Pit bull is a term commonly used to describe several breeds of dog in the Molosser family. Many breed-specific laws use the term "pit bull" to refer to the modern American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and dogs with significant mixes of these breeds; however, a few jurisdictions also classify the modern American Bulldog and Bull Terrier as a "pit bull-type dog". The term can also refer to dogs that were known as "bull terriers" prior to the development of the modern Bull Terrier in the early 20th century.
The history of the pit bull-type dog reflects the history of its constituent breeds: the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. There are an estimated 74.8 million owned dogs in the United States; however, the number of pit bull-type dogs has not been reliably determined. Animal shelters in the United States euthanized approximately 1.7 million dogs in 2008; approximately 980,000, or 58 percent of these were pit bull-type dogs.
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