parentage from the bulldog breed and the terriers.
I will still call them American Pit Bull Terriers for the sake of removing any confusion as Ruby’s DNA showed that she was 100% a descendant of an American Pit Bull Terrier. Nonetheless, she was a part of the pit bull category of dogs with long hair.
To further explain this, two American Pit Bull Terriers or American Staffordshire Terriers would mate and deliver the recessive FGF5 gene to their offspring which will result in a long hair coat.
The Role Of Genetics (Fgf5 Gene)
Genetics is the basis that determines the physical characteristics of dogs and all other living things. In the case of hair length, I would like to quote research on Sapsaree dogs, which is a Korean native breed to further understand how this works.
The study published in the MDPI journal sheds light on the identification of a 167 BP insertion in the RSP02 3′ untranslated region as the possible cause for mutation for hair length variations in purebred dogs. Researchers found this mutation on chromosome 13, along with other genes.
Although the research was conducted on Sapsaree dogs, the findings can be applied to understand hair length variation in other breeds or categories of dogs such as pit bulls.
The genetic interplay suggests that there is an interaction between the FGF-5 and RSP02 genes that together influence hair length in dogs.
It’s also important to understand that this specific mutation might display hair length variations either along the entire body or in certain areas such as the eyebrows and mustache.
Therefore, depending on its genetic background, your pit bull may be entirely fluffy or have long hair in the specified areas. In the case of Ruby, it’s not hard to evaluate that the mutation occurred along the length of her entire body.
What Is The Personality Of A Long-Haired Pitbull?
The personality of a long-haired pitbull depends loosely on its parentage but largely on how well you bring it up.
While each dog is an individual with its unique temperament shaped by both the environment and genetics, you will find certain behavioral traits commonly associated with pit bulls.
First of all, I would say again that their size is wrongly associated with being aggressive. In fact, dogs belonging to this category love people and have no idea that their size isn’t appropriate for being lap dogs. They are confident and aware of their surroundings, but that does not make them aggressive watchdogs.
Instead, they use their ability to alert you of a stranger approaching just to greet them.
This very attachment makes them highly prone to separation-related anxieties, but that does not deter them from defending their families with their lives.
Each breed in the pit bull category needs early socialization to grow into a well-behaved dog that does not ruin furniture or an unsuspecting glass table in their way when they’re running eagerly to greet their owners.
Behavior With Kids
Pit bulls are generally known to be fun, gentle, and loyal around families, especially when there are children. They observe a kid’s response to their actions and act accordingly instead of asserting dominance over them.
Unlike certain dogs such as the Border Collie, they also don’t chase them in an effort of herding them.
Behavior With Strangers
Like any other dog breed, a pit bull’s behavior with strangers is largely shaped by early socialization and individual experiences. But when they do receive proper training, they can be very welcoming toward strangers.
As I said earlier, they will bark whenever somebody new comes to your house but not to deter or scare them but to greet them.
I mentioned individual experiences above and it’s true for all dogs, especially the ones in a rescue shelter. Some of them have hard pasts with histories of abuse that solidify distrust in their hearts.
You have to be careful with such dogs and provide them with a positive environment that will ultimately bring out the best in them.
Behavior With Other Dogs
If you look into the history of pit bulls, they were mostly found in dog fighting pits. However, we need to differentiate between forced behaviors and the breed’s natural temperament, especially when it comes to other dogs.
In general, they can get along with other dogs when raised under the same roof in a positive environment and plenty of socialization and training.
Remove all that and you have a dog that will try to exert its dominance or even get into unwarranted fights with them in case the other dog is as equally assertive as the Pitbull.
Genetics and Behavior
Recent studies shed light on the genetic role in a dog’s behavior. Before the 1800s, dogs were mainly chosen for specific functional roles. However, the modern classification based on physical characteristics in lineage has led us to associate some behavioral traits with specific breeds.
Interestingly, the research published in the Science journal titled “ancestry inclusive dog genomics challenges popular breed stereotypes” shows that most behavioral traits are heritable but they do not completely differentiate between breeds.
The breed of a dog explains just 9% of its behavior. This means that knowing a dog’s breed can only provide a general overview of its behavior when the individual behavior can vary widely within the very breed.
The research specifically found out that biddability, which is a dog’s responsiveness to your commands, can be predicted based on a dog’s breed ancestry.
However, for some traits like the agnostic threshold, which is how quickly a dog reacts to new stimuli, the breed provides little information.
All in all, according to the research the behaviors attributed to modern breeds are influenced by the play of multiple genes and the environment.
This is the reason why we dog trainers and breeders highly focus on early socialization and obedience training to raise a well-rounded dog to root out any genetic adaptation that could be influenced by environmental cues and that could lead the dog to exhibit unwanted behavior such as aggression around strangers or other dogs.
How To Care For A Long-Haired Pitbull?
The long-haired pit bull does not have any special needs save for grooming its long fur.
When it comes to exercise needs, the long-haired pit bull is much like the short hair version. Both are bundles of energy. They thrive on daily activities that could be a mix of walks, play sessions, and mentally stimulating activities to keep them physically and mentally fit.
I highly recommend that you engage them in activities such as fetch, tug of war, and agility courses to help them burn off their abundant energy.
I must also warn you that without sufficient exercise, the dogs may develop pent-up energy that can lead to behavioral issues.
This is where the long-haired version deviates from the short-haired because its grooming requires a different approach.
With their longer coat, frequent brushing is essential to prevent tangles and matting. Aim to brush the coat 2 to 3 times a week, if not daily, to keep the first smooth and free of debris.
Bathing is recommended every 6 to 8 weeks or whenever the dog is too dirty to roam around freely in your house. That should be done using a gentle dog shampoo. Make sure that you rinse the shampoo properly to avoid any skin allergies.
Nail trimming should be done in about 3 to 4 weeks to ensure that our turned nails do not cause any discomfort. I normally try to detect the clicking sound of nails against a hard floor to be sure when to trim them with safe clippers.
Also, it’s crucial to check your dog’s ears weekly and clean them with a dog-specific cleaner to avoid any infection.
Similarly, dental hygiene shouldn’t be overlooked. Brush your dog’s teeth several times a week or daily to maintain proper gum health and reduce tartar buildup.
The dogs or breeds in the pit bull category are naturally responsive and eager to please, which means that they are highly trainable.
Still, I recommend early training because as I said earlier the behavior of a dog depends not only on genes but also on environmental factors.
You should capitalize on the early years when the dog is more receptive to training. Focus on socialization and taking your pup to training classes to set the foundation for a well-behaved adult dog.
No matter which type of training you’re focusing on, always apply positive reinforcement techniques that involve giving the dog rewards, praises, and treats to reinforce the desired behaviors effectively.
Besides the type of training, consistency plays a major part in training your dog. During a training session, you should either train the dog yourself until everyone in the household does not confuse the dog or tell them to apply the same rules and commands as you do.
All in all, pit bulls’ inherent energy combined with their loyalty and gentle nature means that it’s easy to train them, and with the right guidance, they can become ideal dogs.
Long-haired pit bulls, just like the standard purebred pit bulls or the breeds included in this category have high pain tolerance which means they are robust and resilient.
However, just like any other breed they also have specific health concerns and it’s essential for owners like you to be aware of them.
Because of possessing a longer code, these pit bulls are prone to certain skin issues. For example, matting is one of the concerns that can cause skinny rotation if it’s not properly addressed through grooming.
Constant irritation can even lead to infections in the long run. It’s essential that you regularly brush the dog’s coat to maintain not just its appearance but also its health.
There are also certain genetic conditions to be wary of. DNA testing is available for pet owners and breeders alike not just for breed determination but also to detect any markers for genetic disorders.
That’s one of the reasons why you should always seek a breeder that takes these tests before breeding two adult dogs to keep the offspring healthy by removing any potential genetic health risks.
Hip dysplasia is another condition where they have joints that don’t develop correctly. In pit bulls, this can lead to arthritis and even lameness. Make sure that you maintain regular vent check-ups to keep an optimal way that can help manage and even prevent this condition.
Pit bulls are also prone to cardiac issues regardless of their coat length. Make sure you maintain a healthy balanced diet and proper exercise to keep your dog’s heart health in its best shape.
Some of these dogs are also susceptible to hereditary cataracts that can worsen with age.
In addition to the conditions mentioned above, allergies are also quite common in pit bulls. They can be allergic to environmental stimuli, some foods, and even certain materials like specific fabrics.
Look for any signs of allergy such as excessive itching, redness, and sometimes even digestive issues.
Monitor your dog’s behavior and any sudden changes in its overall physical appearance as these can also be indications of an allergic reaction. You should definitely consult a bit in such situations.
Is A Long-Haired Pitbull Right for You?
Whether the long-haired pit bull is right for you or not depends on your individual decision. The information that I shared so far should help you in making that decision.
Despite historical misconceptions, most dogs in the pitbull category are gentle and loyal. But like any breed, the temperament of a pit bull can vary and it depends on the degree of early socialization and training that it receives.
When it comes to training, these dogs are highly trainable as they are responsive to directions and commands. This is rooted in their loyalty and eagerness to please as compared to other breeds.
However, you still have to be consistent in your training methods and focus on early socialization.
In terms of living conditions, these dogs are highly adaptable because of their medium size and well-defined muscle structure. They’re comfortable playing in a yard or cuddling on a couch. Still, regular exercise is essential to keep them healthy both mentally and physically.
The majority of pit bulls are friendly towards humans and children.
However, their interaction with other dogs should be supervised, especially if they haven’t received enough socialization at a young age. The lack of it would mean the dog will see dominating other dogs under the same roof easier and without any repercussions.
Regarding coat maintenance, the long-haired version requires more grooming. Consider the frequency of brushing in your decision of owning one because without it the coat will not be free from tangles.
Lastly, the breed is susceptible to certain genetic and environmental diseases. You should definitely adopt a long-haired pit bull from a responsible breeder. If you’re looking to adopt a rescue, bear in mind that you will have to incur extra costs of medical tests to ensure that it’s in optimal health.
So, if you’re looking for a loyal, credible, and loving companion and are ready to commit to their grooming and health needs, a long-haired Pitbull might be just the perfect addition to your family.
But always remember, the way you raise and train your dog will play a significant role in its behavior and temperament.
- Gentle dogs
- Easily trainable
- Highly adaptable
- Have protective instincts
- Love all kinds of activities
- High pain tolerance
- Intelligent and alert
- Low grooming needs
- Low barking tendency
- Certain health conditions
- Interaction with dogs has to be supervised
- High exercise needs
- Generally viewed as an aggressive or harmful dog