Merle American Pit Bull Terrier Breed Standard

Merle American Pit Bull Terriers are medium chested, medium boned, clearly defined, well muscled athletic dogs with  large wedge shaped heads. They small to large all range in size from possessing great strength, enthusiasm and confidence. The expression should reflect intelligence and alertness. The sturdy and powerful frame is slightly longer than tall and males are slightly stockier and heavier boned than females. American Pit Bull Terriers were developed to be catch dogs and thus must be powerful, athletic and courageous. American Pit Bull Terriers should be friendly, alert and confident, not timid, shy or aggressive.

Pocket – Males under 17 inches, Females under 16 inches

Standard – Males 17 – 20 inches, Females 16 – 19 inches

XL – Males 20 – 23 inches, Females 19 – 22 inches

Weight should be proportional to height and body type. A dog should be well conditioned and not overweight or underweight.  Excessively thin or fat dogs should be faulted heavily.  Clearly defined muscle should not be confused with emaciation, meaning spine and hip bones protruding.

Color: Merle, which is a dilution of overall body color (black or red) with splotches of darker color giving the effect of  merling or marbling, not to be confused with brindle that gives the effect of  striping.

Coat: Glossy, short and stiff.  Long, feathering, or fuzzy coats are a cause for disqualification.

Head: The head should be very impressive, relatively large and broad. It should be flat on top, wide between the ears (approximately 2/3 the width of the shoulders) tapering to the muzzle giving it a wedge shape. There is a distinct, moderate stop. When viewed from the side the top of the skull and the top of the nose should angle down on the same parallel with the stop in the middle separating them. The head is well-muscled throughout with particularly well muscled, prominent cheeks. The width of the muzzle should be about 80% of the width of the head where it starts at the cheeks, narrowing toward the nose.  An excessively narrow head or shallow/snipey muzzle is a serious fault, the muzzle should be more than half the depth of the head and slightly less than half the length.  Ears should be set high on the head and can be either cropped or natural.
Eyes: The eyes should be round or almond shape, medium sized, wide set, and deep in the skull. Any colorexcept pink or red. Lack of pigment around the eyes is a serious fault.  Crossed, non-symmetrical, pink/red eyes are disqualifying faults.  Bulging or wandering eyes are serious faults.

Muzzle & Jaw:  The muzzle should be relatively broad and deep. The length of the muzzle should be between a quarter and a third the length of the entire head.  The large jaws are well-muscled, displaying great strength.  Lips are tight.  Pigment lining the lips is preferred. An excessively narrow or shallow muzzle are serious faults.  The jaw should be parallel to the top of the muzzle, an upturned jaw is a serious fault.
Teeth:  The teeth should number 42 to 44 and large in size. Upper teeth should be outside lower teeth, scissor bite, undershot or overshot bites are faults, bites more than a ¼ inch out are serious faults and teeth showing when the mouth is closed is a cause for disqualification.

Nose:  Nares should be wide open without flaring, all colours acceptable other than pink which is a serious fault.

Neck:  The neck should be very muscular and medium in length. The jaw line should be well above the back line.  Skin should be tight.  The neck should taper from shoulder to head and be slightly arched.

Chest:  The chest should be deep and and of moderate width giving the appearance of power and athletic ability. The front should be straight and well balanced. The chest should not be narrow or excessively wide nor should the elbows be angled out or pulled in.

Body:  The body should be slightly longer than tall while powerful and athletic in appearance. Well balanced. There should be a good spring of ribs with the loin moderately tucked.

Back:  The back should be broad and moderately long in length showing great strength. Topline should be level or slightly sloping toward pelvis, croup slightly sloping downward. The back should not be narrow or swayed.

Shoulders: The shoulders should be well-muscled with good definition and wide sloping blades giving the appearance of great strength. The scapula should be laid back at approximately 42 degrees from the ground and the humerus is at a 90 degree angle to the scapula.
Legs: The legs should be strong and straight with moderate bone and well defined muscle. The pasterns should be nearly erect. The shoulders rear legs should be moderately angulated and parallel. There should not be an excess of or lack of angulation in the rear legs. Excessively bow-legged or cow hocked are serious faults.
Hindquarters: The hindquarters should be thick with well-defined muscles. Not as wide as shoulders, but well-balanced. The hips should not be narrow or lacking in muscle definition.

Feet: The feet should be forward facing, of moderate size with toes well arched and close together. The feet should not be splayed.
Gait: American Pit Bull Terriers should move easily with power. All legs move parallel to direction of travel, with front legs clearly reaching and the rear legs propelling the dog forward. The legs should not travel excessively wide. Front legs and/or rear legs crossing is unacceptable. Single tracking at high speed is desirable.  Topline should remain level while the dog is in motion.

Tail: The tail is set low, thick at base and tapering to a point. The tail should reach the hocks in a relaxed position. Docked tails are considered a fault. The tail should not end in a complete circle, that is a disqualifying fault.

Disqualifications: Males without two testicles, females in estrus, dogs that are deaf, and dogs that have been spayed or neutered, dogs with crossed eyes, cracked eyes, different colored eyes, dogs that are excessively shy or aggressive, dogs that are merle or albino colored, dogs with long hair, signs of dwarfism, screw tails, gay tails, dogs that are limping, or show any signs of illness like snotty noses or coughing are not allowed to compete in the conformation ring. Animal cruelty will not be tolerated.