American Bulldog Vs Pitbull: Is A Bulldog A Pitbull? Key Differences & Similarities

american bulldog vs pit bull terrier

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This is the ultimate comparison guide between the American Bulldog vs Pitbull.

Are you wondering if the American Bulldog is the same as a Pitbull? It’s easy to mistaken American Bulldogs for Pitbulls. While both share some similarities on the surface, they are completely different breeds. However, most people don’t know how to tell them apart.

But don’t worry, below we cover the main differences between the Pitbull and American Bulldog so you can finally tell them apart and help you decide which breed is a better fit for your family.

We teach you everything about the American Bulldog and Pit Bull, including a side-by-side comparison of their main characteristics, including temperament, personality, history, size, strength, and more so you can decide who would win your heart. Let’s dive right in!

Table of Contents 📖

American Bulldog vs Pitbull – Breed Comparison At A Glance

A visual snapshot of the main difference between American Bulldogs and Pitbulls.

American Bulldog vs Pit Bull

Pitbull vs American Bulldog – Characteristics Comparison

Here is how American Bulldog’s characteristics compare to the Pit Bull’s.

CharacteristicsAmerican BulldogAmerican Pit Bull Terrier

Affection Level

HighHigh

Protectiveness

HighHigh

Friendliness

HighHigh

Kid-Friendly

HighHigh

Pet-Friendly

MediumLow

Exercise Needs

HighHigh

Playfulness

HighHigh

Energy Level

MediumHigh

Trainability

MediumHigh

Intelligence

MediumHigh

Tendency to Bark

MediumMedium

Amount of Shedding

LowMedium

*Data sourced from TheSprucePets.com

Is An American Bulldog A Pitbull?

No, the American Bulldog is not a Pit Bull. They may seem the same, but they’re quite different. While both breeds descend from the Old English Bulldog, the American Pit Bull Terrier is a cross of the Bulldog with the Terrier. They crossed these two breeds to create a more muscular and agile dog that could perform better in bull-bating and ratting. The Pit Bull is recognized as part of the Terrier family, while the American Bulldog is part of the Molosser dog family.

Note: The term “Pit Bull” is sometimes loosely used for American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and any dog that slightly resembles these breeds. In this article, when you hear the term “Pit Bull,” we are talking specifically about the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT). And when we use the word “Bulldog,” we refer specifically to the American Bulldog (AB).

Both the American Pitbull Terrier and the American Bulldog are descended from the Old English Bulldog, which was brought to North America by English settlers in the 1600s. The Old English Bulldog was a large, muscular dog that was used for bull-baiting, a popular bloodsport at that time. However, after bull-baiting was outlawed in 1835, the popularity of the Old English Bulldog began to decline. In an effort to preserve the breed, some fanciers began to cross it with other dogs, such as mastiffs and terriers. From these crosses, two new breeds emerged: the American Pitbull Terrier and the American Bulldog.

Though these two breeds are related through a common ancestor, they have been bred for different purposes and have very different physical characteristics.

Is An American Bulldog The Same As a Pitbull?

No, as stated above, an American bulldog is not the same as a pitbull. However both breeds have similarities in some areas.

These are some of the top similarities between American Bulldog and Pitbulls:

  • Short coat and a muscular build
  • Both have broad heads
  • Powerful jaws and bites
  • Very similar temperaments
  • Common ancestry
  • Both used in bull-baiting in England
  • Both used as farm dogs
  • They make great family dogs with proper training
  • Share a similar health profile and are prone to conditions such as Hip dysplasia and Hypothyroidism

Difference Between American Bulldog & Pitbull

These are some of the top American Bulldog vs Pitbull differences.

  • American Bulldogs were bred in the U.S while Pitbulls in the U.K
  • Pit Bulls are smaller than American Bulldogs
  • Pit Bulls are considered to be very high-energy while American Bulldog is more subdued and laid-back
  • Pit Bulls have become victims of breed discrimination unrightfully
  • Bulldogs are stocky and have broad shoulders with a wide, deep chest.
  • Pitbulls are slightly leaner and are well-proportioned. 
  • Pitties have a longer life expectancy of 12 to 16 years vs 10 to 12 years of AB
  • The AKC does not recognize the Pit Bull while the American Bulldog is recognized
  • Pitties can be more aggressive toward other animals than American Bulldogs

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is also differences in certain states and cities. Most BSL forbids Pitbulls and other breeds from living in certain areas. It is important to research local laws and housing details before bringing home either dog breed, as bulldogs may or may not be included in BSL where you live or plan to travel. Please don’t do it after you commit to him because it’ll only end in tears.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Pictures

Bulldog Vs Pit Bull

Below you will find a research-based, side-by-side comparison analysis of the American Bulldog and Pit Bull Terrier.

We compare their history, breed characteristics, appearance, and other key differences and similarities.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull History

One way to tell the differences between a Pit Bull and Bulldog is by looking at its history and origins.

American Bulldog

The American Bulldog (AB) can trace its roots to the English Bulldog. Working-class immigrants brought their old English Bulldogs to the United States in the 1800s to help with many tasks, including farm guardians, herding dogs, and hunting dogs. 

This breed’s original purpose was personal and property protection and to be a useful tool for the small farmers and ranchers in handling (catching) large animals such as cattle and hogs.

By the end of World War II, the breed was almost extinct. Still, some dedicated breeders, particularly in the southern states, decided to keep the breed alive as family companion dogs rather than farm dogs.

The breed was not called a Bulldog because of its looks but because they were part of the English sport known as bull-baiting, which involved tethering a bull to a stake in the ground and encouraging dogs to try to bite the bull’s nose. 

American Pit Bull Terrier

According to the United Kennel Club, The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) was created by crossbreeding Old English Bulldogs and terriers to produce a dog that combined the strength of the Bulldog with the gameness and agility of the Terrier.1

The Pit Bull Terrier also gained popularity in the British Isles for the sport of bull-baiting. Once bull-baiting was outlawed, the APBT was used for dogfighting and ratting, a betting sport where people bet to see whose Pit Bull could kill the most rats in the least amount of time.

Immigrants brought these bull-and-terrier crosses to the United States. As these cruel sports became less popular, the APBT talents did not go unnoticed. Pit Bull Terriers became farm dogs and family companions.

The “Pit” in Pit Bull comes from ratting, as the rats were placed into a pit so they could not escape.

History Similarities & Differences Shared By Bulldogs & Pitbulls

SimilaritiesDifferences
Both used in bull-baiting in EnglandThe Pit Bull Terrier is a mixture of two breeds (bulldog and terriers)
Both used as farm dogsThe Pit Bull Terrier was specifically bred for ratting and dogfighting as these “sports” required more agility and speed on the part of the dog.
Both have English originsThe AKC does not recognize the Pit Bull while the American Bulldog is.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Appearance

The simplest way to distinguish between an American Bulldog and a Pit Bull is by contrasting their appearances. Let’s take a look!

What does an American Bulldog look like vs the American Pit Bull Terrier?

The most significant difference between the American Bully and the APBT is their appearance.

The American Pit Bull Terrier is a medium-sized, solidly built, short-coated dog with smooth, well-defined musculature and an athletic-looking body. Males can grow between 18 to 21 inches tall at the shoulder and 35 to 60 pounds. Females can be 17 to 20 inches tall and 30 and 50 pounds.

In contrast, the American Bulldog is much larger. Males can grow between 22 to 25 inches and weigh 75 to 100 pounds. Females usually stand at 20-23 inches and weigh between 60-80 pounds.

American Bulldogs have facial wrinkles and sometimes an underbite, a broader chest, and less-defined muscles than American Pit Bull Terrier. At first glance, it is easy to see why the American Bulldog might be mistaken for a Pit Bull. Still, you can easily recognize an American Bulldog for their trademark “bully” face and demeanor.

While both have a strong, sturdy, and muscular appearance, the American Bulldog has distinctive, prominent cheek muscles and a broader chest than the APBT.

The American Bulldog has several distinctive features, including a large wide head, a broad muzzle, prominent cheek muscles, a large and wide nose, and powerful jaws. However, the Pit Bull has a leaner body, more defined muscles, and a broader skull than the American Bulldog.

For a complete side-by-side appearance comparison, read our table below to identify the similarities and differences shared by Bulldogs and Pit Bulls when it comes to their physical attributes.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Appearance Comparison Chart

This chart compares and looks at the primary physical (size, color, etc.) traits and attributes between a Bulldog and Pit Bull.

 American BulldogAmerican Pit Bull Terrier

Coat Color

Solid colors but usually white with black, brown, red, or brindle patches.Any color, color pattern

Height

22-25 inches17-21 inches

Weight

75-100 pounds30-60 pounds

Life Expectancy

10-12 years12-14 years

Gait

Smooth with speed, power, and agilityEffortless, smooth, powerful, and well coordinated

Bite

Scissor bite or moderate under biteScissors bite

Bite Force

305 pounds235 pounds

Head

Large and broadLarge and broad

Feet

Well arched with strong nails and close togetherRound, proportionate to the size of the dog, well arched, and tight

Tail

Set low, thick at the base, tapering to a pointSet on as a natural extension of the topline, and tapers to a point

Hindquarters

Wide and muscular with pretty deep flanksStrong, muscular, and moderately broad.

Coat

Soft or stiffGlossy and smooth

Neck

Muscular. Nearly as broad as the headMuscular. Slight arch at the crest

Ears

Forward flap or roseHigh set and may be natural or cropped

Eyes

Round or almond in shape, medium size, and wide setMedium size, round and set well apart and low on the skull

Nose

Long with wide nostrilsLarge with wide, open nostrils

Muzzle

Broad, thick and squareBroad and deep

Source: American Bulldog EU2

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Temperament

American Bulldogs and Pit Bulls have very similar temperaments and personalities.

Let’s start with the AB!

The temperament of the American Bulldog resembles that of an English bulldog. They are gentle and affectionate dogs that get along well with children and can be regarded as large lap dogs. They can prove to be friendly dogs and very family-oriented, especially if they are trained at a young age.

American Bulldogs are brave and strong – strong-willed – they do well with owners who are not afraid to establish them as strong pack leaders. They are usually alert, have strong protective instincts, and can act reserved towards strangers. American Bulldogs are loyal. They have an innate prey drive that must be monitored around unknown, smaller animals such as cats or dogs.

So how does the temperament of a Pit Bull compare to the Bulldog’s?

According to Pamela Reid, Ph.D., vice president of the ASPCA’s Animal Behavior Center in New York, generally, Pit Bulls aren’t aggressive with people but are “less tolerant” of other dogs than many other breeds.

Despite the negative stereotypes and misconceptions associated with this breed, dog temperament studies show that pitties rank high among the most affectionate, tolerant, and least aggressive dogs.

In research conducted by the American Temperament Test Society, pit bulls passed at a rating of 86.4%, higher than popular breeds such as golden retrievers, corgis, and beagles. The American Bulldog came in above by a smidge with an 86.9% passing score.3

It’s fair to say that these dogs may look tough, but they are only aggressive about snuggling.

In general, the American Pit Bull Terrier is known for noted for its playful temperament and friendly nature. They are tenacious dogs that need early socialization and handling. American Pit Bull Terries are just as devoted and loyal to people as American Bulldogs, but Pit Bulls are more entertaining and happy dogs. They are excellent family dogs with proper training.

However, it’s also important to highlight that both breeds can become very violent in the hands of irresponsible owners, who encourage aggression for fighting and protection.

SimilaritiesDifferences
High prey drivePitties can be more aggressive toward other animals due to they fighting lineage than American Bulldogs
They are both tenacious dogsAmerican Bulldogs might be a little be easier to socialize
They make great family dogs with proper trainingPit Bulls have higher energy levels and vivacity than Bulldogs
They are both loyal dogs
Great temperament dogs

Perhaps you are still not convinced Pit Bull can be loving companions. If that’s you, we encourage you to read a book called “I’m a Good Dog: Pit Bulls, America’s Most Beautiful (and Misunderstood) Pet” It is full of fascinating stories and the history of this particularly maligned breed.

Here is a sneak peek at the personality and temperament of the American Bulldog and Pit Bull look like! (LOL). Aren’t they so cute?!

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Health Problems

Health issues that American Bulldogs and American Pit Bull Terriers share

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Demodectic mange
  • Thyroid defects

Like other breeds, the American Bulldog and the APBT can potentially develop genetic health problems. You can get ahead of these health risks by doing an at-home dog DNA health test to identify potential medical complications.

Health Issues Specific to American Bulldogs

According to PetMD, American Bulldogs are prone to the following health issues:

  • Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (a nervous system disorder with swelling and changes in some retinal cells)
  • Kidney issues
  • Cherry eye
  • Bone cancer

Also, due to their facial wrinkles, American Bulldogs may be prone to skin problems from chafing, heat, and moisture. You can use a Squishface Wrinkle Paste to clean and protect your dog’s wrinkles, tear stains, and tail pockets.4

Health issues specific to American Pit Bull Terriers

The American Pit Bull Terrier can develop several health problems, including:

  • Heart disease (i.e., valve malformations and irregularities in heart rhythm)
  • Diabetes
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Cataracts
  • Sensitive to allergies
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Kneecap dislocation

Identify genetic risks related to drug sensitivities, vision, weight, mobility, and more.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Intelligence

The American Pit Bull Terrier Intelligence Index (ABI) has an average to above-average intelligence.

According to Stanley Coren Intelligence Test, dog breeds in the pit bull category (i.e., APBT), namely the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier, have average to above-average intelligence. This means these dogs can understand a new command with 15 to 25 repetitions and obey a known command (on the first attempt) 70% of the time.5

Similarly, American Bulldogs are extremely intelligent dogs. This high intelligence combined with a strong working drive means American Bulldogs are very trainable dogs.

While there are no official records of intelligence tests for American Bulldogs, it’s safe to say that both dogs are equally intelligent. These dogs were bred for jobs (i.e., herding livestock) requiring decision-making, intelligence, and concentration. That’s something the average dog is not built for.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Cost

Prices can vary! But here is what you can expect to pay for a Bulldog or Pit Bull.

On average, American Bulldogs cost from $1,700 and upwards to $8,000 or even more for an American Bulldog, a superior pedigree. The average price for all American Bulldogs sold is $800.

American Pit Bull Terriers are slightly more expensive, with an average price of $1100. But prices for American Pit Bull Terriers fluctuate between $3,700 to $10,000.

APBT or American Bulldogs may be available at your local shelter if you’re interested in adopting.

*Data sourced from the sale of American Bulldogs & American Pit Bull Terrier puppies across the United States on NextDayPets.com

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Coat Color

According to the American Kennel Club breed standard, American Bulldogs come in several colors. The standard color of the American Bulldog is white with patches of brindle, red, tan, brown, or black, but there are quite a few more color variations (non-standard colors) such as white and black, white and brindle, white and brown, and white and tan.6

American Pit Bull Terrier, on the other hand, comes in various shades, ranging from a creamy blonde to an almost reddish hue.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Training

Early socialization and puppy training classes are suggested for both of these breeds.

Both the American Bulldog and Pit Bull are intelligent but stubborn. They like to please and are agreeable. However, training can be difficult for someone who is not a pack leader.

During training, you will need to be a natural leader, consistent and kind to channel these dogs’ energy and establish and retain proper boundaries.

The United Kennel Club says that because some “APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog.” 7 

Without structured activity, like regular training and play to exercise, American Bulldogs and American Pit Bull Terriers quickly become bored, leading to destructive behaviors.

Whether raising or training an American Bulldog, teaching them to be extraordinarily calm and obedient is essential. K9 Training Institute‘s workshop is an excellent training resource if you need help housebreaking your dog. They will teach you the methods service dog handlers use with their pups.

You can also read the bible for any American Bulldog owner by renowned Canine author Matthew Masterson. It will help you care for, train, and build a successful partnership with your pup. If you own a Pit Bull Terrier, this book is the definitive resource for seasoned Pit Bull owners and novices.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Exercise Needs

So, how much exercise does an American Bulldog need compared to the American Pit Bull Terrier?

The American Bulldog is one of the most energetic and athletic of all Molossers. This breed should perform vigorous physical activity every day for 45 minutes to an hour. American Bulldogs can perform a range of activities from jogs, hikes, and tug-a-war games to training exercises. However, be mindful as this breed is prone to develop bone and joint damage. Aim for non-impact exercises to decrease these health risks.

American Bulldogs have very high exercise requirements. An under-exercised American Bulldog may lead to behavior problems related to pent-up energy, such as destructiveness, excessive barking, hyperactivity, over-excitability, nervousness, and aggression.

According to Cesar Milan, pit bulls are just as energetic as the American Bulldog and should get a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous exercise daily.

Developing both dogs’ athletic abilities will help them stay fit and happy. You can use a toy like Chuckit Sport Launcher to give them a fun workout and for a mentally stimulating exercise, try Nina Ottosson Dog Smart Puzzle.

Both breeds, however, have powerful bites that can destroy a toy in seconds. We recommend getting tough toys specially made for heavy chewers like Pit Bulls and American Bulldogs. They are designed not to break and provide the most optimal stimulating experience.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Grooming Needs

Luckily, grooming your American Bulldog or Pit Bull Terrier is fairly easy! 

They have short hair and are seasonal shedder. To groom either breed, try to brush their coat at least once a week with a soft to medium bristle brush to help distribute their natural oils and remove loose hair and debris. Occasional, bathing with a shampoo made for dogs will help them stay clean and shiny when they become dirty.

Trim their every few weeks, and ears should be cleaned once a month or as needed, especially in Pit Bull Terriers since they have perky ears that are susceptible to infection.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Video Comparison

American Bulldog Video

Watch this video and learn about the American Bulldog to understand how it compares and differs from Pitbulls.

American Pit Bull Terrier Video

Watch this video and learn about the American Pit Bull to better understand how it compares and differs from Bulldogs.

Bulldog vs Pit Bull – Frequently Asked Questions


Which Is More Dangerous Pitbull or Bulldog?

There is no clear consensus when it comes to determining which breed is more dangerous. Some experts believe that the Pit Bull is more dangerous due to its history of being bred for fighting. However, others believe that the American Bulldog is more dangerous because it is a larger and more powerful breed. Ultimately, it is impossible to say definitively which breed is more dangerous. However, both breeds require responsible ownership and early socialization in order to prevent them from becoming aggressive just like any dog.

Are American Bulldogs Pit Bulls?

The American Bulldog is a distinct breed from the Pit Bull. American Bulldogs were originally bred for farm work and later became popular as family pets. They are strong and athletic, with a stocky build and broad head. Pit Bulls, on the other hand, were originally bred as fighting dogs and have a leaner build and narrower head. Today, both breeds are gentle and loving companions, but they are still different breeds. So, to answer the question, no, American Bulldogs are not Pit Bulls.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Who Would Win?

When it comes to American Bulldog vs Pitbull, there is no clear winner. It depends on a number of factors, including the size and weight of the dogs, their level of training, and their fighting style. In general, American Bulldogs are larger and heavier than Pitbulls, and they also have a longer reach. However, Pitbulls are considered to be more agile and have a stronger bite. Furthermore, Pitbulls have been bred specifically for dog fighting, while American Bulldogs were originally bred for hunting. As a result, Pitbulls typically have a higher level of aggression. Ultimately, it is impossible to say definitively who would win in a fight between these two breeds of dog. We do not console dog fighting. It’s a cruel sport and it’s illegal. Never

Is The American Bulldog Better Than a Pit Bull?

If you consider an American Bulldog or Pit Bull Terrier, both are fantastic pets for you looking for a great family dog. They are as loyal and fun. The only difference might be that one is larger and may require more food.

Both breeds have high energy, love to play, are friendly, easy to train, and great around kids and large families. They are protective and make for good house dogs.

Are American Bulldogs or Pit Bulls Good Guard Dogs?

While they are physically intimidating, powerful, and very protective of their owners, they are usually much too friendly to be excellent guard dogs.

Do American Bulldogs Shed Less Than Pit Bulls?

American bullies are considered moderate shedders. They tend to shed more when the seasons change; they “drop their coat” from one season to another. Pit Bulls also shed year-round, and they tend to shed the most during late winter, spring, and fall into winter.  

Are American Bulldogs or Pit Bulls Hypoallergenic?

No, there is no truly hypoallergenic dog. Dog hair isn’t the only culprit that triggers allergies. Allergies are caused by different proteins found in dogs’ dander, hair, saliva, and urine. All dogs shed these proteins to some extent. Some more than others. While these two dogs sport a short coat and shed moderately, they are not hypoallergenic.

Is The American Bulldog a Better Family Dog Than The Pit Bull?

Not at all! Both make great family pets. These dogs will do well in a family with the proper training and guidance. They are people-oriented and affectionate with both adults and children. However, like any dog, never leave a dog alone with a small child.

Do Pit Bulls Have Locking Jaws?

If you compare the skull of a Pit Bull skull to a skull of any other dog breed, they don’t have any unique locking mechanism or bone structure that allows them to “lock” their jaws. They are determined, so if they bite onto something, it may seem that they have locked jaws, but in reality, it’s just their nature.

Do American Bulldogs Have Locking Jaws?

No, same as the Pit Bull, there is no special mandibular structure that allows American Bulldogs to lock their jaws.

Are American Bulldogs & Pit Bulls Aggressive Towards Humans?

It’s a myth that Pit Bulls are all inherently vicious. If a Pit Bull or American Bulldog has been poorly bred or purposefully trained to attack humans and other animals, dog aggression and people aggression will be a problem. They generally love people. They are one of the most loving, loyal, friendly, and dedicated companions.

Pitbull vs American Bulldog – Conclusion

We hope we were able to clear up most of the questions regarding the American Bulldog vs. Pit Bull debate.

You can’t go wrong with either option if you are thinking about getting either of these pups. The American Bulldog and the Pit Bull Terrier are great dog choices. They are both sociable and love nothing more please their masters.

The main difference between the American Bulldog and the American Pit Bull Terrier is that the latter is slightly smaller but more athletic and energetic. The American Bulldog is more chill in temperament but equally fun.

Both these breeds are a fantastic family addition. Regardless of your choice, you are guaranteed to come home with a dog everybody loves and adores!


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