Red Nose Pit Bull: Facts, Puppy Prices & Temperament

The Red Nose Pit Bull is sometimes referred to as a breed in its own right, but it is actually just a red-coated, red-nosed variety of the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT).   American Pit Bull Terriers come in a range of different colors, but those with a blue or a red nose are often specifically referred to as such.

The Red Nose Pit Bull is often one of the more sought after coloring of the breed due to their beautiful coloring.  Their prices can typically be a little higher, especially if you have a dog that’s coming from champion lines that have been bred for many years.

Let’s take a look at some facts and history about the APBT in general, as well as some specifics around the Red Nose, including the most commonly asked questions about the breed color variant.

APBT History

The American Pit Bull Terrier has its roots in 19th century England.  Here the powerful, muscular bully breeds were often developed to keep unruly bull and livestock under control.  In those days, bull baiting was a cruel bloodsport that these dogs were often bred to take part in.

Bull baiting was banned by the middle of the 19th century but then, unfortunately, dog fighting became a popular, albeit, illegal betting sport, and because the law was more difficult to enforce it flourished.  The bully breeds continued to be developed to harness their fighting strength and aggressive nature towards other dogs.

It is believed that during this time the American Pit Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier were considered the same breed.

In the 1930s, it is said that the American Kennel Club wanted to distance the dogs from their fighting reputation and develop their strengths as a companion animal.  At this point, the Staffordshire Terrier was given official AKC status, but the American Pit Bull Terrier was not.  The ‘Staffie’ then became known as the American Staffordshire Terrier by the AKC in 1972, and the breed standard became much more specific.

The American Pit Bull Terrier has never been recognized as an official breed by the AKC, although it is recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the Continental Kennel Club (CKC).

Red Nose History

The Red Nose Pit Bull is sometimes referred to as the ‘Old Family Red Nose’ variety of the APBT.  This relates to a particular line that came from Ireland in the late 19th century, and they were known for their unique color and also their game and eager spirit.

Because of this line’s popularity and their breeding with other lines, it does mean that not all Red Nose Pit Bulls are part of this strain now, but there are still breeding enthusiasts that work to preserve this specific line.

ABPT Reputation

Many people think that a Pit Bull is a specific breed all of its own, but it is a term that is often used for several different types of bull breeds.  The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) and sometimes even the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier are often all lumped into the same category when they are all entirely separate breeds of dogs.  They are sometimes also referred to as ‘Bully’ breeds and can include Bulldogs and English Bull Terriers.

The term ‘Pit Bull’ is one that, in recent decades, has begun to conjure up images of vicious, aggressive dogs that many people believe do not deserve a loving family home.

This is a tragedy given that much of the reputation they have garnered is unfair.   Because the American Pit Bull Terrier, due to its powerful physique, historical breeding and jaws, has been favored by those that encourage dog fighting and those that want to own a powerful status symbol dog, they often end up in the wrong hands with irresponsible owners that have helped to give the breed a bad name.

Red Nose Reputation

Red Nosed Pit Bulls are the second most rare color combination available, and the only more rare color is a white Pit Bull.  They were originally bred specifically due to their fiesty attitudes, which means that they were commonly bred as fighting dogs when they were originally created.

Because this recessive gene persists, they are also more expensive than other color variants, especially if they are from a reputable breeder.

Identifying a Red Nose

A true red-nosed pitbull will have a full-on red coat, with a matching coppery colored nose.  They will also have red or amber eyes, making a striking color combination, and making them easily identifiable from other color variants.

Some white is permissible in the red coat, but usually speaking the less white, the better.  They are distinctly different from the blue nosed pit bull in appearance as well, although comparisons are often made between the two. APBTs can get mistaken for other breeds, but usually not so much with the red nose.

Red Nose Size, Weight & Color

Red Nose Pit Bulls, like other APBTs, can vary a fair bit in size depending on their breeding lines and sex.  While they would probably be classed as a medium sized dog, usually weighing anything from around 30 to 60 pounds, they are extremely muscular.  They don’t tend to grow much over 20 inches to the withers.

They always have a red nose, red (rather than black) nails, and a red coat too (although they may sometimes have flashes of white on their big or socks).


It is always important to recognize that every dog is an individual.   Of course, the early and ongoing socialization and training that the dog receives are also vitally important in helping to shape their temperament.  That being said, there can be certain traits that are commonly seen across a particular breed.

The traits detailed below relate to all APBTs; the Red Nose variety does not have any specific characteristics all of their own.

The breed is often associated with being extremely devoted to their family.  They are known for being very loving and sociable with their people, and they enjoy being showered with affection and attention.

They are also a very energetic breed that loves to play and be active, and their natural curiosity can mean they are very adaptable, enjoying to go on adventures with their family. Because of their breeding history, they can have a high prey drive, and this means that they can tend to chase small furries.

Depending on their upbringing and their genetic lines, some Red Nose Pit Bulls may be reactive towards other dogs, and sometimes they may be better suited to being an only dog, or they will need very careful introductions living with well-suited other doggy family members.

If you are expecting a guard dog, given their reputation, you may be in for a surprise.  They are a very alert and courageous breed and one that would likely defend their family ferociously if they felt they were under threat.  That being said, their general love for humans means that they often are more likely to greet approaching visitors to your home with a waggy tail and a lick of the face!

As Family Pets

The Red Nose Pit Bull, and any other APBT for that matter, can make a wonderful family pet, and they usually adore their families, including children.  They are not always the right dog for a novice dog owner though.  Their sheer strength is something that you need to consider.  If you are managing problem or unwanted behaviors, then having the skills to implement training plans with confidence will be important.

It is also important to consider the potential that they could be dog aggressive.  As mentioned before, many APBTs are very placid and sociable with other dogs, but they do have more of a likelihood of having dog reactivity than many other breeds.  Care would need to be taken if trying to introduce them to other dogs in the family and, when out, they may be a dog that generally needs to stay on leash and possibly even muzzled.  You would need to consider your lifestyle and your levels of responsibility too.

While APBTs are often extraordinarily affectionate and tolerant towards children, it is important that, if you have kids, you ensure they are respectful and know how to interact  appropriately.  This goes for their interactions with any breeds, but because of the sheer strength of these dogs, they could do more harm than a little toy breed dog would if they decide they have had enough.

Exercise Requirements

Red Nose Pit Bulls tend to be high energy dogs with more significant exercise requirements than some breeds.  If they do not get sufficient exercise and stimulation, they can be prone to making their own entertainment and can become destructive in the home.  Given the strength of their jaws, this could result in some serious damage to your home furnishings!

Like with any breed, if they are understimulated, other problem behaviors are more likely to manifest, and they can become hyperactive, stressed and mischievous.

A Red Nose Pit Bull would suit living in an active home where they would benefit from at least two decent walks per day.  They have a lot of stamina and are the type of dog that would enjoy hiking with their owners or taking part in other high energy activities.

It is also important to ensure that they have plenty of things to keep them mentally enriched around the home too.  They are dogs that have a natural desire to chew and providing a selection of extremely tough toys can be beneficial.


Training and socialization are crucial for any dog.  The same goes for The Red Nose Pit Bull and other APBTs, and perhaps more so than some other breeds given their stronger genetic propensity towards dog aggression and their sheer strength.

Early and ongoing appropriate socialization is of great importance.  While you should not overwhelm your dog, careful and positive exposure to new people, dogs and environments can have a considerable influence on shaping your dog’s personality going forward.

They are a very intelligent breed that is generally eager to please, and this means that with patience, consistency and the use of positive, reward-based training, you can see great results.

Be careful of using aversives with this breed.  Force-free methods have been scientifically proven to be more effective (and they are gentler too).  Forcing your dog to do something through pain or fear can mess with the bond of trust you have developed, and if the dog becomes fearful or grows short on patience, they could react negatively towards this type of training and to the handler. A bite from a breed with such a powerful jaw can be devastating.

Because of Breed Specific Legislation, in some States, your dog may be required to be kept on a leash and wear a muzzle at all times in public spaces.  Teaching your dog to be comfortable wearing a well-fitting muzzle could save a lot of stress for you and your dog.

It would also be sensible to make sure that you have mastered good loose leash walking skills.  If they always have to be kept on a leash or harness, your walks will not be as enjoyable if they constantly pull and, given their strength, they could end up even tugging you over.

Red Nose Puppy Prices

American Red Nosed Pit Bull Puppy

With any breed, it is crucial that you do your research and make sure that, if you are buying a puppy, you go to a responsible breeder.  You want to look for someone that does all the appropriate health screening of parents, allows you to visit mum and her pups in a nurturing home environment, does not separate mum and pups until after they are eight weeks old and fully weaned, and has had all the puppies vet checked.

A typical red nose from a reputable breeder will not cost any less than $1,000. If your pup is advertised at a price that’s less than this, make sure you do your research.

The breeder should be one that focuses on temperament.  Given that the breed is often promoted as a fighting dog, good breeders will look for dogs that have a less dog reactive personality to breed from.

Don’t forget that early socialization and training is also important, by the breeders, and then when you get your puppy home too.

Rescues & Shelters

Given their reputation, these dogs are, unfortunately, often taken on by the wrong types of owners.  If they are not cutting the mustard as a fighting dog, or they are taken on as a status symbol without thought for their care, they often end up being abandoned or cruelly treated.  This means that there can be an abundance of this breed in rescue shelters across the country.

Because of the restrictions with Breed Specific Legislation and the unfair reputation the breed has developed, this can mean that they can languish in shelters longer than many other breeds do.  It is all the more tragic given that they so often make wonderful family pets.

Adopting a dog can be such a rewarding and worthwhile experience.  As well as there being lots of APBT’s (including the Red Nose variety) in shelters across the country, there are also lots in foster homes through rescues that do not keep dogs in a kennel environment.  This can be a good route to consider if you would like to find a dog that has already been assessed in a home environment.

Breed Specific Legislation

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) relates to the laws around dogs that have been ‘labelled’ as being dangerous and more of a risk to the general public.  These legislations vary across countries and also across the different States in the US.  In some States, the American Pit Bull Terrier is a banned breed; in others, the dogs are not allowed to be out in public spaces unless they are on a leash and wearing a muzzle.

Many animal welfare advocates and campaigners see the legislation as being woefully inappropriate.  It is recognized by many dog behavior experts that targeting irresponsible owners, rather than punishing particular breeds overall, would be a much more effective way to tackle the problem of dog attacks.

This statement from the ASPCA about Pit Bulls and BSL sums up the argument very well and in great detail.  We would urge you to read it to gain a more balanced understanding of the issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a number of questions that seem to pop up with this breed, so we’ve done our best to compile them and answer them.  As always, continue to do your own independent research and make sure to contact a good breeder if you plan to buy a puppy.

With a rescue pup, there are always unknowns and baggage that come with that particular dog, so you should always do your due diligence before adopting.

Q: What is a red nosed pit bull?

A: A red nosed pit bull is simply a color variation of the breed.  There are many different color variants of the APBT, but this is the second rarest color.

Q: Are they a separate breed?

A: They are not a seperate breed.  They are a color variant of the breed, but are often viewed as a seperate breed by those that don’t understand the recessive traits of the red nose, and as such view them as an entirely different dog.

Q: Where do they come from?

A: Originally they are thought to have been bred in Ireland, and are known as “old family reds.”

Q: When do they stop growing?

A: APBTs and Red Nose PBTs will typically stop growing between 18 and 24 months.  They can continue to add weight through 36 months as they develop and mature.

Q: How big do red nosed pit bulls get?

A: These pups can get as big as 70 pounds if they are male (some larger dogs do exist, but this isn’t the norm) and females generally get no bigger than 60 pounds.

Q: What color are red nosed pit bulls?

A: A true red nosed pitbull is completely red.  It’s acceptable to have some small patches of white, but that is considered a flaw by many breeders.

Q: Are they good pets?

A: Any dog can make an excellent pet.  It wholly depends on the training and nature of the dog, and this responsibility falls directly on the owner of the dog.

Q: Are they aggressive?

A: While these dogs carry a reputation, Reds are no more or less aggressive than any other APBT.  At one point they would have been considered more aggressive when they were originally bred due to the fighting lines they were part of.

Q: Are they more aggressive than other APBTs?

A: They are not more aggressive than other APBTs.  In fact, many of the APBTs that are documented as aggressive, are some type of “mixed breed” with pitbull included in that genetic makeup.  This falls down to the nature vs nurture debate that unfairly haunts this breed.

Q: Are they dangerous?

A: They are no more dangerous than any other untrained dog.  This responsibility falls upon the owner.

Q: Are red nosed pit bulls illegal?

A: There are breed restrictions in certain states and countries.  Certain breeds are viewed as more aggressive or dangerous, and insurance companies are less likely to insure homes that have restricted breeds.

Final Thoughts

If you have been someone that has always thought of the Red Nose Pit Bull, and American Pit Bull Terriers in general, as being dogs that are known for being aggressive and dangerous, we hope this article has helped to dispel some of the unfair myths.

While they may not necessarily be a breed for the novice dog owner, in a home where they will get enough exercise, stimulation and consistent positive reinforcement training, they can thrive and make super loving and loyal family pets.

It is still worth remembering though that they are a powerful breed and you should be ready to put the training in where required.

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