The pocket pitbull is a designer dog or hybrid dog. It is not a purebred but rather a mix of two other purebreds – the American Pitbull Terrier and the Patterdale Terrier.
This breed was created to combine the best qualities of each breed, but in a smaller package, about half the size of a standard pitbull.
Adult Patterdale Terriers average 15 inches tall and 30 pounds, while an adult male pitbull will grow to about 21 inches tall and up to 100 pounds. So you can see that an owner who desires a pitbull, and they are very popular in the United States, might want one that is more manageable at a smaller size. Therefore the pocket pitbull was created.
Combining the two breeds creates a dog that as an adult will top out at 17 inches tall and weigh from 30-60 pounds.
Some pitbull breeders may refer to them as:
- a miniature pitbull,
- a pocket pit,
- a Patterdale, or
- a pocket bully.
Many dog “purists” will say the pocket pitbull is a runt or a mutt, and shouldn’t be bred at all. But why should any of that matter if you are a dog owner? If you like the pit bull breed and you want a smaller one that is more manageable, then consider a pocket pit. It’ll love you as much as a purebred dog will, and be easier on your wallet and easier to control.
Pocket Pitbull Temperament
Temperament can be defined as total of all traits that a dog breed has, both inborn and learned, that determines how that dog breed will behave in an environment around humans.
It is not specific to one particular dog.
Training and treatment go a long way in determining the behavior of any one dog, but temperament is the starting point, the foundation of a dog.
In order to understand the temperament of a pocket pitbull, you have look at its purebred parents, the American Pitbull Terrier and the Patterdale Terrier.
American Pitbull Terrier Temperament
Compared to other dog breeds, the American Pitbull Terrier is medium in size, and muscular with an imposing skeletal structure. It has a large barrel chest and its legs are set wide. It can reach 21 inches in height and up to 100 plus pounds. It has bloodlines that include the mixing of breeds such as the Bull Mastiff, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and English Bulldogs.
It was originally bred this way going back to the 1500’s in England. The dog was used in barbaric blood sports called bear baiting and bull baiting. Bears or bulls were chained by their hind legs in large pits that were fenced in and had overlooking spectator seating. Old English Bulldogs in multiple numbers were let loose on the chained bear or bull, tearing it apart.
This event was actually encouraged by royals such as Henry the VIII, and was popular until the 19th century in England when it was finally banned in 1835. It still goes on today in parts of Pakistan.
Bear and bull baiting morphed into dog fighting which is widespread in many countries including the United States, Two dogs of the same breed or different breeds are set upon each other to fight to the death, while onlookers bet on the outcome.
Pitbulls are often cited as a breed of dog involved in this activity. High profile cases of dog fighting have occurred involving athletes such as the NFL’s Michael Vick. Dog fighting is a felony in all parts of the United States, but still occurs as an underground activity.
This history of pitbull bloodlines and its genetic makeup and its illegal use even today as a fighting dog has created a bad reputation of the pitbull in the general public. In addition, the media will often report isolated incidents of dog attacks on humans often blaming the pitbull.
Some insurance companies that offer homeowners insurance will not cover dog bites by pitbulls, Rottweilers, and Mastiffs. Some airlines will not allow pitbulls in the passenger section under the seat of the owner.
All of this has led to the perception of the American Pitbull Terrier as an aggressive dog prone to fighting.
However, pitbull owners will tell you a different story. They will tell you that it’s how you raise your pitbull that really matters. Just like with all other dogs, if you respect your pocket pitbull and train him properly, he will grow to be a happy well-adjusted part of your family.
Pitbulls are truly bred to be friendly and affectionate towards people. They’ve been bred for hundreds of years to be strong, agile, have a high pain tolerance, but at the same time trained to show an absence of aggression toward humans. American Pitbull Terriers are very intelligent dogs and learn how they should behave from the humans who raise them.
It is their human owners that know the difference between right and wrong, and they are responsible for imparting this onto their dogs. Some owners will take advantage of the pitbull bloodline and train them to be fighting dogs, while other owners will train them to be well balanced friendly members of their family.
Patterdale Terrier Temperament
Patterdale Terriers are the second half of DNA in the pocket pitbull bloodline.
They were originally bred in Northern England in the early 1900’s.
The terrain there is harsh and rocky and doesn’t support farming, so raising sheep is a primary economic activity there.
With sheep come red foxes and the Patterdale Terrier was specifically bred to engage the fox and chase it away, or fight it if need be.
It was also used in hunting.
They are tough little energetic dogs with a hyper metabolism. They love to run and will keep you busy by chasing the ball or performing tricks for you. If you cannot provide a constant amount of high-energy releasing exercise for them, then this is not the dog for you.
Patterdale Terriers will find an outlet for their excess energy if you do not exercise them daily to the point that you tire them out. Without exercise, they will exhibit behavioral problems like barking, chewing on your rugs or shoes, and other aggressive behaviors.
With some training, they can learn to get along well with other dogs or cats, but they prefer to be the dominant pet in your house. Socialization with other pets needs to happen early on when they are puppies, otherwise their dominant temperament will take over and they will be trouble to other house pets, as an adult Patterdale.
They think they are bigger than they really are as they are not afraid of trouble. They good watch dogs and will patrol your house back and forth constantly.
Combination of American Pitbull Terrier and Patterdale Terrier
These are probably the top 10 reasons why these two breeds were combined to create the Pocket Pitbull:
- Pitbulls are extremely popular in the United States. They are in the top 3 most popular dogs in 28 U.S. states according to studies.
- Pitbulls can be too large for some owners and their strength can be hard to control.
- Patterdale Terriers are on the small side comparably, so are a good match to create a miniature pitbull.
- Both pitbull and Patterdale Terriers are energetic, athletic dogs, a desirable trait in dogs.
- Pitbull & Patterdale Terriers love to be around people and please their owners.
- Pitbulls as a breed have a good record of health. Genetic issues like hip dysplasia and mange, are found less in Pitbulls than many other breeds, and are not fatal in pitbulls.
- The coats of both breeds are short and easy to care for.
- Both breeds are very loyal to their owners.
- Patterdale and Pitbull Terriers are both playful breeds, which makes them good family pets, especially if you have children.
- Both breeds are labeled as “tough.” They have a high tolerance for pain so can tolerate children or other household pets.
Pitbull Testing By the American Temperament Test Society
The American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) is a group that was established in 1977 and annually tests the temperament of dog breeds.
They test individual dogs and over the years have tested 40,000 dogs with an average pass rate of 83%.
The test involves a 12 minute test where the dog is walked on a 6 foot lead and three observers score the dog on how it reacts to stimuli in the environment of a normal city street and neighborhood.
Pitbulls & Patterdales have performed well, in fact in recent years:
- American Pitbull Terriers as a breed have received an 87% pass rate.
- Patterdale Terriers have received an 80% pass rate.
Both of these numbers are better than other popular breeds such as:
- Bichon Frise (77%),
- Standard Dachshund (69%), and
- Toy Poodle (79%).
Those breeds are perceived to have better temperaments than pitbull breeds, but do not score as well. In fact there are dozens of breeds tested by the ATTS that score below pitbulls.
The combination of these two breeds seems to create a high energy enthusiastic dog, in a small manageable package. Training early on as a pocket pitbull puppy, by a responsible dog owner will determine if the dog grows into friendly adult dog without behavioral issues.