Can American Pitbull Terriers Have Long Hair?

brown pitbull with a short coat

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American Pitbull Terriers are widely beloved for their gentle nature, exciting temperament, and, more practically, their low-maintenance grooming.

While their short coat is one of their main characteristics, over the years, owners have spotted some longer-haired variations of the breed as well.

Can Pitbulls have long hair?

Purebred American Pitbull Terriers usually can’t have long hair. Although, in some rare cases, they might be born with a genetic predisposition to have longer fur, typically long hair on an American Pitbull Terrier is a sign of a mixed breed.

In the following sections, I’ll take you through:

  •  The traditional characteristics of an American Pitbull Terriers’s coat
  •  How to promote hair growth on your pup
  •  How to properly groom this low-maintenance breed

Why Can’t American Pitbull Terriers Have Long Hair?

Coat length on dogs is a factor almost entirely decided by genetics. As you’ll see in a more in-depth explanation, the only way to significantly change the hair length of a breed’s hair is to mix it with another type of dog. 

American Pitbull Terriers usually can’t have long hair because they don’t inherit the recessive trait needed to develop their coat. Furthermore, they’re single-coated dogs, and the lack of an underlayer makes their hair appear shorter and coarser.  

Hair length in dogs is usually controlled by a gene called FGF5. Given that long coats in dogs are a recessive trait, both parents must inherit this trait to ensure their offspring inherit the same trait.

American Pitbull Terriers are simply not genetically predisposed to pass on this gene, and even though mutations can happen from time to time, they’re few and far between. Even when the trait manages to be inherited from both parents, chances are you’ll see a slightly longer coat than usual in the offspring but don’t expect Golden Retriever levels of hair growth. 

The most commonly used way to significantly change this trait in an American Pitbull Terrier is to mix the breed with a longer-haired dog, like a Labrador, for example. Therefore, if your pup has Pittie features but rocks a luscious coat, chances are it’s mixed. 

Shorter hair is a staple feature of average pit bulls, making them less likely to shed and much easier to groom. You can argue that this characteristic has evolved throughout the years to help the breed better express its energetic nature without the risk of overheating. For this reason, you’ll find that most highly active dogs tend to have lighter, more breathable coats. 

This quality makes pit bulls ideal for those with animal fur sensitivities, as their sheddings are minimal. 

How To Make Your American Pitbull Terrier’s Hair Longer

Although you may have just found out that your shaggy American Pitbull Terrier puppy will never grow to have a luscious coat, there are some ways to promote growth and health to your dog’s hair. Before going through the following tips, make sure to keep your expectations realistic. 

As I mentioned, hair length is mostly genetic. Any difference these techniques can make won’t be appearance-altering; instead, they’ll allow your pup to properly develop a fuller and healthier coat. 

Feed Your Dog a Healthy, Balanced Diet

Nutrition is one of the most critical non-genetic factors for promoting hair growth. The two are so intertwined that the quality and shine of your pet’s fur are a very reliable indicator of whether its nutritional needs are being met.

A full, high-shine exterior implies that your dog is getting the right amount of micro and macronutrients throughout its day. 

A balanced Pittie’s diet often consists of high-protein, high-fat, lower-carb foods. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are a must for promoting hair growth and general health. 

Furthermore, these fatty acids impact coat length and quality, as they tend to give it a shinier, more lustrous finish. If you’re looking for a nutrient-dense food option to optimize your pitbull’s hair growth, I highly recommend giving Blue Buffalo Wilderness a try. This dog food is available in different flavors. Plus, it’s grain-free.

For this reason, finding treats and meals based on these micronutrients can help fill out your dog’s shaggy coat quicker than you’d think. Finding fish-based foods and regularly feeding them to your dog is a convenient way to get these fatty acids in without having to search too much or buy an expensive supplement. 

Learn How To Groom Your Dog

Although grooming an American Pitbull Terrier is, in theory, a straightforward process, it’s essential to keep a few general rules and tricks in mind to ensure you’re giving your dog’s skin and hair the best possible treatment.

More importantly, if you’re used to taking care of longer-haired breeds, actively try to keep yourself from overdoing it with the cleaning and products. 

Knowing how to groom an American Pitbull Terrier is as easy as it is important. That’s why I have dedicated a separate section to this topic. For now, all you’ll need to know is that shampoo choice can significantly affect fur quality, so don’t be afraid to invest in a higher-quality option. 

An excellent shampoo shouldn’t contain any harsh chemicals, as they tend to dry out the fur and, more importantly, irritate the skin. This means actively choosing fragrance-free options, as perfumes can cause irritating reactions to your pet’s skin and eyes.

Keep in mind that shorter-haired breeds, such as the American Pitbull Terriers, require far less frequent baths and washes, but I’ll delve more into this topic in the following section.

Choose Soft, Breathable Clothing and Collar

The clothing and collar you choose to put on your Pittie also affect its fur ability to grow. Tighter, harsher fabrics rub against the hair, making it weaker and unable to develop past a certain point. Therefore, finding a clothing item made out of soft, breathable material and in a big enough size can make a world of difference in fur quality. 

The collar is already a product that requires significant investment if you want to provide your dog with the utmost comfort while keeping it safe. Therefore, it might be wise to throw a few extra dollars and opt for a higher quality material that’ll be easy on the coat as well.

At the end of the day, if you really want a long-haired American Pitbull Terrier, your best bet will be to get a cross-bred dog. Therefore don’t hesitate to pay a visit to your local adoption shelter, as you may be able to find the exact breed you’ve been looking for. 

Brush and Wipe Your American Pitbull Terrier Regularly

The upside to your Pitbull not having a long, luscious coat is that it requires minimal, infrequent grooming. By ensuring to take a few simple steps, such as providing a balanced diet and weekly brushes, you won’t need to do it much more frequently. 

Every week take a natural bristle brush and move it in a circular motion against your pup’s coat. This motion can loosen the dead skin cell and promote better blood circulation. Afterward, you can gently wipe its coat using a damp, clean cloth. Make sure to remove any loose hair and dirt, but never rub. 

Baths, on the other hand, should be few and far between. Regular bathes can quickly dry out your Pittie’s skin and deplete its natural oils. Even the mildest shampoo still contains the necessary chemicals to get debris and impurities out of your pet’s skin. Therefore frequent use isn’t advised.

For this reason, only bathe an American Pitbull Terrier when necessary, ideally never more than once every two months.

Try to stick to wiping with a damp cloth or towel for day-to-day cleaning instead. After the bath, pat your pup down with an absorbent towel and make sure it’s completely dry before letting it out into cold weather again. Due to their single-layered coat, American Pitbull Terriers get cold very easily. 


American Pitbull Terriers rarely have long hair, making them an excellent pet for those looking for a low-maintenance dog or who are sensitive to fur. With that said, there are some steps you’ll need to take to make sure that your Pittie has a healthy, well-grown coat.

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