How Smart Are Pit Bulls? Everything We Know About Their Intelligence

Written by Alyssa Shea
Published: August 14, 2023
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Misinformation has easily spread about the pit bull breed. We all tend to only hear about the negative things associated with pit bulls, such as aggressive episodes. But did you know how intelligent this breed is? Let’s explore the history behind this dog breed and what makes them so unique!

Closeup Happy Friendly Fawn Pit Bull Dog

Pit bulls are usually two to three different colors.


Exploring the Intelligence of Pit Bulls

The term “pit bull” comes from a combination of 4 different breeds. American pit bull terriers, American bullies, Staffordshire bull terriers, and the American bulldog are in a category together under the name of “pit bull.” So where did this breed actually come from? We can trace this breed all the way back to the early 1800s in the United Kingdom! They were initially bred from the old English bulldog and used for their “bull-baiting” abilities.

The Cognitive Capabilities of Pit Bulls: Understanding Their Problem-Solving Skills and Brain Size

Brain size doesn’t matter as much as you might think regarding intelligence. A pit bull’s brain size will always be proportional to its size. All dogs have brain-to-body weight ratios of around 1:125. The cerebrum, which is the largest portion of the brain, is the biggest contributor to their ability to learn. The pit bull has a well-developed cerebrum, meaning its learning capabilities are excellent! With training and consistency, you can be sure that your pit bull will quickly learn new commands and develop stellar problem-solving skills.

Pit Bull’s Learning Aptitude: How Quick and Adaptive Are They?

Did you know pit bulls are adaptable to new situations and can do well in any environment? They can even live in urban environments inside of cities! Understanding that they are very athletic dogs with high energy levels is crucial. So you need to ensure that you are giving your pit bull the required amount of exercise or other outlets to release their energy daily. Staying up-to-date on new training techniques will help you when it comes to quickly teaching them new commands or tricks.

Dog, Pit Bull Terrier, Playing, Pet Owner, Pulling

Pit Bulls are a dog breed with one of the most powerful bite forces.

© Raykova

Intelligence Ranking: Where Do Pit Bulls Stand Among Other Breeds?

The closest we can get to being able to measure a dog’s intelligence is through a test developed by a Ph.D. and canine psychologist named Stanley Coren. He, along with the American Kennel Club (AKC,) measured how quickly certain breeds could learn and retain new skills and commands. Unfortunately, not all pit bull breeds have been tested. Only the American Staffordshire terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier were tested. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier ranked 94th, and the American Staffordshire came in at 48th place out of 138 breeds.

Unlocking a Pit Bull’s Intelligence Potential: Training Techniques and Mental Stimulation

Do you want to use the best training techniques for a pit bull? Check out these techniques and ways to keep your pit bull mentally stimulated!

  • Clicker training.
  • Dog whistles.
  • Use treats.
  • Utilize crate training.
  • Socialize them with other dogs.
  • Be consistent.
  • Positive reinforcement.
  • Reward good behavior.
  • Incorporate agility games.
  • Scatter feeding.
  • Obstacle courses.
  • Food puzzles.
  • Play hide and seek.
Dog Trainer Using Dog Whistle

Humans can’t hear the pitch of dog whistles.


The photo featured at the top of this post is © Diego Thomazini/

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About the Author

I'm a 36-year-old mother of 2 and military wife. I have 2 dogs and a cat that I'm thoroughly obsessed with. When I'm not writing for work, I'm writing as a hobby. You can find me knee deep in a pile of books or way too invested in a video game.

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