Type can mean different things to different people. From “She isn’t my TYPE” to that dog has TYPE. Try to explain it to people that do not understand breed differences, and they just don’t get it.
Every breed has something that sets it apart from other breeds. There are different groups, and usually each group has a broad type. Working dogs all have (or at least should) a strong work ethic. Some breeds more than others. These dogs were usually designed to help people do things. From water rescue (Newfoundland’s), to heavy sled work (Alaskan Malamutes) to protection and perimeter work (Doberman Pinschers). Toy breeds are miniaturized versions of dogs, intended to make a human happy. They should have that thing, the human happy thing. That is their broad type. Sporting dogs have a sport associated with them, but, mostly they are bird dogs. From the retriever (Golden, Labrador, Curly Coated, Flat Coated) to the flusher (Spaniels), to the pointer (Pointer, German Shorthair Pointer), and the setter (English, French, Gordon and the Irish)…these dogs have that bird thing going, a broad type. Bird dogs have particular things they do.
Most are very specialized. Setters stand still when they find birds, Pointers point at the birds, Spaniels flush the bird out and Retrievers go and get them after you shoot the bird. You need a flock of dogs to hunt birds! Each one of the groups have a Type, and each one of the breeds have a breed type within that group type. Breed type makes a Curly Coated Retriever different from a Flat Coated Retriever.
Non Sporting dogs is a classification to put dogs in that just don’t fit in. Their type is all over the place and can be classified as very diverse. From the French Bulldog to the Dalmatian. Breed type, yes. Group type, no.
We could go on forever, but let’s get to our group, the Terrier. Terriers go to ground. If this is true, where are the Dachshunds? Why are APBT part of the Terrier group when the work they did was on the ground, not in it? Better minds than mine have designated them as Terriers. Might be their willingness to work, their attitude, and maybe, their willingness to catch and dispatch vermin. I think so.
We have identified the group, Terrier. The Type of dog that is a terrier is, by nature… gritty, tenacious, has a “never say die” personality and the great desire to catch. Now we have to identify the breed type.
There are many breeds in the “Pit Bull” classification. We have Bully breeds of every variety, short, tall, huge and then bigger than that. We have American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT). We have crosses of all of these breeds, that are still identified as “Pit Bull”, yet there is only one breed that can claim the title of Heritage American Pit Bull Terrier. Please don’t refer to the Heritage American Pit Bull Terrier as a “Pit”, “Pitty”, or a “Pit Bull”. Everyone that knows the difference will believe your dog is a mixture of breeds. APBT will suit as a name, and amongst fellow fanciers, you might say Pit Bulldog or just Bulldog.
Type is a thing that is very difficult to explain. It takes years of knowing a breed before you can understand its type. The ADBA Standard says:
A. Conforming to breed type
1. Looks 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 a heavy boned, solid front end with a light and springy back end.
4. Should look athletic, not bulky. Musculature should be smooth but defined.
Operative words are “Looks like an American Pit Bull Terrier”. You only know this look if you have known the breed, and if you know the breed, a dog that has TYPE is almost always the best dog there.
If your APBT is the breed standard personified but it is sharp or shy, it does not exhibit breed type. It your APBT is human aggressive, there goes breed type right out the window.
Sometimes a judge finds themselves in a class with dogs that just are not physically correct. Narrow front end assemblies, straight shoulders with wide tricycle rear ends. Lack of physical type. Understand that sometimes there are few dogs in the ring that exhibit the physical traits the judge wants to see. Just because Spike won a placement, does not mean he will be a constant winner. It does mean that he was the one that conformed closest to the breed standard in the ring on that day, at that moment, and his breed character may of carried the day.
Breed type can vary, as judges start choosing to the limits of type, and people start breeding away from the values that the breed are known for. If you see this, STOP. Don’t go there; don’t make excuses for breed varieties that include deviance of type, for it is TYPE that determines the breed.
By Joanie Winchester