ADBA CONFORMATION STANDARD BREAKDOWN
DUE TO THE IMPROPER USE OF THE AMERICAN DOG BREEDERS ASSOCIATION INC. AMERICAN PIT BULL TERRIER BREED STANDARD BEING USED AS A BREED IDENTIFIER IN PROPOSED LAWS AND ORDINANCES, A BREED STANDARD USE CLAUSE WILL NOW BE A PART OF OUR AMERICAN PIT BULL TERRIER BREED STANDARD.
A. To truly understand any breed standard, one must know the history behind a breeds existence.
B. The purpose of a judge is the unbiased selection of quality breeding stock with true breed type.
C. The responsibility of judging is to put up the dogs that conform most to the conformation standard leaving personal bias aside.
II. Overall Appearance 20 points
A. Conforming to breed type
1. Should look like an American Pit Bull Terrier from across the ring
2. Sturdy, three dimensional. Giving the impression of strength, not slight or frail.
3. Appears square, with heavy boned, solid front end with a light and springy back end.
4. Should look athletic, not bulky. Musculature should be smooth but defined.
5. Presentation of an adult dog should be of a lean, exercised animal showing a hint of rib and backbone (without hipbones showing) with muscles firm and defined. Clean, glossy coat with short trimmed nails. Presentation of dogs in the puppy classes should be of a well nourished puppy, showing no ribs, backbone or hips. Coat should be glossy with short, trimmed nails.
1. Equal angulation of front and rear assembly - judged best at the trot.
2. Height to weight ratio - the tallest dog at a given weight
3. Head size in proportion to the body, with a neck long enough to have the head appear above the top of the back when head
is in a normal upright position.
1. Dog is socialized , showing interest in things around him.
2. Although some degree of dog aggressiveness is characteristic of the breed, unruly behavior will detract from the judges ability to accurately judge an individual dogs conformation.
1. The vitality of the dogs spirit, the gloss of the dogs coat and the sharpness of the dogs eye, will exude the healthfulness of
the individual animal.
2. Colors or color patterns known to be genetically linked to health problems will be considered a serious fault . Major faults: merle color pattern, albinism(white dog with blue or pink eyes, pink nose, lips, no pigment present on pads, rims of eyes etc.)
III. Attitude 10 points
A. Confident and alert
B. Interested in things around them, in control of their space, not threatened by anything in their surroundings.
C. Gentle with loved ones Faults: shy or timid
IV. Back end 30 points
1. Broad and long enough to square the dog. Too short can interfere with a dogs flexibility. Too long a loin causes the dog to
carry excessive weight and affect a dogs agility and quickness..
1. Long and sloping with adequate width. This can be judged by the set of the tail, which should be low.
2. Ideal slope of hip should be 30 degrees to the ground.
C. Proportions of the back leg.
1. The femur should be of a length so that the stifle joint is proportioned in the upper 1/3 of the rear assembly.
2. The tibia-fibula is the longer bone of the rear assembly
3. The length of the metatarsal is moderate, with muscles that attach equally on each side of the bone so that the hocks move
parallel to each other, deviating neither in or out. The metatarsals bones, hock and lower part of the tibia will be light, fine and springy.
4. Rear angulation - ratio between the lengths of the bones and the muscles which attach on these bones, causes a bent stifle
which leads to a well bent hock. This contributes to the natural springiness that is desired in the rear assembly.
5. The muscle attachment is long and deep, well past the joint , which causes the muscles to appear smooth, but defined. (Not
Faults: short or flat hip, straight stifle, double jointed or slipped hock, cow hocked, bunchy muscles.
V. Front end 20 points
1. Deep and elliptical with a prominent breastbone or prosternum. From the side, the bottom of the ribcage should at least be
even with the elbow joint.
2. Well sprung at the top, tapering to the bottom, extending well back into the loin.
1. Wider than the ribcage at the 8th rib. Scapula well laid back, 45 degree or less angle to the ground, and broad and flat
allowing for adequate muscular attachment for a heavy and sturdy front end.
2. The humerus is angled at an opposite 45 degree angle and is long enough that the elbow comes to the bottom of the
ribcage, elbows lying flat against the body.
3. Forearms are slightly longer than the humerus and solid, twice the thickness of the metatarsal at the hock.
1. Small and tight, set high on pasterns.
2. Pads thick, and well built up
3. Dew claws are natural on front feet, and do not naturally occur on back legs.
Faults: barrel chest, narrow chest, fine bones, out at elbows, down in pasterns, splay feet, thin pads, back dew claws.
VI. Head and Neck 15 points
1. Heavily muscled to the base of the skull
2. Long in length
1. Head size balanced in relationship to the rest of the body
2. 2/3 the width of the shoulders
3. Wedge shaped when viewed from the top or side, round when viewed from the front.
4. Cheeks 25% wider than the neck at the base of the skull
5. The length from the nose to the stop should equal the length from the stop to the back of the head.
6. The bridge of the muzzle is well developed. The fill in under the eyes should be wider than the head at the base of the ears.
7. The head should be deep from the top of the head to the bottom of the jaw.
8. Straight box like muzzle
9. Lips tight
10.Teeth, incisors should meet in the front in a scissor bite. Canines should be wide at the base and
taper to the end, top canines fitting tightly together behind the bottom canines. They should be sound and
healthy with none missing.
11. Eyes, small and deep set. Elliptical when viewed from the front, triangular when viewed from the side.
12. Ears- no preference should be given to cropped or uncropped ears, except to enhance the overall attractiveness of the
Faults: short neck, cheeky, underdeveloped muzzle, lippy, missing canines, overshot or undershot to the extent that
the canines do not fit tightly together.
VII. Tail and Coat 5 points
1. Skin thick and loose around neck and chest, tight fitting elsewhere, showing vertical folds around the neck and chest even in
a well exercised animal.
2. Short and bristled, the gloss showing overall health of the animal.
3. Color or any combination of colors, except for colors or color patterns known to be genetically linked to health problems.
1. Thick at the base, tapering to the point. Its length should have the tail extending to the point of the hock.
2. Hang down like a pump handle when relaxed.
Major faults: Merle color pattern or albinism. (White dog, blue or pink eyes, lacks pigment)
Faults: Longer coat, fringed hair on tail or elsewhere, bobbed tail or any tail other than straight.
Disqualifications: Man aggression, one sided or both sided cryptorchid, spayed or neutered dogs
Above all, the American Pit Bull Terrier should appear to be an all around athlete. His body is called upon for speed, power, agility and stamina. He must be balanced in all directions. Too much of one thing, robs him of another. In his ideal form, he is a thing of beauty.
Any unauthorized or improper use of the American Dog Breeders Association Inc. copyright standard is strictly prohibited."
copyright © 1976
American Dog Breeders Association Inc. (ADBA) APBT Standard Disclaimer
This breed standard is not a breed identifier. It may only be used to judge the standards of
quality of the American Pit Bull Terrier, as set forth. It's purpose is for use by American Dog
Breeders Association Inc. breeders, or American Dog Breeders Association Inc. sanctioned
judges, in determining the quality of each animal being judged at an American Dog Breeders
Association Inc. sanctioned show, or event and for awarding ADBSI points based upon
individual quality as reflected by the breed standard of excellence. It may also be used to
evaluate the quality of breeding stock by breeders of ADBA registered American Pit Bull
Terriers for selecting breeding stock, and for evaluating the quality of individual puppies from
ADBA registered American Pit Bull Terrier litters.
BREED TYPE, GENERAL APPEARANCE AND PERSONALITY – 20 points
It can be difficult for some people to separate out and define breed type because the outward impression of a dog is mostly a manifestation of the underlying structure. However, a dog can be physically sound, functioning as nature intended, but exhibit no distinguishable breed type. The dog that closely resembles its breed standard in both its physical appearance and personality is said to exhibit “type”. Type is best determined by asking “at first glance, is the dog’s breed easily identified or could it be mistaken for something other than an APBT?” Without “type” an individual breed does not exist.
At first impression, the correct APBT is lively, physically sound, and in balance. No one aspect is exaggerated, everything in proportion and nothing to extremes. To reach an optimal balance of power versus speed the American Pit Bull Terrier should have a balance of height to length, size to weight and equality of skeletal angulation in the front and rear assemblies. The dog should be presented to the judge clean and conditioned to the proper weight for its height. The ideal APBT should appear athletic and capable of great endurance with well defined lean muscle. It should never appear starved or dehydrated nor should it appear soft or bulky. Puppies should be shown at a healthy weight, neither pudgy nor skinny, and they are not encouraged to begin a conditioning regimen until at least 9 months of age. Show dogs are expected to live a full and well rounded life outside of the conformation ring.
SIZE – The American Pit Bull Terrier is a medium sized dog, most often falling within a 30 lb. to 60 lb. range. Balance of proportion and balance of height to weight are more important than a specific size. Realistically, APBTs at the extremes of the size spectrum usually lack balance, possess physical features that are often disproportionate to the rest of their bodies and rarely exhibit the desired movement. Therefore, females are preferred to be 50 lbs or less and males are preferred to be 60 lbs or less. It is preferred that no mature APBT be smaller than 30 lbs.
COLOR - All coat colors are acceptable. Accepted nose colors are black, blue, chocolate and red. A solid color nose is preferred over a bi colored (“butterfly”) nose. A completely un-pigmented (“Dudley”) nose is a serious fault, and should not be confused with a diluted shade of red nose.
PERSONALITY – The APBT should be bold and confident. He should be curious with his environment, but responsive to his handler and gentle with family members. Unwarranted human aggression is highly unacceptable. Like most terriers, they can have a strong prey drive and many APBTs exhibit some level of aggression towards other dogs and/or non human animals. Their intelligence combined with their natural athleticism is best suited for families with prior dog ownership experience, individuals who are willing to research the breed and make adequate preparations, or those who have access to a breed mentor. Ultimately, if you are not prepared to hold your self up as a public example of responsible ownership, the AADR, LLC humbly asks that you do everyone a favor and choose another breed.
HEAD – 5 points
The size of the head should be in proportion to the rest of the body, roughly 2/3 as wide as the shoulders, and as long from the tip of the nose to the stop, as it is from the stop to the back of the top of the skull. The head is shaped like a blunted wedge when viewed from the top and the side, and appears square when viewed directly from the front. The muzzle is broad under the eyes as well as deep, tapering only slightly toward the nose, and the top line of the muzzle is straight when viewed from the side. The cheek muscles are powerful and well developed at maturity. The lips should be clean and tight.
NECK – 3 points
The neck should be muscular, and long enough that when the dog stands naturally on a slack leash, the bottom line of the jaw is level with, or just above the center of the spine when viewed from the side. About 3/4ths the width of the jaw where it joins the skull, the neck widens gradually until it transitions smoothly into the shoulders.
TEETH – 5 points
The incisor teeth should comprise a scissor bite, with the top teeth fitting tightly in front of the bottom. The canine teeth should also fit together tightly and be wide at the base. As long as the canines are tight fitting, a level bite or a reverse scissor bite (where the bottom teeth close tightly in front of the top teeth) are permitted but not preferred. Some tooth wear is expected relative to the advancing age of the dog, just as missing teeth are common in young puppies. A chipped or broken canine tooth is only considered a fault and not a disqualification, but missing canine teeth exclude a dog from receiving a trophy award.
EYES – 2 points
The eyes should be elliptical and deep set, with no looseness or sagging of the eyelids. The color of the eye is relative to the color of the nose pigment. Red nose dogs will naturally have a lighter eye, usually golden or sometimes hazel, and on rare occasion they may be green. White dogs and those with minimal color spots will have eye color relative to the nose pigment color and one or both eyes can be partially blue. Solid blue eyes do occur, but manifesting in a pair is rare.
EARS – 2 points
The natural ears should ideally be medium sized and rose shaped (folded back), but half prick (semi erect) or half drop ears are acceptable. Full drop and fully erect (bat) ears are undesirable. The ears should be set on the skull so that an invisible line could be drawn from the outside corner of the eye to midway between the top and bottom of the inner formation of the ear (burr), when viewed from the front. Cropped ears are not considered a fault.
REAR ASSEMBLY – 25 points
If the dog is standing square, the rear pastern will be vertical from the hock to the ground and be placed slightly behind the rear point of the hip. With the back leg in this position, the slope of the hip should be a 45 degree angle to the ground when measured from the top point of the pelvis to the rear point of the hip. The leg bones should be longer than the thigh bone. This positions the knee in the upper third of the leg. If you were to draw a line from the rear point of the hip to the knee it should create a right angle (90 degree) to the slope of the hip. The line from the knee down to the hock should make an opposite right angle that is also a 45 degree angle to the ground. The pasterns are relatively shorter, only about a third of the overall height of the rear leg.
TORSO – 10 points
A correct ribcage is elliptical in shape, broader at the top but tapering as it reaches its maximum depth between the elbows. Like a bellows, this shape moves a greater volume of air more efficiently than a wide “barrel” or a shallow “herring gut”. The loin should be well developed, broad and fairly short, but not so much that it reduces the dogs’ flexibility. There should be breadth across the pelvis so that the back feet are placed somewhat farther apart than the front feet for added stability.
FRONT ASSEMBLY – 15 points
With the dog standing square, the shoulder blade should ideally lay back at a 45 degree angle to the ground with an upper arm of equal length that returns at a right angle to the shoulder blade. This places the elbow directly under the top of the shoulder and creates a powerful front because it allows adequate surface area for broad muscle attachment. The shoulder should be a little wider than the ribcage at the 8th rib. When viewed from the front, the lower arm should appear straight and solid, twice as thick as the rear pastern and longer than the upper arm. However, the side view reveals that the front pasterns are not quite upright. This minimal angulation gives spring to the dogs gait and acts as a shock absorber. The natural stance should have the elbows parallel to the ribcage and places the front feet forward. Extreme toeing out is undesirable. So is toeing in, as it usually accompanies loose elbows that are held away from the body. The chest should be well developed but not overly broad, and the breastbone should be prominent.
FEET – 3 points
The feet should be round and compact like a cat’s paw with well cushioned pads. Naturally open feet with longer toes, more like a rabbit are common and acceptable, but less preferred. The nails should be trimmed regularly so that they do not cause the toes to splay or the foot to position itself unnaturally. Flat feet at the tarsals (toes) or metatarsals are undesirable. Double dewclaws or dewclaws on the rear feet are a fault.
TAIL – 3 points
When relaxed, the dog’s tail is carried low and resembles an old fashioned water pump handle. The length of the tail should end with a taper at the point of the hock. When moving with purpose, the correct tail is carried about level, as an extension of the top line. When standing at attention, the tail may be held in a gently curved upright “challenge” position, but should not curl completely over the top of the back or be held submissively between the legs. The tail should never be docked or altered.
SKIN AND COAT – 2 points
The skin and coat are indictors of good overall health. The coat should be short, slick and glossy and the skin should be thick. The jacket should be tight fitting except at the neck, where some looseness of skin is expected, but should not be excessive or extreme.
MOVEMENT – 5 points
If the dog has correct angulation and is in balance, it can move properly. Ideally, the dog should be exhibited at the trot, with the dog on all fours. That being said, it is understood that under situations where excitement is high, and distractions abound, dogs will often act like dogs. Therefore, it is the handler’s responsibility to show the dog in motion to the best of their ability. At the trot, the dog should move out with a flexible but level top line and a ground covering stride. There should be no wasted movement. From forward most extension through rearward follow through the feet should move in close proximity to the ground. Unlike a dog with a more restricted range of motion, the dog that moves efficiently appears fluid and effortless but may need a step or two to fall into a natural rhythm. High stepping, crabbing sideways, rolling or pacing are undesirable for this breed. Feet should not cross over or interfere with each other. As speed increases the footfall will naturally converge towards, but never reach the center line of balance. A dog that is openly lame is considered unsound, and, at the judges discretion, may not receive a ribbon (points) even if it is the only dog in the ring that day. With written authorization from the determining judge, any dog that is dismissed for lameness will receive a refund of paid entry(s) for that weekends events.