White Pit Bulls: Everything You Need to Know About These Rare Dogs

Written by Cammi Morgan
Updated: May 28, 2023
© Lunja/Shutterstock.com
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Are you thinking about adopting a white pit bull? This guide will cover two of the breeds referred to under the umbrella term of “pit bull”, and discuss the increased risk white-coated pit bulls have of congenital deafness. We’ll also cover some foundational information to know if you’re considering adopting an all-white pit bull.

Read on to learn more!

White Pit Bulls: Breed Summary

Currently, people generally use the term “pit bull” as a catch-all to refer to some (but certainly not all) dog breeds characterized by a short coat, broad, brachiocephalic skull and face, powerful jaws, and a muscular, stocky build.

The breeds recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) or UKC (United Kennel Club) that you’ll often see referred to as “pit bulls” in common language include the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier, the American bully, and occasionally the American bulldog.

In this guide, when we refer to white-coated pit bulls, we’ll focus just on the American pit bull terrier and the American Staffordshire terrier.

American Pit Bull Terrier
An adorable white pit bull enjoying the snow.



In 1835, England outlawed the horrific “sport” of bull and bear-baiting, in which people forced breeds such as bulldogs to antagonize and fight chained bears or bulls. After this official outlawing, some breeders invested in continuing an underground version of this cruel sport and began focusing on developing a breed that would excel in fighting not bulls or bears, but other dogs. They crossed the old English bulldog and other bulldog-like breeds with various English terrier breeds to create a more athletic, sporty, and lean version of the bulldogs used to bait chained animals.

By about 1860, the Staffordshire bull terrier was born. This new breed traveled to the US with English immigrants after the conclusion of the American Civil War in 1865. After decades of breeding in the US to select for a taller and heavier dog, the AKC recognized the American Staffordshire terrier as a distinct breed from its British ancestor.

The Rising Popularity of the Pit Bull

Throughout the early and mid-20th century, the popularity of the pit bull began to rise as people other than abhorrent dog fighters became enchanted with the grace, athleticism, and loveable personality of this beautiful breed. Farmers and city folk alike took note of the pit bull’s fondness for people, and especially their gentleness with children. As general society’s disdain for the cruel act of dog fighting grew, pit bulls integrated more and more into homes as family pets.

Today, while some pit bulls are tragically still victims of forced fighting in the US and around the world, many more are cherished household companions and loving friends to their human caretakers and animal pals they share their homes with.

Are White-Coated Pit Bulls Rare?

Currently, the AKC (which recognizes the American Staffordshire terrier) permits registered AmStaffs to have white coats, but they discourage all white or more than 80% white coats. The UKC, which recognizes the American pit bull terrier, accepts all coat colors except blue. So, you may not see as many purebred American Staffordshire terriers with all or over 80% white coats due to this discouragement by the AKC.

The reason some clubs discourage selecting for white coats in pit bulls is that these dogs face a much greater risk of congenital deafness. This relationship between white coat color and deafness seems to be pronounced more among some breeds than others. Studies indicate that bull terrier breeds, along with others such as dalmatians, boxers, and Australian shepherds, are at higher risk of congenital deafness in one or both ears if their coats are all or mostly white. In the American pit bull terrier and the American Staffordshire terrier, the piebald gene is responsible for this increased risk of deafness associated with white coat coloration. The rate of congenital deafness in white bull terriers is 20%. This percentage decreases significantly to about 1% for bull terriers with colored coats or color patches.

White pit bull terrier dog laying on grey sofa in a living room
The rate of white bull terriers born partially or fully deaf is 20%.

©Veronica Varos/Shutterstock.com

Adopting A White Pit Bull

If you were considering adopting a white pit bull that you spotted at your local shelter, for example, you may now be worried about their hearing. The first thing to know is that you can perform a preliminary hearing test for the dog by simply observing how they react to sound stimuli. These stimuli shouldn’t be frightening or aversive, but should simply catch their attention. In a loud shelter environment, it’s best to request taking the pup to a quieter spot where it’ll be easier to determine how they may or may not react to sound. If you suspect this pup may have partial or full hearing loss, you can always request that the shelter vet clinic perform a thorough examination.

For young puppies, this determination is a bit more difficult as they aren’t able to sufficiently hear their surroundings until about 3 weeks of age. By about 6 weeks old, however, a vet should be able to provide an accurate determination of whether the pup can hear in either ear. If you’re considering adopting a white pit bull puppy, the absolute minimum age for adoption should be 8 weeks. So, by then, a vet should be able to confirm hearing, partial deafness, or full deafness.

White American Bull Dog Pit Bull Mixed Breed Dog Large Adult Dog Looking Sad Eye Contact with Camera through Animal Shelter Kennel Cage
You can save the life of a white pit bull, hearing or deaf, by adopting from a shelter.

©Hannah Carl/Shutterstock.com

What If I Want to Adopt a White Pitbull Who is Partially or Fully Deaf?

Partially and fully deaf white pit bulls can absolutely lead fulfilling and happy lives. While you should certainly thoroughly research how to compassionately care for and support the safety and well-being of a deaf pup, we encourage you to not dismiss the idea of adopting off the bat simply because you may need to learn new ways of communicating and interacting.

As with any dog, you’ll want to prioritize establishing a secure attachment bond in which your white pit bull knows they are safe with you and that you are a consistent source of support, care, and companionship. If you do adopt, it’ll be important to know how to most effectively, lovingly, and compassionately communicate with your pup. Rewarding education, enrichment, building and maintaining a secure attachment bond, and supporting the ability of your dog to safely socially process, engage, and disengage when needed is crucial for all dogs, including deaf pups.

If Your White Pit Bull is Deaf, Here Are Some Tips On Communication and Safety

If you do adopt a deaf white pit bull, you can focus on hand signals, eye contact, and other visual cues such as lights switching on and off to communicate. Rewarding education, including the use of non-coercive positive reinforcement, will help your pup feel safe and excited to engage with you.

For example, you can use a thumbs-up sign as a “yes” or “good” and follow that signal with a treat or toy when teaching skills or cues. Most dogs tend to find hand signals easier to process than verbal cues anyways. For safety purposes, some caregivers of deaf pups choose to double leash with a non-restrictive harness and comfortable collar when out and about. Having a fenced-in yard can also be even more important with ensuring the safety of deaf pups.

White Pit Bull with Ball in Shelter
Focus on facilitating rewarding education and communication with your white pit bull. Toys, treats, safety, and affection help build a strong bond. Especially if your pup is deaf, make sure that orienting towards you is a positive, safe experience

©Crystal Alba/Shutterstock.com

Are White Pit Bulls and Albino Pit Bulls the Same?

Pit bulls with white coats are not usually albinos. Dogs with albinism have a marked deficiency or total lack of the pigment melanin and display pink eyes, light pink skin, and a pink nose. While white-coated, non-albino pit bulls may have patches of skin without melanin, they generally display pigmented skin as well.

For albino pit bulls and non-albino white pit bulls, it’s important to ensure extra care in protecting them from sunburn. Since white pit bulls can often have patches of light skin, it’s important to apply dog-safe sunscreens, especially for pups who like to sleep on their backs in the sun.

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The Featured Image

White American Staffordshire terrier puppy standing on grass
© Lunja/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Cam Morgan is a queer forest dweller writing about animals, plants, and ecological-centered living from the hollers of Southeast Appalachia where she lives off-grid in her self-built cabin. She shares 20 forested acres with her wonderful partners and pals, an ever-growing pack of rescue dogs, and all the plants and critters who call these woods home.

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